My puppy is suddenly afraid of men
including my husband. How do I cure this?

I am so familiar with your dog problem.  Dogs only have four options when they don't know what else to do:  Fear, aggression , depression and/or hyper.  The fear she is exhibiting is not as much a behavior as it is a symptom.  Please don't be offended and my apologies to those with differing opinions, but your dog doesn't want you as a friend.  She wants someone she can count on.  Someone who is a can-do type.  Someone who can save her life in a crisis.  But to offer her treats , and crouch down to appear to be on her level is anything but appearing as a leader.  Yet, this is the typical recommendation of dog lovers everywhere.


Please let me respectfully offer another view of your efforts.  Pretend I am your dog.  I'm 10 months old (developmentally equivalent to a 12 1/2 year old little girl).  I want direction.  Clear and concise direction.  I'm a pack animal.  I am scripted in my hard drive to do exactly what leadership dictates but not because I love my leader; but because I respect my leader and trust (a word you used) my leader.  But the male alpha figure in my life is crouching (cowering to me) and giving me his food (the wimp).  He is completely pulling the rug out from under himself.  He is certainly not acting like leadership.


The answer lies in demanding and exacting obedience .  Even a simple "come" command on the leash is the beginning of the end of her fearful behavior.


A few absolutes apply here: 1.  Do not repeat the word "come."  2.  Do not say "come" louder than a softly spoken voice.  3.  Pull her to you in a steady pull and praise the socks off of her when she gets to you.  Do not give her enough leash to leave you.   4.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT notice or pay attention to her body language.  You are praising her for completing the command even though you did all the work. I don't care if she is flipping around, yelping, pooping or anything else!  If you appear to react to any of those behaviors you have, once again, proven you are not worthy of respect and you are not leadership material.  5.  Cancel "come" with a release word of your choosing.  I don't allow OK because everyone says that all the time.  I like "break" or "free" or "Miller time," or anything that doesn't sound like her name or a command. 6.  After the release word give her the full length of the leash and start over.


After the 3rd time, instead of pulling her to you, you will tweak the leash to provide a quick little light pressure on her throat, with an instantaneous release of the pressure.  You are not pulling on the leash.  You will sternly say "no" with each tweak.  3 times you have done all the work.  It is now time for her to use her own power to complete the command.  It may take 20 tweaks before she decides to get over to you.  If she stops before she gets to you, and I mean all the way to you, {first time or two} pull her the rest of the way.  {Second or third time: Tweak and say "no" until she gets all the way to you}.


When she gets to you praise lavishly.  That's a good girl!!!  I don't care what she acts like or the expression on her face.  You must not react.  You must praise as though she has just saved someone's life.


I absolutely guarantee you will see a transformation in your pooch if you do exactly as I have described.  I wish I could do it for you.  I specialize in fear problems.  And, believe me, I could describe some fear behaviors you wouldn't even believe.


I am so sad that the dog training industry has almost completely gone into the "permissive parenting" stage.  Humans did this in the '50s and '60s until they realized it didn't work.  The bond between human and dog is amplified beyond belief by making a clear, concise demand on a pack animal who is looking for guidance.


One last thought:  If your dog has a mistrust of the human hand (from being pushed or shoved in correction or rejection - such as Cesar Millan recommends - then don't touch her during the first few "come" commands.  Praise lavishly, but don't add your hands at first.  After she successfully responds start adding your hands, one at a time.  She might piddle when you add your hands.  This is a sure sign of hand confusion.  MY RULE:  Never use your hands to push, shove, hit, scruff-shake or dominance-down when you correct your dog; however, there is no limit to the use of hands for love, attention, affection and praise.


©  Shannon Schaefer