4 min read


Can Dogs Sense if a Person is Good or Bad?



4 min read


Can Dogs Sense if a Person is Good or Bad?


In this world, we have a lot of good people, but sadly, many bad ones as well. The problem for us humans is that we often cannot tell the bad from the good until it is too late and we have already been burnt. Bad people don’t walk around with devil horns or the word bad plastered across their forehead, which is what makes it difficult for us to differentiate. 

However, what about our pets? Can a dog sense if a person is good or bad? Well, the answer to this is yes, they are actually very adept at sorting out the good eggs from the bad ones!


Signs Your Dog Knows if Someone is Good or Bad

A dog can pick up on whether a person is good or bad through a number of means including their tone and their body language. These are not things that we would necessarily notice, but dogs are extremely sensitive to this sort of thing. This is often why dogs can take an instant dislike to someone or even be fearful of them as soon as they meet them. By looking at the signs your dog displays, you may be able to determine whether it thinks a person is bad or good.

When your dog is around a good person, you will generally find that it runs up to the person, wags its tail, jumps up and licks the person’s face, and seems excited to be around the person. If your pooch is around a bad person, the signs will be very different. 

Your dog is likely to be backing away, have its tail tucked, have its ears down, whine, and may even be afraid to go close to the person. Some dogs may show signs of aggression around a bad person such as exposing the teeth, snapping, and growling. More timid dogs may run away and hide, as they will be reluctant to come out while the bad person is around. 

The body language displayed by your dog will vary greatly based on whether it thinks the person is good or bad. Even if the person speaks nicely to your dog, the pooch will not be fooled as it can still sense badness in a person. The hair on the nape of your dog’s neck may stand on edge, it may back away from the person while growling, and it may growl or snap at the person. You may find that your dog is very reluctant to go close to the person and whines or digs its heels in if you try to take it over on a lead. 

Body Language

Signs that your dog thinks someone is bad include:

  • Growling
  • Whining
  • Ears Drop
  • Back Hair On Edge
  • Tail Tucking
  • Exposed Teeth

Other Signs

<p>Other signs that indicate your dog has a bad feeling about someone are:</p>

  • Aggression
  • Reluctance To Go Near The Person
  • Backing Away
  • Fearful Behavior

History Behind Dogs Sensing Good and Bad


We learned over the years through the study of canine behavior that dogs are extremely adept at sensing certain things about people. In fact, the tone and body language that a person uses are amongst the main ways in which a dog can tell what mood the person is in or what a person is like. 

Dogs clearly don’t pull any punches either when it comes to someone they don’t like. Whereas we humans may pretend to get along with someone even though we don’t really like them, your pooch will make it obvious that it does not like the person through the way in which it behaves and reacts to them.

Sometimes, it may be that your dog senses that the person is not keen on dogs even if the person in question is trying to act nicely toward your pet. Dogs and cats are very adept at determining whether the person they are with is a dog or cat person and if they are not, the animal often loses interest. However, if a person is ‘bad’ in a different sense, this is something that can come across in the way they act and speak - even though they may not realize it and other humans may not pick up on it. 

Science of Dogs Being Able to Sense Good and Bad People


So, why are dogs so adept at sensing whether a person is good or bad? Well, dogs are extremely sensitive when it comes to the way in which humans act and sound. This is what enables them to determine whether a person is good or bad and whether a person likes dogs or dislikes them.

They can pick up on this from the way in which people behave and how they speak, which is something that other humans do not tend to pick up on unless it is made blatantly obvious. With dogs, you can pretend to be charming and lovely, but if you are a bad person deep down, they will pick up on it. 

Watching Your Dog's Reactions


We all have someone in our lives that we know is not a great person and, although they may not be a friend or family member, we are often simply polite to them to keep the peace. If you want to know whether your dog senses good and bad people, it is well worth seeing how it reacts when it is around someone that you know is bad as opposed to the way the dog acts around someone that you know is a good person.

Make sure you keep your eye on how your dog acts around different people on a day to day basis. With some people that you meet when you are with your pet, you will find that your pooch reacts positively. This could include a wagging tail, jumping up, licking, and barking excitedly.

However, with other people, you will notice a very different response where your dog shows signs of being nervous or even aggressive around that person. When you see how your dog reacts to different people that you know, ask yourself whether that person is what you would class as a good person or a bad one. Don’t be surprised if you find that all the people your dog has reacted in a negative way to are not great people deep down.

Many people say that dogs are good judges of character and this is something that you will see from the way in which they react to different people. Some dogs can sense good or bad more than others and their reactions vary based on the type of personality they have. 

Some will react more aggressively while others act more fearfully. Simply watching how your dog acts around different people will show you how effective your pooch is when it comes to sensing if someone is good or bad. 

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Written by a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 06/10/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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