“Why Do Dogs Like Me or You?”

Golder Retriever puppy happy while being held

“Why do dogs like me?” – If you’re asking this question, congratulations! You’re likely a magnet for all kinds of dogs and you can bond with new dogs almost effortlessly.  You may have heard things from owner’s like “Fluffy never likes anyone, but she likes you. She’s a good judge of character”.

Maybe you might be an owner asking why your fur baby likes, or dislikes, certain people. How does that work though? What makes dogs like certain people and not others?

Dogs pick up on all kinds of non-verbal signals and social exchanges. They constantly observe interactions between humans and use that information to understand what’s going on around them.  Studies have shown that dogs don’t trust people who are sending deceptive signals or who are rude to their owners. 

For me personally, most dogs seem to like me and I generally have a good way with them. However, I swear a woman I used to work with (let’s call her Jane)  was a female Dr. Doolittle. 

On day two of having Juno we introduced her to Jane. Juno was instantly putty in her hands – watching everything she did. Juno would go to her constantly and love all over Jane more than she did me! I mean come’on Juno – what’s up with that! The next time Juno saw Jane was a few days later when Jane watched her for me while I worked on some stuff. 

About an hour or so later, when I came back for Juno, Jane wanted to show me what she taught her. Juno would come to Jane when she called her and would sit for her on command every single time. It was pretty amazing to watch. Especially when you consider she may have spent a combined hour and a half with Juno. 

What makes some people like Jane magnetic to dogs? Does she have hidden superpowers? Let’s take a look at what I was able to find out in further researching this topic. 

In this article I will cover the follow:

  • Reasons why dogs may like you
  • What may make a dog not like you?
  • How can you make dogs like you or at least be more comfortable with you

Reasons why dogs may like you

There are many things that you could be doing that are causing dogs to react positively to you. You’ve probably heard before that dogs are good judges of character or that they can read people. This is actually not too far off from what a study in Japan showed.  

According to a 2015 study at Kyoto University in Japan, titled “Dogs Avoid People Who Behave Negatively to their Owner”, researchers found that dogs snubbed people who were rude to their owners. The title of their research is a spoiler to the end result, but the methods of the study were pretty interesting.

Stick with me here because the explanation of the experiment may be a little confusing, but I promise it is pretty cool. 

The scene used in the study was the owner sitting in the middle of two other people. The owner would try to open a clear container to retrieve an object from inside. The object held no value to the dog – meaning it wasn’t a treat, toy, etc. After being unable to open the container, the owner would hold the container towards one of the people sitting beside the owner. The other person would remain neutral – not involved in any interaction. 

The study used 54 dogs separated into three different scenarios to experiment how the dogs would interact. The three scenarios were:  a “Helper” situation, a “Non-Helper” situation, and a “Control” situation. 

In the “Helper” situation, the owner would hold the container towards the person beside them and that person would assist. The helper would hold the container while the owner opened it. The owner excitedly picked up the object and showed the dog. 

In the “Non-helper” situation, the owner would hold the container towards the person beside them and that person would refuse. That person would then turn away from the owner. The lid was not opened. 

In the “Control” situation, the owner would stop trying to open the lid, but would not gesture for help. The person that would have been offered the container would turn away unprompted.

Phew, I know there was a lot going on there, but we got through it.

Anyhow, so what was the result of this testing?  Well it turns out dogs understood this interaction way more than you would expect. 

After the initial interaction was over, the person who interacted with the owner and the neutral person both offered the dog food. The researcher then recorded which person the dog chose to accept food from. 

The dog’s choice appeared to be random in the “Helper” and “Control” scenarios. However, the “Non-Helper” scenario was a different story. 

In the “Non-Helper” scenario, the dogs avoided the person that refused to help their owner. Yep, that’s right, the dogs overwhelmingly snubbed the person who was a jerk to their mom or dad. 

So what is the big, overarching take away? 

Well, if you find dogs generally like you, you might just be a helpful and kind person, even if it is subconsciously so.  If you aren’t being nice, the pup is going to remember!

What may make a dog not like you

Apart from just being a jerk to a member of the dog’s pack, there may be some things that you’re doing that may be sending bad vibes to dogs around you. 

Dog laying in grass starring at the camera

When humans interact, we judge a lot based on what we see or maybe hear. Meaning if someone looks nervous or their voice sounds nervous, we can tell. However, dogs use more than just that. Dogs have a strong sense of smell that also plays a part in it. Check out my post on dog’s senses if you are interested in more info about that!

According to the 2018 article Communication in Dogs from the University of Bari in Italy, dogs use body language, scent, and hearing in their communication with other dogs. 

It’s easy to see how this translates to human to dog interaction and how dogs use this feedback to determine your non-verbal actions or intent.  If you are nervous, unsure, scared, or angry, then your non-verbal communication is going to show it. I mean I certainly know how I act when I’m in a mood. If I’m irritable then I’m certainly tense and I know it shows. It’s not uncommon at these times for my wife, Jena, to ask me “are you wearing your cranky pants today?”  

If you’re cranky, angry, or whatever,  your body will be rigid and off putting. If you’re scared, your body will show it and your fear pheromones are going to be detected by the dog. All of this is being used to gauge their opinion of you. 

Additionally, if you are unfamiliar with reading a dog’s body language, you may be at a disadvantage. It’s believed that around 90% of dog’s outward communication is non-verbal.

One example may be a dog expressing they want some distance. This is usually a combination of ear position (ears erect) and not looking directly at you – they sort of look at you our of the corner of their eyes.   Many people may not be able to read this for what it is. Even if the dog won’t react aggressively, they won’t like it if you approach them while they are telling you to “give me space”.  

In human terms, this is like someone who was standing too close to you talking.  We all have talked to that person who is a “close talker”. You try to give them the non-verbal communication of “I want space” by backing up and creating a bigger bubble. However, that person just ignores it and keeps stepping closer. You don’t like interacting with that person, even more so now because they aren’t picking up on what you’re putting down. 

Same thing with dogs. If you can’t read what they are saying, they aren’t going to be super thrilled to interact with you. 

How can you make dogs like you, or at least be more comfortable with you

The biggest thing I could recommend is…RELAX! Make sure you are in a good mood and not all uptight. This can also be incredibly important if you are around a dog that may be a little more protective in nature or a dog that is just a little unsure. 

You will want to make sure that you are safely approaching the dog as well. You can’t just approach them like you would your own. Also, for the love of all things holy, make sure the dog wants to be approached in the first place. 

Additionally, you want to make sure that you at least educate yourself on dog’s body language.  

Here below is a great 6 minute video from Union Lake Pet Services that does a great job of explaining how to read an approach a new dog:

Bottom Line

If  dogs seem to gravitate to you, that’s awesome. You either have experience in approaching/bonding with canines or you just have a gift. 

If you feel like you struggle with getting a dog to like you, don’t worry. Check yourself and make sure you’re relaxed and confident. Make sure your body language is on point. Take time to educate yourself and understand dog body language. Don’t forget to also follow the tips in the video above on how to read a dog and approach them safely. 

There is also no guarantee that this will make you a puppy magnet. While the tips above will certainly help, we can’t all be like Jane!


Thank you for taking the time to read my article! I hope it was helpful and insightful. I absolutely love dogs and my mission is to help dog owners better understand their dogs and how to care for them in the best way. Please checkout my about page: CLICK HERE!

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