Do You Trust Your Dogs Instincts When Meeting Strangers?

Do you trust your dogs instincts when meeting strangers?

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Well-Known Member
Hi everyone.

Just wondering if you trust your dogs instincts when you meet strangers?

Example: friendly dog greets everyone except for that one person. Should that person approach you the dog starts growling.

I got some good examples of dogs protecting me and my family from the past which I will post later after your responses :)


New Member
Yes definatley, Kiara's only ever shown any growly behaviour to two people. The first was the boyfriend of one of my foster girls - she actually pinned him up against the wall and wouldn't let him move into my house :confused: He turned out to be a real bad boy fighting, he beat up my f/girl, house robbing and he actually stole my car :cry: The second was a woman we met when out walking she seemed ok to me but Kiara didn't like her, she grumbled at her and moved away but never took her eyes of this woman - no idea why but I trust Kiara to let me know so we moved away from the woman and Kiara was fine afterwards.


Experienced Member
While dogs may pick up on things we can't and are certainly experts on reading behavior, they also are going to show preferences based on their socialization and reinforcement history. If your dog hasn't met a lot of people with beards then they might be more put off, or with old people, people with a limp, accents, diabetic, etc. Most of the time you won't have any idea why your dog is more put off by a person.


Well-Known Member
I trust Legend. He usually thinks everyone is his friend. There has only been one person he was less than interested in meeting. He won't allow this person to pet him and he never takes his eyes off of him.


New Member
With Guinness, it depends. If you're entering what he thinks is his territory, then he's growly and suspicious and watches for a cue from me. When I accept the newcomer, his tail starts wagging and he starts acting friendlier (most of the time). If we're out and about, he's totally cool with just about everybody. Sometimes he'll pick and choose individuals to dislike (and by that I mean continue to be growly even though I've accepted them)...I'm still not sure what that's all about.

My future mother-in-law's dog has a thing about hats...he's really distrustful of people in hats... But if you take it off, he loves you as much as he loves anybody.


Experienced Member
If someone asks to pet Dasy I tell them she's not aggressive and if she wants to meet them they can pet her. Being a hound she's got a mind of her own and although she's naturally a social butterfly, sometimes she'd just rather sniff around or wiggle at some kids than meet an adult. If someone is persistant on trying to pet her and she wants none of it, I call her to me, pet her and leave on a good note.
The only person Dasy's ever growled at was a vet tech, she was having an allergic reaction to vaccines and the tech left to get a bag of fluids. When she returned Dasy saw what she was carrying and wasn't happy about it, but a cookie from the tech made it a little better.
Dingo is reactive so if anyone he doesn't know tries to pet him will get him over threshold.


Honored Member
have not read above comments yet, but NO, i do NOT trust my dog's growl to indicate anything other than MY DOG is uncomfortable about something. I do not extrapolate that to mean that person is evil.
My dog used to growl, be unsure about humans with big furry hoods pulled up. this in NO WAY indicates the person wearing the big, furry hood had bad intentions, this in NO WAY indicates my dog has some E.S.P about human personalities, it only indicates, there is 'SOMETHING' about that person, that my dog is uncomfortable/unfamiliar with.

HAHA, once my dog, who is dog-aggressive, barked his head off, at a BABY in the next car over, who had PIGTAIL hairdo and to Buddy, he thought she was a dog in the car to bark at....facepalm!! but, Buddy had never seen a baby with round little pigtails before, it wa kind of dark in their car, so it coulda been a new creature or a dog, near as Buddy could tell. It made for a long stoplight.... I still imagine, that the pigtailed baby had a perfectly lovely disposition, and no malice towards us.

Some dogs react to different things about humans, especially characteristics *they* are unfamiliar with, that we might not even notice, mustaches, sunglasses, limps, size, deep voices, extremly squeaky voices, frown lined faces, thick eyebrows, whatever. Some dogs much prefer women to men, and some dogs especially dislike large or loud talking deep voiced men.

(of course, when i realized that, that hoods frighten Buddy------i set about having people with hoods, especially big furry hoods, give Buddy treats!!! and that was the end of his 'thing' with big furry hoods) Unfortunately, i don't know any lil kids who wear pigtails, so he continues to bark at kids with pigtail hairdos in nearby cars...sigh.

I've also noticed *my* dog is extremely suspicious of unexpected humans we encounter in the dark. Now, if he sees the human approaching, he is on alert, but does not react. But an unexpected, no approach seen human, in the dark, makes him growl.

Even if it a lil sweet old lady, in the dark, if unexpected, my dog might growl at a surprise human right there. Which i have not worked to dissuade him from doing, i like that in him. My dog, btw, is slightly afraid of the dark anyway, and way way likely to be tense, if it is dark outside. It's his thing.
{we can work on this "Fear of The Dark" with him, we can get him calm in the dark, but, if we go too long without working on this issue, he slowly defaults back to his "It's dark outside!! maybe there will be monsters?" attitude...sigh.}


Well-Known Member
Many years ago we lived in South Africa and had a Rottweiler. She was a beautiful dog that loved people. Because we ran a business from home lots of strangers came and went.
One day I was by myself with the dog and one customer arrived. As he entered the house the dog became very alert. She kept her distance but never took her eyes of the guy. After a few minutes the customer asked to use the toilet. I showed him the way and the dog followed (she normally just snoozed in the corner after greeting new visitors) and guarded the toilet. When the person came out we went back to the other end of the house where the business was.
A few minutes later, as the phone rang he asked again to use the toilet assuring me he knows where it is and I can attend the call. The dog followed - and so did I after putting the caller on hold. Both dog and I waited in the kitchen (the room next to the toilet). As he came out he headed straight to the bedrooms instead of the office, knife in hand.
My dog attacked him from behind going straight for the hand with the knife. By that time I had opened the back door of the kitchen allowing the doberman/labrador mix and the ridgeback in.
Somehow the guy got into his car even though 3 dogs where hanging onto his limbs.
Rottie saved my life !


My dogs don't seem to dislike anyone. I think any bad people radar that dogs might have is missing in their genetics. I have met some iffy people and they still like them! Oh well, I never wanted my dogs to be guard dogs.


Well-Known Member
Ina - that is so scary! Lucky both you and your Rottie were on alert and noticed the suspicious behaviour.

I have not noticed Blade to be 'suspicious' of anyone. He does spook at people suddenly popping out of shops or from around the corner on bush walks etc but that is perfectly normal and he will happily greet them and then be on his way. To be honest, I would rather my dogs be friendly towards strangers to protect the dog's safety. A burgler is much more likely to kick/stab/whack a dog that is having a go at them, than a dog that either pays them no attention or is quiet and friendly. Id rather lose all my belongings than have my dog hurt. But I sleep lightly enough, or am alert enough normally to notice if my dog is disturbed by something unusual [ie someone entering house/property]. And in our country [soft little New Zealand] a burgler can make a complaint and have a dog put down if it bites them while the burgler is on the dog's property!!! [stupid I know...]. As for out and about, no one ever approaches me while walking a 45kg GSD ;) And I feel that I, myself, am a good enough judge of character to make decisions about people without worrying about my dog reacting in any way, that may be undesireable.


Well-Known Member
Blimey Ina,thank god for your Rottie!!
Dodge will growl and bark in the house when he hears a strange noise,but I m not sure if he would have a go at anybody actually breaking in,he just kidney beans all over the place normally,when we have peeps coming over.(my mother-in-law came up the drive once with a very long,flowy skirt and he went mental at the window,but as soon as she came in he was my normal loving friendly boy!)
Outside on walks ( I feel really bad about this one!) he will growl and have his heckles up when its somebody disabled wanting to say hi or even just walking past us,but is totally fine with motorised or none motorised wheelchairs,or crutches.Its just when they walk in a strange way (god,dont know how to put this,sorry) we ve had this twice now,so I make him sit and keep his lead very short ,as he can leap with some power,and keep him calm and give him treats as long as he s calm.I dont feel threatend by those people,its just that Dodge has not really seen a lot of people with walking disabilities:oops:


Well-Known Member
Well, Smokey will only lick someone to death ;) He is super friendly, but I must say if he would all of a sudden not want to get close to a stranger (except extraordinary circumstances like walking disabilities) I would wonder what is wrong with that person and be cautious. Given a choice I would avoid that person.

In South Africa you keep your dogs mainly for protection and to be honest, if you live there and a dogs attack will give you this bit of extra time to get to your gun, then the dog did his job. I loved my dogs dearly, but if it would come to the crunch I understood that if it's the dog or me I would have to sacrifice the dog (without being selfish). I guess you have to lived there to understand. Risking your life for the sake of the dog cannot be an option in situations like that.

Here in Australia it's completely different. I would defend my dog like I would defend any of my kids. <bigmotherlygrowl>


Honored Member
It is so hard to imagine MY Buddy showing NO interest in customers coming in the way your dog did. wow.

Buddy would show interest in probably MOST of the customers. He'd much enjoy it. He'd probably hope for a pet and kind word from each of them.

and my Buddy would indeed, love criminals, absolutely. So long as they treated HIM right, he'd love them! Buddy loves everyone, he would not realize someone is a criminal. Buddy does leap up and bark if anyone hits anyone, though. Which interests me, as, how does he know humans should not hit each other? (like, my adult step son has habit of punching my guy in his arm, this upsets Buddy. and my sweetie might slap my bottom in lovepat kinda way, that also upsets Buddy, he leaps up and barks loudly into the hitter's face---buddy does that for anyone hitting anyone, Bud don't like it, at all. and i've never once ever corrected him for doing that, who knows, might come in handy if someone breaks in.)

but, just someone walking by, nope, Buddy does not have E.S.P or anything. I could have Timothy McVeigh or some other killer, over for tea, Buddy would happily greet him.

Buddy has off/on fear of the dark, cuz of his background, and if he is startled by ANYONE in the dark (not us, though) he will posture, and possibley growl, til i say it's okay, then he quits. NOt in the daytime, only in the dark, cuz Buddy is never , or not often, fully relaxed in the dark, cuz he is afraid of the dark anyway.
i could train that out of him, but, i don't. Buddy would growl at a perfectly lovely person, IN THE DARk, that is just Buddy's own thing. Not an indicator of the qualities of the human, just that Buddy struggles with fear of the dark.

Buddy also growled and snarled his head off at a stranger trying to break into our home's screen window a year or so ago. Buddy innately sensed this was wrong, and did an amazing and frightening display of flashing teeth and snarling, which worked, the guy ran off. BUT, if i had that same guy over, Buddy would happily greet him, having no idea the guy was criminal.


Honored Member
also interesting, Ina, you DO realize, when your dog is not comfortable with people with disabilities, THAT does not reflect your dog has E.S.P. or that the disabled person is not a lovely person.

Nope, i do not trust my dog as a decision maker about who is trustable, and who is not.
nope. It might only reflect your own dog's experience or familiarity and comfort with different types of people.
After i got Buddy, i noticed he seemed uncomfortable with people of another race than we are, but when i had friends of that race come over-------- That ended Buddy's slight discomfort with that race. He'd just never had a chance to meet any other race than the one in my home. If Buddy had a discomfort with ppl in wheelchairs, it only represents Buddy had not had chance to meet any. (which he has, btw).


No. Luna doesn't like strangers anyway.

And with Mattis we trained to ignore them. He likes god owners better because some of them have a nicer body language (they don't bend over him and try do pet his head).


My girl Röskva, Rottie mix loves everybody........ in the 5 yrs i have had her there has only been 1 person she disliked and he turned out to be abusive.......

that said, i dont trust any of my other dogs the way i trust her ;)

and when i say i trust her i mean that when she does show discomfort with anybody i find out why and its usually easily fixed !!


Honored Member
yes, my dog, too, also disliked having his head touched, so i desensitized him to that. It did not take long at all, once Buddy trusted me. Buddy now seems to understand, a human touching his head, is not a bad thing, but a good thing. He does not mind it at all, not at all now. (but, he USED to hate it, when we first got him).

He does not mind it at all now. I have a pal who "can't" touch her own dog's head, either, which i find interesting. I also feel Buddy being used to having his head touched, makes the general public more fun for him, as well as he is safer/less stressed at the vets, then. Vets always touch dog's head to see in their mouths, and ears, etc. etc.

Lol, Ruskva, my dog would love any human, my dog would not realize a person is abusive (unless Buddy witnessed it). My dog would happily lick the hand of Hitler, so long as Hitler did not have anything about him that Buddy was unfamiliar with.***
My dog, on the other hand, is suspicious of any human who startles him IN THE DARK. My dog WOULD growl at Victoria Stillwell, if she startled him in the dark. That would in no way indicate Victoria is evil or has bad intent, it only reflects my own dog's discomfort and suspicion with anything that startles him in the dark. (soon as i tell Buddy is okay, he is okay too, then.)

(i could train that out of him, but, i kind of like it, so i don't.)

(***some dogs are uncomfortable with hats, glasses, limps, large coats, canes, beards, loud deep voices, whatever....but i do not believe dogs can interpret a human's inner personality upon meeting them, but, can react to *something* about the person they, the dog himself, is simply unfamiliar with).

I also suspect, if YOU tense up about someone, your dog could indeed sense THAT in YOU.


Honored Member
lol, just thinking about humans Buddy reeeeally loves,
are usually humans
who reeeallly love him.

Has absolutely NOTHING to do with their character.

There is a gal in our social circle, who adores Buddy, and fawns all over him, whenever she sees him. So if we arrive at big group gathering, and she is there, Buddy, although he loves everyone, just evvvvvvveryone, he will see her and go over to her for some of that loving he knows he will get from her.

this woman, married to one of my guy's best pals, is, an undeniable beeeeotch. Just nasty nasty gal. Hurts everyone's feelings often. Kinda cruel. Back stabbing liar, plays mind games on others, etc etc. The kind you smile at, exchange some pleasantry, and move away from!!! fast!!! ha ha!!

i can not vouch for her character in any way at all, except she really likes dogs, and LOVES Buddy. Buddy is oblivious to her cruel side, he just associates being next to her, with getting att'n. My dog is no judge of character.

There is another woman there, super kind, in all the years i've known her, i've never heard one cruel thing she's ever ever done, not ever, not one word less than kind, and she would run through fire to help even a stranger, yet, she is not much into dogs, and Buddy never notices her one way or another.