Why does my dog ​​bark at some people and not others?

If you share your home and your day-to-day life with a dog, you have probably already noticed that dogs often bark at some people, while others seem not to wake them up a bit of interest. If you have already experienced this situation when walking with your best friend, you probably ask yourself questions such as: ” why does my dog ​​bark at only one person? “, “Why does my dog ​​bark at strangers?” or “how do I keep my dog ​​from barking at people?”

In this Animal Expert article, we’ll help you find answers to these questions by explaining the possible meanings of your furry’s barking and why a dog may bark at some questions and others not .

You may also be interested: My dog ​​barks at other dogs when tied


  1. Why do dogs bark?
  2. And why does my dog ​​bark at certain people and not others?
  3. Do dogs bark at people out of fear?
  4. Is it true that dogs can sniff out people’s fear?
  5. Do dogs bark at certain people to get their attention?
  6. Do dogs bark at some people to defend their territory?
  7. Do dogs bark at some people and not others because of bad manners?
  8. Do dogs bark at certain people for traumatic experiences?

Why do dogs bark?

To understand why your dog barks at some people and not at others, you must first know why dogs bark . Although our furry people mostly use their body language to express their moods, emotions and perceptions about their surroundings, barking plays a very important role in their relationship with people, with other animals and with the environment that surrounds them.

In their day to day, dogs bark to communicate the different emotions and experiences they live, which depends a lot on the environment they are in and the stimuli they perceive. When we say stimuli we are not only referring to noise, images or smells, but also to the presence of other individuals in their territory (people, dogs, cats or other animals). Therefore, there are many possible meanings of dog barking .

To know how to identify what each bark of our furry means, we must pay attention to their postures, facial expressions and their meanings. A stressed dog, in addition to barking, usually shows different signs of stress , such as hyperactivity or nervousness, excessive salivation, smacking, difficulty in arranging, excessive panting, etc. An angry dog ​​that prepares to defend itself, will communicate its state of mind with other attitudes and postures, such as growling, showing teeth, scratching and sniffing the ground, having very dilated pupils, remaining immobile with the body noticeably rigid, among others . If you perceive these signs on your furry, it is best to move away and respect their spaceuntil the animal calms down and returns to its normal behavior. Then it will be essential to identify what is causing these negative emotions in your furry to establish an effective treatment.

For this reason, we always reaffirm the importance of knowing the personality of your dog to easily identify any change in its behavior and know how to act to help it. Also, if you notice that your dog is barking excessively or that your dog’s character has changed , we recommend that you take him to the vet you trust to check his health . There are many diseases that can cause intense pain and interfere with your furry’s senses, therefore, it is key to rule out any pathological cause associated with excessive barking and other behavioral problems.

And why does my dog ​​bark at certain people and not others?

Now you know that dogs can bark for different reasons and in different circumstances. However, we still haven’t answered that initial question: “ Why does your dog not like some people? ” Or” Why does your dog only bark at certain people and not others? 

Again, we will have to tell you that there is no single explanation for this behavior of your furry. To know why your dog barks at some people, it will be necessary to observe the context in which these barks occur. In addition to observing your dog’s posture when barking, you will also need to look at the attitude of the person your furry is barking at.

To help you in this task, we will summarize below the main reasons that can make your dog bark at some people and not others.

Do dogs bark at people out of fear?

Fear is among the leading causes of barking in dogs. In general, fearful behavior towards people and other dogs is associated with poor socialization . Therefore, if you ask yourself the question “how to prevent my dog ​​from barking at people”, the answer is: investing in its early socialization .

In dogs, fear is an emotion that appears just at the end of the socialization stage, which occurs during their childhood. If during this period, we present our furry to different people, dogs, other animals and diverse stimuli, we manage to prevent fearful or unsafe behavior in adulthood. Although the ideal is to start socializing a dog during its childhood, it is also possible to carry out a successful socialization process in adult dogs , always counting on patience, affection and the help of positive reinforcement.

Thus, a dog that has not been properly socialized during its childhood and has not had the possibility of interacting positively with other individuals can demonstrate fear in front of unknown people, dogs and stimuli. There are even dogs that act in a scary and exaggerated way even with people known to have experienced some traumatic experience with people (we will talk about it later).

However, there are also other possible explanations for why a dog barks at people out of fear and you can learn about them by reading our article ” What to do if my dog ​​is afraid of people “. In it, you will also find some tips to help your dog and carry out a correct socialization process to teach him to relate positively to the individuals, stimuli and objects that make up his environment. Likewise, sensory deprivation syndrome may be the answer you are looking for if your dog is adopted and you do not know its past, since this disorder appears when dogs have been confined during their development or deprived of the aforementioned social stimuli.

Is it true that dogs can sniff out people’s fear?

Probably, you have already heard that dogs can smell our fear and can even bark when identifying this emotion in some people. Although there is no 100% proven explanation for this ability of our furry, the truth is that they have much more developed senses than ours, especially if we talk about smell and hearing. And this would be one of the possible explanations for their ability to identify a fearful person .

When we feel fear or other extreme emotion (stress, anxiety, overexcitation), our body releases some hormones into the bloodstream and into body fluids (urine, sweat, etc.), which alter our body odor. Although these substances can go unnoticed by other people, the powerful smell of dogs is able to easily identify the alteration of the smell in the body of the person who experiences this emotion. In addition, when we feel fear, our body also adopts certain postures and facial expressions different from when we experience a state of relaxation or happiness. A person who is afraid of dogs often adopts a defensive or apprehensive stancewhen it is in the presence of this animal. Remember that fear is an emotion that can lead to organic and involuntary reactions.

As dogs mainly use body language to communicate, they are also able to perceive the alterations in our habitual postures and identify some signs that indicate this state of tension. By identifying defensive or apprehensive posture in some people, dogs can bark because they also feel stressed or fearful in this situation, or simply to drive away and thwart any attack attempts that could be born of this person in a defensive state.

Do dogs bark at certain people to get their attention?

Although we used to think that a dog barks at those who do not like it, the truth is that our furry can also bark to capture the attention of the people they love and invite them to play or receive their petting. In fact, there are many dogs that bark when they are very excited, either by perceiving the presence of their favorite people, by knowing that it is time to walk or by their guardian picking up their favorite toy.

If your dog barks at some people to express their happiness when they see them and invite them to play, you will be able to observe other positive and friendly signs in their body language. For example, the classic happy tail, lifted and waving with enthusiasm, open and friendly facial expressions, or putting their ears back when petted or to ask for the caresses of this person.

Do dogs bark at some people to defend their territory?

Dogs are territorial animals that can be very protective in relation to their home, their guardians and their objects. The presence of unknown people, dogs or other animals in your home, can make your dog feel that his territory is invaded and his resources are threatened , so he will have the natural need to conserve them and protect them from any threat. However, a possessive dog often resorts to aggressiveness and reacts negatively even in front of people known for fear of losing their toys, food or guardian.

The resource protection is a natural behavior in dogs and other animals. However, overprotection in relation to people and objects tends to greatly harm the social life of our furry and coexistence in our home. Furthermore, in the attempt to conserve their resources, dogs can have aggressive attitudes that are very dangerous for themselves and for everyone around them. Therefore, a possessive dog needs to receive adequate treatment to learn to control its negative reactions.and to relate positively with people, animals and the stimuli that make up their environment. If you find that your dog is very possessive of you or its objects, we recommend that you immediately seek a qualified professional, such as a dog educator or ethologist . Also, if your furry is very nervous or more aggressive than usual, take him quickly to the vet to check his health and rule out any pathological cause.

On the other hand, if you have adopted or are considering adopting a new dog, remember the importance of correctly introducing it to your furry dog . If you bring a new puppy into your home abruptly, your dog may feel insecure and more possessive in relation to its territory and resources, acting aggressively in relation to the new furry. Therefore, the introduction of a new dog in our house must be careful to avoid fights and territorial disputes.

At ExpertoAnimal we give you some tips to promote coexistence between a new puppy and an adult dog . In addition, you will need to prepare your home for the arrival of the new furry: each dog must have its own environments and objects (feeder, drinker, bed, toys, etc.). Thus, you can promote the interaction of your dogs and avoid subjecting them to unnecessary fights and contexts of high stress. And again remember the importance of correctly socializing your dogs to teach them to interact positively and to enjoy an optimal social life.

Do dogs bark at some people and not others because of bad manners?

The training unconscious is much more common than you can imagine. Every day, many handlers reinforce unwanted behaviors in their dogs without even perceiving it, for example, by offering them a treat or pampering them to temporarily stop some unwanted behaviors, such as barking, crying, etc. Precisely for this reason this phenomenon is known as “unconscious training”.

If, to get your dog to shut up, you always offer him a snack , a pet , or allow him to do things that are normally prohibited (for example, getting on the couch or in bed), your furry will probably assimilate the act of barking with getting something that is of your interest. Then you can start to bark excessively with the sole motivation to get your attention and get what you want.

The same can happen with other people , such as relatives, friends, neighbors or visitors who frequent your home. If your dog barks only at one person or at some people who frequently frequent your home, you can pay attention to how these people react to your dog’s barking. If you observe that these people give a treat, a piece of food or a caress to make the dog stop barking, probably, your dog has assimilated the act of barking at this person / s with getting something that interests and pleases him .

Do dogs bark at certain people for traumatic experiences?

Unfortunately, many dogs have a history of physical or emotional abuse and have had traumatic experiences that hinder their relationship with people or other animals, and may even lead to phobias. We must not confuse fear, which is a fundamental emotion for survival, with phobias, which are characterized as disproportionate and exaggerated emotions when faced with certain stimuli.

If your dog is afraid of certain people, he will be able to bark at them, try to escape and even react aggressively to defend himself against a possible attack. However, if we talk about a phobia, the dog will react in an exaggerated and uncontrollable way , demonstrating the state of panic that dominates its body. A phobia diagnosis is complex to treat, requires time and a lot of experience. For this reason, it is essential to work with a specialist in dog behavior and education to help a dog that suffers from phobias regain its self-confidence, slowly relearn to trust people and be able to interact with them in a positive way. Unfortunately, a comprehensive cure is not always possible, but a good quality of life can be provided to the dog with apositive environment , controlled exposure to unknown people and the use of alternative therapies, such as Bach flowers, aromatherapy, acupuncture, among others.

If you have recently adopted a furry and you perceive that he is very fearful or behaves uncontrollably in the presence of other people, we recommend you go to a veterinary specialist in canine ethology ( veterinary ethologist ). This professional will, first, be able to verify the health status of your dog and rule out any disease or imbalance in its body. Then, you can design a treatment based on specific guidelines according to the needs of your dog and analyze the possibility of using drugs or alternative therapies to provide a better quality of life to your best friend.


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