Dogs are much smarter than some people give them credit for. When faced with a bad situation or an untrustworthy person, dogs often react and let their loved ones know that something is wrong. It’s why dogs have been trained to work as service dogs and police dogs. They know when something isn’t right and they want to help their families in any way possible. So, dogs recognize bad people and know when someone can’t be trusted.

Signs That Your Dog Knows Someone is Bad

Since we can’t speak dog, dogs have to use body language to properly communicate with humans. They can find a way to tell you how they’re feeling just based on how they move. For example, everyone knows a dog that bounces around playfully and wags their tail is in a good mood. However, dogs aren’t always that joyful, and there are some clear ways to tell if your dog knows something is wrong.

If your dog is uneasy around someone, you may notice them acting a bit strange. Their tail will likely be down or even tucked between their legs. They might try to run or hide when around the mean person, or they might act aggressive in order to protect you. Sometimes, their actions might be even more subtle such as licking or leaving sweaty paw prints. If your dog acts in an unusual way around a certain person, it’s likely that they know something you don’t because dogs recognize bad people even better than humans do.

Testing This Theory

A study tested how dogs would react to different behaviors from humans. In three different scenarios, a person was trying to open a jar that was tightly sealed with a volunteer standing near them. The first volunteer helped them open the jar, the second was passive, and the third outright refused to help. The dogs observed each of these interactions. After each situation, the volunteer would offer a treat to the dog.

While you might expect a dog to happily accept a treat at any time, that wasn’t the case for this study. They found that the dogs were much more likely to accept a treat from the person who helped out. Most dogs also accepted a treat from the passive person, but they were not willing to trust the person who wouldn’t help someone else. When the “mean” person offered a treat to the dogs, the dogs ignored them. They could tell that the person wasn’t someone they wanted to interact with.

Another study followed a similar experiment to find out if dogs can tell if someone is untrustworthy. In this experiment, there were two containers near the dogs. One had food inside, but the other was empty. In the first round, the person pointed to the container with the food in it, but the second time, they pointed to the empty container instead.

The dogs were happy to find the food the first time, but were disappointed when they found out they were lied to in the second round. Then, the third time, the person pointed to the container with the food again. However, that time, the dogs did not respond to their actions. That person had been untrustworthy in the second round, and the dog remembered that.

How Can Dogs Recognize Bad People?

Both of these studies prove that dogs are great at observing human behaviors. They understood the difference between a helpful person and an untrustworthy one. This is because a dog’s social intelligence has greatly evolved over time. Dogs have had a long history with humans, so over the years, they have learned to pick up on some of the social aspects of humans. They’ve learned some of the key differences between a good person and a bad person.

Overall, dogs like things to be predictable. Most dog owners have a specific routine for their dog, which is good because dogs like to know what’s going on. So, when someone acts negatively or in an unusual way, dogs sense that the person is likely bad. This leads them to want to protect their humans at all costs.

We often have bad feelings about other people, but when it comes to telling whether someone is good or bad, your dog ultimately knows best. Next time your dog interacts with someone new, pay extra close attention to how they behave. They might just be able to tell you if that’s someone you should be hanging out with or not.

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