You might have noticed that your dog stays calm around you and your family, but as soon as it sees a stranger or a specific person, it starts growling and barking, making you embarrassed and surprised.
So, why do dogs only bark at certain people? The chances are that the person has rewarded it in the past or mistreated it. Your dog might also be territorial, sick, or not properly socialized. The body language and dressing of certain people also remind dogs of previous trauma. However, it’s also possible that you’ve encouraged the barking behavior.
Let’s know more about dogs barking at certain people and how we can stop it.
Why Do Dogs Only Bark At Certain People?
Your dog barking at certain people is definitely a matter of concern, and you have to put it to an end as soon as possible. But, several reasons can be associated with this behavior. So, let’s discuss all of them.
The most common cause of dogs barking at specific people is because they mistreat them. It may happen that some of your friends or family members mistreated your dog, and it’s not necessary for them to do this in front of you.
While people may do it intentionally, children or people who haven’t played with a dog before might do things unintentionally that triggers aggression and fear in dogs.
We already know that dogs are territorial, and they don’t want to share their owners or favorite things with anyone else.
If you have a new family member or a friend who comes to your place often, your dog might bark at them. It’s because your pooch thinks of it as a threat to you and its territory. Dogs take time to understand and bond with strangers, and they might bark at them in the first few encounters.
It may also happen that the stranger takes your dog’s favorite toys or comes to its place to tease it. This behavior will also make the dog feel a threat, and it will start barking.
The looks of people can also play a significant role in how your dog reacts towards them.
For example, if a person is in a wheelchair or dressed unusually, like wearing sunglasses with a large hat, it will definitely trigger a threat to your dog. It is because dogs don’t see such people regularly.
Dogs don’t like people who hide their faces because they look like detectives or those ready to attack. They also look different from other people, and that’s why dogs look at them as a threat.
Your dog barking at a specific person may also be because that individual is reminding your dog of trauma in the past. This mainly happens with dogs adopted from a shelter because we don’t know their past.
Maybe the person is dressed like the one who mistreated your dog in the past and caused trauma. Your dog will recall the trauma upon seeing that person, which will trigger the barking behavior.
By smell here, we mean the perfumes or deodorants people use. Some dogs don’t like strong fragrances, and as dogs have extremely strong senses of smell, it can easily get triggered. While these smells may seem ordinary to you, they will be strong for your dog.
So, it might bark at the person because it doesn’t like the smell.
Also, service dogs can smell danger from a person’s body odor. It can easily recognize if they are nervous about meeting a dog for the first time. If you have a service dog, it will smell a sick person, immediately recognize it, and bark to tell them.
Not every time your dog barks at a person is associated with a bad experience. It may happen that your dog was fine with someone in the first few interactions and suddenly started barking on seeing them.
If that’s the case, your dog might be excited to see them because they offered them treats. When your dog sees that they’re no longer offering it more, it’ll bark to tell them.
Not greeting properly
People meeting a dog for the first time don’t always know how to greet it. They might start running towards the dog, which will definitely scare it, and you’ll see your dog barking at them.
The stranger might also try to pat the dog in the first encounter. Your dog will not like this behavior, and it will bark at the stranger to avoid them.
Bad behavior towards the owner
Dogs are always overprotective when it comes to owners, and they don’t like people arguing or misbehaving with them.
So, if your dog sees anyone being rude to you, it will think of them as a bad person and naturally develop hatred for them. So, you’ll see your dog barking at them whenever you meet them.
Research shows that older dogs often suffer from health issues like arthritis and dementia. That’s why they often look confused. If your dog has dementia, it may start barking at certain people only because it cannot recognize them.
Not getting enough attention
Most dogs bark at guests that come over. Although some dogs go fine with them, others don’t like sharing their owners with someone else.
You may have a friend or family member over, and you might be ignoring your dog because you’re busy talking with them. For sure, your pooch won’t like this, and it will consider your friend as the reason for this.
So, the dog will develop a negative association with that person because you’re not giving it attention whenever they come over. It will also cause your dog to bark at them to tell them that it doesn’t like them at your place.
Related Post: Why Does My Dog Bark At Me And Not My Husband?(+Tips)
How To Stop A Dog From Barking At Certain People?
If you are worried about your dog barking at specific people, we have all the tips for stopping this behavior.
Socializing is the key solution to avoiding aggressive behavior in dogs. A better idea is to socialize it with several people when young so that it doesn’t see different people as a threat.
For example, if your dog barks at an older person or anyone in a wheelchair, introduce your dog to such people and use positive reinforcement to prevent it from barking at them.
Make them meet gradually
Dogs often bark at strangers because they seem to be a threat. So, it’s better to take the process slowly and introduce them the right way.
Immediately asking a stranger to pet your dog and pick it up is the worst thing you can do.
Instead, you can follow the following steps to keep things in control.
- Ask the person to come over and keep your dog leashed.
- When they’re sitting in another room, take your dog there.
- Your dog might start barking. Make it take a step back to stop this behavior.
- When your dog does so, reward it with a treat.
Things will work slowly, and you’ll have to be patient. Once your dog feels comfortable with them, you can ask them to feed your dog and play with it to make them friends.
Give time to your dog
The introduction of a new family member or friend will make your dog feel left out. If that’s the case, you can stop the barking behavior by giving attention to your dog.
You can also play with the dog along with your family members and friends so that your dog doesn’t think of them as a threat. Once your dog bonds with them, things will become good.
Tell the other person about do’s and don’ts
Your dog’s barking behavior might be the other person’s fault.
As discussed earlier, the individual might be wearing a strong deodorant that triggers your dog. Also, an unusual appearance like that of a detective can give the same result.
So, you can ask them not to wear such perfumes and dress like this whenever they come to meet your dog.
Also, if someone doesn’t know how to greet your dog and they rush things, you need to teach them. The most common behavior that triggers barking is eye contact. If the stranger maintains eye contact with your dog, it will feel a threat.
So, make sure you inform people about the do’s and don’ts before they greet your dog for the first time.
Seek help from a professional
If you cannot figure out the primary reason for your dog barking at specific people, you can contact a professional for help.
They’ll enroll your dog in behavioral courses, where it will interact with many people, and its aggression towards specific people will come to an end.
Your dog only barking at certain people can have a whole long list of reasons associated with it, and figuring out the exact cause and acting accordingly is necessary.
However, positive reinforcement and rewarding your dog with treats is always the best idea. So, make sure you take the right measures and reward your dog for stopping this behavior.
My name is Katie, and I have had different pets at home for as long as I can remember. While I can definitely say I love all animals in general, my heart belongs to cats and dogs. I know you are supposed to choose one or the other, but I could never really decide. I’ve also owned hamsters and fish when I was a kid, and they filled my childhood with very delightful memories.