Often before we instinctively realise, feel or suspect something about a person either positive, love based or negative, fear based our dogs have already made up their ‘mind’.
Our dogs can also very easily pick up on a subconscious feeling we have about a person, either positive or negative. By the time we realise and become aware of the feeling our dogs have again, already made up their ‘minds’
The great thing about dogs is that they live in the moment, so unless something about a person makes them feel unsafe, such as their smell, shape or perhaps simply wearing a hat or glasses they are open to reacting differently to the person the next time they meet them.
Just like us dogs can have days they feel less able to cope with an anxiety or feel safe at all, those days they can more likely to react even if they have previously been ‘friends’ or happy around a person.
Dogs are also able to change their behaviour and reactions to people dependent on how the person interacts with other people, or what behaviour they see the person doing.
Studies have shown that dogs can watch an interaction between 2 people and respond differently dependant on the interaction the 2 people played out.
Highlighting that a dog can show an awareness of expressions of love, generosity and perhaps even selfishness.
1 such study in Italy allowed a dog to watch a scenario between 3 people. The dog watched a person act as a beggar and then watched as 2 other people either gave the beggar some money or didn’t. After the scenario the dog showed much greater preference to interact with the generous, giver of the money than the apparent more selfish, no giver of the money.
The researchers continued by letting the dog watch the whole scenario again without the beggar actually being present, so the 2 people simply acted as if the was there and mimed the scenario. After this the dog showed no preference for either person.
The dog was able to detect the actual act of generosity interaction between the person and the beggar, not simply the physical actions of it all.
I believe the dog was able to either sense the energy of the interactions. It could be they can ‘see’ a residual energy frequency as a colour, detect a frequency of peace, love or kindness through their VNO (Jacobson’s organ) or perhaps feel the vibration the generous person emitted from his heart at the time of the transaction.
The Institute of HeartMath have proven time and time again the healthy changes in heart rate rhythm and frequency when a person acts or feels generosity, gratitude, love or peace compared to the unhealthy stressful rates produced when somebody acts fearfully or selfishly.
They have also shown the extent that these rates can be transmitted and detected from the heart, afferently up to the brain and outwardly several ft away from the body!
It is more than plausible that our dogs can pick up on these transmitted frequencies prompting them to feel a certain way and show behaviours more in alignment with the less stressful frequencies. I mean I’d rather hang around with calmer less stressful people too, wouldn’t you? Especially given the choice.
Another interesting study from 2006 showed that dogs prefer to interact with a person who has just experienced, or is experiencing, a ‘positive’ less stressful occurrence.
Dogs were allowed to watch tug-of-war games between a person and a dog.
After the games the dog preferred to interact with the winner, be it the person or the dog.
If the game was made playful, by the person including known dog play signals, the dog still preferred the winner afterwards, but if the game was played in a serious fashion, without any such signals the dog didn’t actually want to interact with either participant! They again literally sensed, or saw, or felt the energy frequencies of the feelings of the participants.
1 of the researchers that put together that very experiment, Dr John Bradshaw asks in his book In Defence of Dogs;
Do dogs have cognitive abilities that do not have any direct counterpart in our own?
Are dogs capable of processing the information they gather through their noses in ways that we do not yet understand?
I believe they do, in terms of their innate ability to sense and exist in a fully vibrational, Feeling world of emotional energy. Yet they don’t, in that we too do have that ability! – Perhaps not with an organ such as the VNO but by an intuitive ability to sense the electromagnetic frequencies our hearts send out and adjust our reactions to them on a subconscious and with practice conscious level.
We too are social creatures, we have simply got so used to using our mind to analyse we all too often lose awareness of the value and empowerment of connecting heart to heart.
Far from actually making up their ‘minds’ about a person, or an interaction between people, dogs awesomely, make up their Hearts.