SHUG tries very hard to maintain our public spaces--the website and Facebook page--as positive places. We don't post the horror stories or the pictures of abused and injured dogs from Spain that you may see elsewhere. We know you know. And we know you understand why some of the Galgos have developed such a deep fear of men--their very survival depended on it.
Fortunately, our partner rescues and their wonderful volunteers in Spain are frequently successful in teaching the pups that good things come in both genders. A few dogs, though, do come into SHUG unconvinced. Reyna is our poster child for androphobia, the fear of men. After taking the time to gain confidence in a female only foster home, Reyna recently stayed with a foster family with a very sweet and patient husband willing to put up with being treated like a leper in his own home.
For tips on dealing with androphobia in dogs, we’ve reached out to Lydia McCarthy, of Playful Pooches and Parents Dog Training in Ohio, for some tips. This is what she recommends:
First you need to help the dog feel safe around men so distance is key. First, try rewarding with a treat for them just looking at the man. If they can't eat a treat, the man is too close. The man may have to turn away or sit down as sometimes their height is scary. The goal here is to help the dog feel calm around men and to learn that good things happen around men.
As the dog gets used to being rewarded, the man of the house needs to have treats with them at all times so they can reward anytime. It’s always the dog’s choice to go up and get a treat. The goal is changing the dog’s emotional response from “oh, no, scary men” to “Oh, yeah, that’s the treat machine.”
As the pup starts to relax around a man, there can be some additional interaction – maybe a squeaky toy toss or a little tug of war.
It can be a long process. Don’t be worried if there are relapses. Many things can cause a relapse – too sudden of a movement, a loud voice, maybe even an unexpected hat.
During the process, the man should not be associated with anything unpleasant – no nail trimming or ear cleaning!
Go at the dog’s pace. Don’t push. Celebrate the “wins.”
Other things to consider include talking to your vet about the temporary use of anti-anxiety drugs or trying DAP -- Dog Appeasing Pheromone – which has been shown to support dogs during stressful situations. (DAP needs to be airborne with a spray or plug-in diffuser.) Flower essences such as Rescue Remedy might also help.
As for Reyna, she is continuing to improve, but would definitely prefer a home without those scary man things. If you have a man-free home or are willing to work to help this lovely girl overcome her fears, put in an application here.