It’s generally acknowledged that canines are hardwired to read the behaviour of other species, survival instincts utilized for the single purpose of simply staying alive. Reading the intention of others is of course not isolated to dogs but their ability to detect the motivation of their ‘best friend’ is of particular interest, given the overwhelming evidence that they are much better at ‘seeing’ us much faster and more accurately than we could ever hope to be. There are in fact many theories that they know our motivation and can predict our subsequent behaviour before we have physically shown our ‘hand.’
When it comes to Bali dogs, and in particular those ‘old’ breeds who have cut their teeth in villages and on streets where survival is the only thing on their minds, trust based on gut instinct is a very serious business and the only mindset that matters. When a genetic line, with that at its base, is handed on over thousands of years, trust is a no negotiable element.
Bali dogs and their kind do not suffer fools at all, they can’t afford such fatal mistakes. Most non-Balinese have no concept as to why most Bali dogs are not affectionate and mistake their obvious and unmistakeable signals as either aggression or avoidance resulting from abuse. That is not to say there are no abused or aggressive dogs, however most visibly healthy Bali dogs are not about to attack or cower away.
They just don’t trust you.
The general behaviour of a Bali dog is an indication as to how this breed has survived this long. They need to have contact with humans for one reason only, food. They are built to survive and do very well in hunter gathering scenarios and environments but if food is available without needing to work that hard then like any other species, they will gobble up that option. The risk is of course that it brings them into close/direct contact with us.
Their relationship with Balinese people is very long and deep, make no mistake about that. Even if it is not what many see as the ‘right’ relationship, it’s a union that has survived and a mutual agreement that has seen a unique dog and an isolated culture endure. It’s a meeting point at where trust has developed literally as, ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds.’
The lack of open affection has enabled the Bali dog to avoid any confusing signals emanating from human intention. That is most certainly not to say that this canine is incapable of giving/receiving touch. Contact is not uppermost or pertinent to their survival, food shelter and security most certainly are.
The ancient bond, that is the Balinese dog Balinese people relationship, is based solely on an unwritten unspoken trust.
I trust you to offer me food and in return I will offer you security in guarding your family if you offer me shelter for my family to survive.
The contract continues.