4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Goodness?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Goodness?


Have you ever wondered, when your dog growls at someone, if the person is a bad person? Or if your dog takes to someone right away, do you speculate that the person might be a great human? People love to talk about how when they met someone, their pooch took to that person right away, so they just knew they were a good person. 

Is there any truth to that, though? Can dogs really sense goodness in a person? Maybe! It's hard to say, but it would be comforting to think your pup did have this sixth sense to help protect themselves and you.


Signs Your Dog Does or Doesn't Like Someone

So, what will a dog do if they like someone? Dogs can do a lot of different things, but you'll probably notice them sniffing the person and then wagging their tail. They might even try to jump up on the visitor and lick them. Dogs aren't shy and they wear their emotions on their paw, so to speak. So, if it seems like your dog likes someone, they probably do!

On the other side of that, if your dog really doesn't like someone, what will they do? You will probably notice your dog's body stiffening up and they might start growling or barking at the person as a warning. If dogs perceive a threat to themselves or you, they'll jump right into action. So, if your dog is acting up around a new person, it's important to watch their body language and cues. 

If your dog begins to try to lunge or bite someone, it has already gone too far. You need to nip it in the bud right away by removing your dog from the situation, and perhaps consider getting away from that person if they are, in fact, dangerous. With that being said, we’re not sure why dogs like some people and don’t like others. So, that’s important to keep in mind while evaluating your friends.

Body Language

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog likes someone:

  • Jumping Up
  • Wag Tail
  • Sniffing
  • Licking

Other Signs

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog doesn't like someone:

  • Body Stiffening
  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Lunging
  • Biting

History of Dogs and Goodness


Historically, dogs have descended from wolves. Wolves are territorial and protect their packs. So, it's not hard to imagine a dog would want to protect themselves and your family, or their “pack,” from any potential threats. However, if a dog can be protective and sense danger, shouldn't they be able to sense goodness in people as well? Dogs have seemed to be pretty good judges of character in stories you hear from dog owners.

One dog owner recounted times that her dog growled and carried on when someone that she considered a bit shady came to the door and was somewhat persistent. Her dog barking erratically at the door made her feel better too, as she knew people didn’t like to deal with dogs if they weren’t up to something good. While she didn’t know people's intentions, since they made her feel uneasy, she felt affirmed by her dog feeling uneasy as well. Does this demonstrate a dog knowing good people from someone bad? Who knows, but it’s somewhat compelling.

Science Behind Dogs and Goodness


Scientifically, dogs can smell a lot about you. They can smell changes in people's hormones, what they ate earlier, sickness, and maybe even stuff that person has been around in the past. So, if you sweat or have certain illnesses, a pooch can actually smell it. 

Can they actually smell goodness? Goodness probably doesn't have a scent, but if it did, a dog would be a great candidate to smell it. With 220 million olfactory sensors, dogs' sense of smell is absolutely amazing! Their sense of smell probably aids them in deciding if a person is sketchy or alright, as well. 

Dogs can also hear things that humans can’t hear. This is because they can hear between 67-45,000 Hz while humans hear a much narrower range of sounds. While we aren’t sure what the criteria would be, it seems dogs do have some kind of sixth sense when it comes to smelling and sensing things about people.

Training Your Dog to Sense Goodness


So, you’re interested in training your dog to sense goodness? It's probably not possible, since we’re not even sure if they can or not. You can however, help your pup live a long life and stay sharp with good health. So, be sure to make sure your dog gets plenty of good nutritious food and drinks plenty of water. It’s also important to make sure they get plenty of exercise. Take them for plenty of walks, or hire a great service to do it for you. 

Also, it’s important to bond with your dog. So, make sure to get plenty of play time in with your pup, and maybe give them a few of their favorite treats.

So, can a dog really sense goodness in a person? We’re not really sure, but we are sure that dogs can smell and sense things about people that we as humans may or may not sense. Which is important to keep in mind.

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By Katie Anderson

Published: 06/13/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
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