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  1. #1
    Herald of the Titans Snow White's Avatar
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    Can dogs sense bad people / dangerous people?

    I have an extremely friendly and approachable german shepherd. She is very sweet with strangers and is happy to meet everyone.

    Well, the other day we were walking down the road and there was a woman walking towards us on the other side of the road. I thought for sure my dog would yank me towards her to go say hi but instead, as soon as my dog noticed the woman she stopped dead in her tracks and started pulling me back towards home crying and barking. I was confused at first so I tried to get my dog to calm down but then when I turned toward the woman I noticed she didn't have any shoes on which kind of creeped me out (its very cold here right now) so I decided to listen to my dog and turn around and go back home.

    Do you think maybe my dog sensed the woman was dangerous or something? Have you had any experiences like this or know of any stories that are related?
    Last edited by Snow White; 2011-12-02 at 02:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Human beings rely on scent for a hell of a lot of our judgement of one another. This being the case, human scent is quite profound.
    It can be that your dog simple didn't like the smell of this person and what it represented.

    You know those moments where you meet people and instantly dislike them? Same thing, I suppose.
    Edit: Madness is, in fact, represented in human scent.

  3. #3
    Mechagnome Zenora's Avatar
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    most dogd are very intelligent and 'sence' things in the way ppl act as dogs dont speak the same language tehy speak with body language. so there was prolly something about this womans body language that the dog didnt trust and wanted to get you to safety before anything bad happened

  4. #4
    Old God
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    They can sense when a person is uncomfertable or scared I'm pretty sure. At least thats what I've been told, same with horses, they can sense if the rider is uncomfertable and then the horse gets uncomfertable as well. Doesn't really mean the person is dangerous though might just be they have had experience with agressive dogs in the past so they are scared of them, then the dog might react to the fear they sense from that person, that can cause quite a problem obviously.

  5. #5
    The Lightbringer Firebane's Avatar
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    Yes they can.

    A friend of mine in the Gendarmerie (I guess the "force" between the police and the army really) had a dog who sussed out a guy before he tried to pull a knife out when they stopped to talk to him. Might of saved his life.
    Huray for our four legged friends.
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  6. #6
    Pit Lord Odina's Avatar
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    The woman's body language, smell etc could have triggered it but the most probable culprit of the reaction is you. You man not have noticed it but some tension in the leash, a change in your body language, change in speed etc etc all indicators that you felt nervous about the person would have triggered that reaction in your dog.

    You must realize when you are walking your dog you are doing a "pack"activity. A sign that you are nervous or in fear (even slightly) during this activity will trigger your dog to go into fight or flight mode. They whimpered and wanted to go home hence sensing your instability in this area, and they wanted to go back home where they know you are stable and not fearful. Very natural and normal reaction...had you not turned and gone back home the only option your dog would have had is fight...so probably a good choice to have turned around!

  7. #7
    Animals are not psychic in any way if that's what you're suggesting. But because animals communicated quite differently they do, however, pick up on things that we don't, and things we do, notice but to a less extent such as smell, bodylanguage, posture, facial experessions, etc. They will react negatively if they pick up things that seem directly threatening to them, but will probably also react negatively if they can't decipher your intentions.

    Also, they will absolutely follow your lead in liking or disliking a person and since they absolutely know your every move or piece of body language, they'll probably be aware that you like or don't like someone as soon as you subconciously decide.
    Last edited by manbeartruck; 2011-12-02 at 02:43 PM.

  8. #8
    Keener sense of smell means that they can 'sense' bad people yes, if they give out nervous hormones etc, dogs might be simple, but they are not stupid.

  9. #9
    Homeles people that can not even afford shoes sure are bad and dangerous.

    On topic : dogs like some people, and dont like some other. But you shouldnt read too much into it. My dog had this reaction you descrie to people, cats, trash bins, motorcicles and leaves waving in the wind.
    Ecce homo ergo elk

  10. #10
    Your dog probably noticed body language that you did not. Even the smell is an unlikely source of anxiety for an animal, but I suppose it is theoretically possible.

    As with the above, you also probably contributed quite a large amount to your dog's sense of nervousness.
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  11. #11
    Herald of the Titans Snow White's Avatar
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    Perhaps you're right, although I'm usually happy to see a stranger on the street while walking my dog because I want her to be properly socialized. I don't think I felt fear or anything when I initially saw the woman to trigger my dog, but I guess it's possible. It was just so insane seeing her react that way when I expected her to want to go lick the woman and roll on her back exposing her tummy for belly rubs.
    Last edited by Snow White; 2011-12-02 at 02:59 PM.

  12. #12
    You said you saw the woman first before your dog got anxious. Your mind would have noticed things like her not having shoes, even without you being conscious of it, and it is believable that you behavior would have slightly changed, something dogs easily pick up on.

    You don't necessarily have to feel fear, even just being uncomfortable is something that you will pass on to your dog. If the woman made you at all nervous then your dog will be nervous as well. That's why one of the most common and powerful socialization techniques for dogs is to get their owners together (especially drinking) and relaxed, so that the dogs will be relaxed as well and become comfortable with mass interaction.
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  13. #13
    nope, i dont believe they can. reason being i belong to a trash family of people who are in and out of jail all the time for some truly sick crimes, and ive never seen an animal react negatively to any of them unless they already had a history of mistreating it.

  14. #14
    Herald of the Titans Snow White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lysah View Post
    You said you saw the woman first before your dog got anxious. Your mind would have noticed things like her not having shoes, even without you being conscious of it, and it is believable that you behavior would have slightly changed, something dogs easily pick up on.

    You don't necessarily have to feel fear, even just being uncomfortable is something that you will pass on to your dog. If the woman made you at all nervous then your dog will be nervous as well. That's why one of the most common and powerful socialization techniques for dogs is to get their owners together (especially drinking) and relaxed, so that the dogs will be relaxed as well and become comfortable with mass interaction.
    The weird thing is she has approached people that made me weary before. I wonder why now, why this woman. So odd. It was so unexpected, lol. I really thought like she saved my life, haha.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Lysah View Post
    You said you saw the woman first before your dog got anxious. Your mind would have noticed things like her not having shoes, even without you being conscious of it, and it is believable that you behavior would have slightly changed, something dogs easily pick up on.

    You don't necessarily have to feel fear, even just being uncomfortable is something that you will pass on to your dog. If the woman made you at all nervous then your dog will be nervous as well. That's why one of the most common and powerful socialization techniques for dogs is to get their owners together (especially drinking) and relaxed, so that the dogs will be relaxed as well and become comfortable with mass interaction.
    That being said, dogs can sense danger, among other things, the same as humans can.

    Natural instinct is something that people take for granted but is very strong. Imagine thousands upon thousands of years of evolution, all ingrained in yours and the dogs DNA. When it's time to react, without conscious decision, your mind is capable of using and interpreting your senses better than you ever will be consciously.

    Dogs are much less able to control instinct like we are, they are domesticated which arguably has created for them the ability to choose, but they are fundamentally closer to base instinct than we are and likely pick up on things instinctually.

    In this case, the dogs instincts were saying to stay away whether or not it was right who knows, it isn't psychic, just instinctual.
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  16. #16
    Hard to say, like I/others have said, it's also possible that your dog really did pick up something about the stranger, maybe from smell or body language, and became nervous entirely because of her. One day maybe we'll be able to ask =p
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  17. #17
    Scarab Lord Rixis's Avatar
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    dogs love me and i love dogs, woo, i'm not evil

    i dunno the sciences about it, could be something with how they're brought up (what they're around etc) that they dislike certain smells for various reasons, and associate smells with good or bad things

  18. #18
    Legendary! darenyon's Avatar
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    As others have said, dogs can pick up scents and body language better. Oftentimes dangerous people give off a "predatory" vibe that animals can pick up on better than humans. Not always, though.

  19. #19
    Fluffy Kitten Tribunal's Avatar
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    I think the dog question has been pretty answered, but I just wanted to add:

    Especially if she was elderly, please at least consider calling social services to get some help for the lady. She's probably in the grips of dementia or some other mental illness if she's wandering around outside in the cold without shoes.

    Not saying you have to do anything yourself (since they can, out of confusion, be dangerous or at least hard to handle and you don't know that was her situation) but just make someone aware. It'll be good karma points c:

  20. #20
    My dogs can sense when someone is going to die.

    Every time a relative, friend or someone in the neighbourhood dies my dogs go apeshit the day before. Crying, whining, barking, howling running around etc. The person might not even have ever met the dogs. So yeah, if dogs can sense when people are gonna die then they can probably sense bad people. Also, my dogs hate people that me and my bro hate, like people who are kinda creepy or not good people. I'm not sure if that is because we dislike them or maybe the dogs sense it for themselves that the people are slightly off.

    Either way, I don't think it was a mere coincidence that your dog behaved the way it did.

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