Discriminate: to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit or character.
I often hear people make statements such as: ”My dog does not like men” or, “My dog does not like Boxers.” It is often backed up with a reason why the person thinks their dog feels this way. For example, an owner will say, “A man once was violent in front of my dog and now my dog does not like any men.” Or, “My dog was once attacked by a Boxer and now he does not like any Boxers.” But, do dogs really discriminate against an entire group for the actions of one?
No, dogs do not generally discriminate between gender, race or breed. When a dog appears to be doing so, it is usually caused by the dog picking up on some other human's emotions. For example, when an owner thinks their dog does not like men and they see a man walking toward their dog, they are anticipating a reaction from their dog, sometimes accompanied by the human’s own negative feelings regarding the gender. The dog feels the emotions and reacts accordingly. When the same dog is around a woman, for example, the dog does not feel the same negative energy coming from the anticipating human as he does when a man approaches. The dog is then labeled 'a dog who does not like men.' It is not that he does not like men as a gender, but he can feel the difference in the emotions from everyone else around him and he can learn to react accordingly.
I have had dog owners say things like, “My dog does not like Boxers. He was attacked by a Boxer once and now he hates all Boxers.” Often, what is really going on is the dog was attacked by a Boxer and now the owner has negative feelings toward the breed, for example, but not limited to fear or anxiety. The dog can tell the difference in its owner’s emotions when a Boxer approaches vs. when another breed approaches. The dog reacts accordingly.
A fearful, insecure dog is more likely to be targeted for a dog fight at a dog park because it is fearful and insecure, not because it is a Cocker Spaniel. Dogs do not know their breeds, but they do know the mood of a being.
Dogs can feel energy (emotions) coming from those around them. This is why people who are afraid of dogs get bit more often, because the dog can feel the negative energy coming from the fearful person vs. a person who is not afraid.
Oftentimes a human thinks a dog is having a hard time moving past a bad experience when really it is the humans around it who have not moved past the experience. The dog can feel the negativity. The humans think the dog is upset about a past issue, when really the dog is feeling the humans dwelling on the issue. It is the humans who are having a hard time getting past it, not the dog. The dog is stuck because of the humans, not because of the experience itself.
Humans are the species that can truly discriminate against a group, class, race or breed of dog. Dogs are all about energy, intention and character. They feel the true nature of a being and react accordingly. If only we could all be more like our dogs.