Dogs are good judges of character. They can sniff out weird behavior and other emotions that aren’t as obvious to humans. This is comforting and equally concerning, especially when your dog barks at someone you know and trust. Should you ignore it? Is it a warning?
All of us dog owners have experienced this at least once. It can feel a little embarrassing at times. If this is your dog, then keep reading. We’re covering four reasons your dog might be barking at a specific person and what you can do to remedy the behavior.
The 4 Reasons Why Dogs Bark at Specific People
During COVID-19, many people wearing masks had dogs growl or bark at them. Can you blame them? It was hard adjusting to wearing masks all the time. We can only imagine what that looked like to dogs!
Dogs want to see your facial expressions and make eye contact. This is how they communicate. It’s difficult for dogs to establish trust with someone if these boxes aren’t checked.
The same thing sometimes happens with people wearing hats, hoodies, or other apparel. So, observe what people are wearing when your dog barks at them.
2. Body Language
We’ve heard it before—our body language says a lot about how we feel and appear to other people. Well, dogs are no exception.
Dogs communicate in non-verbal ways. They pay attention to how someone walks, talks, sits, and stands. It seems straightforward, but there’s an art to approaching a dog. The way you approach a dog sends clear signals about your intentions.
Granted, some dogs are shyer and more cautious than others and need time to warm up to someone. Poor body language may cause your dog to bark simply because it’s questionable.
3. Suspicious Behavior
Truthfully, some people just look like they’re up to no good. Your dog sees you as precious cargo and wants to protect you. If someone around you acts suspiciously, your dog will bark.
Some dog breeds are more suspicious of strangers than others. The Dachshund breed is a good example of a dog with a suspicious temperament. This is only exemplified if a dog isn’t socialized enough as a puppy.
Past experiences can also be a reason and may turn into a permanent trait if not handled properly. Maybe your dog had a run-in with a stranger in the past, and it didn’t go so well. Whatever the behavior is, your dog finds it suspicious and feels the need to bark.
Just because your dog barks at someone doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t like that person. Dogs get excited, especially when they have visitors or see someone from their past. Pay attention to your dog’s body language to see if it’s excited or upset.
Dogs that feel threatened will show their teeth and lay their ears flat. On the other hand, scared dogs will tuck their tail between their legs, start salivating excessively, and tremble.
If your dog is barking and wagging its tail, then it’s happy to see this person, and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
How to Stop Your Dog From Barking at One Person
First, you want to be sure the person your dog is barking at has good intentions. If so, positive reinforcement is the best course of action. Your dog will associate tasty treats with this person and may refrain from barking. Offering treats as a reward when meeting them helps your dog feel safe.
Training puppies early in life is a crucial step. We don’t always have this luxury since many people adopt mature dogs. But if you can, socialize your dog as early and as often as possible.
Hiring a professional trainer is always an option. If you can’t hire a trainer, try using free apps like Puppr. This app uses clicker training, a form of operant conditioning, to train your dog for basic tricks and behaviors.
Dogs are great judges of character, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that every person your dog barks at is bad or dangerous. Sometimes, dogs bark just because they’re dogs.
Getting to know your pup’s behaviors better makes understanding random barking much easier. Even so, never give up on training your dog. Your dog is never too old to let go of old tricks and learn new behaviors!
Featured Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock