Why Do Dogs Bark at People? [8 Most Common Reasons]


One of the most common questions about dogs is “why do dogs bark at people?”. 

A dog can bark for multiple reasons, such as territoriality, alerting their owners, seeking attention as well as greeting the people they love or telling them that they don’t feel ok.

Read on if you want to learn more about dog barking at people as well as the least and most barking breeds.

The Reasons Why Dogs Bark at People

Although dogs have a lot of communication methods, barking is easily the most common one of them. Depending on the situation, barks can vary dramatically in what they mean.

In other words, dogs bark for a wide variety of reasons. Let’s have a brief overview of each of those reasons, so you know how to deal with that problem.

1. Protective and Territorial Barking

Dogs are descendants of wolves, so they’re highly territorial animals and a few million years of evolution won’t simply erase that part of their DNA.

For that reason, dogs will respond excessively to any person, dog, or other animals that are within or about to approach their territory. It’s why a lot of dogs would bark and behave aggressively towards your visitors. 

Dogs usually include their house and the area surrounding it as their territory. It also includes the family car and places you frequently take them to. 

In their mind, strangers are threats. As they get closer, the dog barks become louder. You’ll often notice that your dog is showing signs of alertness and aggression accompanying this type of barking.

2. Alarm Barking

Alarm barking is deeply associated with protective barking. In this type of barking, your dog will bark at anything that grabs their attention or startle them while they’re patrolling around the house.

It’s most commonly observed in herding and shepherd dogs where their job was to alert their owners about any alarming object or noise that can potentially harm the group. 

It can happen anywhere inside and outside of their territory and your dog will seem more determined and firm but without aggression for that type of barking.

3. Attention Seeking

As simple as this might seem, a lot of dogs would bark simply to grab their owner’s attention. This includes going outside, food, treats, playing. Dogs barking for attention will try to manifest what they want.

4. Frustration

If you leave your dogs in a frustrating situation without a way out, expect them to start barking in frustration. This happens in situations like when they’re not used to being tied up or confined in a small place or other forms of movement restriction.

5. Greeting and Playing

We all know how excited dogs become when you’re back home after some time out. In that case, you might hear some barks, which is part of their ritual to greet you and other members of the family.

These happy barks are usually accompanied by visible excitement, whimpering, lots of tail wagging, and even jumping!

6. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a psychological problem that occurs to some dogs when they’re left alone. This type of barking is characterized by being immediate and excessive.

It’s usually accompanied by other forms of distress and separation anxiety symptoms, including:

7. Boredom

If you leave your dog with activities, playtime, or going out for a long time, your unhappy dog will start acting up in the form of barks at everyone.

8. Illness or Compulsive Behaviors

If your dog shows compulsive and repetitive barking or you can’t pinpoint the reasons for their barks, you might want to check with your dog’s vet, as it might be due to a specific illness.

How to Stop Dogs from Excessive Barking at Strangers

Why do dogs bark at people

As you can see, your dog will bark for a lot of reasons. The best way to prevent your dog from barking at people (and you) is by “quiet” training.

In this type of training, you ignore the barking and only reward your dog when being silent and encourage them not to make loud noises. 

You can even seek the help of a professional to train your dog to stay silent when giving them such a command. In addition to training, other methods to reduce the frequency of your dog barking include:

  • Giving them enough exercise to vent out extra energy, boredom, and frustration
  • Check their health state if they don’t usually bark a lot
  • Take them to a doggy daycare facility when you’re at work
  • Don’t encourage your dog to alert you about strangers on the door by being too alert yourself
  • Use anti-bark collars (more on that later)

Things You Shouldn’t Do to Stop Your Dog from Excessive Barking

Now that you know the right ways to stop your dog from barking, you should also know the things you shouldn’t do. 

These things include not being consistent with your reinforcement training by letting the dog bark at things that you don’t mind. 

The problem here is that they won’t be able to tell the difference later on, which causes failure of the training.

Another thing to avoid is using a muzzle unnecessarily for a long time. Dogs can’t pant while wearing a muzzle and it can have various negative side effects. 

If you’re going to use a muzzle, make sure that it’s your last resort and that you won’t leave it on for a long time.

Using punishment procedures to stop the barking without the vet’s approval is also highly discouraged. It can worsen the situation, especially if the barking is due to anxiety or compulsive disorders.

Lastly, never consider debarking, which is an inhumane procedure where the voice box in the dog’s larynx is removed. 

This procedure can be life-threatening and may cause a lot of pain and breathing difficulties. Not only that doesn’t completely eliminate the barks.

What Are Anti-Barking Collars?

Anti-barking collars include a wide variety of products on the market that are supposed and marketed to help you stop your dog from barking. The majority of these items are in the form of wearable collars, hence the name. 

The most common type of these collars is the ones that produce ultrasonic waves and audible corrections to safely prevent your dog from barking. 

However, this type of anti-barking collars are of varying effectiveness and may not work with all dogs. 

There are also shock collars, which are used to deliver an electric zap that’s painful but not acutely harmful to correct the dog’s behavior. 

This one isn’t recommended because it usually makes the dog more aggressive, which means more barking at strangers and it can cause some psychological problems in the long run.

Lastly, there are other bark activated collars that, instead of shocks, respond with milder but equally effective methods.

These collars include the automatic noisemaker that produces beeping sounds whenever the dog starts barking. 

You can use these devices to prevent your dog from barking at home by associating the barking with loud noises. Lastly, there are the water spraying collars, that instead of zaps, squirts water on the dog.

What Breeds Bark the Most?

Now that you know the different reasons that make some dogs predisposed to bark. There’s one last thing you need to know, which is breed differences.

Regardless of the reasons and environmental impacts, some dogs are just more naturally prone to bark than others.

If you’re living in an apartment or in a noise control neighborhood and thinking about adopting a new dog, make sure that it’s not a heavy barking breed.

The following list contains a number of dog breeds that are known for barking when they aren’t supposed to.

So, unless you live in a large household and you don’t mind a lot of unnecessary barking day and night, make sure that you steer away from adopting any of the following breeds.

  • Beagles
  • Fox Terrier
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Silky Terrier
  • Pekinese
  • Siberian Husky

However, if you don’t mind the loud barking and want a guard dog that will alert you about any change in your surroundings, the following list of breeds is all about dogs that will only bark when it’s necessary:

  • Bloodhound
  • Golden Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Akita
  • Rottweiler
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Saint Bernard
  • Boxer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Bulldog

What Breeds Bark the Least?

One thing you should know is that most dogs bark sometimes. However, some breeds are known for their remarkable tendency to stay quiet the majority of the time and prefer to be silent.

Whether you’re curious about the quietest and least frequent barking dogs or planning to adopt a dog with quietness to be your top priority, here are some suggestions that might be a good place to start:

  • Italian Greyhound
  • Basenji
  • Chinook
  • French Bulldog
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pugs (unlike the previously mentioned breeds, pugs bark more frequently. However, their barks aren’t loud at all) 

Final Thoughts

With that said, you now know why dogs bark at people. As you can see, barks are one of the main forms of communication in dogs, which is why they bark for a variety of reasons.

It’s important to observe the accompanying signs with the barks in order to understand the reason behind it.