How to Deal with a Growling Dog

Over the years, humans have learned to instinctively interpret a dog’s growling as a warning to keep their distance. What’s the big deal with a growling dog? 

Reading a dog’s behavior is vital because it allows pet owners to understand what their dog is experiencing and address any problems they may have, such as physical pain or stress. That’s why it’s a good idea for people to understand what growls mean to better deal with it. 

What causes a dog to growl? 

A dog is in pain

Growling is often the sign of an underlying problem. When your dog growls in reaction to pain or sickness, it may growl only when specific parts of its body are touched. Observe if other symptoms of injury or illness appear, such as decreased appetite, hair loss, or biting and licking specific areas of its body. Contact your vet as soon as possible to alleviate your dog’s pain with medical treatment. 

Stressed or scared

Sometimes, growling is caused by fear or stress. Do you notice your dog growling at strangers or certain people? Does your dog growl or when it is in a new and unfamiliar place? These are cases when fear likely causes growling. Once you’ve determined the source of their anxiety, you can either remove it from their environment or seek expertise from a behavior specialist to help them cope better. 

Resource guarding

Possession, or resource guarding, is also a cause for growling. Dogs can growl when someone approaches them while they eat or play with toys that they consider precious. Training your dog allows them to learn appropriate responses through behavior regulation.

owner training his dog

How do I stop a dog from growling? 

Punishment is a no-no

As a pet owner, you may be upset whenever your dog growls. But make sure that you never punish the dog. Understand that this is communicative behavior, often giving you warnings for what is to follow. Instead of suppressing the growls, deal with the underlying problems that they indicate. 

Training your dog

Constant growling is usually a manifestation of behavioral problems. If this behavior recurs, it’s time to call in a training program or in-depth behavioral modification with a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. These experts can help you evaluate the problem and find the best course of action to deal with them. 

Be cautious

Once you pinpoint a specific cause for growling, do not ignore it, or it is likely to worsen. Be careful around your dog until you’ve determined its growling cause.  Remember to warn other people that it may growl at them or display other aggressive behaviors. During that time, do your best to help them modify their behavior. 


Wrapping up, growling is a means for your dog to communicate with you. It can say a lot of things that you can probably understand based on context. Your dog may growl to let you know that it is in pain, scared, or that it wants to assert itself over territory or possessions. Growling can sometimes be the first sign of a more severe aggression case, which is why it is essential to handle this early stage properly.

Related Posts:
How Do You Break Dominance Over a Dog?
What Do You Do if an Off-Leash Dog Approaches You While You Are Walking Your Dog?
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Respects You?


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