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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
Guide To Australian Shepherd Training and Care

My Australian Shepherd Is Terrified Of Men

by Justin

So Annie is a black tri female Aussie and will be 2 years old in February. I’m a guy and in college. I’ve always had guy roommates and she loved the first two from the start and eventually loved the two I live with now. I’m not sure how the heck this ever started but she is terrified of other guys.

Now before someone immediately says I didn’t socialize with enough guys let me tell this short story. I am in a fraternity at my college. I live 10 seconds away from my fraternity house so I have always brought Annie over there ever since the day a bought her. I don’t bring her to parties for very obvious reasons but the fraternity village has a huge yard and my fraternity house has a large back yard so it’s a great place for her to play fetch at. My fraternity brothers always loved playing with Annie and snuggling up on the couches with her when she was young, and more importantly, Annie loved it too.

She wasn’t really around a ton of girls for her early life as I was single for the first few months I had her. If anything I worried she would be nervous around girls. About the time she was 7 months old, she got to where she didn’t like going to the house and when my brothers walked into my house she would bark aggressively and run to her crate.

If they tried to ease up to her and let her sniff their hand, she would growl and cower down. However, when my girlfriend or any of her friends come over, even some she has never met, she is overwhelmed with excitement to see them and loves them. Annie has no fear of me and obviously I’m still her favorite human, but I can’t stand how upset she gets and crazy she acts when my friends come over.

I really can’t figure out what in the world happened to make her stop liking men, because she literally grew up hanging out with a variety of 60 other guys and every semester we get some new members so she was definitely socialized a ton.

I know no one did anything bad to her such as abuse her. Everyone loved having her at the house and wanted her to be on our yearly composite picture, but now I can’t bring her to the house because she gets upset and is terrified of my brothers, even the ones who sit on the floor, offer her treats, and talk as soft to her as possible.

Anyone know how I can help change this or what may have caused it?

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Aussie frightened of men
by: Anonymous

Since you're confident that nobody has ever abused her, and she's still responsive and positive with females and some of your male friends, my hunch is that Annie is confused and that is resulting in some fear/anxiety. If you haven't already done so, maybe get a good-sized crate from which she can see what's going on around her, and set it up in one quiet place in your home first (not the frat house.) Be sure she can see you when she's in the crate, feed her in there, and get her to associate the crate with her 'safe place' that's hers alone. Initially, you should be the only person who lets her in and out of the crate. Start leaving the door open so she can come and go when you're around, and get her used to being in the crate for short periods when you're not present, then gradually extend those (aim is to avoid developing separation anxiety.) Leave the door open when she's free in the house, so she can choose to go in her crate whenever she feels the need.
Most Aussies don't bond with a lot of people; they form an idea in their heads about who is in their pack and who isn't (dogs and people), and you can expect wariness with anyone they don't believe is the 'in' group. And, honestly, to some extent they decide this, regardless of how we feel about our human companions (I have one buddy who has visited our house for the entire 13+ years we've had our rescue girl. When she hears his car in the driveway, she makes a beeline for her crate and usually stays there while he's here. He has never abused or spoken harshly to her, she sees that he's loved as part of our human pack, but she simply doesn't accord him any pack status in her doggie mind, and so chooses not to interact if she can.) It's possible that your Annie is overwhelmed with trying to sort out who among all your fraternity brothers she needs to trust as a pack member, and who, exactly, is an "other." Maybe reduce the frequency and length of visits to the frat house for awhile, and make sure that you're consistently the human who feeds, potties, trains, and walks her while she sorts all this out.

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