Skip to Content

9 Reasons Why Your Dog Barks At Certain Dogs & 5 Tips

Why Does My Dog Bark At Certain Dogs

Are you starting to think that your dog is ‘two-faced’?

They’re friendly with some hounds, but turn into a savage one when it comes to few.

Even if the other dog’s doing nothing. And it’s only their first encounter.

You might also often break into a cold sweat as you walk your pooch outside…

Because you don’t know when they’ll bark at another canine. 

Is the other dog doing something that makes your furry buddy go mad?

Or is it just hate at first sight?

Read on to find out:

  • What makes your dog riled up by some canines.
  • Whether they do it out of instincts or for other reasons.  
  • 5 useful tips on how to handle their vocalizations and behavior.
  • And many more…

Why does my dog bark at certain dogs?

Your dog barks at certain dogs because of a bad experience, overwhelming stress and emotions, fear towards large dogs, territorial instincts, or jealousy. The other canines might also be showing aggressiveness, new in the area, or they’re good friends so they’re excited or frustrated to meet them.

9 reasons why your dog barks at certain dogs

#1: ‘Trigger stacking’

You’re walking your pooch outside. And they’re pretty calm after passing 5 other dogs.

You thought everything’s fine until…

They snarl at the 6th hound you met.

“Is there a pattern for this?” you might ask.

If this happened to you before, or any situation similar to this, it might be due to ‘trigger stacking.’

It happens when their stress, which is controllable at first, piles up. This causes an outburst of emotions. And they’ll express it through barking and lunging.

Imagine it as the formula below:

Stress + hormones + more stress  = breakdown

They might have been quite stressed from the start. And after meeting a few aggressive dogs, their cortisol levels start to rise.

They can’t make you stop right away. Or tell you they’re not in the right mood for anything at the moment.

Then it just happened that when you met the 6th one, another stressor was around. Like a loud sudden noise or an approaching kid.

The other Fido may have also gotten closer to them and tried to have a sniff which they might not like. 

Then your pooch thought, “Okay, I’m done. That’s it. That’s the final straw,” as they exploded with rage like a volcano.

So that’s why it may look like they only bark at a specific dog at times.

#2: ‘Small dog syndrome’

Your Dog Barks At Certain Dogs Due To A Small Dog Syndrome

Some little breeds might also put the saying “small but terrible” into practice.

They might act fierce like a vicious beast in front of a massive unfamiliar pooch.

So is yours one of them?

And do they only tend to bark at larger hounds?

If so, they might have ‘Napoleon complex,’ or what most trainers refer to in canines as SDS or ‘Small Dog Syndrome.’

It might be a trait innate in them as a defense from potential threats. So in their eyes, huge dogs are equal to danger.

But, it may also be due to a lack of exposure to other pooches at an early age. It might happen when their parents became too overprotective of them.

They might be afraid of getting them injured if they let them play and interact with bigger pups.

As a result, your dog developed fear and anxiety towards bigger canines.

#3: Bad experience

“Oh no, I’m having flashbacks…”

Does your dog only act scared and yap at a certain breed? Or…

Do they seem to dislike canines with a specific color?

If that’s the case, they might have had a scary encounter with one before. So they only seem agitated by a particular kind.

It’s possible that a big brown hound attacked them in the past if they only snarl at the likes of it.

Aside from their similar type and size, they might also have the same body language as the one who charged at them. And they remember it very clearly.

Also, that experience might even happen during their ‘fear periods.’

Those are stages in their life where they tend to become more fearful than normal. And one awful event during those times might turn into a phobia in the future.

It usually happens first at 8-11 weeks old. Then followed by a second phase when they’re 6-14 months.

#4: Aggressive dogs

Your pooch might also be afraid and vocalize when faced with an unfriendly canine.

That might be it if they don’t mind the other ones who are just passing by at all. 

The other hound might be ready to attack them at any moment. And they’re showing it in their body language such as:

  • Growling.
  • Stiff body.
  • Curled nose.
  • Exposed teeth. 
  • Pinned back ears.

Read further: Why is my dog so vocal?

#5: They’re trespassers

If they only snarl at dogs near your yard or house, they might be telling them, “Get off our lawn!”

Observe them if they only get stirred up by a random hound who’s nearby your place. And if they ignore others who are blocks away.

Some dogs might be territorial. And they would defend what they consider as ‘their area.’

#6: They’re only protective of you

Your Dog Is Protective Of You

Does your dog hate it if you give attention to another pooch?

They seem alright with strays and neighborhood hounds. But seeing you with one riles them up?

Hmm. They might be ‘jelly’ or too protective of you. Think of it as possessive behavior.

Experts say that canines can be jealous. It’ll be like a child who’s upset if another kid is having fun with his/her parents. 

They might not like you interacting with them. And they don’t have any plans on getting close to them either.

So they’ll growl as a warning to the other dog. Telling them to get off of you.

This might be due to a strong bond formed between the two of you. Or it can be connected to their territorial instincts and you’re part of the area they’re defending.

It’s also possible that the behavior has been rewarded before with attention or petting.

You might also like: Why is my dog suddenly aggressive to our other dog?

#7: ‘New face’


Oh, I’ve never smelled this before.

Everyone, alert!”

The reason your dog only snarls at strays and never in the neighborhood hounds is…

Because they’re unfamiliar with them.

You might have lived in the area for years now. And you’ve walked them around that’s why they’re familiar with all the scents.

So, once a pooch who’s never been in the place appears, they bark at the newcomer.

They do it to warn you and other canines about a possible threat.

It might also mean, “Who’s that?” like when people ask their friend when they see someone unfamiliar around.

#8: They’re happy to see their ‘dog friend’

Your dog might also yap not because of anxiety, but due to excitement.

Do they also wag their tail and open their eyes wide?

If yes, they might only be seeing their good pal. And try to communicate with them and express their joy.

This is the case if they only vocalize at pooches they’ve played in the past. Like if they see your sibling’s or neighbor’s furry buddy again.

A study tested 35 canines with their ‘dog companions.’ And it was proven that their bond is as strong as the one they have with their parent.

How do they choose one?

Well, they might not like all dogs. So, there are only certain ones they can be fond of.

Yes, they might also be picky like humans. And they’re not likely to have a close relationship with every hound they see.

It must be mutual and it might depend on their first encounter. Like if the other one looked alright when they sniffed and observed their body language. 

Experiences with them also count. So if they mostly had fun with them before, there might be a chance for a friendship to blossom. 

#9: They’re frustrated

Your Dog Is Frustrated

Dogs also express their frustration through barking.

Your pooch might want to greet someone they see in the window.

But they don’t do it to other people and every hound. They only do it when they see your neighbor’s Maltese.

Well, if that’s so, they might just be dying to meet their best friend outside.

And they can’t do it because the door’s locked. Or they’re left on a leash in the yard.

5 tips on what to do if your dog barks at certain dogs

#1: Know the triggers

Understanding your dog is the first step.

You may need to pay close attention to their body language and the surroundings when they do that.

Answering these questions might also guide you:

  • Do they look scared, angry, or excited?
  • When and where does it usually happen?
  • Have they acted aggressively at certain breeds or sizes? What are they?
  • Are they comfortable being around other dogs? Even if they’re very close to them?
  • What kind of dog do they mostly snarl and lunge at? Any similarities? Have they played with your pooch before?

It would also help if you traced back what you’re doing at those moments. You might be doing something that adds up to their anxiety or frustration.

By answering these questions, you’ll have a grasp of what solution will be suitable for your situation.

#2: Reduce their stress and anxiety

If your dog gets anxious about meeting other canines one after another, you might need to make them rest for a bit.

Socializing them right away might not be the right decision. That’s because their cortisol (stress hormones) levels might still be high.

Especially if they had a ‘trigger stacking’ episode recently. So, it would be best to avoid any hounds for about 2-3 weeks.

Make them stay in a quiet and comfy area. While in there, you may offer them interactive toys.

Those will keep them busy throughout the day. Kongs with tasty treats inside might work for them.

Playing games would help too. You may keep some treats around the area. Then make them find them.

Aside from physical exercises, it’s also good to get their brains working. It would help in calming them down. And cope fast with their anxiety.

#3: Always keep a safe distance

Now, if you’re taking them for a walk outside, make sure to not get too close to any dog.

Always be aware of other canines around. As well as your pooch’s body language.

If they become stiff and look nervous, you might be getting nearer to one.

And if there’s a certain breed or size they’re afraid of and one’s coming your way, be quick to block their vision. Or redirect their focus on a toy or treat.

This is to avoid making them stressed. And prevent any unwanted situations.

In general, it’s not safe and good for your pooch to let them be sniffed by others right away. 

And vice versa, it’s also not advisable to approach another hound at once. Or without the permission of their parent or guardian.

Note: If their behavior gets out of hand (become more aggressive/anxious), you may need to seek the help of a dog behaviorist.

#4: Walk with treats

The problem might not end by only avoiding their stressors.

So you may need to walk them outside and train them while you’re on it. And keep it positive with no yelling or punishments.

To do this, you’ll have to prepare treats. And those should be only fed during the training to make it more special.

Now as you take a stroll and there’s a hound nearby, give them treats. If they looked or barked at it, take a few steps back. And still, offer them snacks.

Do this every time you go out. When they get used to it, they’ll associate treats with the presence of other canines.

Note: Avoid pulling or holding their leash tight during the walk. It might make them more aggressive towards other dogs.

#5: Teach them to be “quiet”

If they do it to warn you, you may need to calm them down. And train them how to be silent at times.

This would help if they’re inside the home lurking and they saw a certain dog.

  1. First, prepare some small treats.
  2. Then do the thing that triggers your pooch to bark. You may also ask someone to walk their dog in front of your house to make them snarl.
  3. Once they yap, acknowledge it. You can do it by taking a peek outside the door or window.
  4. Then say “alright!” in a sweet calm voice. It should look like you’re recognizing their efforts to alert you. 
  5. Then go back to them and say “quiet”.
  6. If they remained silent even for 2 seconds, reward them with treats and praises.

Keep on doing this until they master the command and do it even without snacks.