Why Does My Dog Bark When I Hug Someone? 10 Reasons

Dogs are as intelligent as they are social. They build solid, special bonds with their humans that usually lead to possessiveness when they see a stranger in an affectionate hug with their owner.

You are not alone if you have ever been in this situation and wondered: Why does my dog bark when I hug someone?

Dogs are known to be naturally protective.

If your pooch barks repeatedly when you hug or get close to someone else, even another animal, it could mean two primary things – he is either jealous or protecting you.

This article however explores the top 10 reasons for this strange trigger in your pooch.

Why Does My Dog Bark When I Hug Someone?

Close Up Angry Dog Barking

1. Your dog senses danger

Picture this: Your fiancé is finally home after being away on official duty for several months.

Because you haven’t seen each other for this long period of time, you hug so tight that it causes you to let out a gentle squeal.

Then your dog suddenly starts to bark and doesn’t seem to want to stop. Well, that’s simply because they think you’re desperately in need of help. 

Dogs are naturally caring and will always attempt to save and protect their pet parents whenever the need arises.

So, when your pooch sees you locked up in the arms of your lover, someone whom they happen to have seen only a long time ago, they immediately think that you’re in danger.

Furthermore, dogs do not really understand hugs and so it automatically translates to being in a difficult situation that requires saving. Remember though, you had let out a squeal.

Based on a study published by Medical News Today, dogs bark and whimper more when their owners appear to be in any situation of distress.

2. Your pup is experiencing boredom

Before you start to have doubtful thoughts about this, yes, this is absolutely possible. This boredom sometimes comes with jealousy.

Your dog probably doesn’t get enough playtime and that causes it to bother you instead.

Have you recently been too occupied? Did you forget to go on a walk with your pooch? Did you feed it at the wrong time today? Have you been ignoring it a lot lately?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you’re likely guilty of withholding attention from your dog or completely denying it the much-needed attention.

In any case, moments, when we get very occupied with other things, are often inevitable.

However, there are many things you can do to keep your pooch from getting so bored.

You can provide them with puzzle toys to entertain them, and chew toys to keep them occupied.

3. Your dog has anxiety

Pembroke Welsh Corgi Dog Barking Indoors

When you notice your fur baby barking while you hug someone, one thing to be watchful of is anxiety. Your dog may be acting up because it is anxious.

Some of the signs of anxiety in canines include non-stop barking, aggressiveness, drooling, destructive behavior, and restlessness.

If this occurs in your dog, be sure to determine the reason for it in order to help them relax.

Dive Deeper:
How To Calm An Aggressive Dog – 10 Proven Ways

4. Your dog thinks you’re fighting 

Another reason for this dog behavior is because your pooch thinks you’re in a fight with the person you’re hugging.

In your pup’s eyes, your hug may be translated to mean a fight or a struggle. Think about it, the position humans take when hugging is similar to that which dogs take when fighting.

To end a fight between two dogs, a third dog often jumps into the middle in order to separate both fighting parties.

Humans tend to think that two dogs are fighting when they nibble on each other. It’s the same thing with dogs when they see humans hugging.

Dogs often see hugs as unacceptable behavior. That explains why they’ll jump, bark and even get between you two when you hug, just to see to the fight end. 

5. Your dog is protecting you

Puppy Barking Looking Up

Dogs, regardless of their size are typically known to be very protective of their owners. As a matter of fact, it’s in their DNA.

They will go as far as growling, biting, and lunging in order to keep their owners safe.

When they see you in a hug, they think that you are being fought by a complete stranger, so their immediate reaction would be to shield you.

Dogs tend to exhibit aggressive reactions to a potential threat – a behavior known as resource guarding.

This behavior occurs when your pooch reacts negatively to what they see as a threat to an object they cherish.

6. You often reward your pooch  

If there have been instances where you reward your pooch for barking at someone hugging you, your dog will likely repeat this behavior and turn it into a habit.

Your fur baby thinks it’s fine to bark at someone you’re hugging because you may have given them rewards in the past without meaning to do so.

In this case, it is advisable to train your pooch and let it know that barking at someone you are hugging is unacceptable behavior.

In addition, ensure that your dog is involved in daily exercises that will release built-up energy. 

7. Your pup is inquisitive 

Dogs are naturally curious. That is why they will bark whenever they find you in a hug because that action seems strange to them.

If your pooch is a puppy, it means they’re not well exposed to hugging yet, which is why they will see it as an alien move.

However, if your pooch has been living with you for years, it will definitely understand this as an act of affection. 

A rescue dog, on the other hand, might find hugging to be strange. You might even notice them tilt their head to the side with a confused look.

Nevertheless, they’ll get used to seeing you hug people as they grow in your home. 

8. Your dog is seeking your attention

White Pomeranian on Sofa Barking for Attention

If your dog is already used to seeing you hug people, you might find it barking because it needs the same attention you’re giving to the person hugging you.

They could run to you during your hug in order to get noticed and given the same display of affection.

You can give your fur baby the attention it wants by:

  • Getting familiar with their body language,
  • Giving them toys to play with in your absence,
  • Taking them on walks,
  • Cuddling every morning and evening,
  • Praising or rewarding them when they’ve been good.

Dive Deeper:
How To Bond With Your Dog – 15 Easy Ways

9. Your dog is confused

The act of hugging is strange to all canines. As a matter of fact, they feel that their owner is trapped during a hug.

They’re probably thinking “Why are they even doing that? It’s so weird.”

You’ll notice your dog’s confusion when it barks repeatedly at the other person or when it becomes hyperactive and ignores all your commands.

10. Your dog feels threatened 

Certain dog breeds are very suspicious of strangers. They tend to bark when they see an unfamiliar person hugging their owner.

New people, as well as new situations, threaten them, which is why they will bark repeatedly due to confusion and worry.

Many dog owners have discovered that their pooch becomes extremely defensive around people who are unfamiliar.

However, some pet parents do not fully understand the reason for this behavior.

The answer is quite simple – dogs feel immensely threatened when they see strangers around their owner, worse still, in a tight hug.


The next time you think: Why does my dog bark when I hug someone? remember that dogs are naturally protective and will try to rescue their humans if they sense danger.

Your pooch will always defend you regardless of the situation. For this reason, it is important to understand your dog’s triggers and how to avoid them.

It is also advisable to train your dog to understand that hugging is harmless.

Doing this will get your dog used to seeing you in a hug and reduce barking to a minimum.

You May Also Like:
Why Do Small Dogs Bark So Much? 5 Reasons & Solution

Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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