Even though I’m a dog, and therefore one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, there are certain things that I just don’t understand.
My owner can often be found looking at the box in the living room that shows moving pictures or listening to the magical music player in the car, and one thing I keep hearing coming from these devices is the word “racist”.
As far as I’ve been able to work out, the term “racist” or “racism” seems to have something to do with treating other people in a certain way and even killing them just because of the color of their skin.
Which made me think – is it possible for a dog to be racist? Of course it’s not!
As a dog, I love everybody, and I certainly wouldn’t want to attack or bark at somebody just because they are a different color than me.
Can a dog be racist?
As I’ve already said, us dogs cannot be racist. And this is simply because, unlike humans, we haven’t created the idea of it.
We don’t believe that one breed of dog or a certain fur color is superior to another. Everybody is treated equally. And, when it comes to interacting with humans, we have the same belief.
Sometimes, however, we might get a bit scared and react in a certain way to new people that we’ve never met before.
But this is because we are scared of new things and, if it’s something we haven’t encountered before, we might bark or growl.
That’s just our natural instinct to defend ourselves kicking in. It has nothing to do with the color of the person’s skin.
How can you stop a dog from being racist?
Since you humans have created racism, it’s easy to see why you think some of our behavior towards a human who has different colored skin to our owner’s might be seen as racist.
But, as I’ve explained above, dogs don’t know how to be racist because we don’t believe that one person is better than another because of the color of their skin.
We’re far more likely to prefer one human over another depending on the quality of the treats they give us!
As I’ve also explained above, if we do start barking at a human with different colored skin to our owner or anybody else we’re not used to meeting, it’s because this is a new experience for us.
New experiences make us nervous and what might look like racism is actually something called ‘neophobia’.
Neophobia is extremely common amongst us dogs. To explain it to you as simply as possible, it means that we have a fear of new things.
This is why it’s so important to take us on lots of walks and meet lots of new people from a young age. And, the more people we encounter with different colored skin to our owner’s, the less likely we are to be afraid of them.
Some of us are a lot more nervous than others though, and this means that it can take a while for some dogs to lose our fear of new people.
But you can make things easier and make us feel safer around new people using a couple of different training methods, which I’ll talk you through now.
How to teach your dog to be comfortable around all people
There’s not much that we dogs won’t do for a tasty treat. And, if you’re a human with a dog who is exhibiting what you deem to be racist behavior, you can make them feel more comfortable around all people by using treats.
Teach your dog to look at the stranger in exchange for a treat
Take your canine companion on a long walk in an environment where they are guaranteed to meet lots of people of all races. As soon as they notice somebody that they might ordinarily bark at, give them a treat before they start.
This will divert attention and give us the belief that delicious treats magically appear when somebody who looks different from our owner is nearby.
And, the more these treats keep coming, the more comfortable we’ll be around a wider group of people.
Teach your dog that treats can be given by all people
Ask somebody that your dog would normally respond negatively to, to throw them a treat from a short distance away.
They might ignore it at first, but the temptation to snaffle a tasty bite is far too tempting for us dogs to resist after a while.
Repeat this process until the treat is being gobbled up immediately every time, then ask the human to move a couple of steps forward before doing it again.
Eventually, we’ll lose all of our fear of this person and begin to think of them as a walking treat dispenser instead. After a while, they’ll be able to feed us directly and even pet us without any reaction.
Again, I would like to reiterate that it’s impossible for us dogs to be racist.
In actual fact, if we are acting aggressively towards people with different colored skin than we’re used to seeing, it’s actually your fault for not socializing with a more ethnically diverse group of people.
Since dogs aren’t programmed to hate or judge anybody based solely on their appearance, it’s not possible for us to be racist.
We might behave defensively towards people that we’ve not encountered before and, unfortunately, this can sometimes be a person that has different colored skin to what we’re used to seeing.
Introducing us to a wide variety of people from all walks of life is the best way to stop what you humans would consider being racist behavior.
You also need to make sure that you’re not purposefully avoiding certain people because of how we may have reacted in past experiences, as this will only instill the fear even more.
Instead, give us a treat and plenty of reassurance, and we’ll soon come to realize that humans are better judged on how they treat us rather than what they look like.