There is possibly nothing as discouraging as meeting Mr. or Ms. Right only to have your pet loathe your new crush. After all, you adore that little fur snookum and have been waiting to introduce the new love interest to your family-member pet.

Unfortunately, that ideal meeting goes south when your pet runs for cover, shaking, or worse – growls and snaps at your new sweetheart.

For some pet owners, the immediate response is, “Ugh oh, what’s wrong with this person?” However, sometimes your pet’s keen intuition on character isn’t so reliable and has more to do with behavioral challenges than psychic powers.

Is Your Pet the Best Judge of Character… Or Are YOU?

As much as we’d love to believe that our cherished pet has some sort of sixth sense about the intentions of others, chances are your pet is responding to you and not the other person. That is because pets depend on us for security, food, and shelter and are attuned to sensing our response to situations and people.

If your pet doesn’t like someone out of the blue (and generally is sociable), the first question to ask yourself is, “How do I feel about this situation or person?”

If you are anxious or nervous (or even sad, angry, etc.), your pet is likely responding to you.

The Importance of Your Pet’s Background

Another important evaluation is your pet’s history. Unfortunately when pets come to us from ambiguous backgrounds, as many do when we adopt, we may not be aware of what the triggers might be.

For example, a dog who has been abused by a man may have fear issues around men. Or, if a dog or cat has never been exposed or socialized to others (animals included), territorial or resource guarding responses may be more significant.

That is why training and socialization is so important for a new pet. This will allow you to explore what your pet might be fearful of, where there is trepidation, and what to expect around new people and animals.

It’s also possible that certain privileges you have extended to your pet, such as a guaranteed spot on the bed, are no longer available. You have created a defensive critter. After all, your pet may see the change from being allowed full run of the home to being restricted from the bedroom as a reason to be anxious or aggressive.

That is why it is important to gradually introduce some changes in the home to give your fur friend a chance to adjust.

The Benefit of the Doubt

There are times, too, when it is possible that your pet is picking up on some sort of perceived threat. This is especially true if your pet is typically jovial and “everyone’s pal”. If your friendly companion doesn’t warm up to someone, or is suddenly fearful when he or she is around, it may be a sign to avoid that person or situation.

A level of awareness of your pet’s disposition and breed characteristics will help you discern his or her reaction to new people. Some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and Akitas, are very loyal to “their people” and distrustful of strangers. Consider your pet’s true nature around new experiences before making an assumptions.

For more tips on how to acclimate your fur sweetie to your new sweetie, give us a call.