So, you have a dog like a Jack Russell, a Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher, a German Shepherd, or some other dog that barks a lot. Most of these dogs are always on alert. And that applies even more when someone new arrives, or someone passes by their territory. You are probably wondering why does my dog bark so much?
And what can you do to stop it or even reduce it? Dogs have different reactions depending on a different person.
This might sound strange to you, but to dogs, each person emanates a different scent. We already know that dogs have a more advanced sense of smell. Just for information, your dog has between 10,000 and 100,000 times more advanced sense of smell.
Because of that huge difference, our dogs can sniff something we cannot. Trained dogs can even distinguish between two identical twins from the same environment, fed the same diet, just by sniffing them.
Why does your dog bark at certain people?
There are many reasons why your dog might bark at someone, and do not bark at someone else. People in the dog world often say, “dogs can tell who is a nice person and who is not”. Well, things go deeper than that. Your puppy might smell something our human nose could not.
It doesn’t have to be something worrying. Your barking dog might have a negative association with it. Like another strange puppy or someone’s fear. Here are a couple of answers to the question why does my dog bark so much at different people.
This is where socialization can help. While dogs lean primarily on their sense of smell, they also make use of facial recognition. Have you introduced your puppy to different people?
If not, your dog might growl or bark at one person, and lick and play with a different one. Remember, people differ in size, features, and the way they move.
This is why we socialize dogs with different people. So that they love people. I always say this, “introduce your puppy to 100 different people in the first three months of age”. And preach positive behavior, reward positive behavior, and reinforce it as much as you can. Introduce your dog to little children, elder people, people in a wheelchair, people on a bike, and so on.
The more people you introduce your dog to and create a positive association with, the better. This way, your pet will not see some people as threatening. He will not feel fearful and insecure. And you can reduce unwanted behavior problem like constant barking at people.
Trauma and abuse
If you have had your dog since he was a puppy, you know what he went through. But if you are adopting an older dog, a dog from a shelter, or anything else, you might not know the trauma and abuse he has gone through.
Your canine friend might have an aversion to certain people and certain things. For example, gender, or a person with a hat, or anything else. Remember, dogs create associations and they stick to them.
Here is an absurd example, but it is true. Your dog might have had a dog owner who beat him. And that particular dog owner was an obese man. Now, your dog will associate obese men with someone who abused him.
Most dogs that bark the most are territorial. That applies to terrier breeds like Jack Russell, or some guard dogs.
A territorial dog will learn to defend its space, protest its family, and react to anyone who seems to be invading its space or acting in a way that looks threatening.
That type of animal behavio can trigger a protective reaction in your puppy. It might turn an enthusiastic greeting into a growl or excessive barking. Territorial barking is nothing new, it is just one of the reasons dogs bark.
Should you reconsider your circle of friends?
If your dog is constantly barking at some people, you are wondering two things. Why does my dog bark so much, and are my friends truly good people?
There is no need to panic and react in a way that you stop hanging out with someone. It is most likely that your barking dog is smelling something or perceiving something that he is not sure of. Try to build trust and confidence through training and rewards.
But pay close attention to the aversion your puppy has for a certain person. Remember, animals can really determine whether a person is trustworthy or not.
How to greet people?
I have written about this in length and in different articles, but let’s revisit it. You have to pay attention to the behavioral problem that is unwanted barking at people.
This is just a short summary, and if you want to know more, check out some of the related posts on my blog. But the general rule is that you should teach your dog a certain way to greet people. Of course, the best thing is to sit calmly and wait patiently for others to come.
How do you achieve that? Invite some friends to come over. Before you start, teach your dog that the ringing of the bell means come to the door and wait patiently. Schedule visits from friends in time frames of 20 to 30 minutes. Give each person a treat, and when that person comes, your pup listens to the doorbell ring, comes and sits, and they reward him.
Do not give your puppy a treat reward until he is sitting calmly and patiently. You do not want to reward and reinforce jumping on people as a greeting. You want to use positive reinforcement only for a quiet behavior.
Then, take this exercise and do it outside. It is crucial for dog parents and pet owners to practice this exercise in different scenarios. Your dog will be calm, happy, and enthusiatic about people. And that is an animal behavior you want.