Why do dogs seem to dislike certain people?
While it might seem like a complicated mystery to you, such behavior often has a simple explanation.
Don’t believe me?
I’m going to prove it to you.
Today we’re going to unravel the mystery of why dogs seem to dislike certain people.
Stay tuned to learn the answer and get some great tips how to deal with this behavior.
Why do dogs seem to dislike certain people?
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Have you ever brought home a friend only for your sweet-natured dog to start barking or growling at him?
It can be quite embarrassing, especially when you’ve been reassuring your friend that Lily is the friendliest dog in the world.
At first, such unusual behavior often takes you by surprise. Then you start to wonder what might have caused it.
Does your dog know something about your friend that you don’t? Why does she hate certain people?
Should you be worried?
Let’s find out the answer to all of those questions!
Related: Can Dogs Sense Our Pain?
Do dogs sense “evil” people?
I’m sure that you’ve heard or read that dogs sense “bad” people or that they can see people’s aura. Some might even suggest that if your dog is acting aggressively towards somebody you know, there is a good reason why she is doing it, e.g., you should immediately sever any ties with this suspicious person or keep an eye on your back.
Let’s me tell you something. Dogs are not psychics, and they don’t have any supernatural abilities, which allow them to warn us about a person’s character. That’s just an old wives’ tale. Of course, there is a reason why your dog barks at a specific person, but rarely has it anything to do with the person’s personality.
Just think about it. Our definition of a “bad person” is not equal to Lily’s understanding of “bad,” because she views the world from her canine point of view. Yes, dogs have an innate sense of right and wrong, but it’s not equivalent to ours.
Nevertheless, it’s true that dogs are very intuitive and know how to read body language and emotions. Sometimes they do it better than other people, which has convinced some that they might have extraordinary abilities.
Why does my dog dislike certain people?
So, if Lily is not trying to warn us that we’re friends with a criminal or worse, why does your dog growl at one person? Well, there are 7 main reasons for such behavior, so it might take you a while to get to the bottom of it.
#1 It’s all about the scent
Dogs might not have supernatural abilities, but they do have an almost supernatural sense of smell. In fact, a dog could distinguish identical twins by scent alone because they have a 10,000 – 100,000 more powerful sense of smell than us. So, when you come home, they know where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.
In addition to this, smell is the predominant sense that dogs use to gather information about the surrounding world and its inhabitants. Butt sniffing might seem disgusting to us, but a dog can tell a lot about the gender, health, diet, and emotional status of the other dog by sniffing him from behind.
So, don’t be surprised when they try to sniff you down there. They are just trying to learn more about you.
Let’s say that your dog hates one specific person. Ask yourself “Could my dog have smelled something he doesn’t like?” Another dog, for example? You might not be able to sense the other dog’s smell, but Lily could. Dogs (and cats) leave their scent all over you to mark you as their territory and warn others to stay away.
Of course, many smells can trigger her. Maybe the person owns a cat or has been in contact with other animals before coming to see you. Also, most dogs usually hate the smell of:
- Nail polish
- Cleaning products
- Some perfumes
It’s also worth mentioning that dogs can smell diseases like cancer, narcolepsy, low blood sugar, migraine, and seizures. It’s possible that they are growling at a specific person because they can tell that he smells very differently from their owner, and it confuses them.
#2 Poor socialization
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Another reason why a dog might dislike a certain individual or family member is poor socialization. A young puppy should be exposed to as many different people as possible to make it feel comfortable around strangers.
You might think that a person wearing glasses or one with a long beard is nothing out of the ordinary, but in Lily’s eyes, they look different from what she is used to. So, if you bring home a friend with an extravagant haircut, your dog might growl or bark at him because she feels suspicious.
An incident during socialization might also contribute to why your dog dislikes or avoids certain people. Imagine that Lily as a puppy encountered a bunch of enthusiastic children who forced their attention on her. She would have felt so afraid and vulnerable that she would remember that small, short people are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
If you are on the opposite side and your friend’s dog doesn’t like you, think about your first meeting. Did you talk in loud voices, accidentally step on his tail, or cuddle him too strong?
The wrong first impression might be why your friend’s dog doesn’t like you. In this case, you have to work hard to earn his trust and show him that you mean well.
# 3 Past abuse or traumatic situation
Dogs learn by making connections and associations. For example, they learn that obeying your commands results in tasty food or rewards like extra petting or attention. That’s called positive reinforcement, and it’s one of the easiest ways to train your dog to be obedient.
However, Lily doesn’t remember only pleasant things. Anything that makes a strong impression – good or bad – is going to affect her in the future. If she is a rescue dog, it’s very likely that she has been through trauma. Not all scars are visible, so it might take you awhile to learn her triggers.
It’s probably that the person she hates, avoids or barks at reminds her of someone who had wronged her before. If you observe Lily, you’ll notice a pattern. It might be bulky men, tall women, people with certain hair color, or the gestures they make.
Also, dogs might react badly to people who were part of a traumatic experience. Let’s say that you came to visit your friend when he was taking Lily for her first shot. She might connect your presence to the vet visit and be wary of you in the future, no matter that you don’t have anything to do with it.
The important thing is that if something reminds Lily of an ugly time in her life, she is going to react defensively. You’ll do the same in her situation, won’t you?
#4 It’s mine! Stay away!
“My dog hates my father.” That’s something a friend of mine said once over coffee. It’s one thing for a dog to dislike a friend or the mailman, but it’s quite different when a family member is involved, right?
One of the reasons why a dog might seem to hate one family member is resource guarding. Even though dogs have been domesticated for quite some time, they still have the instinct to protect their food and possessions.
Think about the situation. When does the dog act aggressively? Is the person near Lily’s food bowls? Are they sitting on her favorite armchair?
For example, if Lily is barking/growing at your father when he is sitting on the sofa, but otherwise acts normally around him, it’s clear that she doesn’t like him sitting on her spot.
Also, your dog might not like that particular family member because he doesn’t pay her any attention and gives her the cold shoulder.
#5 Wrong tone
Have you ever met a person who gets on your nerves just by the way he talks or the way he carries himself around? Well, the same can happen to your pooch. She might dislike the way your friends speak or how they act in her presence.
As research has proven, dogs know the difference between a happy voice and an angry voice, and they prefer people who sound happy. In addition to this, they are more likely to dismiss/avoid people with deep voices or those who sound angry.
So, the simplest reason why your dog doesn’t like your friend might be that he talks loudly or shouts too much.
Check out this insightful video of the top 10 things people do that dog’s really don’t like:
Body posture is also a “big deal” in the dog’s world because dogs use a lot of body language to communicate with each other. Here’s where the language barrier between people and dogs proves to be hard to overcome because we don’t take into account the “cultural” differences between our species.
While we might think that a person avoiding eye contact is hiding something and shouldn’t be trusted, direct eye contact in a dog’s world means a challenge. On the other hand, looking slightly to the side is a sign of respect.
In addition to this, people who love dogs sometimes react too enthusiastically when they meet a cute doggy. They are loud, wave hands around, and make all sorts of weird sounds, which creates a negative impression, freaks out the dog, and sends the wrong message.
#7 Dogs observe how people interact
Researchers have been wondering for a long time what dogs think when they observe us interacting with friends and family. So, they decided to test if dogs make conclusions based on how other people treat their owner. The results showed that our pets are even more intelligent than we give them credit.
As it turns out, dogs were less likely to approach a person who refused to help their owner than a helpful one. So, if your friend’s dog doesn’t like you, maybe he witnessed an incident when you refused to do something and his owner was disappointed by your behavior.
How to deal with a dog that doesn’t like certain people?
No matter if the dog hates one of your friends or a family member, there is a solution to the problem:
- Give plenty of treats to the dog when the “bad” person is present. You want to create positive associations.
- Don’t force the dog to be around somebody she dislikes, or you’re creating a possible explosive situation.
- Be patient.
- Use obedience training to keep your dog in check.
If you are on the opposite side and your friend’s dog hate you or your son’s dog is growling at you:
- Work with your friend to work out what the dog doesn’t like about you.
- Stay calm and avoid sudden moves.
- Don’t approach the dog enthusiastically.
- Spend time with the dog in the company of his owner.
- Try to “win” the dog’s favor with treats and attention.
This video gives great advice on how to get a dog to like you:
As you can see, your dog might hate specific people for trivial reasons, which have nothing to do with your friends’ personalities. The most important thing in such situations is to try and identify the trigger so that you can employ countermeasures. Don’t allow the situation to escalate or you’ll have troubles in the future.
What do you think about these reasons why a dog seems to dislike certain people? Do you agree with them? Have you got anything to add to the list? Tell us what you think in the comment section.