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Why Does My Dog Bark At Strangers?


Everyone knows a stranger can be dangerous, however, why is it that a few dogs go nuts when they try to warn us about them?  These pups bark like mad and go nuts every time they see a person they don’t know, even if you’re on a walk and the other person is barely looking in their direction. A few dogs bark if they see someone via a window, or through their fence in the yard or just about anywhere. Seeing a stranger drives them crazy. But prior to thinking about ways to stop them from doing this, you must try to understand their reasons they bark at people they don’t know.

All dogs are different. You do not really know the precise reason they bark since we can’t speak dog language. However, thanks to the work of dog trainers and animal behaviorists there’s several educated guesses we can take when it comes to the reason a few dogs bark at each and every unknown person that comes their way.

Here are several possibilities.

They are protecting their territory

Protecting their territory is something a dog does on instinct. And several kinds of dogs do this more than some other kinds. These include German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Bull Mastiffs. Some little Pekingese pups will even get all protective of their personal area.

Their instinct to protect and defend their areas and this comes from a deep-rooted feeling that unknown people or animals may present a threat. Wild animals know that if they allow an unknown creature to come into their territory it could end up killing them. So, that instinct lives on in today’s domesticated pups and they want to protect their family members and are on guard of any other person or animal.

That’s why if your pup is asleep, but suddenly hears the mailman, that instinct to guard their territory comes out. They want to guard their home and barking is the way they try to scare off any strangers and defend their house.

They are giving an alarm

If your pup barks at someone they don’t know when they are away from their home territory, i.e. if you are at a park or on a walk, that is likely them giving an alarm. This is not the same as barking to protect their territory. An alarm bark is something a lot of unsocialized dogs may do. If the dog wasn’t exposed to a lot of people they didn’t know when they were a puppy, it’s possible they get worried and anxious if they see a stranger.

Alarm barking does not necessarily mean the dog is going to get aggressive if the unknown person gets close to them. At times a dog just wants to act brave so they can warn their owners about the stranger. They usually calm down if that person really gets close enough, such as walking right by them. You can avert this kind of barking by boosting your pup’s self-confidence. Use some positive reinforcement if there is an unknown person nearby. You can use their favorite toy or some tasty treats and show the dog that not all unknown people are bad.

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They are scared

An extreme type of warning barking is whenever a dog will bark at a stranger due to them being very scared of them. When this happens, the dog is feeling exceedingly unpleasant, and the way they act could be unstable. A frightened dog might even attack someone even if it’s not necessary.

There’s a few reasons dogs may be scared of someone unknown. They might have been hurt by someone previously, or maybe they weren’t socialized very well and so they get really nervous and fearful.

If you pay a lot of attention to how your dog is acting when this happens, you’ll better understand their reason. Is their hair standing up on the back of the spine or head? Then your pup is extremely upset. Additionally, be sure to see if their ears are pinned back or if they are showing their back teeth in some kind of  forced “grin.”

If you believe your pup barks at unknown people due to being scared, it is a good idea to hire an animal behaviorist to work things out. Be sure they are certified.

They are excited

On the other hand, a lot of pups bark at unknown people just because they are extremely excited. These dogs adore meeting someone new. They just want to greet all the people they meet. This kind of pup barks because they want attention. They think that if they bark loudly the new person will see that they want to be friends and come to pay attention to them. Some dogs will bark because they are a bit frustrated because the new person isn’t coming over to play with them.

This sort of excited barking is particularly common with younger dogs and puppies. Some kinds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers,  American Staffordshire Terriers, or Labrador Retrievers tend to be a bit too friendly. They just want everyone to be their best buddy. This love for all turns into a leaping, whining, and barking.

Even though being friendly isn’t bad, if they bark at unknown people it’s not a great way to try to make new friends.  With a bit of training, you can teach your pup to have some impulse control. Just show the pup barking isn’t the best method of making a new friend. Do this by getting them to sit quietly when a new person walks towards you, and that this type of behavior works more to get some of the attention they want.


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