A dog growl can be a scary thing to a pet parent. If your dog is growling a lot, that’s obviously a situation that needs to be addressed.
Why might this be happening and what should you do about it?
There are many factors that go into dog growling. Here’s a look at why growling might occur, and what you should – and should not – do if your pet exhibits this type of troubling dog behavior.
What May Be Some Of The Reasons That Dogs Growl?
When you see the gnarling, sharp teeth of a growling dog, your first thought will probably be that the dog is about to bite. That’s often the case. But there are many reasons why a dog will growl in an aggressive manner.
One reason may be that your pet doesn’t like a situation he or she senses is about to occur. Like a lot of animals, dogs are creatures of habit. They know patterns. For example, they know when it’s dinner time or snack time. Many of them even know when it’s time to get in the car and go to the vet – and for many dogs, this is no fun. They might growl as a result.1
But growling can also happen when a dog is unsure of a situation. You might have a plumber coming over, for example. Your pet has never seen that person and may growl as a result. If you have an older dog who growls regularly, then that growling may occur because your pet wasn’t properly socialized as a puppy.2
Resource guarding is another common reason for growling. This means the dog is possessive of an object, such as a toy.3
Growling can also sometimes occur due to an injury. A dog in pain may growl if you touch the area that hurts.4 If this is the case, seek veterinary care immediately.
Aggressive growling is unacceptable behavior. If your pet growls regularly, seek professional training to help your pet break this habit.
Is A Dog Growl Always Aggressive? When Dog Growling Might Be Fun Or Playful
There are times, however, where growling isn’t a sign of aggressive dog behavior at all. You’ve probably heard your pet growl when you play tug-of-war. It’s not a sign of dog aggression or even competition. It’s very likely that this type of growling indicates that your pet is just having a great time and there’s nothing to worry about. Just keep an eye on the situation in case it escalates.5,6
The context of growling is just as important as the growl itself. The better you get to know your pet, the easier it will be to tell whether or not he or she is exhibiting aggressive behavior. If you’re not sure, however, its best to seek advice from a professional dog trainer or from your vet. If your dog is in fact growling out of aggression, you will need to address the behavior immediately.
Info For Pet Parents: What To Do About Dog Growling And Aggressive Behavior
It can truly be frightening to see your sweet dog growl all of a sudden. Not only is it startling, but it can also make you think your family pet is suddenly a danger. There are a couple of things you can try if your dog’s behavior turns aggressive.
One way to deal with this is simply to try and relieve whatever might be leading to your dog’s stress. Your pet might not like strangers coming over and might stress out as a result. It might not be a good idea to invite relatives to stay for a few days. When someone comes over for a few hours, keep the dog in a separate room or outside.7
Some dogs are scared of loud noises, such as a vacuum cleaner, and will growl out of fear. Try to put your pet outside before vacuuming. Also, try to limit any loud talking or yelling whenever possible. That could stress your dog out as well.8
What NOT To Do If Your Dog Growls
The most important thing to remember if your dog barks or growls in an aggressive manner is to not punish your pet. Look at it from the dog’s perspective, if you can – your pet is doing this due to some sort of stress. He or she is trying to warn you instead of biting. Back away and let the dog settle down. Then, do what you can to change or remove the source of that stress.9
If your dog growls at you in an aggressive manner, immediately stop whatever is causing them to growl. Evaluate what exactly it is that is causing them to growl. Do they growl when you touch their paws? If so, stop immediately. If you push a dog past its limits, things can escalate very quickly.
Also, don’t try to intimidate the dog in hopes that he or she will back down. This will likely result in one of two scenarios – and neither one will be good. The dog might back away, but will still be frustrated at whatever situation caused the growling in the first place. That could eventually make the dog unpredictable.10
The other possibility is that your show of intimidation simply won’t work. The dog will become even more agitated and attack.11 This could not only lead to a serious injury but also potentially result in authorities taking away your pet forever.
What To Do If You Have An Aggressive Dog
An aggressive dog can pose a threat to not only other dogs and animals but also humans. This is an incredibly serious problem that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. There is a very good chance that something is either mentally or physically wrong. It’s a good idea to speak with your vet, an animal behaviorist, or a dog training expert as soon as you can.
There are many instances where aggressive dog behavior can be successfully addressed, and the dog returns to being a peaceful, loving member of the family. Please don’t assume the worst if your dog growls regularly. With a lot of care, positive reinforcement, and love, there’s a very good chance your beloved pet can break this habit.