Why are Men the Dog Devil?


Second in a series

If a saber toothed tiger is charging at you, an adrenalin surge is well justified. But Brandi, the 3 year old hound recently adopted by Sally and Raymond, had no logical cause for fear. Raymond treated her well since the moment she’d arrived in her new home.

Studies show that most women carry themselves more gracefully, speaking with quieter, more evenly modulated voices than men – who crash around like bulls in a china shop. (Who’s ever heard of a cow in a china shop?) A well-adjusted pet can accept these differences but Brandi struggled to adapt. She was immediately hypervigilant, ready for any threat that lurked around the next corner. Raymond was a quiet man but tall and quick in his movements. His demeanor was enough to establish him as an axe murderer, well, at least in Brandi’s eyes.

Most canine anxiety disorders are genetically programmed. Brandi’s behavior suggested that she may also have missed out on early socialization with people of various sizes, sexes, ages, and ethnicities when she was 7-12 weeks old, making her highly suspicious of aliens she never learned to trust. She wasn’t sexist but frightened. She barked and lunged at Raymond hoping to chase him across the county line.

I watched quietly from a distance as Brandi was led out of the car. The poor girl crouched with her ears retracted as she scanned for bigfoot. Even my best imitation of a potted plant triggered a brief step back as she “boofed,” and then lurched at me hoping I’d make a run for the border. To diminish her perception of impending mayhem (my axe was at home that day) I slowly turned and led her and her people into the clinic.

I could speculate on Brandi’s first impression of Raymond. Not knowing any better he may have laughed loudly or exhibited an exquisitely exuberant embrace of his new dog. I found this good man entirely likable. I never asked about his quaffing of battery acid but, like most personal affects, it was better left unspoken. Brandi feared him because he wasn’t Sally.

Next week: Was Raymond willing to change? Could Brandi?


For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (drjeffnichol.com). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Email pet behavior or physical questions to or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.