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Why does my dog bark at black people? [closed]

asked 2017-05-23 15:24:30 -0600

I think my dog might be racist! He barks at black people whenever he sees them. Is this normal?? I'm so confused. What do I do about this?

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Closed for the following reason the question is answered, right answer was accepted by Grace D.
close date 2018-01-23 11:38:35.700454

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Dogs do not see faces or colors the same way we do. To a dog, we are all just shadows and our faces are far less distinctive to a dog than to us. A darker POC appears as a darker shadow and can be intimidating to a dog unfamiliar with those "shadows." Fix with more positive exposure to all races.

Elizabeth M.'s profile image Elizabeth M.  ( 2017-05-25 02:18:52 -0600 ) edit

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Dran S.'s profile image Dran S.  ( 2018-09-12 12:45:02 -0600 ) edit

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answered 2017-05-25 07:36:00 -0600

I often get this question in my doggy rehab clinics and the answer is quite simple. Dogs rely on our facial expressions quite a bit to tell them what we are feeling, saying or thinking and since their vision is not the same as ours, with darker skinned people, they sometimes have a hard time making out the facial expressions and it can get a bit nerve racking for them, same reason why dogs often do not react well to people wearing hoodies, baseball hat, large sunglasses or anything that covers the face.

Also, just like us, if they are not exposed to something, they will become weary and suspicious of what they have not known before. So if your dog reacts to darker skinned people, you can work on gradual desensitizing and changing the association of dark skin with fear. You can ask darker skinned friends or family, as well a strangers to help with this. You ask them to come near you and before the dog reacts, you make him sit and reward him, slowly you get the dog closer and closer to the person, always rewarding good behavior. Once you can get close enough to the person without the dog barking, have that person give your dog treats and if your dog likes to get petted, let the person pet your dog. Repeat the process until your dog associates darker skin with positive things and see the change happen right before your eyes.

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Wase F.'s profile image Wase F.  ( 2018-09-09 07:19:06 -0600 ) edit

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Daniel W.'s profile image Daniel W.  ( 2018-09-11 12:30:46 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2017-05-24 11:31:06 -0600

There are lots of reasons why a dog may be aggressive toward an individual. Is your dog a rescue? It's possible that in the past they were abused by someone who looks like the person walking by. Is it only men or only women that they bark at? Sometimes dogs have a fear of one or the other because of past events as well. Or perhaps they are picking up on something. You may become nervous or tense when you see a person walking by and the dog picks up on it and reacts. It could simply have been a coincidence the first time and you are doing it unconsciously now because you are afraid your dog will misbehave. Dogs are very sensitive to their humans' feelings and sometimes can pick up on signals we don't even know we are sending. One thing to try, in this case, is distraction. If you can spot the person before your dog does, engage them in a favorite game or have a treat handy to practice some tricks. If you don't feel stressed, it's easier to keep your dog calm as well. Doing something familiar and engaging for a few times may be enough to break the cycle. If this doesn't work, you may have to engage an African American friend to introduce positive interactions with your dog. Good luck!

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Wase F.'s profile image Wase F.  ( 2018-09-08 11:24:02 -0600 ) edit

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Dran S.'s profile image Dran S.  ( 2018-09-13 13:09:18 -0600 ) edit