Abused dog hates men, won't stop barking/growling at me...

I recently moved in with a girl whose 1-year old dog was severely abused as a puppy (by a man, obviously). Now that I (a man) have moved in, the dog will not warm up to me. Every time he sees me in the house, he starts barking and growling at me. I have tried being nice, being firm, bribing, etc. (I have NEVER hit the dog). It is apparent that "giving it time" is not working. It is getting to the point that I don't feel welcome in the house with the dog, and if something doesn't change very soon, one of us will have to go. Any suggestions?

Asked by Member 872596 on Aug 31st 2009 Tagged abuse, barking, growling, aggression in Aggression
Report this question Get this question's RSS feed Send this question to a friend


  • Cast your vote for which answer you think is best!



This kind of thing does take time. If you really stop and think about it is this poor pup was abused for him first year of life that is all this dog knows of men. You are going to have to undo that entire year of abuse. So "giving it time" and lots of reassurance is the only way that this dog is going to feel somewhat comfortable around men.
Fixing this problem, everytime you come into the house give the dog a treat. Keep a bag of yummy treats right at the door so EVERYTIME you enter the house you have a treat in your hand. Keep another bag of treats in the kitchen. So basicaly anytime you come out of an area in the house and the dog sees you you have a treat to give it. Making men ok in his mind. Since the dog is so scared then just toss the treat at him on the floor until he is ok with taking it out of your hand. Try to never raise your voice around the dog either, men's deep voices can really scare dogs. When you are there and it is time for the dog to eat, be the one to feed him.

Bandit answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


It takes time. We humans in recent years are used to things coming quickly, but you can't rush counter-conditioning a fear.

I'm not sure what you mean by "being firm", but whatever that means, don't do that. Being firm with a terrified dog does not make the dog less terrified.

Whenever you are around, do not look at the dog, don't make eye contact, don't tower over the dog. Carry HIGH VALUE treats in your pocket - that is, a really good treat (pepperoni? cheese?) that the dog ONLY gets when you are around. And each time you pass by the dog, regardless of how the dog is reacting to you, throw the treat near the dog. You are working on creating a positive association. At the beginning do not worry about whether the dog is barking/growling/calm/whatever -- the dog needs to make an association regardless. Don't be stingy with the treats -- they can be broken into itty bitty pieces but make sure you are throwing them frequently.

You might also pick up "Scaredy Dog" by Ali Brown.

Kolbe answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Using the treats can take a while so don't rush it. One day the dog may be fine with you tossing treats, the other day he may not. Just be patient and please don't raise your voice or make your voice sound deeper at the dog. Also, no eye contact. The dog has been horribly traumatized and it could take years for this behavior to change. What a sad situation.
When your g/f walks the dog, go with her and use that time for the dog to understand you and make the connection that you mean no harm to him. But, you need to go on these walks every day.
Hire a good behaviorist or trainer and get some professional help. Make sure that the trainer only, and I mean only, uses positive reinforcement methods, i.e treats, praise or toys. Yanking on the leash could cause the dog to regress even further.
This could take a while, so when you say "change soon", that may not be fair to the dog. You've got to undo a years worth of damage.
Poor baby. I hope he comes around.

Member 768404 answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Unfortunely, Time is all you have.
You can not make the dog like or love you. That dog has to come to the point to trust through actions. If you have tried being firm it may be another set back already for the dog and you.
I would not use any negative reinforcement. In fact , the more negative experiences you give the dog increases the fear or aggression he is displaying.
Relationships of any kind are built on Love and Trust.
For giving it time? what time frame are we talking about? you can pm me, I can try to offer more advice but most of it will be here.
Time can take one year. The more you ignore the barks and growls the better.
Reward the Quiet moments use ham, chicken ect. Never look, react, or give in to bad reactions from the dog. When you can walk pass the dog don't look at him and toss food. Sounds silly but do that Everyday and walk about. In months of time, then you will be able to sit in the middle of floor in front of say t.v and feed with No eye contact more.Ect.

Dieta answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


I agree with the previous posters. It takes time. What you have to do is, when on walks, or when having men guests come over, you ask them to throw your dog a treat, or, if you have it, a toy. This will give your dog a good assosiation with men. Watch the It's Me or the Dog episode for some dog whoe's name starts with, I think a T or somethin. Hope this helps!

Lots of Licks,


Jet answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


You want to gain this puppy’s trust. There are several things you can do. Take an old tee shirt of yours wear it for a day when you are doing manual labor or working out. Then place this tee shirt in his bed. Beef hot dogs are great treats as is skinless chicken. You have to be the only one giving him these treats. Take over the puppy’s feeding. Chop up about a tablespoon of the beef hot dog or skinless chicken. Make sure you touch every piece then put in on the puppy’s food. When you are sitting in the living room watching TV or talking, sit on the floor and continue to throw the special treats to him. When the dog goes out to do his “business” you need to go out also. If your girlfriend takes him for a walk go with her and continue to throw the special treats to him. If you have a yard go out with him and sit on the patio or grass. Throw him his special treats. The key is the treats and staying on his level as much as possible. Think of him as a permeant 2 year-old.

Chugs answered on 8/31/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


This really does take time. Start by having treats in your pocket or by your front door. When you come home each time give him a treat. Make sure no one else gives him this type of treat, make it a treat he loves. Start other good associations in his brain that are linked to you like speaking gently to him when you are in a room together. You don't have to approach him or try and pet him, just get him used to sharing space. Sit, read a newspaper. If he barks at you, talk kindly to him or ignore his barks/growls. Don't be firm. He needs to figure out that you aren't going to hurt him. His abuser might have been kind one minute and a monster the next, so he's unsure of himself and you. It really just takes time, not weeks but many months to a year. He will come around, he will be your buddy, just feel bad for what he's suffered and show him what a great guy you are. Good Luck, please hang in there.

Member 788102 answered on 9/1/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Haus R.I.P. my boy I miss you

Unfortunatly this is normally the response from most men.Try not to force this dog to do ANYTHING. Time is what it takes and never being mean will be the other thing. Let it work out.Maybe seek the help of a Vet or a behaviorist.But PLEASE just let the poor dog work out what ever it needs to. When it does good on it's own then praise it like never before!! GOOD LUCK

Haus R.I.P. my boy I miss you answered on 9/1/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer