Bark About! Blog

A puppy pile of dog information and stories

Why Does My Dog Dislike A Particular Person?

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation. You’re bringing a new friend into your home for the first time. Your dog has always been super friendly to everyone, so you’re not worried at all. She’ll have no problem with a new human entering her abode. So, you bring your new friend inside when — much to your surprise! — your little angel turns into a barking, snarling Kujo! Your loving and happy-go-lucky pup, for whatever reason, does not like this new person. Perhaps guiltily you wonder: Is this a sign? Is there something my dog is trying to tell me?

What gives? Why does your dog seem to love everybody—until they meet a particular person? There are many reasons why dogs respond well to certain people, and, well, not so great to others.

Something Smells Fishy Here

It turns out dogs prioritize the scent of humans above other smells. When a person’s pheromones smell different than what a dog expects, they may become nervous, frightened, or aggressive. They simply don’t know what to make of your new friend! A dog can also pick up when a person is uncomfortable or anxious, which can trigger a negative response from your dog.

Perfumes, colognes, and other body-altering scents can also affect your dog’s perception of someone. If your dog catches a whiff of your friend’s new perfume and it’s just not sitting right with them, it may cause a different reaction than expected.

The Importance of Body Language

When your dog meets your friend and he’s staring directly at them, he may unintentionally be sending an “intimidating” signal to your dog. Dogs interpret body language differently than we do. Direct eye contact, for example, can be threatening and signal a “show-down.”

Your Friend Sounds Like Darth Vader

Dogs do pay close attention to a person’s tone of voice, and it has an effect on their perception of what you’re trying to communicate to them. It’s been found that the reward center in dog’s brains get activated when hearing a higher pitched voice, and they naturally associate higher-pitched sounds as non-threatening, friendly, and even exciting. It doesn’t mean your friend needs to talk like a chipmunk, but an upbeat, friendly voice sound more welcoming than an angry, authoritative voice.

Your Dog Hates Baseball Hats

Sometimes dogs will react negatively to a person if there is a physical attribute that bothers them. It could be as random as someone wearing a hat, a shirt color, if they’re sporting a beard or wearing glasses, and so on. A new person wearing something they haven’t seen before may be unsettling to them. If that’s the case, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to new sights, smells, and places to reduce general anxiety.

Your Dog Has Dealt with Past Abuse

This a key thing to keep in mind when inviting new people into your dog’s life, or when you’re meeting new dogs who own a difficult past. Dogs don’t forget their traumatic experiences, and people who may look similar to those in their abusive past may understandably cause a fearful or nervous reaction.

How to Help Your Dog Meet New People

Before you bring over someone new, you can prep them on how to keep things non-threatening and stress-free for your dog. Initially, have them act nonchalant and keep them from starting a staring contest with your dog. Let your dog decide, on their own terms, whether they would like to come up to your friend for attention or pets. If your friend keeps it friendly, laid-back, and non-threatening, hopefully your dog will warm up to them over time.

Have additional tips on helping dogs around new people, or have any stories about your dog acting different around a friend? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Read More

Care after Covid: Who’s Your Best Friend?

Mask on, mask off. Social distance or no. The pandemic may be heading out, but things are no less complicated. It’s been a tough year. Missing our family and friends, tired of being cooped up. Our healthy eating habits have gone by the wayside and a lot of us...

Easy Ways to Socialize Your Dog

So you brought home a new puppy…congratulations! It’s an exciting time as you begin your new adventure with this furry bundle of joy. That is, until you notice they always start to bark when a friend comes over to your place, or they’re timid around other dogs. The...

2020. How will our dogs cope?

2020 has been an odd year to say the least. Pandemic, political turmoil, weather phenomenon, racial unrest and economic distress have caused our world to be thrown upside down. Work schedules change, school schedules change, entertainment changes and we find ourselves...

How to Keep Your Dog Safe & Happy on Halloween

Halloween is inching its way closer, so now’s the time to start thinking how you’ll spend the spooky evening. That includes thinking about your pup—to them, Halloween must seem very strange! We’ve written some tips below on how to keep your dog safe and happy...

Autumn Safety Tips for Your Dog

With the leaves turning and the weather cooling, fall can feel like a welcome break from the summer’s hot and humid temps. However, fall can also present itself with unique challenges for dogs. We've written some tips below to keep your dog healthy and happy this...

6 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe From Snakes This Summer

Summer’s the perfect time to get outside & hike with your dog, but the warmer weather also means it’s snake season, from about April through October. To keep your dog safe from potential snake bites, we’ve rounded up some important safety tips to keep in mind. 1....

Keep Your Dog Safe During 4th of July Fireworks

The Fourth of July is a fun holiday for us, but scary for our pets. According to PRNewswire, animal shelters across the US report a 30% increase in missing pets every year. Fireworks are a loud, unexpected noise occurring multiple times, so it’s no wonder our pets can...

How to Prevent Sunburns in Dogs

Summer is a time for creating happy memories, like lazy days by the pool…but it can also remind you of that wicked sunburn you got that one time (you know the one). Unfortunately, dogs can suffer from sunburns too. And nobody wants their pup to deal with a painful...

Are We Giving Our Pups the Blues?

By Brandi K. Ormerod, PhD Every pooch parent loves the greeting that their beloved pooch gives them when they return home after a long day (or 30 seconds) – that over-the-top greeting brightens up the worst of days. Pooch parents also know that cartoonesque...

Related Articles