My Dog is Growling – What Can I Do?

Are you worried about a growling dog? Perhaps you think that your growling dog is aggressive and it’s all downhill from here. If this sounds like you read on.

Dogs growl for a number of reasons. Some growl as part of learning from the environment, simply because they think it’s what they do, they think it’s normal to growl. Some dogs are pre disposed to be growling far more than others.

The terrier or the Rottweiler are chatty dogs and when you know the breeds you realise that most of the growling is part of their nature, that said it’s vital not to take risks particularly if you don’t know the dog.

Growling in Pain

If your dog has just started growling then it is important to check that he or she is not in any pain. Pain induces fear, particularly fear of being touched and hurt, so it’s a good idea to rule that out.

If it’s possible for you then run your hands over every area of your dog’s body and watch him for any behaviour changes such as licking his lips or trying to move away. If your dog does this repeatedly in one particular area then it’s time for a visit to the vet.

Growling Over a Resource

Dogs can also growl to test how effective their own behaviour can be towards others. It’s really easy to condition a dog into growling by backing away when he gives a small growl, particularly so if he has stolen something or has a precious resource.

This type of growling is exactly why dogs should be taught to swap from as young an age as possible. Then when he has something that he likes and you approach your dog will happily swap for the thing you offer instead. Confronting a dog that does this is not a good idea, swapping is far better. This type of behaviour is less about respect and far more about a flaw in dog and owner communication.

Fear Growling

It amazes me how many times my dogs growl at people on walks but the humans just keep coming, arms outstretched, big body language and eye contact with the scared dog. If a dog looks scared then the best thing to do is leave him alone. A scared dog is the one most likely to bite as he sees his entire existence as threatened.

If your dog growls at other people then he is scared and it’s your job to step up and ask the friendly, terrifying, folk to leave your worried dog alone. Very few dogs actually look for any kind of confrontation, we force them into it by being over-friendly.

This list is by no means exhaustive but it does cover three of the biggest reasons that your own dog may be growling. Dogs try very hard to communicate how they feel with us and we should try equally hard to listen.