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 My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend

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Apollo
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Male Join date : 2015-01-04
Location : Ontario, Canada

PostSubject: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:53 pm

Hello!

I've spent the last few days trying to come up with an explanation for why my extremely friendly dog was so terrified of my friend. I've asked people at the dog park, the vet, my family and friends.

Apollo is a 13 month old male Siberian Husky, I have had him for almost a year (in February). He is extremely friendly, happy and confident towards every dog and human we've ever come across. Except for the other night when my friend, Andrew, came for dinner. I have never seen this type of behaviour from him, ever.

Apollo took one look at Andrew as we greeted him at the door and bolted upstairs. I was shocked, it was so uncharacteristic. Then throughout the night, Apollo would peek his head around corners and take steps closer, but always with his tail between his legs and a with a cowering body movement. I tried having Andrew kneel and coax him with his favourite treat, but Apollo wouldn't get close enough. Apollo was obviously distressed: pacing, cowering, tail between his legs and he even defecated on the floor, which he never does. There was no sign of aggression, just pure fear.

A little about my friend Andrew, he has dreadlocks, a beard and has a distinct smell (he lives an alternative lifestyle). He also owns a dog, whom we've met and played with before. One last thing, Apollo did meet Andrew once already, when he was probably 5 months old. I recall Apollo being slightly stand offish, but nothing like the other night. Also Apollo was too distracted by Andrew's dog, Jimmy to care about much else.

I know people say a dogs's intuition is much stronger then our's. They understand and communicate greatly through body language, tones and intuition. So is the answer simply, Apollo didn't like Andrew?

I just wondering if other Husky owners have experienced this with someone?
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:22 pm

I can think of a few explanations but I think some additional information would help to shed some more light.

What is your exact relationship with Andrew?  What was the purpose of his visit?  Was his arrival creating changes in you, your emotions, your mentality, or your energy?  Were you behaving differently anticipating his arrival than you would for anyone else?  How were you feeling, emotionally, awaiting his arrival?

The most likely explanation is that you were creating this anxiety and tension in Apollo in advance and as soon as she came face to face with the the different object--Andrew--she just caved.  

A dog who is normally balanced and stable, which it sounds like socially she is with other people and dogs, will not just randomly act this way around a new/newish person.

Can you find any reason for Apollo's suddenly different behavior within yourself?

This just reminds me of dogs who don't like a certain breed of dogs, supposedly. Let's say pit bulls. But meanwhile the human is terrified of all pit bulls so when a pit bull is encountered, the leash gets tense, the body gets tense, the emotions get tense, and then , of course, the dog gets tense. The fear of pit bulls in the dog was created by the human walking the dog.
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 6:36 pm

And to clarify that analogy, it's not to imply your fear of Andrew, but only to imply that your emotions affect your dog's emotions and the same for perceptions of the environment.
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:19 pm

There are times Jeff that being direct has it's advantages ... but you did that much better than I. I tried a couple of times to phrase what you did so well and couldn't get it to come across anywhere right.
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Apollo
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PostSubject: Re: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:31 pm

Thanks for your response Jeff.

Those are good questions. Andrew is a childhood friend, I've known him for 12+ years. Andrew was coming over for dinner, along with my boyfriend (Apollo has known him since last February), a female friend (Apollo has met several times), another male friend (Apollo was meeting for the first time that night).

Andrew can be a difficult personality in certain social situations, he's different and even kind of weird. I've come to accept him, because I've known him for so long. Perhaps I was anticipating his arrival and worried about my other dinner guest's comfort due to his presence. I may have been slightly anxious or worried and I imagine Apollo was picking up on that. Andrew himself has very strong presence and doesn't really obey certains social norms, which can throw me off.

I totally get what you mean that I may have unconsciously created the behaviour in him.

Any other input you have is greatly appreciated.
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: My friendly husky is terrified of my male friend   Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:59 pm

Al, me, direct??  No........ Smile  I'm really just not PC or "polite."  If I was mean or sinister I would be a monster, ha.  

Julia, well, that makes a lot of sense.  

I was thinking that maybe it was a date type of situation, with potential sexual aspects involved or other really emotional aspects involved.   These would be the more obvious type of scenarios that would make us anxious or tense in anticipation of someone's arrival that our dog would pick up on.  

Since you have a long history with him and because of the slight anxiety about his personality on some level and given that your boyfriend was involved.  my suspicion is just that Apollo was onto you and following suit.  

It was a build up of anxiety right. Escalating with time and then the door bell rings or the knocks happen and then, oh boy, here "it" comes and then this guy with a big appearance and big smells is at the door.  It was probably just anxiety blowing the top off the mountain and Apollo's flight response kicked in.  

I wouldn't assume there is anything truly personal about Andrew that Apollo doesn't like, in a direct way.  

This is a classic beginning to phobia and irrational fear though, content aside.  "It" could be Andrew or pit bulls or garbage trucks or storm drains, whatever.  The key to preventing this from escalating further or continuing in the future is twofold:

-not making a big deal at all in advance of approaching "it".  Make "it" as banal and normal and irrelevant as possible in advance

-if the dog shows signs of fear or flight from "it," do not ever show affection through talking, touching, petting, treats, or emotions.  Do not teach the dog that this state of mind in relation to "it" is appropriate, acceptable, or justified.  Again, make "it" as banal as possible and through your own encouragement and modeling, show the dog that we can be around "it" and it's cool and normal and trusting me will allow me to get you through it and it'll be great.  This is a huge bonding/trust building exercise.   It's a form of be the change you want to see...in your dog. Light intensity corrections are okay, but make sure they are light as you don't want to add any more intensity whatsoever to the state of mind. A minimal disagreement is fine.

Hope this helps.
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