My Dog Growls: Why and What to Do?



If our dog growls, we are facing a behavior that must be carefully watched.

It has happened to each of us, at least once, to find ourselves in front of a growling dog. But beware: Growling is not the same as barking. If a dog frequently growls, something is bothering it: This feeling does not necessarily translate into an aggressive attitude towards people; however, it is a situation that must be handled with care.

In fact, the agitation of a growling dog can escalate quickly, leading to a highly dangerous situation. On the other hand, a dog that barks wants to communicate something and, except in special cases, we would not be facing a case of severe unease from the animal: With a few exceptions, nothing serious would have to happen that could lead to excessive aggression.

But the questions are: Why does my dog growl? What are the most frequent causes of this “noisy warning”? And how to behave in front of a growling dog? In this paper, we will answer all these questions and try to give some useful advice on how to act in these cases.

It is necessary to acknowledge at least two premises:

  1. The first premise is that, although we can rely on many studies related to dog breed psychology, it is not possible to know what the animal in front of us is thinking. It may be irritated by an uncontrolled and/or involuntary gesture we made.
  2. The second premise is that prudence is never excessive: Even if we already know the dog we are dealing with, when face to face with an animal that growls, it is good to maintain a caring attitude since everything can happen… And very quickly.

My Dog Growls: Reasons

What makes a dog growl? What are the main causes of these “noisy complaints”?

To begin with, let’s try to be more specific: What exactly do we mean by the term “growl”? It is a more furious way of barking than normal. The dog not only shows its teeth to the people in front of them but also snarls at them.

When a dog feels in danger, this is its way of making the “enemy” understand that it is ready to attack. In other words, it is a defense mechanism that may seem irrational or impulsive.

As it was mentioned before, the reasons why a dog barks can be numerous:

  • Fear,
  • Protection,
  • Defense,
  • Pain,
  • Aggression, etc.

If a dog feels threatened in any way, we should try not to increase its feeling of distress and at the same time avoid being attacked and/or wounded.

My Dog Always Growls

However, you must also evaluate the frequency of this behavior: If your dog always growls, repeatedly, it cannot be a simple sense of danger.

This is because an animal cannot feel in danger 24 hours a day! Should it be the case, a possible cause could be a real trauma that your dog has suffered since it was a puppy: Our four-legged friend will likely perceive a little danger everywhere and end up growling all the time.

Such aggressiveness could also be caused by a physical condition and not by psychological trauma: For example, the animal could be affected by rabies. In both cases, it is essential to consult a veterinarian.

My Dog Growls: Another Reason

Another possible reason for the dog’s aggressiveness could be a bad smell from its owner or from those who try to approach it. Remember that, on one side, dogs are endowed with a sense of smell much more developed than ours and, on the other side, they can be irritated by smells that for humans are absolutely normal or even pleasant.

In this case, try to change your clothes: It is often your clothes that are impregnated with a particular smell like a deodorant or a strong detergent.

My Dog Growls: What to do?

Nevertheless, we should not forget that if dogs growl, it is simply because they are not well or feel bad. They are like us when we “get angry” more easily due to some illness or we do not feel very well. Even a dog tends to increase its aggressiveness in relation to some physical problem.

What to do? Carefully observe your dog’s behavior, movements, and its entire body to understand if it has any visible external injuries. Then, try to calm the animal and talk to it peacefully to establish a relationship of trust and a moment of serenity.

Always avoid sudden and abrupt movements. Move children away (jealous episodes can occur between four-legged friends and “the little ones at home”). Only if you think the situation seems to be under control, try to get closer to your dog to establish contact.

Maybe then, you can pet your dog a little. In short, make sure that the animal does not feel threatened, but pampered. Remember, reinforce positive behavior with “rewards” and be careful not to reinforce the negative ones.

My Dog Growls Out of Fear

We must represent a secure base for it. As in nature, a leader is not the most “dominant” or the most aggressive, but the strongest in the sense of authority. This is how we have to be for our loyal friend; this is the type of leader it needs.

Our dog must perceive that we are self-confident, calm, and balanced. Our dog must perceive that we can defend it from any threat. Only in this way, our dog will feel protected and will acquire more self-confidence.

If in doubt, consult a professional who will give you good assistance and answer all your questions.

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