It is a Sunday morning and your dog is relaxing on his bed watching you as you go about your day. He sees you in the kitchen preparing breakfast and does not react. Once you finish your breakfast, you decide to put on your hat before you go outside. It is sunny out and you do not want to get sunburned. You turn to walk over to your dog to greet him and, all of a sudden, your dog yelps and runs away. In a protective mode, you hear barking, chaos, and fear that is erupting from him. He is definitely scared of you. Understanding your dog’s fear of things can help you better care for him.
The Root of the Behavior
From the time your puppy is born, he recognizes you just as you are. He knows your facial features, your hair, your body type, and even the many smells that come off of you. That does not seem to ever change even though the shirts, shoes, and pants you wear every day do change. When the familiarity your dog has grown to know disappears in a more extreme way, he may be wondering where you went. When you put a hat on, you dissolve in a moment’s time. Most people are not wearing hats every day around their dogs and dogs are not used to a foreign object coming on and off of a human body. This is why your dog does not like when you wear a hat. Hats are viewed as objects that make you seem like a stranger and your dog may even wonder if something has happened to you. If you find your dog barking at you when you put on a hat, it is because they are concerned a stranger is in front of them, something happened to you, or this object is completely foreign and they do not like it. Yet, your dog does not always need to be afraid or angry at hats. When your dog is a puppy, socialization is extremely important. The more you socialize your dog to the outside world, the more situations they will be equipped to handle. If your dog is already full grown when you get him, it is still wise to socialize your dog to situations that are normal for the your world. Although it may be discomforting at first, your dog will benefit by understanding hats, glasses, and other objects or situations are not harmful, but completely normal. This can help make your life easier as well as your dog’s.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you wear hats on a regular basis, you definitely do not want to encourage your dog’s disliking to your hat. In fact, you are going to want to adjust your dog to hats as much as you can. Even if you do not wear hats on a regular basis, you still want to encourage your dog to become adjusted and comfortable with hats. You may want to socialize your dog to any situation in the outside world your dog may have to face in their lifetime. Due to this, it is suggested to encourage your dog to understand what hats are triggering your dog’s negative behavior towards the hat. This can help your dog feel safe around all types of situations that can occur within their home environment and, possibly, within their outside environment. You may even want to take your dog out in public, more often, where there are people that wear hats. If this does not seem to help, you can also try bringing hats more into their home environment. You can show them they are not horrible or harmful to anyone that is using them. Remember, you are their owner and they look up to you for everything and will want to keep you safe and loved. If anyone can change a dog’s opinion of hats, it will be their owner.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Adjusting your dog to hats can be a tricky thing. If taking them outside and around people who wear hats does not work, you can try and do it in your own home. Your dog may not react to a hat until you put it on, but this may be the perfect way to adjust your dog to this foreign object. It is suggested to put your hat on and take it off a few times for your dog. Your dog will, then, learn that a hat is not going to harm you or take you away, but is just an object. From here, they will be comfortable with it and it will not be as big of an issue.
As humans, we love hats. They help protect us from the sun and we like wearing them during the many activities we take part in such as baseball and fishing. Yet, our dogs may think these objects are, somehow, foreign and harmful. It is important to help your dog know you are safe, even if your face is hidden for a moment by a hat.
By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel
Published: 03/05/2018, edited: 01/30/2020