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Why is My Australian Shepherd Scared of Men?

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A fearful Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd or Aussie is a strikingly beautiful dog blessed with a sweet, affectionate nature. Aussies are known for forming strong attachments to their owners and being protective of them. However, like any dog, Aussies can have behavior problems. Your Australian Shepherd may be perfectly calm around women and children. But when a man enters the room or tries to approach, your Aussie may become a completely different dog.

While some Aussies try to hide, others exhibit signs of aggression, like growling or baring their teeth. An Aussie, in some cases, may unexpectedly attack or bite a man. A fear of men, however, is not an uncommon phobia in dogs, including Australian Shepherds. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help your Aussie overcome its fear of men.

Why Do Some Australian Shepherds Fear Men?

There are a variety of reasons why your Australian Shepherd may be scared of men in general. These include:
  • A bad experience: Being abused by a man in the past may cause your Aussie to fear all men. Your dog can also be terrified of all tall men if it was abused by a tall man. This is not the most likely culprit for most dogs, though.
  • Lack of socialization: Both obedience training and early socialization are musts for the Aussie. In many cases, being distrustful of men can be traced to a lack of socialization with men when the Australian Shepherd was a puppy. A dog can be scared in the presence of unfamiliar men even if its owner is a man, says The Spruce Pets.
  • Men are probably more intimidating in your Aussie's eyes. Unlike women, men have deeper voices as well as features such as facial hair. These things might be scary from your Australian Shepherd's perspective. In many cases, dogs love wives more than husbands.

Easing Your Australian Shepherd's Fear

How fast you can correct this behavior depends on how severe your Aussie's fear is. Some Australian Shepherds may be deeply terrified, while others may only exhibit mild fear. Regardless of the level of fear, it is advisable to be patient with your dog. That is because overcoming phobias can be a lengthy process for any canine. With that in mind, keep things as positive as possible and help ease your Aussie's fear by trying the following things:
  • Stay in your Aussie's comfort zone: For starters, you mustn't force your Aussie beyond its comfort zone. For example, if you have men who frequently visit you, avoid pushing your Aussie to accept their attention. Doing so can actually strengthen the fear, especially if your attempts backfire. Your attempts, in the worst-case scenario, may result in the dog biting either you or the man if it's prevented from escaping.
  • Let your Australian Shepherd approach: It is recommended that you allow your Aussie to approach men on its own. For a man who is a dog enthusiast, this can be difficult. However, ignoring the fearful dog is the best thing the man can do. Allow your Aussie to decide how close it wants to get to any man, as attempting to force friendship on it may intensify its fear.
  • Encourage your Aussie with treats: When attempting to break your Aussie's fear of men, make sure your male visitors keep treats handy while around your dog. The man can gently toss a couple of treats in the fearful Aussie's direction whenever it gets even a little closer than usual. It may take some time for your Aussie to accept treats from a man. However, with patience and consistency, you may successfully let your dog know that it's safe to approach men.
  • Desensitize your Australian Shepherd: This involves praising and offering treats to your dog whenever it approaches a man. However, if your Aussie's case is severe, it is advisable not to start out with the dog and a man in the same room. Rather, try keeping your Aussie a safe distance from the man, while you praise it and give it treats. Eventually, you may be able to get your dog to be in the same room with a man without it succumbing to its fear.
  • Hire a dog behaviorist or trainer: In severe cases, enlisting the help of a professional is beneficial. A dog trainer or behaviorist can gauge your Aussie's comfort level to the proximity of men, thereby helping you move ahead safely in the process of desensitization.
  • Working on obedience training: As I stated earlier, obedience training is a must for Australian Shepherds. Thankfully, Aussies are very smart and eager to please, making them easy to train. By making obedience training part of your daily routine with your fearful Aussie, you may be able to get it to focus on you in stressful situations.

Final Thoughts

Australian Shepherd puppies who aren’t socialized with men may become scared of them as they mature. Therefore, you should make sure your Aussie pup meets all types of people during the socialization stage. Some Aussies may also fear men if they've had a negative experience with them in the past. If you’ve adopted a full-grown Aussie, socializing it may be more complicated. But the basic principles apply to both puppies and adult Australian Shepherds alike: give them plenty of positive experiences with all sorts of people.

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