Some dogs will bark at the elderly, some at males, and some at certain ethnicities, making their owners wonder if their dogs are racist for some reason.
Dogs aren’t inherently racist, but if they only meet certain types of people throughout their puppyhood, they might get scared or confused when facing new types when they get older and haven’t been properly socialized with those persons.
Most dog owners can recognize that their dog seems to have issues with certain guests for some reason, while they absolutely adore other guests, it doesn’t always seem like it makes sense, but it is common dog behavior.
Keep reading to find the answer to why is my dog racist, and how you should deal with it.
It’s All About Your Body Language
To try and get a better understanding of the situation, let’s take a look at why it is that some people in general have a better handle on pets than others.
There can be several reasons why some dogs are not too keen on certain groups of people, and that’s why it isn’t all that easy to answer the question for the researchers.
Professor Björn Forkman from the University of Copenhagen believes one of the main reasons dogs decide to trust us, is our body language.
Studies have shown, that humans reveal a lot to the dog entirely through our body language. There is a type of interaction between humans and dogs that helps the pup calm down when presented with a certain kind of body language.
“A lot of it is down to your ability to understand and react to your dog’s body language, even if it isn’t something you’re entirely aware of.”– Björn Forkman
Dogs react strongly to the behavior of other animals, and humans, and from that, they decide if the person seems aggressive or accommodating.
As an example, it can seem quite aggressive for some dogs if a person is very outgoing, and thinking about it, that reaction isn’t all that different from us humans when we meet certain types of people.
“It’s a bit like when you meet a person, who then proceeds to stand a bit too close to you, or perhaps that person can’t stop staring. It’s all about body language, and how we proceed those people are different from person to person.”– Björn Forkman
Why Dogs’ Doesn’t Like Certain Types of People
But what is it then, that makes some dogs react strongly to certain groups of people, such as large males, kids, or Black people?
“It’s a bit like with kids when they meet somebody who looks different than what they’re used to. Everything is new, so if it’s the first time the pup interacts with somebody with different skin color, it will notice it.”– Björn Forkman
If you’re afraid of dogs, or perhaps from a culture where pets aren’t as highly regarded, it can also influence how the dog will react to you.
So far there hasn’t been any research done on just exactly how this plays out though.
Why You Should Accustom Your Dog to New Situations
Another aspect you can’t look past is a little something called upbringing.
“Dogs will get accustomed to what is normal as a puppy. That’s why socializing is so incredibly important. Having to train an adult dog not to be scared of new things, is a lot more work than it is with puppies.”- Björn Forkman
Björn also thinks that other certain characteristics in the body language might have an influence on whether a dog pays special attention to certain types of people. For example the tone of our voice.
“You’ll often hear about dogs having issues with males. Perhaps this is due to an earlier bad experience with certain males, or perhaps it’s because males have a deeper voice. Experienced dog owners often speak to their dogs in a lighter voice. It’s purely speculation, but you could easily imagine a deeper voice making a difference, as it’s often expressing some kind of dominance.”– Björn Forkman
Make Your Dog Feel Safe
Generally speaking, it’s easier for people who are used to being around animals to express the correct body language and treat the dog as it really wants to be treated.
Perhaps you will also have some dogs who love you, and some dogs who don’t. The best reason for that is that dogs are different.
“If some animals have experience with certain people, either good or bad, it will influence if it’s the type of a person it wants to be with in the future, just as with us humans. If the dog suspects the person to be unpleasant, it will do what it can to avoid that person.”– Karen Thodberg, senior scientist at Aarhus University
Karen Thodberg and Björn Forkman believe it depends on whether the dog feels safe around people, what type of people it’s used to be around, the breed of the dog, and which personal experiences it has made growing up. There can be a huge difference in those factors from dog to dog.
“They will connect the smells, expressions, and appearance with something they are more familiar with. If it’s something that reminds them of people they like”– Karen Thodberg
So while it might appear that your dog is racist, it’s actually more about how the dog believes the person behaves, and the type of people it’s used to be around than it’s a question of that person’s ethnicity.
Final Words on Why Is My Dog Racist
If you’re looking to be your dog’s favorite person in the home, the most certain way to succeed is through their stomach.
“There is usually always one person in the household that’s its favorite. If it’s the same person walking the dog every time, or feeding the dog, you can be sure that person is number one on their list of VIP’s”– Karen Thodberg
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