How to stop your dog from barking at a family member

How to stop your dog from barking at a family member?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

If the dog barks and growls at a family member, there’s hope that the problem can be resolved. Positive reinforcement, distraction, and professional training are all counter-training methods you can use to correct your dog's behavior.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “How to stop your dog from barking at a family member“.

It is a complaint that many dog owners have – Fido is the most wonderful pet ever except when he barks barks and barks driving everyone crazy including your neighbor who threatens to call the police. Even if the aggressive behavior is directed at a member of your family your concern and exasperation are understandable but before we can address this issue you must figure out why your dog is barking so loudly? 

How to stop your dog from barking at a family member

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Some do it to communicate with other dogs while others do it to communicate with their human families. Dogs bark for a reason this is their way of expressing desires feelings and fears. Here are some reasons why dogs bark:

  • Protecting and marking their territory
  • Expressing happiness to see you back from work
  • It’s playtime!
  • Exasperation at not being able to accomplish something
  • Separation anxiety
  • Whenever something bothers them including the need to go outside and do their business they will try to get your attention.
  • The dogs are not barking at you but talking to the dog across the street
  • The problem of compulsive behavior may require professional assistance from a trainer.

You can figure out a solution for the problem once you identify what the dog is trying to communicate through the incessant barking.

Is there a difference between a dog barking and one that growls? 

The barking of a dog irritates many pet owners so they try to correct it but growingly can sometimes be more important if the dog is aggressive. 

It is not uncommon for dogs to bark when they are trying to alert you to a problem make a demand or simply express their irritation.

When dogs growl they are expressing their anger and sending out a warning. The owner should pay close attention to the growling and heed the warning – the dog is telling you hes about to snap and he just might do so. 

There is no doubt that this is a behavior you should correct but to avoid an escalation identify the cause of the growling and end it. It is not a good idea to punish a dog for growling since the next time something stresses him he will not issue a warning and simply snap.

Barking at strangers and barking at family members – what’s the difference?

A dog barking at a stranger is annoying but understandable to a certain extent. Occasionally barking at a family member or family members can become more than just an annoyance.

When there is someone at the door the dog will bark to alert you and if it turns out to be a complete stranger he will bark his head off to get the guy to back off and leave. The issue is a simple one of territoriality.

It is common for dogs to be afraid of unfamiliar faces especially men who are generally taller stronger or hairier than women. The dog will perceive their presence as a threat since they are an intruder. 

The dog is not an excuse when we’re talking about family members. You cannot plead not guilty by saying ‘I did not know who it was and I just thought we might be in danger.

Why does my dog bark at my partner?

At the very least you can wait until the crisis is over when your dog barks at the salesman at your door or some kids run down the street. With a partner its totally different because you never know what little gesture will set off another barking fit in the middle of the night because its just your luck!

If you look at the main reasons a dog barks listed above you’ll see your pet might be trying to protect you. If you’re the main human in his life you are his most vital resource. Protecting you from your spouse might not make sense to you but it makes sense to a dog. You are the one who provides the dog with food water and comfort so you can bet it will want to protect you.

The aggressive behavior you display toward your partner may also be motivated by jealousy. Your dog might feel resentful if you give them too much attention. What the heck is my human talking about with this Helen creature when we can go to the park together?’ Ok maybe the dog isnot able to put it exactly like that but thats the idea behind his constant barking at your partner.

What to do:

To teach the dog to trust you is the best thing you can do. Typically you are the one who takes care of the dog – you feed him you take him out etc. Let your partner gradually step up as a caretaker. It is important that your dog sees your spouse as another valuable resource. Your partner can:

  • You can give the dog treats or feed him
  • Take the dog out for a walk without you
  • Play with the dog
  • Offer the dog a new toy

It sounds like you’re bribing the dog into accepting another human into his life but it usually works.

Why is my dog aggressive to a family member?

It might be that there are other reasons to explain the dogs aggressive behavior towards other family members if it isnot a matter of jealousy and territoriality as was the case with your partner.

A dog that is aggressive towards one of your children is one of the worst situations. When a dog is barking thats annoying but if the dog becomes increasingly aggressive – growling and lunging at the child the situation can easily escalate and become unsafe.

A child tends to grab and pull indiscriminately and an incident like this might be the cause. You might have changed your household due to the birth of a new child and your dog is angry about it. 

Regardless of the reasons you must deal with the situation quickly and firmly before things get worse and the dog bites someone.

How to deal with an aggressive dog?

Your first step should be to assess the severity of the situation. If the dog barks and growls at a family member theres hope that the problem can be resolved. 

You can use the following counter-training techniques to correct your dogs behavior:

Use positive reinforcement: 

Give the command ‘quiet’ when the family member the dog dislikes walk in. Allow the dog to bark a few times. When the dog approaches you hold his muzzle gently and repeat the ‘quiet’ command. Speak in a firm yet calm tone. Praise the dog if he sits and offers him a treat if he does so. Repeat this over a few days every time the family member comes in.

Distract the dog: 

As a backup if the above method does not work make a loud noise every time the person appears. Make a loud noise when issuing the ‘quiet’ order then pat the dogs muzzle and offer him a treat to calm the dog. By making it a special treat something the dog rarely gets you can make compliance more appealing to the dog.

Seek help: 

Having tried and failed 10-20 times it is time to call a professional trainer who can help identify the root of the problem such as whether the dog has a compulsive behavior issue or an anxiety issue associated with the person hes showing aggression toward. 

Should I keep a dog that is aggressive toward family members?

You will have to try everything in your power to correct the dogs behavior before you make a drastic decision. For your familys safety find another home for the dog if you have tried counter-training and bribery and the trainer is unable to get it to change its behavior. 

A dog that bites and bites hard is especially dangerous! The majority of pet owners are aware that dogs sometimes bite but they are usually able to control the force of the bite. The dog usually does not want to injure anyone with a bite so there would not be any marks. A dog that loses control and starts biting hard enough to pierce the skin and draw blood is a sign he can not control his rage. Even a single incident can be ignored but if he does it again and a pattern develops you may not be able to retrain the dog. Its better to make new arrangements for him. 


Barking uncontrollably is caused by many factors. You can use positive reinforcement to correct the behavior of a dog that is afraid of a stranger or trying to defend his territory. Help the dog identify other family members as friends and caregivers by showing him that they do not pose any threat to him. You may wish to seek the help of a professional trainer specializing in behavior problems if your dog continues to show hostility. You should however consider removing the dog from your household if the problem persists.

The safety of your family comes first no matter how much you love your dog!

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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