Why Do Dogs Growl?Dog Behavior Series – 9

Do you want to know the top 3 reasons Why Do Dogs Growl? Keep reading to discover what they are and what you can do if you have a concern by gaining an understanding of your dog’s behavior.

There are a wide number of reasons why your dog growls. Let’s find out what the most common reasons are and what you need to understand in order to eliminate the problem.

So Why Do Dogs Growl ?

Usually, a growl is a sign of pain, a sign of fear, or about communicating what a dog does not like. A growl is a threat that is hard-wired in humans, so it is reasonable that you feel concerned when you hear a dog growl. But a growl from a dog is a good thing because it is a non-aggressive form of communication. Your dog is trying to communicate with you the only way he knows how.

Whether your dog is growling at another dog or a person, it is simply a warning and not necessarily a bad thing. If a dog wanted to attack, he would. Growling is meant to avert aggression, not cause it. But people misunderstand and punish their dogs for growling. A dog then learns that growling leads to punishment, and unfortunately, once his warning growl has been silenced, the dog is likely to bite with no warning. Growling is something dog owners should respect and appreciate rather than punish.

Now do you understand why a dog’s growl is a good thing? Allow your dog to communicate then determine what is wrong. Now, is your dog growling because he is in pain? Is he fearful or anxious about a situation? Or is he just communicating to you that he doesn’t like what is happening because it makes him feel insecure and uncomfortable?

Here are the top common reasons Why Do Dogs Growl and what you can do for your dog by understanding what he is telling you.

  • One – Pain
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Sometimes dogs growl to express pain due to an illness or an injury or in anticipation of pain from a recent trauma that you are not aware of. It is an instinctive behavior of domestic dogs to not show signs of pain. If your dog is growling frequently, don’t ignore it. Your dog may have a sensitive area that hurts when touched.

Carefully inspect your dog’s entire body and pay attention to his eyes. Squinting of the eyes or a physical flinch may be your only indication that your dog is hurting. Eyesight and hearing problems could be a cause as well because these issues can make your dog feel vulnerable. If your dog displays stiffness and a slowing of mobility, then your dog may feel the pain and discomfort of arthritis or other physical conditions.

If your dog is growling without any outward explanation as to why, then make an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying medical reasons for your dog’s behavior as soon as possible. Your dog may be suffering from one of the issues just discussed or there may be a problem with his thyroid, or there could also be brain tumors or other medical conditions that only a vet can determine.

  • Two – Insecurity and Anxiety

Dogs growl because they are insecure and anxious in social situations. If the underlying insecurity is not resolved, the growls will escalate to aggression. The more frequently this behavior occurs, the more likely this behavior will continue to escalate, and the longer this behavior will take for a professional trainer to resolve.

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If your dog’s stance is bold, makes himself appear larger, then he is aggressive and feeling intimidated. If your dog crawls, makes himself appear smaller, then he is submissive and feeling fear and anxiety. Your dog’s peace of mind is important. Think about it. It is not pleasant to feel anxious and be forced to face your biggest fears on a daily basis.

If your dog feels anxious around people, it is simply unfair and cruel to force your dog to frequent places where there are lots of people. Being unfair to your dog in this way can create a fear biter, one who has lost all hope of being treated fairly and defends himself the only way he knows how.

If your dog is in a situation where he feels a need to growl; quietly remove him from the situation to a place where he feels safe and secure, then try to determine why he felt threatened in that situation.

  • Three – Protective or Possessive Mode

Your dog feels he should protect you or he feels that he owns you and will not let anyone near you. Your dog growls over its possessions; its food, toys, or territory. Your dog is apprehensive about something and in protective mode. Work with a professional trainer that offers positive, reward-based training to address these dog behaviors.

There are many more reasons why a dog growls, but regardless of the reason for your dog’s behavior; there is a huge urgency to resolve the problem, to rebuild your dog’s confidence, to improve the quality of his life. If you don’t know what sets him off you cannot possibly do anything constructive to help modify his behavior.

Now let’s recap.

A growl from a dog is a good thing because it is a non-aggressive form of communication. Allow your dog to communicate then determine what is wrong. Growling is meant to avert aggression, not cause it.

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Always rule out underlying medical issues that could be causing your dog to growl. Pain being one reason, eyesight and hearing problems could be a cause as well because these issues can make your dog feel vulnerable.

Your dog’s peace of mind is important. It is not pleasant to feel anxious and be forced to face your biggest fears on a daily basis.

Dogs need to be rewarded for wanted behaviors instead of punished repeatedly for unwanted behaviors.

Dogs that are apprehensive about something and in protective mode need the help of a professional trainer that offers positive, reward-based training to address these dog behaviors. It is important to understand that I’m not referring to obedience training when I refer to a professional trainer.

Obedience training has nothing to do with your dog’s emotions. This is what you are dealing with here. Aggression is an emotional response. Your dog learning to sit and stay will not help him. You need to try and understand what your dog is emotionally going through and dealing with before you can help him.

Hope you enjoyed this segment on Dog Behavior, specifically on the topic of Why Do Dogs Growl, and hope you walked away with something of value. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to my email list  Dog Behavior. Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to seeing you in my next article. Please like, share, comment.

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