My wife and I got a rescue puppy a few months ago - he was only 6 weeks when we got him. He was very skiddish to both of us at first, understandably. But now he loves my wife, and seemingly forgets who I am every day. When my wife is home with Nelson, he is okay with me after a few minutes, and begins to play. But when I come home from work by myself, he cowers and runs away when I try and pick him up to take him out to go pee, but he usually lets me pick him up and is okay once I do that and start petting him. But today, he started growling at me and moved quickly, like to nip at me, but didnt actually nip but just hit me with his nose. I really dont know what to do!

  • Sounds like he fears males. Build trust with him and never hit him. Feed him all his meals and make sure you spend time giving him all your attention. He needs to know males shouldn't be feared.
    – IT_User
    Oct 14, 2016 at 21:11

3 Answers 3


This is in response to corey...

Basically everything in his answer is completely wrong. I'd disregard everything he said. Cowering in a corner and growling can't really be misinterpreted as anything other than what it is. The answer to your dog being scared in your presence and in a new home is ABSOLUTELY not to bring another larger older dog into the equation and certainly not to move it into yet another unknown location like a school

It sounds like the dog was abused by a man, you'll just need to be patient and loving. You should be the one to feed it and not your wife. This will help the pup bond with you and should help if feel more secure in your presence and your role in the house. Don't ship it off to a dog school, that's just assinine.

If it has this behaviour it's definitely not forgetting you, it's just remembering past abuse, or at the very least remembering you as a presence to be feared. Just be firm with him, make sure you are feeding him on a schedule, twice a day and that you're the one feeding him. Don't just put food in a bowl and let it sit out all day.

Don't bribe him with treats. It will reinforce negative behaviour. Just be patient with the dog and if he comes to you give him a treat. You should never give your dog a treat without a reason and need to always make sure your dog knows why he's being rewarded. If not it's hard to know what kind of behaviour the dog might interpret as "good".


I'm pretty sure you're misinterpreting this.

Nipping, poking you, etc. sounds very typical for "Oh! Hey! You're back, I want to play!". This sounds very reminiscent considering our Huskies.

The dog might also run so you run after (which is typical playing behavior).

If you've got the puppy with six weeks it's possible the dog didn't learn everything so far regarding behavior, so might unintentionally show weird behavior, but not on purpose.

I'd strongly suggest you check for a local dog school with puppy classes for proper socialization (as an alternative have an older socialized dog you trust play with your puppy from time to time). Even just once or twice a week should definitely help.


Some dogs bond strongly with one person to the exclusion of others. I can be part of the breed or it could just be a part of the dog's psyche. Typically dogs that were bred to be primarily companion animals, Pekinese, pugs, Yorkies, and Poodles are excellent examples of this type.

Often times in rescues I see dogs that prefer women because they had a scary or abusive male around during their early development, and have seen quite a few with the reverse as well. If this is the case then if you continue to work with the dog and provide positive reinforcement then you should be able to overcome it. The other thing to watch out for is if your spouse or children are accidentally reinforcing the behavior. "Haha its funny the dog doesnt like daddy!" The dog just gets the positive reaction to his behavior from his favorite people reinforcing the behavior as a good one unintentionally. The best way is for them to ignore the dog completely when it does this. This combined with attention and positive feedback from you should help break this behavior.

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