Why Do Random Dogs Come To Me? Understand The Research

a street dog being petted by a stranger

Can’t leave the house without neighborhood pups coming up to say hello? You may be wondering what it is that draws the critters to you. What is that special quality that endears you to our canine friends?

Random dogs come up to you because they are drawn to various cues you give off, often unintentionally. Pups react to your scent, your body language, and your familiarity.

Let’s take a look at each of these components to ascertain precisely what makes you so attractive to the local pooches. 

Certain Scents Are More Welcoming to Dogs

Call it a good aura of positive energy; dogs sense your open and welcoming attitude. 

People fear dogs for various reasons. Maybe the yipping makes them nervous. Perhaps they’re afraid the bite is worse than the bark. Whatever the reason, dogs set many people on edge—and our canine friends can sense discomfort. 

A lack of fear draws in dogs. The pups sense your openness to their affections and are more likely to approach you.

Dogs Can Identify Fear Through Sweat

This may sound very new-age and mystical. It’s not; it relies on the complex science of sweat. Generally speaking, we view the smell of sweat as a nuisance. Dogs, however, accept it as a tool. Their little canine sniffers are extremely acute and perceptive. 

cute lost dog in the street being acknowledged by a stranger

Different emotions cause unique chemical reactions, which work their way into our perspiration. A 2017 study on animal cognition compared dogs’ responses to three different emotional states:

  • Fear
  • Happiness
  • Control (no sweat) 

Scientists examined the dogs’ stress and heart rate data to assess their reactions. Pups reacted positively to the happy sweat and apprehensively to the fearful perspiration. 

Dogs Sense Friendly Pheromones 

Once again, a dog’s nose leads the way. As humans, we’re largely unaware of pheromones. Pups, however, are not. Our four-legged pals register and process all of the information contained in our pheromones. 

Our pheromones are a sort of scent fingerprint. They contain a slew of salient information about us. We can’t consciously detect the scent, but we react to the information it has without even realizing it. Dogs use our pheromones markers to determine whether we are an interesting person or someone to avoid. 

Ovulation impacts women’s pheromones and a pup’s reaction to them. If you ovulate, you may find that dogs find you more approachable during that occurrence and more boring when you’re not ovulating.

Delicious Smells Attract Dogs

While it’s satisfying to think dogs are irresistibly drawn to your personality and charm, sometimes the answer is much more straightforward. You may not smell this morning’s bacon on your clothes, but the neighbor’s dog most certainly does. 

Dogs are incredibly food-driven and always follow their noses to their next meal. The scent of food lingers on our clothes and skin. While these aromas aren’t detectable to our noses, a dog’s olfactory sense is 40 percent stronger than humans. The pup across the street may be approaching you because you smell like lunch, and he is hungry.

Additionally, if you carry snacks on you, you’re inviting dogs to come and investigate. Whether it’s a candy bar in your pocket or a sandwich in your backpack, a pup’s superior sniffer detects the scent. The dogs approaching you quite simply want your snacks. 

Dogs Perceive That You’re Sad or Lonely

Dogs are surprisingly perceptive for animals that chase their own tails. Pups are compassionate and sympathetic. If they think you’re sad, the feeling of furballs may move to console you. 

Canines possess a high degree of empathy, more so than other animals. They also have comprehension on par with human toddlers, giving the pups a rudimentary understanding of human emotions.

Put simply, dogs want us to be happy and believe the best way to attain that is by showing us love. 

How Can a Dog Tell You’re Sad?

When a friendly stray tries to comfort you, it’s not because you share a psychic link. Dogs use their senses to read human emotions. 

Dogs can tell you’re sad by picking up on auditory or visual cues. Studies show that canines determine our moods using facial expressions and audio cues. If a pup sees a frown and hears crying or a sad tone of voice, they know we’re sad.

However, a dog’s processing capacity runs even deeper than that. Researchers found that pups can determine emotion based solely on hearing. Studies show that dogs process distressed sounds with the right hemisphere of their brains. The right half of the brain is the half used to register negative emotions. 

Why Do Only Some Dogs Approach Sad People?

You may wonder why you’re not just covered in a blanket of loving pups when you’re sad. The reason comes down to personality. 

Only some dogs approach sad people because certain dogs are capable of mirroring. Some canines mirror; if you’re sad, they’re sad, and they will express that with the same physicality you use. These critters are unlikely to provide comfort as they are too busy feeling your pain.

However, some dogs just want to make things better. These pups want to help because they are wired to do so. These dogs often make great helper animals; their primary objective is to bring you peace. Your new, random friends may be metaphorical canine therapists if they belong to the following breeds:

  • Poodles
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Great Danes
  • Greyhounds
  • American Pit Bull Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • Bichon Frise
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgis
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Havanese

Dogs Pick Up on Positive Attitudes

Dogs follow you because they like what you’re putting out. We’re not referring to auras or other indefinable characteristics. Beyond scent, pups react favorably or negatively to demeanor, posture, sight, and sound. You send out several unique cues that you’re a friend to dogs and sensory messages that you’re a friend they should investigate.

You Speak Their Language

Your furry stalker may have heard you speaking on the phone or to a neighbor. Dogs generally appreciate soothing, calm, and happy tones. However, pups are drawn particularly to higher pitched tones. Humans often use baby-talk to speak to their pets. If you’ve taken the time to talk to your fuzzy buddy in a high-pitched, happy voice, they’ll love you forever.

Scientific studies confirm that dogs react incredibly favorably to “dog-directed speech.” This mode of speaking uses high tones and exaggerated enthusiasm. If you’ve asked a dog, “who’s a good boy?” in a squeaky, happy voice, he may continue approaching you to show you that he is, indeed, a good boy. 

You’re Using Calm Body Language

Dogs prefer calm, placid people. Your relaxed posture and gentle movements appeal to the local canine population. Dog experts note that pups react poorly to direct eye contact. A pup would rather you glance in their direction than gaze into their souls. 

Rapid movements frighten dogs. Your canine admirers may appreciate your leisurely pace and fluid movements. Additionally, dogs notice if your body language is open and fearless. If your posture and carriage indicate dogs make you tense, they will probably avoid you.

However, some dogs are explicitly drawn to people who dislike them. This comes down to personality and preference. Dogs who don’t enjoy affection prefer people who aren’t going to invade their space. The pups may want company without the physical interaction, and they may sense that a person who isn’t overly enthusiastic about their presence will provide it. 

You’re Part of the Dogs’ Routine

Dogs appreciate routine and familiarity. If you follow the same path to work daily, a pup may become accustomed to your presence. Once a dog is acclimated to you, they’ll approach, hoping for pets and snacks. 


Dogs use their keen senses to determine which people they want to shadow. If the local pups flock to you, you’re subconsciously sending them a message that you’re their favorite kind of person. Whether it’s your smell, posture, or routine, you’re delivering a friendly message to curious canines.

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