Social Question

LostInParadise's avatar

Are dogs drawn to people who feel ill at ease?

Asked by LostInParadise (28465points) June 4th, 2010

I have noticed it happen with me and also with other people. My mother had a fear of dogs and she claimed that they always sort her out. I think that in an ironic way she may have been right.

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10 Answers

syz's avatar

Dogs have exquisite sensitivity to body language and scent. If she’s in fear of them, then I would suspect that they’re either trying to figure out what’s wrong or trying to take advantage of her fear to dominate her.

Pandora's avatar

According to the dog whisperer, they can tell by your body language whether you feel confident or not. So they will either try to dominate or feel uneasy by your body language and be violent. If you’re relaxed than it tells them there is nothing to fear. They may not know its them that you are afraid of but your tension makes them feel anxious and tense.
Some dogs are just very comfortable with people and will try to show you all is well. My dog always tries to cautiously approach fearful people. He will take his time getting near them till he feels they are in a more relaxed state. At least its what I’ve noticed with his behavior. If they are extremely fearful he will then bark at them.

nebule's avatar

Interestingly…I went for a walk in the park the other day with my son and three dogs came up to me (the only three in the park) and gave me their sticks to throw,... this has never happened to me before… weird! I do not kn ow what this means… maybe I need to have more fun???

LostInParadise's avatar

@Pandora , Does getting a back rub and a head scratch from someone count as domination?

marinelife's avatar

@LostInParadise No, if the dog stood still for that or even sought it, it was trying to reassure you.

LostInParadise's avatar

I never looked at it that way. I always thought the dog figured that I was an easy mark for a back scratch, which I am (not so for my mother). It never occurred to me that the dog was acting in my interest.

marinelife's avatar

@LostInParadise Petting a dog lowers one’s blood pressure.

LostInParadise's avatar

True, but does the dog know that? I don’t mean to be sarcastic. I am just trying to figure out the instinctual impulse behind the dog’s behavior. Do pack animals like wolves rush over to comfort one of their members if it is acting distressed? I am fairly sure that dogs consider their human family to be their pack. I had the curious experience of being herded by my brother’s cairn terrier when I went for a walk in the woods with him and his family. I had fallen behind to look at something and the dog got up on its hind legs and pressed against the back of my shins.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@LostInParadise You haven’t been herded until a border collie practically body slams you into doing what she wants you to do. :-)

marinelife's avatar

It is a gesture of comfort. For example, my dog will lean against me when I am crying.

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