What Does Dog Growling Mean? How to Prevent it

Dog growling is usually intimidating to people. It is often assumed that dogs who growl are mean or aggressive. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most dogs growl at one point or another, and the exact reasons for the growling might vary. Therefore, instead of punishing your dog for their behaviors, try to find the root of the problem. Find out why your dog is growling and what you can do to help.

Why Do Dogs Growl?

Growling is a form of communication for dogs. Since dogs cannot talk to humans directly, they have to use other ways to tell you what’s going on. This often includes body language, along with different sounds like barking, whining, and growling. In most cases, dogs aren’t making these sounds to be mean, but instead, they’re doing it to tell you something. In fact, many of the reasons for growling have nothing to do with aggression.

They’re Unhappy About Something

Dogs are great at picking up on patterns and routines. If something has happened to them before, they can recognize if it’s about to happen again. This is not only true for walks and mealtimes, but it can also be for things they don’t like. Human children can easily complain and make a fuss when they don’t like something, but dogs have to go about it differently. So, they will often growl to alert you of their discomfort.

This growling could occur at the vet if they don’t like what’s going on, but it could also refer to regular daily activities. For example, if a person is in their personal space too much, they might growl as a way to warn them to back off. If this happens, you should always give your dog some space. After all, if your dog growls at you multiple times without getting what they want, that is when they might think they have no choice but to nip or bite.

They’re Scared

The same is true for when a dog is scared. Growling will often occur around strangers or people that your dog doesn’t trust. If they feel uneasy around a certain person or in a certain situation, they might growl to let you know. This could also be the case if your dog is scared of loud sounds such as thunderstorms or fireworks. If you suspect that this might be the case with your dog, it’s important to find the root of the problem and eliminate it if possible.

They’re in Pain

If you touch your dog while they’re in pain, they might growl at you. Even if they normally love being cuddled and picked up, they will not be happy if pressure is applied to an uncomfortable spot. For example, after getting vaccines or a medical procedure, their body might be sore, so they might resort to growling as a way to tell you to leave them alone. However, if they growl in pain even when nothing happened recently, it could be a sign of an underlying medical concern.

They’re Playing

Some dogs love to growl when they play. Oftentimes, if you play tug of war with them, they’ll let out a playful growl in response. It can be scary if you’re not used to dogs growling, but this type of growl is not threatening. The only time to be careful about play growling is when two dogs are playing together. Sometimes, if a dog doesn’t want to play with another dog or if they feel threatened, they might growl in a way that isn’t as friendly. You know your dog best, so if you suspect that it’s different than their usual play growl, then you should separate the two dogs immediately.

They’re Guarding Something

Dogs can also growl when they’re feeling protective and territorial. Oftentimes, this is the type of growl that you’ll want to work on. A little growling isn’t a huge problem, but sometimes dogs will growl every time someone comes near their toys or their loved ones. They just want to keep important things safe, but sometimes they can become too protective. So, you might need to talk to your vet or dog trainer to find out ways to help your dog feel more relaxed around their “territory”.

Is Dog Growling Bad?

For some reason, humans have collectively decided that dog growling is bad. Some people seem to think that dogs only do it with the intention of hurting others. However, it is actually the opposite. In most cases, dog growling is a good thing. The thought of a dog biting someone is scary, but they usually show lots of warnings before they attack someone. One of the most obvious warnings is growling.

If someone is bothering you or getting too close to your personal space, you would definitely let them know. So, dogs are the same way. Growling is their way of asking you to stop something or their way of alerting you that something bothers them. It is not meant to be aggressive or vicious. In fact, the only reason it would turn into something dangerous is if you ignore them and don’t try to fix the problem. No one likes to be hurt, annoyed, or bothered, so dogs are no different. Therefore, growling is good because it can prevent dangerous situations from occurring.

How to Prevent Dog Growling

Our first reaction to a growling dog is usually to scold them or tell them to stop. However, that is the worst way to prevent dog growling. Yelling at your dog instead of fixing the problem will only make their growling worse. So, the best way to stop these behaviors is to avoid things that provoke your dog.

First of all, make sure everyone in your household knows how to properly behave around dogs. Most dogs love being pet and cuddled, but even the friendliest dogs can need space from time to time. This is especially true if you are near a dog that you’re not familiar with. So, a dog will often show warning signs before they choose to growl or bite.

Teach others about the warning signs dogs display, especially for children. Children are the most likely to smother a dog with attention, so they should learn to tell when a dog has had enough. Before a dog growls, you might notice some other small actions from your dog such as avoiding eye contact, licking lips, yawning, fur standing on end, slowly wagging tail, stiff body movements, or showing teeth. At least one of these indicators will likely occur before a growl. However, a growl is the easiest warning sign to spot, so as soon as you hear a dog growl, make sure you give them the space they need.

If you suspect that your dog’s growling is about more than just an uncomfortable situation, you might want to seek professional help. It could just be because something scares them, but it could also be related to an unnoticed medical condition. If you ever feel concerned about your dog’s health or behaviors, meet with a vet or dog trainer to find a solution.

The truth is that many dog bites could be prevented if people paid more attention to warning signs like growling. Dogs need a way to communicate with humans, so growling is one of the easiest ways to do it. Therefore, please refrain from punishing your dog for growling. Instead, help find a solution to make certain situations more comfortable for both you and your dog. After all, dogs are important family members, so they should be treated as such.

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