If your dog has been barking at certain people and not others you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog bark at certain people? Possible reasons why your dog barks at certain people are that they mistreated it in the past, it is excited to meet those people since they rewarded it in the past, it might find them or their body language threatening or you might have encouraged the behavior.
There are many different reasons why it might be doing it but there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason. There are also a number of things you can do about it that will depend on the most likely cause.
Why your dog barks at certain people
Below are a number of common reasons why your dog might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reasons.
The cause could be that those people mistreated it in the past or someone similar to them did. This would be more likely if it barks at people that look or sound similar and if it shows signs of threatening body language itself. These signs could include showing its teeth, a curled nose, pulling its lips back and a stiff tail. It would also be more likely if it tries to avoid or hide from those people.
Another possible cause is that those people in particular excite it. This would be more likely if they are people that it knows or they are people that have interacted with it in the past. It would also be more likely if it shows excited body language such as wagging its tail, licking and having wide-open eyes.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause might be that you have encouraged it to bark at those people by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, rewards or treats when it barks at them, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to try to reward it when it does not bark and to wait for it to stop barking before giving it things that it wants.
It does not like their body language
Another possible cause is that it does not like the body language of those people in particular. One body language sign in particular that it might not like is strong eye contact. Dogs will usually consider strong eye contact from strangers to be a challenge and it might be what has been causing it to bark at those people. This would also be more likely if it starts showing threatening body language itself.
They seem threatening
It could also be the case that there is something other than their body language that is causing them to seem threatening. It might be that they are on its territory or too close to you and it thinks that they are threatening you.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started barking at certain people
If it did not always bark at certain people, it would help to consider if anything else happened when it first started doing it.
For example, if it started doing it after someone mistreated it or someone mistreated you, it would be more likely that it has been barking due to feeling threatened by those people.
Whereas, if it started doing it after someone played with it, the cause could be that it barks because it wants to play.
If it knows the person
It would also help to consider if it knows the people that it barks at. If it knows them, it would make it more likely that it does it due to being excited because it has played with them in the past. Whereas, if it does not know them, it would be more likely that it finds them to be threatening.
What is different when your dog does not bark at certain people
It would also help to consider if there is anything different about the timing of when it barks at them.
For example, if it barks when they are on its territory or when they are very close to you, it would be more likely that it does it because it thinks they are being threatening.
How to get it to stop barking at certain people
Below are some things you can do in order to get it to stop barking at certain people.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging your dog to behave the way you want it to by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way. To use it to get it to stop barking at certain people you could reward it when it does not bark at people, on walks, but not reward it when it does. Doing this should teach it that barking at people results in it not getting rewards.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
It would also help to avoid encouraging the behavior by ensuring not to give it rewards when it does bark at people. Instead, it would help to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to be about to start barking.
Teach it to listen to your command
It would also help to train your dog to be more responsive to your command. By training it you will be able to get it to listen to your command and it will be easier to control your dog when it misbehaves.
If you cannot get it to stop doing it or it becomes aggressive around them, consider getting help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and how to get it to stop effectively and safely.
Why does my dog bark at some strangers and not others?
Possible reasons why your dog barks at some strangers and not others are that your dog finds certain strangers threatening, it has learned that it gets rewarded when it barks at some people, or that it barks when it thinks that the people have threatening body language.