Is your dog smarter than you give him credit for? Believe it or not, your dog may be a pretty good judge of character.
Dogs can sense certain things about people. Dogs are able to deduce when there are signs of danger, fear, or nervous tension.
Dogs can observe people and see when they are angry. They look away during conversations, sweat, and have tense muscles. These responses are a cue to the dog that something is not right. Dogs can read body language, and they also use their sense of smell to determine how they should act toward people.
A dog “feels” the energy people give off. They have a keen sense that allows them to read body language and react to it. When someone is nervous or angry, a dog senses this and is on alert.
When Good People Are Around
Dogs are relaxed when the people around them are relaxed. They will sense the calm and react in a like manner. However, if someone brings negative energy, the dog will feel it and respond to it.
When surrounded by good people, dogs are calm and relaxed. They will be content to lie down and let people pet them. Dogs will feel entirely relaxed around people who are calm and relaxed.
When dogs know good people surround them, they will show the following signs:
- Tail wagging
- Tilting his head
How A Dog Knows Someone Is Good
There is some science to support that dogs can sense the good or bad in humans. A dog’s olfactory system will ensure that he can sense things that he can’t see.
Depending on the breed of dog, his sense of smell may be anywhere from 100-1000 times greater than that of a human. I guess that is why we can’t smell negative energy.
A dog can sense when a human has an increased heart rate due to chemicals emitted through the surface of our skin. In the same way, a dog will sense if someone is happy and emitting positive vibes.
Aside from smelling the pheromones that affect a person’s mood, a dog can also read humans’ body language. They can sense when someone is on the shady side versus someone who is a good person.
Can Your Dog Be Trained To Sense How People Feel?
The fact that dogs can tell if someone is good or bad is an innate ability. Though we can’t really train them, we can encourage the behavior.
If you have a guest and the dog reacts positively, you can reward him. If someone unknown comes to the door, you can also reward your dog for his reaction if you feel he sensed the good or bad in the visitor. Rewarding him will encourage him to trust his instincts and let you know when something does not seem right.
Dogs react well to positive rewards, so be sure to give treats, extra pats, and verbal praise to let your dog know he has done an excellent job of protecting you.
When Your Dog Senses A Bad Person
When a dog senses anger or negativity, he may become fearful or overly aggressive. The dog is reacting in kind to the energy he is feeling.
There are many ways to tell if a dog is fearful of someone.
- Dilated pupils
- Tucking in his tail
- Trying to hide or get away
- Peeing or pooping in the house
- Avoiding interacting with the person
- Being destructive
- Whining and crying
If your dog is exhibiting any of the above behaviors around someone, it means he is anxious and uncomfortable. If he exhibits these behaviors when someone is visiting your home, make sure he has a safe place.
Trusting Your Dog
It may seem silly to judge people based on what your dog thinks, but sometimes it may be a good idea. If your dog is reacting negatively to someone you know, he may just be sensing that the person is upset or angry about something. That is different than having a chance encounter with a complete stranger.
I used to have Labrador retrievers, and they used to go for a wild run now, and then if they beat me out the door and I did not have them leased yet. I found out that they were going up to the hotel down the road and barking at one of the patrons who stayed there during the hunting season.
When a man came from the hotel to ask me about my dogs one time, my lab stood at the door with me and growled. I was embarrassed at the time since he was growling at a stranger, but after that, I had learned to trust his judgment. The man had come to my door, and he was angry and aggressive. My dog was protecting me and our home.
Dogs sense anger, and they react to it. They also protect their owners and do not like people coming to the house in a confrontational manner.
The Final Take
Dogs often react to people the way the owner reacts. If the owner is kind and shows that the person is trustworthy, then the dog will relax. But if a stranger arrives and the dog senses any apprehension, he will react to it.
Science has shown that dogs can be a good judge of character, so it is vital that we pay attention to their cues. Especially if we are around strangers and our dog gets uneasy.
Never force your dog to interact with someone he is not comfortable with. If anything were to happen, he might lose trust in your judgment. You want to keep your dog and the people around him both safe and happy.
A dog may be man’s best friend, but he does not need to be best friends with everyone he meets!
Stephanie was born and raised in Saskatchewan and currently lives in Alberta, Canada. She started her career as a school teacher twenty years ago and has taught English Language Arts to students in grades three through twelve. She is currently exploring her love of writing and exploring topics she is interested in while also learning more in her field of expertise. She is passionate about lifelong learning.