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Discussion Starter #1
My friend just recently rescued a pit bull from her work who is about 2-3 years old. He is very friendly and sweet towards everyone and extremely well trained, but seems very scared of grown black men.

Is there any way to desensitize dogs who are afraid like this? We are assuming that the dog was probably treated pretty poorly prior to his foster mom rescuing him from the pound.

My friend is really bummed out because the man that this dog is afraid of may become her new roommate soon, and she doesn't want to have to give dog back to the rescue organization or continue to traumatize it by having him over there every day.
 

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Have the person in question stay some distance away (like 10 feet or so) and toss the dog's favorite (or a very tasty) treat/tidbit to the dog. Have the person make as little eye contact as possible. Direct eye contact can be threatening if the dog is fearful of the person giving it. It can create too much of a mixed signal (there's a treat! Oh but that person is staring at me...) and mixed signals can cause dogs to freeze, especially when fear is involved.

Keep this up until the dog seems less on edge around the person in question. Eventually, you can toss the treats further from the dog, making the dog come closer to the "scary" man.

Alternatively (or even at the same time) you can play "Look at That!" with the man as the object.

Every time the dog looks at the man and shows no signs of fear (wary is fine and expected - you just don't want any overt full-blown signs of fear), give the dog a treat (again, his favorite or a really high-value tidbit).

It will take time and consistency, so please try to be patient. Having either you or the man get frustrated will just confirm the dog's negative association and make progress even harder. If things aren't going well, just break it off calmly and with as little emotion as possible (don't coddle/babytalk but don't be upset either) and try again at another time.

Again, with time, you can move the dog closer when playing Look at That. The dog will tell you with he's feeling too close (watch his body language/signals) and increase distance.
 

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Good advice from Wally.
Is your friend that is moving in okay with dog's in general? Does HE know how to leave the dog alone and handle the dog's fear of him? It's a two way street here so for the both the dog's and the friend's safety he needs to know what to do as well and the best ways to work with what the dog offers.
check out www.fearfuldogs.com for some great tips on fear.

It's funny, my dog actually has the opposite problem...is fearful (but improving) of really tall white guys but thinks black men are the bee's knees. I didn't even know this, as I live in a pretty whitebread neighbourhood but over a couple of days there were several (dog savvy) wonderful black guys at the dog park and Cracker went right up to them for a "lean" and rub.

Take your time with the dog and don't force contact, use management when you are not working with the issue to prevent any incidents, ie muzzle, crate etc. Get a DAP diffuser to reduce the general anxiety levels. Good luck
 

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Cracker and KB nailed it, but just remember that just because a dog has fear issues doesn't mean he was abused. It is possible that he was not well socialized with men (or black/dark skinned men) and that's why they're scaring him.. because he's never seen them before.

Make this guy toss him tons of yummy treats and you'll see things get better.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your replies, everyone. I just went over to my friend's house today to drop off some stuff, and her dog is doing much better. Now that the dog is settled in, he's a little more accepting of my friend's roommate to be and other men in general. He even let Manuel (that's the guy he was super afraid of) give him a treat yesterday, so that's promising. I'll forward my friend the link to this thread and tell her about the fearfuldogs.com website.

Thanks all so much!
 

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With the rescue I help with, they had a dog come in that was similiar. We had never heard of a dog displaying this behaviour before. The suggestions look great, and thats what we did at the rescue and she was fine. Taking treats is a huge thing!!! If they are really scared they will not even do that so that is really good news!
 

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I'm new to these forums so I hope that no one minds if I throw my two cents at the kitty :)

My dog is very protective of the house and the family. He's usually very wary, and sometimes outright hostile, towards any strange men that come into or onto what he considers "his" property. (Akita/Chow mix and I've heard very similar things about this from other Akita and Chow owners)

But, I've noticed a few things:

1. The more the guy acts like he belongs, the quicker Chewie (my dog named for the fact that he ate an entire chair the day we got him) will relax and go back to trying to herd the cat.

2. The more I show friendliness and gregariousness towards any guy that comes into the house, the quicker Chewie goes back to herding the cat.

3. The more the guy pays attention to the dog, such as trying to make friends, the more Chewie will try to herd him out the door.

4. The more the guy ignores Chewie and goes about his business (fixing a plate of food at a party or repairing the fridge), the quicker Chewie goes back to herding the cat.

5. The more I try to keep Chewie back from herding the guy out the door, the more interested Chewie is in herding the guy out the door.

6. Eventually, Chewie will stop with his protective behavior and go back to herding the cat but it can sometimes take a while.

I haven't tried the treats thing. Perhaps I'll start keeping a box of treats outside the door every time we have company and ask them to give the dog a treat when they enter.

There was one exception to the above behavior. The husband of my wife's friend came to pick her up at the end of a Pampered Chef Party. He walked in, shook my hand, and stood in the middle of the living room while the dog made an effort at looking threatening and staying in between us. Without looking at Chewie, he took a knee gave him a good back rubbing. To my utter surprise, Chewie went from fur up to on his back with his belly exposed in less than a second.

I don't know what that means, but I think that the more nervous you are and the more nervous the man is, the more the dog will try to protect you and the "pack". If you act like everything is normal and the man acts like he belongs, the dog will accept him as a member of the pack that much quicker.
 

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I guess that's a little dirrent than the large ammount of black men who are affraid of your dog...

lol jk jk.


Yeah associating him with the dog getting treats is going to be the only way.

When he comes over, give the dog a treat. When he's there, have him give the dog treats. eventually black men will = getting treats.

You actually have it easy compared to my parents dog who had no socialization with anyone other than white people, and take it out aggresivly towards anyone of a darker persuation. I've met plenty of dogs who are like that too.
 

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Animals are only as racist as the humans who own(ed) them. That's all I have to say about that.
I wouldn't say racist. I don't think you can train your dog to sick a black man.

And it doesn't make a person racist if they don't socialize their dog with black people. Some people just don't have black friends.
 

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Animals are only as racist as the humans who own(ed) them. That's all I have to say about that.
I couldn't disagree more. Mesquite was totally fine with black men until my fiancee was threatened by one with a knife while she was walking her. Since then, Mesquite has turned very reactive to black men. My fiancee is nowhere NEAR racist.

If that's all you have to say about that, you are rather ignorant. And that, as they say, is all I have to say about that.
 

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I couldn't disagree more. Mesquite was totally fine with black men until my fiancee was threatened by one with a knife while she was walking her. Since then, Mesquite has turned very reactive to black men. My fiancee is nowhere NEAR racist.

If that's all you have to say about that, you are rather ignorant. And that, as they say, is all I have to say about that.
Seeing as how I've been on these boards for all of a few hours, I think you might want to get to know me better before you call me ignorant.

Thanks for relating your experience with your dog and his(her) reaction to it. I was relating my own experience when I wrote my previous post. If you have found your experiences to be contrary, I'd be happy to read them. But, please keep your comments and arguments in context rather than calling me names or disparaging my knowledge.

I'm glad to make your acquaintance on these boards and I hope that we can have productive discussions from now on.

Regards,

Rand

I wouldn't say racist. I don't think you can train your dog to sick a black man.

And it doesn't make a person racist if they don't socialize their dog with black people. Some people just don't have black friends.
I grew up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in South Buffalo. You may not be able to train your dog to sic a black man, but the people in my neighborhood certainly tried.

All I'm saying is that I find it very hard to believe that dogs can distinguish between people of one ethnicity or another, regardless of tragic circumstances such as TrumpetJock related earlier.

And, I'll say more about this since TrumpetJock turned it from comment on my experience to a slight on my intelligence.
 

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I couldn't disagree more. Mesquite was totally fine with black men until my fiancee was threatened by one with a knife while she was walking her. Since then, Mesquite has turned very reactive to black men. My fiancee is nowhere NEAR racist.

If that's all you have to say about that, you are rather ignorant. And that, as they say, is all I have to say about that.
Maybe Mesquite senses your fiance's fear when a black guy is around :eek:


and come on with the jab @ randstrauss, that wasn't needed at all
 

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I couldn't disagree more. Mesquite was totally fine with black men until my fiancee was threatened by one with a knife while she was walking her. Since then, Mesquite has turned very reactive to black men. My fiancee is nowhere NEAR racist.
Still doesn't make the dog racist.

The dog associated the knife, the threat, and the black man. That's not racism. That's associative learning that dogs do.

The dog isn't saying "oh I like whites over blacks because all blacks will try to cut me."

He's reacting on an instinctive level based on a traumatic event. The race applies only because it's part of the context of the event.

All I'm saying is that I find it very hard to believe that dogs can distinguish between people of one ethnicity or another, regardless of tragic circumstances such as TrumpetJock related earlier.
I believe dogs can, but I don't believe they make prejudiced assumptions that would be required to be truly racist/bigoted.

Would the dog be wary of another black person? Probably. But if that black person proved his/herself to be of no threat to the dog over time - then the dog will accept that person. That's considering each person individually pretty much the opposite of racism.

Any decisions they make are more likely to be based on how they read the situation and past experiences of similar contexts. The dog, imo, is more apt to be thinking "this seems familiar and the last time I saw this...xyz happened, so I better do abc." Other than, "There's one of the black people. I hate black people even though I never even really interacted with one."

After all, dogs can detect colors and skin tones between whites and blacks are probably of a high enough difference for the dog to tell the difference, and considering brown is a color that exists frequently in nature, it makes sense to me they their eye can detect it's presence.
 

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All I'm saying is that I find it very hard to believe that dogs can distinguish between people of one ethnicity or another, regardless of tragic circumstances such as TrumpetJock related earlier.
They absolutely can, just as they can distinguish a mentally disabled adult from a non-disabled one, or a person wearing a hat from one not, or a redhead from a brunette.
 

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They absolutely can, just as they can distinguish a mentally disabled adult from a non-disabled one, or a person wearing a hat from one not, or a redhead from a brunette.
It's also extremly easy for them to look up and notice that hey... this black man is not the same as my white family. And not understand what he is.

It's something easily fixed by socialization, it's just a shame it had to wait this long to be socialized with other ethnic groups. But you can't always help it. I don't think my dogs know what a black person is, but that's just because this area seems to be pretty segrigated.
 

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I'm new to these forums so I hope that no one minds if I throw my two cents at the kitty :)

My dog is very protective of the house and the family. He's usually very wary, and sometimes outright hostile, towards any strange men that come into or onto what he considers "his" property. (Akita/Chow mix and I've heard very similar things about this from other Akita and Chow owners)

But, I've noticed a few things:

1. The more the guy acts like he belongs, the quicker Chewie (my dog named for the fact that he ate an entire chair the day we got him) will relax and go back to trying to herd the cat.

2. The more I show friendliness and gregariousness towards any guy that comes into the house, the quicker Chewie goes back to herding the cat.

3. The more the guy pays attention to the dog, such as trying to make friends, the more Chewie will try to herd him out the door.

4. The more the guy ignores Chewie and goes about his business (fixing a plate of food at a party or repairing the fridge), the quicker Chewie goes back to herding the cat.

5. The more I try to keep Chewie back from herding the guy out the door, the more interested Chewie is in herding the guy out the door.

6. Eventually, Chewie will stop with his protective behavior and go back to herding the cat but it can sometimes take a while.

I haven't tried the treats thing. Perhaps I'll start keeping a box of treats outside the door every time we have company and ask them to give the dog a treat when they enter.

There was one exception to the above behavior. The husband of my wife's friend came to pick her up at the end of a Pampered Chef Party. He walked in, shook my hand, and stood in the middle of the living room while the dog made an effort at looking threatening and staying in between us. Without looking at Chewie, he took a knee gave him a good back rubbing. To my utter surprise, Chewie went from fur up to on his back with his belly exposed in less than a second.

I don't know what that means, but I think that the more nervous you are and the more nervous the man is, the more the dog will try to protect you and the "pack". If you act like everything is normal and the man acts like he belongs, the dog will accept him as a member of the pack that much quicker.
Poor cat! LMAO!!!!:D
 

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Seeing as how I've been on these boards for all of a few hours, I think you might want to get to know me better before you call me ignorant.

Thanks for relating your experience with your dog and his(her) reaction to it. I was relating my own experience when I wrote my previous post. If you have found your experiences to be contrary, I'd be happy to read them. But, please keep your comments and arguments in context rather than calling me names or disparaging my knowledge.

I'm glad to make your acquaintance on these boards and I hope that we can have productive discussions from now on.

Regards,

Rand



I grew up in an Irish Catholic neighborhood in South Buffalo. You may not be able to train your dog to sic a black man, but the people in my neighborhood certainly tried.

All I'm saying is that I find it very hard to believe that dogs can distinguish between people of one ethnicity or another, regardless of tragic circumstances such as TrumpetJock related earlier.

And, I'll say more about this since TrumpetJock turned it from comment on my experience to a slight on my intelligence.
You straight up called anyone who has a dog that doesn't like black people racist. That was the beginning, middle and end of your post. How am I not supposed to take offense to that when one of my dogs doesn't like black men, and neither I nor my fiancee are racist (or afraid) of them?

You've only posted a few times on this board, maybe you should take a little more time getting to know us before you call a potentially large group of us racist.

Still doesn't make the dog racist.

The dog associated the knife, the threat, and the black man. That's not racism. That's associative learning that dogs do.

The dog isn't saying "oh I like whites over blacks because all blacks will try to cut me."

He's reacting on an instinctive level based on a traumatic event. The race applies only because it's part of the context of the event.
I fully realize this :p My dog isn't actually "racist", that's a purely human social construct. There is an associated feeling of a scary experience, that is all. She very well could have associated the attack with a baseball cap and began being "racist" against cap wearers.

Randstrauss, if that had happened I guess that would have to mean I'm racist towards cap-wearers, eh? And for that matter, my in-laws must be racist against suit-case holders, because their poodle absolutely HATES anyone carrying a suitcase.

Makes perfect sense.
 

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You straight up called anyone who has a dog that doesn't like black people racist. That was the beginning, middle and end of your post. How am I not supposed to take offense to that when one of my dogs doesn't like black men, and neither I nor my fiancee are racist (or afraid) of them?

You've only posted a few times on this board, maybe you should take a little more time getting to know us before you call a potentially large group of us racist.
<lightbulb> I understand you now.

I don't believe that I called anyone racist. I was trying to point out, in short, that dogs cannot be "racist" in an of themselves. I find it very difficult to believe that the dog, because of the attack, is now prejudiced against all black men. I think, as Richie suggested, that Mesquite senses you and your fiance are now <insert negative emotion here> around black men and relates that <insert negative emotion here> with the attack.

I apologize if my post came off as insulting towards you or anyone else.

I fully realize this :p My dog isn't actually "racist", that's a purely human social construct. There is an associated feeling of a scary experience, that is all. She very well could have associated the attack with a baseball cap and began being "racist" against cap wearers.

Randstrauss, if that had happened I guess that would have to mean I'm racist towards cap-wearers, eh? And for that matter, my in-laws must be racist against suit-case holders, because their poodle absolutely HATES anyone carrying a suitcase.

Makes perfect sense.
Understood. It's quite possible that your in-law's poodle had a toe or two run over by someone carrying a suitcase and therefore associates suitcases with a painful experience. I'd rather not belabor the point anymore. Peace?

Poor cat! LMAO!!!!:D
Yeah, I have to say that the cat, a lovely Calimanco and gentle as can be, does not appreciate the dog's attempts at socializing. Our dog is quite jealous that she's allowed on the bed and he is not. He herds her around the house and we constantly have to admonish him with, "Chewie, leave the cat alone!" Quite entertaining. Just not so entertaining for the cat, I suspect.
 
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