2 February 2011

I'm sorry, Fido doesn't like you, you gotta go

I've heard it a lot of times: "dogs are a good judge of character". I've also read and heard stories about how dogs can sense if you're a good person or not. Well, in the spirit of Penn and Teller, whom I've been watching lately, I'd like to suggest that all of this is just bullshit.

Let's start with the beginning... Why people say dogs are a good judge a character here in Romania has a lot to do with the fact that a dog's traditional "job" here is to guard the house. That means barking at strangers who might or might not want to break in and rob the house. This is how they are trained and that is what they would do. There are dogs that bark as a warning, even if you're just passing in front of the fence.
My dad taught me long ago not to be afraid of dogs and how to deal with guard dogs in particular. He told me that they do bark while inside the yard, but outside, they don't have what to protect, so they might be the nicest dogs you know.

When we went to my grandparents' house, the guard dog always barked at us, even if we were always welcome there. After some food and attention, we would become best friends. However, if we came back after a longer absence, the dog still barked at us.

Another example I would like to give is that here, there are a lot of gypsies and dogs are said to bark at gypsies. Now, gypsies are a bit discriminated against, as being vulgar, maybe violent and not caring much about personal hygiene. You can't generalise about an entire ethnicity, but the people that do smell funny often attract dogs' barks.
It is said that dogs smell fear. Well, it might be possible that they can smell your sweat when you are afraid, but mostly, they will interpret your movements. There are a lot of signs that give fear away.

So, dogs are protective of a place or a person or other dogs or simply suspicious of a smell or odd behaviour. Do all those things say anything about our character? I guess not. Here is a little article you can read on this subject: Dogs as Judges of Character.

Hey, buddy, that's my tail!

I wrote about this because of a heated discussion on Facebook about a person whose dog was jealous of their new boyfriend. A lot of people advised them to dump the boyfriend for the simple reason that the dog was jealous and maybe protective.

Take care and please research what you preach.


  1. I guess I did practice what I preach. When I was in college we had a dog who didn't like anybody outside of our family. When my husband came over to take me out for our first date, he was one of two people not related to us that she ever liked! Funny thing, his family dog liked me, too. I wouldn't go out with someone who didn't like my dog, or who my dog didn't like.

  2. Well, you're free to do what you want, of course.

    I'm sure though that if I watched for Aschiuta's reactions, everyone would be a nice person. She loves everybody :)

  3. Dog do pick up on fear, apprehension, and the cues from their handlers. Knowing that, one should be careful to be aware of what's going on when meeting a stranger. Being in-tune with your dog could help avoid an unfortunate incident.

  4. Very true, there can be many reasons for why a dog behaves in a certain way. Animals do indeed sense fear, but character is too complex for their reactions to a person to be a reliable judge. And most definitely, a boyfriend should not be dumped if a dog is jealous or protective!


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