3 Reasons Why Dogs Only Bark at Certain People & Strangers

Aggressive Dog

Having a dog as a pet can be a fun and rewarding experience, but there are certain behaviors your dog might possess that you have no idea what it means. One behavior that a dog has is that it will bark at certain strangers or people while at the same time be completely cool with others. There are several reasons as to why your dog is barking at certain people and not others and most of it has to do with being protective.

Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Person’s Smell

A dog has a very keen sense of smell so it would make sense that the person’s smell could be off-putting to the dog. When a dog first interacts with someone or another dog, the first move they make is to sniff. If the smell is acceptable to the dog then the interaction goes well. You might notice this at a dog park where a dog will first go up to another and smell them before deciding to play with them.

On the other hand, if the dog doesn’t like the smell then the situations becomes more tense. The smell could be intimidating to them or just awful, and the dog will not want to interact with that person and might even bark at them. Pheromones that the person is giving off could be alerting the dog of a threat as well. When someone has a dog of their own, your dog might bark at them due to the other dog smells. Beyond that, dogs also have an aversion to certain smells such as rubbing alcohol, vinegar, citrus, and even moth balls.

Your Dog is Put Off by the Person’s Looks

The person’s look and demeanor can be unsettling to a dog too, which can cause your dog to bark at them aggressively. For example, a stranger might be standing in a way that appears aggressive for your dog. They might also be doing a certain action that is off-putting for a dog.

Another angle to this to is that a dog that has been abused might react negatively towards someone that looks similar to their abuser. This could be in terms of gender, height, race, and any other physical characteristic that the person has. Fear could lead to the dog being put off by the person’s looks if it reminds them of the person who abused them.

The Person is Behaving Strangely Towards the Owner

When someone is behaving oddly around the owner, the dog will pick up on this and often times decide to not have anything to do with that person. A dog will pay attention to many details such as tone of voice, body language, and interactions with the owner.

If the other person is seemingly angry or aggressive towards the owner, the dog in turn will begin to bark at that person or simply avoid interacting with them. The person could also just be ignoring the owner or keeping distance, and the dog will pick up on these cues and avoid them.

Can Dogs Tell if a Person is Bad?

A dog can definitely tell if a person is bad and this includes people who might be physically or verbally abusive to either you or your dog. Just like we as people judge others, dogs are known to behave in the same way. Even during a first interaction, your dog might be picking up on something that is instinctual and chooses to stay away from a person due to these gut perceptions.

John at My Pet Child

is the Founder of My Pet Child, where he shares his tips on living with a dog in an apartment.

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This was very helpful and I think I know why my dog barks at my adult son. He and his father have a tense relationship. My question is what do I do about it. I don’t want him to ever bite my son.

Marco Peranteau
Marco Peranteau

Why does a dogs scrunch his forehead and begin being aggressive to others in the household, and our other dog? No apparent reason, just starts.we have to put a special collar on him when he does this.