Dog Training

Why Do Dogs Growl? Do's and Don'ts in this Situation.

IIn some situations, we just don't understand our four-legged friends: We just wanted to pet our darling a little and suddenly he growls . Learn how to deal with and . Learn how to deal with and prevent this behavior in this article.

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Of course, this is unsettling. You may think, have I done something wrong? Does my dog no longer trust me?

But no matter why your dog growls at you,you both have to learn how to deal with these situations. There are certain things you should not do under any circumstances. 

With some methods, you can quickly release the tension. And if it still happens more often, you can do some training exercises together.

Why Does my Dog Growl?

Terrier growls

Growling is a very normal means of communication for dogs. Because they can't talk to us, they use signals like barking, whining, or growling. They use these to show us what they want or what they don't want. 

When dogs are overwhelmed with a situation or are afraid, they show it by growling. It's even good that they do this: growling is a warning that something about the situation needs to change. 

If the dog continues to be harassed, it can escalate and he will bite. That's why you need to learn how to react properly.

There are several reasons why dogs growl. If yours is new in the family, it can happen more often. 

After all, everything is still unfamiliar to him and he has not yet been able to build up trust. He also might have had bad experiences before causing him to be very tense in some situations.

In general, dogs growl when they feel uncomfortable or are being harassed. Even a wrong movement or a too fixed look can be enough to set them off.

If your foster is especially disturbed while eating or is afraid that something will be taken away from him, this can be unpleasant. 

Always remember that your furry friend is trying to tell you something by growling. In most cases, it means "Stop! I'm feeling harassed!" or "The situation needs to change". 

It is useless to break him of this habit. Rather, you should learn to deal with each other properly and avoid these situations.

Also, another reason behind the growl may be a disease or pain. . Some dogs don’t like to let anyone touch them when they are in pain or sick. 

It is good if you check your dog’s general condition and observe him well.

If the tips in the next sections don't help, consult a veterinarian who also does behavioral therapy.


Things to Avoid

incompatibility in dog

If your dog growls at you, your relationship is naturally very tense. He is scared and you probably don't even know what you did wrong.

In this situation, it is especially important not to do anything rash. One wrong move can rapidly worsen the situation. These include: These include:

1. Hectic Movements

It's perfectly normal to be alarmed when you're growled at. But if you act rashly and make hectic movements, this will only unsettle your dog even more. 

If he gets scared, things can escalate quickly. In the worst case, he will bite because he is overwhelmed with the situation. So be sure to stay calm and think about what you're going to do next.

2. Get Closer

Many dog owners intuitively go closer. They want to pet their dog and show that he need not be afraid. Unfortunately, the dog understands this quite differently. 

If you approach him or hold out your hand to him, he will only feel more pressured. This makes him feel even more insecure. A stare is especially quickly misinterpreted by dogs. 

Instead, take a step back and relax your body. Then you can both calm down.


3. Punishment

Under no circumstances should you scold or punish your furry companion for growling at you. 

With this signal, he is only showing you that he doesn't like something. If you forbid him to do that, he will omit the warning the next time and snap right away.

Besides, scolding doesn't solve his problem at that moment. If you get louder, he will only get more scared. 

Rather, try to figure out what's bothering your sweetheart and how to make it better next time.


4. Ignore Growls

It would not be wise to ignore the growling of your four-legged friend. It can become a serious problem if it happens often and you don't do anything about the cause. 

Your dog must be able to handle the situation and won’t learn how on his own.

The growling of smaller dogs is often not taken seriously, because it does not seem so threatening. But they show just like other dogs that they do not like something. 

Ignoring the situation will not improve it. Rather, think about what could be the cause and how to solve the problem.

How You Should React

Dog reaction

As you can see, you have to take many circumstances into account. However, it is important to react correctly and relax the situation. 

In any case, you should stay calm and not rush. Slow movements are much more helpful. 

Take a few deep breaths and calmly think about what to do next. It's important to be kind to your pet and not scold him.

It's best to take a few steps back. Most likely, your dog just feels crowded and needs more space. If you turn your body away a little, he will realize that you don't want to attack him. 

Do not show him dominance. This will only make him feel more insecure. A relaxed posture can work wonders in this case.

It might help your dog if you give him familiar signals. Of course, this only works if you have trained a little beforehand. Simple commands like “sit” and “down” distract him.

You are used to him and that makes him feel much more comfortable right away. Also, if you say his name very calmly, that might calm him down. Make sure, however, that it does not sound too stern.

If you are not sure how to react: just walk away. 

This way you can both calm down and you can figure out what to do better next time.

If your dog growls at you more often, think about these training tips

Sometimes the situations can be easily avoided. However, if your four-legged friend growls very quickly, a few exercises help.

Training: How to Stop your Dog From Growling So Often

Dog Training

Always remember not to break the habit of growling. 

Growling is a means of communication and a very important warning signal. It could have much more drastic consequences if he stops.

Nevertheless, your dog should not growl in some situations. For example, if he growls at small children or small things bother him, you should do something about it. 

This requires training on both sides. You can avoid unpleasant situations for your pet and in return, he will learn to cope with certain situations.

If your dog growls at other dogs, you must not leave him alone with other dogs unsupervised. 

If strangers frighten him, strangers are no longer allowed to pet or hug him. This is especially true for smaller children.

You can also avoid certain situations in which he growls at you. For example, no longer bend over him or come too close to him when he is eating. 

With time you will learn what your dog likes and doesn’t like. This way you can avoid unpleasant situations more easily.

It is important that you observe your pets in these situations because even before he growls, he sends body signals. Understanding him will make your dog's training much easier, after all.

These signals vary from dog to dog. If you know your dog well and quickly notice that something is getting too much for him, you can quickly change the situation. If you know your protégé well and quickly notice that something is getting too much for him, you can quickly change the situation.

Sometimes, however, your darling simply has to get used to certain circumstances. For example, if he growls at you when you brush him, practice this carefully with him. 

Stroke him before and during brushing. Not too much at once. This way you show him that it doesn't hurt at all and that he might even enjoy it.

My Conclusion

Growling is a very normal behavior for dogs. It simply shows that something is too much for them or that they feel distressed.

Still, you shouldn't take it lightly, but think about how you can avoid it next time. 

If your dog growls at you, be sure to stay calm and never scold him. 

It is best to take a few steps back and calm down. After a while your dog will feel better again.

As you gradually gain his trust, he will growl at you less often. Find a way to deal with these situations together.

If none of this helps, it's a good idea to get a veterinarian involved who also does behavioral therapy. 

A vet can check if there is an organic cause behind the growling, such as pain, or if behavioral therapy should be applied.

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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  1. Karin Reichenbächer

    My dog growls at the people who come to us, including my grandchild, who is one year old. I'm afraid that he will bite. What can I do about it? I got him half a year ago from the shelter. He is otherwise very sweet and likes to cuddle.

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Hello, it would be good to involve a veterinarian who also does behavioral therapy.

  2. Gabi & Lou????

    Thanks for the tip s
    My dog male 10 months,was sick since then I have problems with him .eye drops drip in is impossible he growls and if I do not go away he would bite me / vet does not go
    What should I do?

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Dear Gabi, in such cases it is always good to involve a competent person (trainer, behavior therapist) in your area.

  3. Hello, my dog growls when I snuggle up with him in bed. Since he's not exactly small, I'm afraid he'll bite me at some point. He is also getting more and more jumpy. I am really worried. We are also planning to take him to the vet because of this. I can't explain this behavior. Earlier he even came under my blanket and cuddled.

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Hello Dine, the growling can be a physical problem, but also a psychological one. Therefore, it is advisable if you visit your vet first. If no health problems (like pain etc.) are the reason for the growling, it would be advisable if you seek the support of a behavior therapist. Best regards, your Hundeo team

    2. What should I do when the dog sits in the car I want to pet him and he growls at me and shows his teeth what can I do please reply

      1. Mine from Hundeo

        Hello, possibly your dog does not like to be petted during a ride. Therefore, we would recommend you to try it without petting. Should he also show this behavior on other occasions, the support of a specialist on site would be advisable.

  4. Kirsten Schumann

    Hello, my dog, a Labbi mongrel 3 years old comes up to me when I sit on the chair. He can be stroked and cuddled then all of a sudden he starts to growl. Is this a sign that he has had enough?
    How should I behave in such a situation ?

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Dear Kirsten, growling can have different meanings. Your behavior should be directed accordingly. It would be best to contact an expert on dog behavior in your area, so that this person also has the opportunity to get to know your dog personally. This would be the most sensible way. Best regards, your Hundeo team

  5. My dog barks when the mailman comes.if he rings someone where he does not like dan he growls and barks like crazy is that normal.dan the stranger wants to open the door.

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Hello, we recommend you to contact a dog school in your area. Surely the behavior could be overcome with intensive training of some basic commands. We wish you success in solving the problem!

    1. Enrico from Hundeo

      Hi Diana, in the article you will find many tips to help with growling.
      With consistency and some time, you will surely be able to resolve many situations from this.

    2. Hello, my dog comes from Romania. He is 4 years old and is a big dog. The dog mom didn't let anyone get close to her puppy because the dog mom had only bad experiences on people. She passed this on to the puppy. We have already achieved a lot, but new things are coming. The biggest problem is that I can't get him to the vet, I would have to push him. When he has something and I notice it, he growls. He shows you clearly what he likes or not. He has also attacked us. That has also become better. How do I get my dog to the vet. He already knows the muzzle. We have practiced, he remembers everything. And then later you have to take off the muzzle. It is not that simple. What kind of suggestion would you have for me.

      1. Mine from Hundeo

        Dear Iris, with dogs from animal welfare it is usually a bit more difficult, because many had to live under extraordinary and unacceptable circumstances for a long time. Even if their circumstances later change for the better, it is not easy for these dogs to come to terms with both their past and the new circumstances and to adapt. Therefore, general tips on individual problems would only be helpful to a limited extent. In such cases, it is always advisable to seek consistent and professional help on site, which will support you in helping your dog to rebuild a healthy basis of trust from scratch.

  6. Our dog has been with us for a year, he comes from Romania and is about.3 years old.Everything went well for 1 year, now he often growls at us when we pet him .He seeks our closeness, offers to let us pet him and shortly after that he starts to growl.At first we thought it was because of where we touch him, but quite independently he growls no matter where we touch him. We don't understand it because he comes to us and seeks our closeness-where is the problem in communication?

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Dear Franziska, especially in the case of dogs that come from abroad and whose past has mostly been quite bad, much is also unknown or comes out veiled, it is difficult to give a tip through short written conversations that would also be successfully applicable. Therefore, we always refer to an expert person on site, if the tips in our articles should not bring success. We thank you for your understanding!

  7. Hello, our English cocker spaniel has started in the 9th month to growl more violently on a sleeping place when he 'claims' / protects toys or something specific to eat (lying under or close to him). After violent growling as a signal, as soon as you step into the room, look at him - if you approach only more, the Krutten increases dramatically - an attempt to take his toy / food , had with me already nasty consequences with bites ( 1x emergency ambulance). He is in puberty and the vet advises , the male dog urgently to convey who is 'boss' in the 'pack man and dog. It worked with a firm glove, in which he bit, whereby he should be pressed to Biden - according to dog school. Since then it is almost quiet- but today our 'little professor' got a new toy: he now lies curled up over it and growls as soon as you approach. I will try to distract him later with food ( at feeding time) and put the toy in the playbix- or should the toy stay there? What are you testing us please?

    1. Mine from Hundeo

      Hello, preventing a situation that is unpleasant and stressful for your dog, such as the urge to protect his toy, with another action that is unpleasant for him (letting him bite and pushing him to the ground), may not be the appropriate method for your dog, as an already existing stress factor is combined with another negative experience (pushing him to the ground when he bites). Possibly it would be helpful, if you visit a competent trainer, who practices with you a method, with which you can connect this too much loaded protective instinct or also the insecurity of your dog with a positive experience and wean off. It would be best if this person can also observe your dog on site at your home.

  8. Hi. My dog growls at me when he is supposed to " out" things from his mouth. He does not let go of the things then either. Example: shoes, toys etc. But especially things he finds on the street.

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