The first few weeks of owning a puppy are stressful for the entire family. You’ll spend hours a day training your puppy all the basic skills while trying to build an unbreakable bond. But, as the weeks go on, you notice that your puppy cowers in fear when your husband comes close.
So, what do you do if your puppy is scared of your husband? The last thing you want to do is force a relationship and increase the fear within your puppy. So, work on creating gentle interactions between your husband and your puppy. Allow your puppy to associate your husband with kindness and, most importantly, treats! If all else fails, hire a dog trainer.
It’s quite the bummer when you realize that your puppy’s assimilation into your household isn’t going quite as smoothly as you’d hoped. So, let’s first talk about why your puppy might be afraid of your husband. Then, we’ll talk about things you can do about it.
Why Puppies Might Be Afraid of Men
It’s not uncommon for puppies to be afraid of men.
But, that doesn’t make this situation any less confusing for you. After all, you know that your husband is kind, gentle, and nurturing with people and animals. You just can’t seem to understand why your new puppy is so afraid of him.
Your puppy being afraid of your husband doesn’t mean that your husband has done anything wrong. So, here’s a quick look at why your puppy might be afraid of your husband:
- Lack of previous interaction with men. If you adopted your puppy when he was just a few months old, there’s a pretty good chance that he’s never met a man before. That means your puppy might be fearful of your husband because he hasn’t built up his trust with men yet.
- Men are different from women. Women usually have soft voices, gentle facial features, and are very nurturing with new puppies. If your husband is taller, heavier, has a deeper voice, and moves quickly, your puppy might see him as intimidating.
- Prior abuse. A dog that growls or barks when a man approaches may have been physically abused by a man in his prior home. If your puppy seems to struggle with all men he comes across, this might be the cause.
Now that you know why your puppy might be afraid of your husband, it’s time to actually do something about it. Time is of the essence when it comes to setting the groundwork for this relationship, so don’t hesitate.
Socializing Your Puppy & Husband
As much as you just want to shove your husband and your puppy in a room to force them to work out their differences, this is not likely to work. In fact, forcing any kind of interaction between your husband and your puppy can lead to greater fear or even aggression.
The Beginnings of Socialization
The key here is easing into interactions.
That means you’ll want to start out by just having your puppy and your husband in the same room together. Your husband shouldn’t approach the puppy, talk to the puppy, or even make eye contact with the puppy.
The goal is to have your puppy feel less anxious being in the same room as your husband.
Bringing Them Together
The next step is getting your puppy close to your husband.
At this step, you don’t want to drag your puppy over to your husband with a leash or by his collar. This can be extremely frightening, especially if your puppy is already reluctant to be around your husband in the first place.
So, you’re going to have to convince your puppy that it’s okay to be close to your husband. One of the best ways to do this is by putting treats or dog food near your husband. Remind your husband to sit still and allow the puppy to slowly approach.
With due time, your puppy should be less fearful of your husband and more willing to walk closer to him.
Focusing on Gentle Encounters
Now that your puppy isn’t afraid to walk into the same room as your husband, it’s time to work on how they actually interact. Your husband needs to make the effort to be as gentle and nurturing as possible in this process.
Encouraging Physical Contact
A lot of people assume that simply petting a dog is a great way to build a relationship. But, when your puppy is already afraid of your husband, your puppy might see an outstretched hand or arm as a threat.
Your husband should reach his hand out in a fist and hold it steady. Allow your puppy to come too close to your husband and sniff the back of his outstretched fist.
This approach is very gentle and doesn’t seem threatening to your puppy.
Caution: Do not, under any circumstances, have your husband just reach out and attempt to pet your puppy on the head. This can be terrifying for a dog and might actually lead him to bite or growl when this happens.
How your husband carries himself around your puppy is going to play a huge role in their eventual relationship.
So, here’s a list of things your husband should try to do to work on building the relationship:
- Use a soft and gentle voice whenever possible.
- Avoid raising his voice or yelling in the home.
- Move slowly and cautiously.
- Allow the puppy to smell him before trying to pet him.
- Read the puppy’s body language – If he’s giving the side-eye, is lowering himself to the floor, or if the hair on his back stands up, back off!
Every puppy is different, so you need to be vigilant and figure out how your puppy acts around your husband. Read his cues and move on as he progresses.
Building the Relationship Between Your Puppy & Husband
You need to prove to your new puppy that your husband is a member of the family that he can depend on. That means you’re going to be switching some duties to your husband over the next few weeks/months.
Think about it: Why is your puppy going to build a relationship with your husband if he doesn’t need anything from him?
It’s time to have your puppy associate your husband with things he likes or needs. That means having your husband be the source of yummy treats after a walk or preparing and serving your puppy’s dinner. Bring your husband on walks with you and your puppy whenever possible.
As time passes, slowly bump up the time your puppy and husband spend together.
Hiring a Trainer
If you’ve tried everything above and just can’t seem to figure out the problem, it’s time to get the professionals involved.
You can hire a professional dog trainer to evaluate the situation. They can take a good look at the relationship between your husband and your puppy and then make recommendations to strengthen the relationship.
But, a dog trainer isn’t a magic cure in any sense. You’ll have to work on building the skills and the relationship, even when your trainer isn’t around.
As excited as the entire family was to bring your new puppy home, your puppy developed a fear of your husband for some reason or another. It could be because he’s never met a man before, your husband has an intimidating appearance, or your puppy was abused early in his life.
It’s important that you give your puppy and husband time to work on their relationship.
Make an effort to keep interactions gentle and nurturing on all ends. And, be sure to reward your puppy whenever he makes any sort of progress. Treats work great!
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