I’ve always been told that if a dog doesn’t trust a person, neither should you. This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Some dogs like everyone, and some are unfriendly to anyone but their owners. Still, I can’t help but wonder if there’s some truth in this old wives’ tale.
After all, some people seem to be dog magnets. They are beloved by canines everywhere they go. Other people seem to repel dogs, putting them on guard.
Why are dogs attracted to me?
There’s a difference between being a dog person and being a dog’s person. Dog people love dogs, and generally have positive interaction with dogs. Dog’s people seem to attract dogs like a magnet. You may hear things like, “Wow, she never lets strangers pet her”, or find yourself with a doggie entourage when you go for a walk. Why do dogs seem so drawn to you?
If you find that your friend’s dogs love you, the reason may be social eavesdropping. Dogs are very observant, particularly when it comes to their owners.
They know when their owner is happy, sad, or sick. They can be trained to warn of seizures or asthma attacks. When you are interacting with their owner, they are surprisingly aware of what’s going on.
If you are helpful to their owner, they will like you. If their owner likes you, they usually will as well.
One study proved this point. The study had 54 participants and their dogs. The owners were attempting to open a box with tape inside. A stranger stops by. Some of the owners asked the stranger for help opening the box. Half the strangers helped, and the other half didn’t. A third group of owners was told not to ask the stranger for help.
This gives a positive, negative, and neutral interactions between the owners and strangers. Then, the dogs were offered treats from either the helpful or unhelpful stranger and the neutral stranger.
The dogs refused the treats from the unhelpful stranger, and would take the treat from the neutral stranger. When it came to the helpful stranger and the neutral stranger, the dogs showed no preference. They took treats equally from both.
This suggests that if a person has a negative interaction with the owner, the dog will not like them. If they are helpful or neutral, the dog will like them, or at least be willing to interact with them.
You may know that smell is a dog’s primary sense. They can smell 100 to 1000 times better than we can. They are also much better at identifying specific smells. You may smell apple pie, but your dog will smell apples, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Dogs are very adept at detecting and understanding human smells or phenomenons. If you are aggressive, agitated, or fearful, the dog will smell it. Literally!
If you are happy, calm, and nonthreatening, the dog will smell that as well. Dogs are drawn to people who are friendly and happy, or at least not fearful or anxious.
You Like Them
Dogs can be altruistic or protective, as social eavesdropping illustrates. However, they can also be a bit self-centered, just as humans can. You tend to like people who like you, and who you have positive interactions with. Dogs feel the same way.
Dogs may like you simply because you enjoy being around them. If they know your appearance means pets, praise, or treats, the odds of them liking you are high.
However, it’s not all about treats. Dogs seem to have a drive for love and acceptance, similar to humans. When you like them, the dog feels loved and accepted, which they enjoy just like you do.
How Dogs Pick “Their Person”
Some dogs love the entire family, and may display a slight preference for one person in the home. Other dogs will form a very close attachment to one person, and may show little interest in other family members.
Either way, most dogs seem to have a favorite person. How do they choose?
Usually, the person that provides them with food and water plays a role. After all, this is the person that meets their basic needs. They also tend to love the person who interacts with them the most. If one person loves to play, go for walks, and play with the dog, this is likely to become their favorite person.
Lastly, dog’s tend to gravitate towards the person whose personality is close to their own. If you have an active dog, they are likely to prefer the active person in the house. If your dog is relaxed and prefers to cuddle, they will choose the person who enjoys relaxing and cuddling with them.
What does it mean if a dog likes you?
I recently had one of those people that I don’t like but must occasionally interact with at my home. My beagle showed a strong dislike for them. The person offered their hand and called the dog, to no avail. The dog clearly didn’t like them.
If dogs are an excellent judge of character, which anecdotal evidence sometimes suggests, does it mean you are a good person if a dog likes you?
You Smell Good
As I mentioned earlier, dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell. If you smell good, they will like you. Ironically, things like perfume or cologne can be off putting to dogs. Even though they smell good to humans, it can confuse or startle the dog, because you won’t smell like a human “should” smell.
If dogs like you, calmness plays a role. Dogs can sense your emotions and mental state. They can easily detect a calm person, and will be drawn to them.
Humans are naturally the same way. Calm people are generally more enjoyable to be around, and they tend to be more popular than those with lots of anxiety or apprehension.
Just like calmness, happiness makes you more fun to be around for humans and pooches. Happy people tend to draw people to them. Dogs feel the same way. Happy people are enjoyable, and more likely to give treats and belly rubs.
If dogs like you, you are likely a friendly person. Perhaps you were friendly or helpful to their owner. Perhaps you greet the dog with a warm smile and tone of voice.
Dogs love friendly people for the same reasons they enjoy happy and calm people. Again, if it’s a characteristic people prefer in each other, dogs will likely prefer it as well.
However, dogs are better people readers than most humans. They are very observant, and they are able to pick up on information we can’t. This makes them able to detect deception. If you are only pretending to be friendly, chances are dogs will see right through you.
Dogs ability to read people means that they can easily tell if you are genuine or not. If you aren’t genuine, the dog probably won’t like you.
Dogs pick up on your pheromones and can even detect your pulse and heart rate. If they find your tone of voice or actions aren’t lining up with the sensory information they pick up, it will likely be off putting to the dog.
You are Non-Threatening
If dogs like you, it means they perceive that you are non-threatening. You may be small and slight, or large and well muscled. This doesn’t matter to the dog. Instead, they use their senses to determine your attitude and mood. They can easily tell if you present a threat, no matter how you look.
Are dogs attracted to humans?
Dogs are attracted to humans. This is why they are considered man’s best friend. The more important question is why do dogs love us so much?
Dogs and wolves are very similar, but there’s one key difference between the two. If your dog encounters a problem, they will look to you for guidance. Wolves will not seek help from a human, even if they are well socialized.
Dogs also have a strong desire to please. This is also usually missing in wolves.
It’s in the Genes
Recent research has found that dog’s have a chromosome that disposes them to friendliness and socialization. It’s chromosone 6, and is also present in some humans. In fact, chromosone 6 is found in people who are hyper-social, or considered people people.
Humans, dogs, and wolves all have this chromosome. However, differences in the choromosone seem to make for friendlier companions. The structure of chromosome 6 in humans and dogs is quite different from that of wolves.
Ability to Communicate
We communicate with our dogs all the time, even though we can’t have a two-way conversation with them. We can easily identify our dogs moods and feelings, and dogs can identify ours as well.
Just like with babies, we are usually good at determining what a dog wants or needs, even though it can’t directly communicate with us.
Why are dogs calm around me?
Dogs are calm around people who are calm themselves. If you are calm, secure, and patient, dogs will sense these things and generally feel calm around you.
Non-Threatening and Trustworthy
Feeling nonthreatening plays a role as well. If you are close to the dog, it’s their trust in you that allows them to be calm. Even if you and the dog are new to each other, they will sense whether you are a safe person or not.
How to get dogs to leave me alone?
Most people want dogs to like them. However, if your dog is extremely attached or you can’t stroll around the block without a pack of dogs, you may want dogs to leave you alone.
Socialize the Dog
If your dog won’t leave you alone, it’s a good idea to socialize your dog. Invite friends over to interact with your dog. Set up doggie playdates. When they have some of their needs met by others, they may be less clingy.
Redirection is an excellent way to get your dog to leave you alone for a bit. When they seek your attention, give them something else to do. Give them a toy, a chewie, or put the TV on for them.