Dogs growl for a number of reasons.

  • Fear
  • Insecurity
  • Guarding
  • Aggression
  • Play

All can all produce growls, although these growls can be individually recognised. Apart from play, growling is a warning that all is not well in the dog’s world.  It’s human nature to respond negatively to a dog’s growl. Growling is an undesirable behaviour and sometimes can precede a bite. However, it’s important that you do not correct your dog for growling. Removing or redirecting him from the situation that caused the growl is a better course of action.

Four things you should understand about your dog’s growl.

  1. Growling is a warning. Think of it as an early warning system.
  2. Punishing a dog for growling takes away your early warning system. Getting rid of the growl doesn’t take away the reason for growling. The dog is just as upset as before, but now has no way to express his discomfort except for escalating his actions. The growl may be gone, but now you’ve created a dog who may bite “without warning”.
  3. All dogs will warn. If your dog doesn’t warn before he bites, it’s either because you’re missing his signals or because he no longer feels safe displaying these signals.
  4. If your dog growls, he believes he has a valid reason to do so. His growl may be simply a symptom of his insecurity. Treating the underlying cause will make the symptom disappear far more effectively than suppressing it.

So next time your dog growls, check the reason for the growl, then address the cause of the growl, and you and your dog will be working as a team.

…  Anne