A few months ago, I took my dog out for a dog. She’s friendly and gets along with everyone. She really loves people but on that particular day a stranger came by to ask about her and she snarled at him.
I immediately took her away from him and he never came back again. It really got me wondering. Why didn’t my dog like that man? And can dogs recognise a bad person?
Can Dogs Recognise A Bad Person? – The Research
There have been quite a few studies that show time and again that dogs can recognise a bad person.
In fact, researchers conducted an experiment a few years back where pet owners were asked to take their dog outside in a controlled environment. During the course of their walk, the owner was asked to take help from three people. One person agreed to assist, the second person did nothing and the third person rudely declined.
When the three people offered the dog treats, most dogs accepted treats from the first person, who was kind to their owner and second person, who politely refused to help the owner but very few dogs accepted treats from the person who didn’t behave well with they owner.
Dogs have a much more developed emotional IQ than we give them credit and this research proved how well dogs can understand social queues.
Dogs Hold Grudges
The above study shows that dogs hold grudges on people who are mean to their owners. You may have noticed that if someone is rude to you or if you get into a fight, your dog is ready to jump in at any time.
Another study showed that dogs don’t trust people who lied to them. In the experiment, two people pointed at different boxes. Whenever one person pointed at a box, there was a treat so the dog knew they will get treats. They listened to that particular person every time they asked them to go to the box.
When the second person pointed at the boxes, they had no treats. Dogs were quick to learn that they were being tricked and as soon as they saw there weren’t any treats the dog stopped listening to the person for the second or third time.
This grudge can exceed overtime when dogs are upset with a person who looks similar to a rude person they met in the past. You may have noticed that your dog takes animosity towards certain people for no real reason. This may be because of that.
But of course, rude to them and rude to us can mean two entirely different things.
Can Dogs Smell A Bad Person?
There is not enough evidence for this but scientists have said that doctors can smell the hormonal changes a person goes through in their brain when they are about to act badly. This is why you may notice dogs barking just before someone screams or shouts or does something abusive.
There aren’t enough concrete pieces of evidence about this but scientists are on a very strong trail. We hope we get answers very soon.
Here are some other ways dogs may suspect a person is bad:
1. Watching The Owner
Sometimes it is not their instincts alone but our behaviour too. Studies have proven that dogs can understand our emotional ups and downs. If we are stressed around a person, they will also feel stressed around that person. If talking to a person makes us apprehensive or tensed, they may intervene to ease the tension.
2. Gut Instincts
Dogs are very good at sensing danger. Their gut instincts are much stronger than ours and they are far more sensitive to movement. If you see the video below you will notice that the canine, Sophie was far quicker to detect an earthquake than her human counterparts.
Not To Be Confused With Aggression
Owing to certain bad experiences, some dogs are more inclined to lunge or bark at some people. This does not always mean that the person is bad. It may mean that your dog perhaps got triggered with the way they were walking or from their voice. It may have reminded them of something unpleasant.
You may notice that some dogs are afraid of one gender (usually men) of people and would interact very well with the other gender. This is again not because all of one gender is bad, but because they probably have had unpleasant experiences with a person belonging to that gender.
Generally, timid and abused dogs are more afraid of men because men are usually taller, stronger, have a deeper voice. For them, it tends to be quite scary.
So, as a general rule, we can say that dogs are better at identifying a bad person than we give them credit for but we cannot always trust them if they bark or lunge at a person. Their personal experiences also determine their actions. So if a dog is barking and lunging at many people it is not because the people in question are bad, but because the dog has had negative experiences in the past.
We hope this article was helpful to you. Sometimes dogs can really surprise us with their emotional capabilities and as a pet parent, we usually know when to trust their instincts. Has your dog ever snapped or snarled at someone because they were mean to you or because you were stressed around them? Let us know in the comment section below.