Do Dogs Know Who Is Nice to Them? Facts to Know

The question of whether dogs can differentiate between individuals who are kind and caring toward them is one that has intrigued both pet owners and scientists alike. 

As man’s best friend, dogs have an uncanny ability to form strong bonds with humans, and their emotional intelligence has been the subject of numerous studies. 

This article explores the fascinating realm of canine emotional intelligence and attempts to shed light on whether dogs can truly perceive and remember who treats them with kindness.

Understanding Canine Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to recognize, understand, and respond to emotions in oneself and others. 

While it is well-established that dogs experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness, fear, and empathy, the concept of emotional intelligence delves deeper into their cognitive abilities. 

Studies have shown that dogs possess a remarkable level of emotional intelligence, allowing them to discern human emotional states through various cues such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.

The Bond between Dogs and Humans 

The unique bond shared between dogs and humans is forged by mutual trust, affection, and companionship. Dogs are highly social animals that have co-evolved with humans over thousands of years, resulting in a special interspecies connection. 

This bond often leads dogs to recognize and remember individuals who have treated them with kindness, as they can perceive and interpret human emotions.

Research on Canine Memory

Several studies have explored the memory capabilities of dogs concerning human interactions. 

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A notable experiment conducted by scientists from the University of Milan revealed that dogs have an exceptional ability to remember people who have treated them well. 

The study involved presenting dogs with two unfamiliar people—one who offered treats, play, and affection and another who remained neutral. 

The results showed that dogs consistently approached and interacted more positively with the person who had previously shown them kindness. 

This finding suggests that dogs possess not only emotional intelligence but also a long-term memory for positive experiences. 

Furthermore, a study published in Animal Cognition revealed that dogs could differentiate between people based on their behavior towards their owners. 

Researchers found that dogs were more receptive and friendly towards individuals who had previously helped their owners in some way, such as offering assistance when needed.

Empathy in Dogs

Empathy is an essential aspect of emotional intelligence, and dogs have demonstrated this capacity towards both humans and fellow canines. 

Numerous anecdotal reports from dog owners describe instances where their pets comforted them during times of distress, offering solace and companionship. 

Scientific research has supported these accounts, showcasing that dogs are capable of empathizing with human emotions, leading to supportive and affectionate behavior.


In conclusion, scientific evidence strongly suggests that dogs possess emotional intelligence and can discern individuals who are nice to them. 

The profound bond between dogs and humans has given rise to their remarkable ability to remember and recognize people who have treated them with kindness. 

Canine emotional intelligence allows dogs to interpret human emotions, leading to empathetic and responsive behavior.

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As a pet owner, understanding your dog’s emotional intelligence can strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion. Treating your dog with love, kindness, and respect not only enhances their well-being but also reinforces their positive memories of you.

While further research is needed to fully understand the intricacies of canine emotional intelligence, one thing is clear: dogs are perceptive beings capable of forming deep connections with humans. 

So, the next time you interact with a dog, remember that your kindness and compassion are likely to be remembered and reciprocated in the warmest and most endearing ways possible.