Sometimes Haley may have particular reactions to specific people and you’ll never know why. But if Haley growls, bears her teeth or acts aggressively toward your neighbor, it’s something that needs to be dealt with, and immediately. Your neighbor will always be around, and part of being a good neighbor is keeping your pets in line. If he is fearful of what your dog might do to him, it’s your responsibility to ease the tension. You may feel that Haley’s being protective for a reason, and in this case, should you listen to her instincts? Plenty of Hollywood movies have shown us that a dog’s aggression for a person is foretelling, but in most cases Haley’s dislike for your neighbor isn’t based on the fact that the person is an actual threat. It can be caused by a variety of different reasons you may never be able to pinpoint.
One of our best guesses about Haley’s strange dislike of your neighbor is that the person has a certain smell that Haley may not like, because it somehow reminds her of something bad or threatening. Haley’s dislike of your neighbor might have something to do with territorial issues. Maybe she’s seen the neighbor too close to what she considers her territory, and she’s just being protective of it. It could also be something completely random and impossible to understand. People have had experiences where a dog shows aggression toward the appearance of a specific suitcase, jacket or even rain boots. We may not know what sets Haley off, but there are some things we can do to ease her mind about the neighbor.
What you need to do is get Haley to understand that the neighbor poses no threat to her. With the neighbor’s cooperation, bring Haley over to him while leashed. When she growls or acts aggressively toward him, pull on the leash a bit, sternly tell her no, and tell her to lie down and stay. Have your neighbor feed her some treats when she’s quiet. Keep doing this over and over until she starts to associate him with good things and aggression towards him with bad things. If she sees you spending time with him and no threat is present, she’ll learn to back down. If she consistently sees friendly behavior between the two of you, over time she’ll start to relax more.
It’s also possible that if your neighbor is fearful of Haley and she senses it, she’ll be more on the aggressive. In this case, having the neighbor spend time with Haley while leashed will be a step in the right direction. The more time they spend together, the more relaxed both of them will feel.
You may also be able to figure out where Haley’s fear comes from with just a bit of creative experimentation. Does your neighbor always wear sunglasses? Maybe it’s something about his face being blocked off that scares her. Maybe it’s the fact that she always sees him with plastic grocery bags, and the sound they make sets her off. If you can figure out the cause, you can introduce it slowly in your own home so that she’ll get used to sunglasses, plastic bags, or whatever it may be.
Wherever Haley’s fear and aggression stems from, you’ll likely need your neighbor’s cooperation to settle things down. Be polite and let him know you have his best interest in mind, and that you’d like to be the best neighbor possible. With a bit of patience and time, this is a problem that should be able to be solved for both him and Haley.