'Severely Abused' Dog Scared of Men Falls in Love With New Human Dad

A heartwarming video of a "severely abused" rescue dog snuggling with his new dad has gone viral on TikTok, racking up more than 1.6 million views in a single day.

The clip of the German shepherd is captioned: "He was scared of all people but especially men. He wouldn't let my dad or brother get near him for the first weeks but now they're his favorite humans. Dads just have a way with dogs."

The video on the Goodlin Siblings account begins with the large dog sitting on the dad's lap getting scratches. At one point, he buries his head between the man's arms, going in for a full hug.


He was scared of all people but especially men. He wouldn’t let my dad or brother get near him for the first few weeks but now they’re his favorite humans 🥰 Dads just have a way with dogs #rescuedog

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One user commented, "Okay SOBBING because my husband and I's first 'rescue' was also terrified of men and took to my husband like this."

Another wrote: "They know when they are safe, your dad must be an amazing soul because that pup is so relaxed."

Advice website The Spruce Pets says a fear of men is not uncommon in dogs. The phobia can affect dogs whether or not they have been abused by men in the past.

"Being abused by a man may cause a lifelong fear of all men," the website states. "For the majority of dogs, this is not the most likely culprit, though.

"In many cases, being afraid of men can be traced to a lack of socialization with men when the dog was a puppy. Even a dog that has lived with a man can be fearful in the presence of unfamiliar men."

German Shepherd on sofa
Stock photo of a German shepherd. Animal experts say a fear of men is not uncommon and can be traced to abuse or a lack of socialization with men when a dog was a puppy. Kalisson/Getty Images

There are techniques you can try to make your dog more comfortable around men, but it may take a while to see results.

A blog post on the Hill's Pet website suggests starting the desensitization process by putting the dog in a room with a man who does not make eye contact or interact with the animal. Next, it recommends these steps:

  • Toss a treat near the man so your dog must go past him in order to retrieve it.
  • When your dog approaches the man, have him hold out a treat for the dog. He should otherwise be still and silent and ignore the dog's attention.
  • Praise and treat your dog liberally if they behave calmly in the man's presence, in order to create a positive association.
  • Eventually, your male friend can start talking to the dog, slowly working up to petting and interacting with them.
  • It's best to have the man on the same plain as the dog so as to not appear large or intimidating when kneeling down to pet.

It's important to go slowly. If your pet seems scared or agitated, stop and try again later.

Newsweek has reached out to the original TikTok poster for comment.

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