Why Does My Dog Bark When I Hug Someone? (11 Reasons + Solutions)
Does it feel like you’ve spent years trying to break your dog’s bad habits? Or even years just trying to figure out what the heck your dog is up to? Do you love your good girl and do your best and still feel like you’re getting nowhere? If you’re struggling to understand your dog’s odd behaviors, you’re not alone.
And to make it worse some dogs can be relentless with their odd behavior. You think you’ve figured them out and then BAM! Your dog is back with the same behavior but in a different scenario or your dog picks up some entirely new weird habit.
Maybe your dog is scared of flies and whimpers when she sees them. Or maybe your dog licks your legs to the point you’re worried about her. No matter the issue, you need to take the time to learn why your dog acts the way she does. It’s just part of the job of being a good dog owner.
So, what about barking at hugs? Why does my dog bark when I hug someone? There isn’t one quick and easy answer that covers all the reasons why your dog might bark when you hug someone. It could be anything from jealousy to curiosity to protecting you and more. Luckily, each reason is easily explainable and you can usually correct the behavior with a little work.
They’re Breaking Up A Fight
Dogs are very good at reading human body language, but sometimes they get it wrong. They can’t always tell when two people are getting along and when they’re not. For instance, sometimes when my kids are playing a little rough, my dogs think they are fighting.
When you hug someone, your dog may think that you’re tense or uncomfortable and a fight is about to start! So, as your best friend, (who knows she’ll get in trouble for biting) she’ll start barking to try to break up the fight.
Your Dog Is Feeling Protective
Another possibility is that your dog is ‘protecting you’. Dogs are genetically programmed to want to protect their pack. When you hug someone, your dog may see that person as a threat to you and feel the need to ‘defend’ you.
This is especially true if the person is acting strangely (in your dog’s mind) by moving too fast or squeezing you too tight. If your dog is feeling protective, she may start barking and even growling. She may also try to put herself between you and the person you’re hugging.
Your Dog Is Trying To Get Your Attention
Dogs are very smart and they know how to get our attention. If your dog is barking when you hug someone, she may be trying to get you to focus on her instead of the person you’re hugging.
She may want you to pet her or give her a treat, or she may just want you to look at her and acknowledge her.
Whatever the final goal, your dog is trying to get your attention and she’s found that barking is a surefire way to do it! Especially if you’ve ever rewarded and encouraged it!
Your Dog Is Stressed Or Anxious
Another possibility is that your dog is stressed or anxious. Dogs can get stressed for all sorts of reasons – from being in a new place to being around new people. If seeing you hug someone makes your dog stressed, she may start barking as a way to release that stress.
Anxious dogs may also bark when they’re feeling overwhelmed or out of their comfort zone. If your dog is anxious, she may start barking when you hug someone because she’s feeling uncomfortable and wants to get away from the situation.
Your Dog Is Excited And Playing
It’s possible that your dog is just excited! Dogs can get excited about all sorts of things – from going for a walk to seeing their favorite person. If your dog is excited and in a playful mood, she may start barking when she sees you hug someone. To her, it looks like the two of you are playing around and she’d like to join in and release some energy as well.
Your Dog Is Curious
When we humans hug each other, whether it is a grandma hugging a grandbaby or a couple hugging each other on a date, we make some odd sounds to dogs. From ‘mmhmm’ to ‘aaahhh’, your dog might be hearing noises she rarely hears and is therefore curious about them. If your dog is curious, she may start barking to try to figure out what’s going on.
Your Dog Is Bored
Dogs can get bored just like humans. If your dog is bored, she may start barking when she sees you hug someone because she’s looking for something to do. To her, it looks like you’re doing something interesting and she wants something to relieve her boredom!
Another possibility is that your dog is feeling jealous. You are your dog’s world in so many ways, seeing you give attention to someone else might set off your best friend’s alarm bells. Dogs want to be included in everything we do! If you’re giving someone else attention, your dog may feel left out and start barking as a way to get you to focus on her again.
You Encouraged The Behavior
You might even still be encouraging your dog to bark when you hug someone and you don’t even know it! Dogs are observant and perceptive. They can pick up on subtle clues about your day by sniffing your ears and major clues when you reward them for something.
If you’ve ever given your dog positive attention or a treat when she’s barked while you’re hugging someone; Congratulations! You’ve just taught your dog that this is a desirable behavior!
Your Dog Is Suspicious Of New People
Dogs are protective by nature. It’s their job to keep us safe and they take that job very seriously! Some dogs are naturally more leery of new people. Unfortunately, many of them have a good reason to be. Maybe it happened before you adopted your good girl, but at some point, your dog might have been wronged by a new person.
Your dog naturally wants her pack leader safe and sound. If your dog is suspicious of new people, she may start barking when you hug them as a way to ward them off.
Hugging Isn’t Normal To Dogs
Dogs greet each other by licking and sniffing. They don’t hug each other, at least not in the way we do. If you think about it from your dog’s perspective, hugging is very strange behavior. It probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to her!
Your dog might not like hugs, or she might find them strange either way it could make her bark when she sees you hug someone.
Your Dog Only Barks When You Hug A Specific Person
Some people don’t trust people that their dogs don’t trust, and while that makes a cute bumper sticker, you need to learn why it is your dog is barking when you hug a specific person.
Given all the reasons above, this one can go a couple of directions. The obvious answer seems to be that for whatever reason your dog doesn’t like that person.
What if your dog doesn’t like the way that person smells? Or maybe that person is too tall or wears a big hat that scares your dog. While your dog might be an excellent judge of character most times, she isn’t always.
The other direction is that your dog adores the person you’re hugging. If your dog is barking when you hug because she’s playful or excited she might just be wishing she was squished between the two of you as well.
Don’t write a person out of your life just because your dog barks when you hug them. Sure, if that person is mean to your dog, especially physically, show them the door. But if that is the case, your dog will likely bark, growl or hide way more often than just when you hug.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking When I Hug Someone?
While a little barking may be cute sometimes, excessive barking is never fun. The first thing you need to do is figure out why your dog barks when you hug someone. That will make it easier to figure out the most effective way to get her to stop this behavior.
Reassure Your Dog
If your dog is barking out of jealousy, anxiety or a few other reasons mentioned, she may just need some reassurance from you. When you’re hugging someone, make sure to give your dog a little extra attention too. Let her sniff the person you’re hugging and give her a pet or two while or as soon as you are done hugging.
If your dog is still resistant, try asking (only if appropriate!) the person you’re hugging to give your pooch a little attention too. A belly rub usually does the trick!
When you’re reassuring your dog that hugging is okay, you have to walk a fine line. Remember, one of the reasons I went over for why dogs bark when you hug someone? Because you encouraged the behavior. So, reassure but don’t reward.
Teach Your Dog ‘No’
If you have a dog that barks when you hug someone as a way to demand attention, you’ll need to work on her ‘no’ command.
The great thing about training your dog to understand this command is that it is useful in many, many situations.
Whenever your dog starts barking when you hug someone, say ‘no’ in a firm voice. Given enough time and patience, your dog should learn that you don’t want her to bark when you hug someone. That is unless, of course, you are also accidentally encouraging the behavior.
Don’t Encourage The Behavior
As we talked about before, many dogs learn that barking while you hug someone gets them attention. If this is the case with your pup, it’s time to break the habit!
The best two ways to do this are with the ‘no’ command or (if you keep accidentally rewarding your pup) by completely ignoring your dog when she barks while you’re hugging someone.
Of course, this is easier said than done. If you know your dog is going to start barking while you’re hugging someone, you can try to preemptively tell them no. However, if you’re wrong and they weren’t about to bark at your hugging, you may confuse your best friend.
Distract Your Dog
If your dog is barking when you hug someone because she’s excited, try distracting her with a favorite toy or game.
When you’re about to start hugging someone, have your dog sit or lay down and stay. If she can do that, give her a treat. Then, start hugging the person. If your dog starts to get too excited, stop hugging and give her the ‘no’ command.
With enough time and patience, your dog will learn that if she stays calm when you’re hugging someone, she’ll get a reward. If not, she won’t get anything.
Here we are, back at one of my favorite methods of training. If you’ve read more than a handful of my articles about dogs you’ll see this one come up a lot.
Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to train your dog from barking when you hug someone(or anything, really!).
If your dog barks when you hug someone and you want her to stop, try rewarding her when she doesn’t bark.
This can be with treats, petting, or even just verbal praise. The key is to make sure that she only gets the reward when she’s not barking.
The Side Hug
If you have a special someone that your dog has decided to bark at when you embrace, you can try the side hug. Sometimes a full embrace that is face-to-face is what dogs don’t like. If you hug in a way that your dog can still see your front, she may not feel the need to bark. This way, she can see your face and know that you still love her and are safe.
I feel like this is something that also comes up in nearly every article. While well-meaning dog owners are trying to mold their dog’s behavior in a way that improves everyone’s quality of life, punishment is rarely the answer. Unless your dog is putting you or herself in immediate danger there is always time to train your pooch the right way. Positive reinforcement and training go so much farther than any thump to the forehead or swat on the behind ever could.
My Dog Is Aggressive Towards People I Hug
Barking is one thing. While it can be scary and unsettling, it is not very aggressive because most dogs don’t go beyond it. If your dog growls, snaps, or bites when you hug someone, that is a whole different story. You need to find an immediate remedy.
Until you can work out why your dog is barking when you hug other people and how to stop it, don’t hug anyone in front of your dog. While it isn’t fair to you, you love your dog and you don’t want anything bad to happen to her. If she goes beyond barking and growling and actually hurts someone, depending on where you live, you could be liable for damages and she could be put down.
Call In The Pros
Dogs that exhibit this kind of behavior need professional help from an animal behaviorist or trainer. These individuals will be able to assess the situation and help you come up with a training plan specifically for your dog.
The Bottom Line: Why Do Dogs Bark When People Hug?
Dogs bark when you hug someone for a variety of reasons. One reason may be that she’s bored or jealous of the person you’re hugging. Another possibility is that she’s suspicious of the person and is trying to ward them off. Dogs are also protective by nature, so if your dog doesn’t trust the person you’re hugging, she may start barking as a way to keep you safe.
Hugging isn’t normal behavior for dogs, so she may not understand why you’re doing it. Additionally, your dog may only bark when you hug a specific person. This could be because she doesn’t like the way that person smells or looks, or because she’s excited to see them. If your dog loves the person you’re hugging, she might just want to join in on the fun!
The first thing to do if you want to stop this behavior is to figure out why your dog is doing it in the first place. The best way to stop your dog from barking when you hug someone is by using positive reinforcement and training. When you’re about to start hugging someone, have your dog sit or lay down and stay. If she can do that, give her a treat. If your dog is barking when you hug someone because she’s excited, try distracting her with a favorite toy or game. If all else fails, try the side hug!
Remember, never punish your dog for barking – this will only make the problem worse. With time and patience, your furry friend will learn that there’s no need to bark when you’re hugging someone.
If your dog is being aggressive when you hug someone, it’s important to seek professional help from an animal behaviorist or trainer. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed right away. In the meantime, stop hugging people in front of your dog to avoid any potential accidents.