RESCUED DOG AFRAID OF MANY THINGS
Question: I rescued a sweet, lovable, mixed, small breed dog when it was about 5 months old. She is a year and a half old now. She always has been terrified of some people, mostly men. Especially men with deep voices. Even men with beards. And bicycles too. My husband and I take her many places so she can meet many types of people in hopes this will help. Why is she like this? Do you think she was abused?
Answer: Thank you for having such a wonderful, kind heart and giving her a home. You are doing everything right with taking her places and introducing her to new people. We now know it is NOT often that a dog was beaten or abused and developed this fear or dislike of certain people. Instead it is the people themselves. Many are men (some women fit this category) that walk heavily on the floor or ground. Dogs feel this vibration through the pads of their feet. It singles to them that (regardless of the persons actual size) that this person is a large menace. Many men also move in a very masculine way, long, firm strides, shoulders back, strength in their whole carriage. Normal for men in our society. This again is a threat to some dogs. They see and sense the Dominance and react with fear or sometimes fury. Again, men with naturally deep voices or loud voices signals that they are a potential threat. Beards are a simple one too. A cat or dog (in fact many animals) fluff their fur up to increase their appearance of Size when ready for attack or showing aggression. Some dogs seem to regard a beard as a show of aggression or willingness to fight because the human has fluffed up his fur. So they react with fear or in some cases, aggression of their own. I have seen normally cuddly little dogs do it with women who have a hairdo that is really fluffy and or gathered in a ball at the nape of their necks too.
Because she is afraid of these things, do always watch that she does not bite out of fear. Fear Biting is a common occurrence, so have the people speak gently to her but do not let them stick their hand out to her UNTIL she has regained control of her emotions. Keep doing what your doing. Most dogs will get more trusting of these people they perceive as a threat after meeting enough of them.
When she is barking and acting fearful, do not make it worse with an increase of emotion in your own voice or posture. Instead continue on as if nothing is really out of the ordinary. This way, it will soon sink in that, "Hey, this person is not bothering my master at all, maybe I shouldn't let it bother me either". Gently correct the barking with a firm No, Stop It or Quit Now, whatever command works best for you. Do so without making a fuss over her, which just reinforces in her mind that she needs to be afraid and bark.
Many dogs are either afraid of bicycles or hate them and want to attack. I think it is the pumping action of the riders legs setting them off. But it is only a theory of mine, not yet backed up by research. When a bike rider is coming towards a dog, the pumping action of the riders legs makes it appear that the person is advancing aggressively. Going away, is when most dogs want to take a chunk out of the bike or it's rider. Going away, it looks like the rider is running wildly in the opposite direction. Dogs love to give chase to someone or something fleeing from them.
RESCUED DOG AFRAID OF MANY THINGS