What Does It Mean When A Dog Growls?
A dog that growls at you is sending a clear message that must be heeded. People often do not understand a dog’s warning signals and do not retreat; a dog will growl to help you better understand his message.
Normally, a dog only shows aggression when he feels under attack or is in a dangerous situation. Dogs will only attack after having displayed progressively more explicit warning gestures several times.
Frequently, a dog growls to communicate his desires. When dogs find out that this works, they are likely to try it again. It is hardly unexpected that growling in dogs is a frequent issue because some people naively think that this is a sign that their dog will defend them. The reality is that the dog is more likely to be protecting himself and his stuff.
Some legal definitions classify a dog that growls as dangerous so there may be a requirement for him to be restricted. This could mean that he has to be placed in a crate, kept in a separate space, or confined to the back yard.
If your dog growls and he ends up getting what he wants, he will rapidly come to the conclusion that this is a very useful tool to get his own way. Understanding your dog’s wants is a definite benefit in fixing this behavior.
A dog will growl for the following reasons:
hungry. This is a perfect time for an owner to teach his dog the
appropriate ways to communicate his needs. The dog would need to behave
appropriately before his food bowl would be placed in front of him.
wants to eliminate. Although some owners like the idea of their dog
asking to be let outside to eliminate, this is an unreasonable
expectation for a puppy, old or sick dog. It is much better if regular
potty outings are scheduled so the dog doesn’t have to get his owner’s
- He is guarding his food. A dog may practice
resource or food guarding to protect his food from a perceived threat
(namely you!). It is important that children be taught not to interrupt
or tease dogs while they are eating. The same goes for adults; it is
important that a dog sees humans as giving food not taking it away.
When there is no risk of the dog growling, food should be added to the
- As with food guarding, dogs may also defend their
toys. Growling when someone approaches is frequently the first
indication that a dog will bite if the warning is ignored. In this
instance, the simplest thing to do is take the toy away from the dog
permanently or only give it to him when he’s in his crate.
has stolen an item and wants to keep it for himself. You should never
chase after your dog if he steals one of your possessions. Make sure he
is given obedience training so will come to you on command.
dogs growl when they feel afraid of having their nails trimmed or being
groomed. Dog grooming is a skill and you should not try to use clippers
on your dog without the appropriate training.
- Dog growling
also occurs when the dog feels the need to protect himself from abuse
or pain. An example might be that a child has constantly tormented the
dog under the fence or hit him when his owner wasn't looking, so the
dog would growl when he came in contact with a child. Unfortunately,
the dog will most likely be blamed for growling under these
- It can be fun for a dog to see his owner jump backwards when he growls. If he is allowed to get used to this behavior, he may become aggressive if the owner stops jumping when he growls. This behavior must not be allowed to escalate.