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Why does my dog lunge at strangers

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  • Post last modified:24 December 2023

Like barking, lunging is a character in dogs, which is usually expressed in emotional state or when nervous.

Dogs are known to lunge at strangers for several reasons like fear, anxiety, and defense.

It’s not strange to see a dog lunge at strangers, especially when they are not used to such character.

Just like barking, the manner of lunging differ from one person to another.

They may lunge at strangers aggressively for fear of the unknown while they may lunge at known individual as a sign of welcoming them.

Dogs bark and lunge at owners or friends when food is about to be given but note strangers.

They bark and lunge at strangers because of fear and a sense of defense.

Reasons why dogs bark and lunge at strangers

When they are not used to strangers

Dogs are known to assess visitors and respond according to how the move while approaching (i.ewalking slowly, calmly, or running), how they look and sound (speaking softly or shouting), how they smell (the scent of the stranger helps dogs to understand if they are friends or foes), and then respond with heavy bark and lunging.

Your dog may be nervous or fearful because it has never come across such individual in the past and worried about what may transpire.

It is mostly common for dogs that don’t relate with the public to feel weird when several people approach your building, so it’s good to train them to accommodate visitors.

Don’t be worried when your dog bark and lunge at strangers, few minutes of introduction will ease the problem.

Territorial instinct

One of the reason that may cause your dog to bark and lunge at strangers is to protect their territory.

Nobody want to lose their territory to an intruder or trespassers.

So, your dog may bark and lunge when they fear that a stranger is about to intrude their territory.

Same as humans, they fear that another animal or human may take advantage when they access their territory, so they bark to defend themselves and notify people in the environment.

Some dogs take territorial defense more serious that others, especially guard dogs trained to wade of criminals.

Dogs that naturally possess territorial defense instinct alert their pack at the sight of strangers and scare off intruders with lot of barking and lunging.

Strangers not wanted in the environment

Dogs understand their environment and the type of people who access their entrance.

Many a times, they lunge at people who are not wanted in the environment even by the owners.

They do these to send a direct message to such strangers so they can stay off completely.

If need be, the owner or resident will attend to such person and grant them permission to enter.

Trauma from previous stranger

A stranger who has hurt the dog during his/her previous visitation may be highly detested.

In such case, your dog may bark and lunge at such individual aggressively.

It’s a sign of hatred for the person and a way of protecting the dog’s interest.

It is good to help your dog stay calm in times like that.

Strangers with intimidating appearance

Nobody likes to be intimidated.

Both humans and animals are frightened when they come across people with intimidating appearance, especially late in the day.

Dogs don’t take it likely too when they see such a figure approaching their territory, they bark and lunge to intimidate the trespasser and also notify the neighbourhood.

Strangers who have tried to burgle your home before

Pets help to save the home from buglers who may access it when you leave for work.

The sound of a dog bark may detest such criminals from completing their mission into your property.

However, your dog may never forget their face after such attempt.

Sometimes, they may come back as friend to visit you or maybe a part of your long list of friends who visit often.

In this case, your dog may bark and lunge at them whenever such persons are on visitation.

You may never understand the reason, but it’s good to stay observant and be careful with how you relate with such person.

Especially, when the bark and lunge at them continuously.

Strangers with unappealing scents

Dogs have been blessed to understand scents in a way humans may never understand.

They can perceive your scent from few meters away.

They know when such scent translate to being dangerous and respond by parking and lunging to defend themselves and deter such individual from coming closer.

Their reaction to such person is likely to give you an idea of who they are, so be cautious and careful when relating with that individual.


A stranger’s looks, smell, behavior, walking style, and body language are some of the features a dog consider before responding.

It’s not advisable to judge the passersby or stranger based on the dogs action, but it’s good to be observant and watchful.

From the points discussed above, we can translate that dogs don’t just lunge at strangers, they do it to protect themselves from dangerous humans and animals in their vicinity.

They rarely bother themselves when the visitor is clean and harmless or when known to the household.

When a dog lunge, they may be giving important information that can help keep the dog itself and your entire household safe from criminals and danger.

The dog may be warning of the danger nearby and calling you to take preventive measures.

So stay careful and observant.


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