What Does It Mean When a Dog Growls, and Why Do Dogs Growl?

Dog baring its teeth in a growl

When a dog growls, most people understand what it implies. It may be really unnerving to hear a dog growl. That's because a dog's snarling is sometimes the first symptom of hostility. It's a warning that a dog could bite, therefore be cautious while approaching a growling dog. For this reason, it's important to understand so you can figure out the degree of aggression and the best way to deal with the problem.

Why Does a Dog Growl?

Growling is a type of communication used by dogs. Your dog cannot communicate its dissatisfaction or discomfort to you through words. The majority of dogs will communicate with you first through their body language. If you are unable to pick up on the more subtle clues, it may growl to let you know how it feels. The most common reasons dogs growl are fear, possession aggression, territoriality, and pain.

Growling is a type of communication used by dogs. Your dog cannot communicate its dissatisfaction or discomfort to you through words. The majority of dogs will communicate with you first through their body language. It may growl to let you know how it feels if you are unable to pick up on the more subtle indications. The most common reasons dogs growl are fear, possession aggression, territoriality, and pain.

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Potential Causes of Growling

Dogs communicate via growling. Your dog can't express its dissatisfaction or discomfort to you through words. The majority of dogs communicate with you first through their body language. It may growl to let you know how it feels if you are unable to pick up on the more subtle cues. Fear, possession violence, territoriality, and pain are the most prevalent reasons dogs growl.

  • Fear: Dogs often growl when they are afraid. A good example of this can be seen with dogs who are afraid of strangers. When a , a may growl. This is its way of saying, "Back off."
  • Possession Aggression: Some dogs growl over their possessions, such as a bowl of food, a toy, or a rawhide . When a dog growls when someone approaches it while it's eating or chewing a bone, it suggests, "This is mine, and I'm not sharing!"
  • Territoriality: Sometimes dogs growl when they feel the need to defend their territory—think of the mailman approaching the door. When the dog sees someone who it believes doesn't belong on the property, it wants to let them know that they're overstepping their boundaries. Dog growling in this instance means, "Hey, you don't belong here, and I'm willing to protect my people and property!"
  • Pain: Dog growling may also occur due to the pain of an injury or illness. There is usually a combination of things going on here. First, there is the unexplained pain going on in their bodies. Very often, this is followed by concerned people poking, prodding, and trying to move them. This means on top of the pain, dogs are experiencing a great deal of confusion about what is happening. The dog may anticipate that the people trying to help it will cause more pain and react unexpectedly, even with people it usually trusts. In this case, a growl usually means, "I'm in pain and afraid, and you need to stop hurting me."
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You might be able to cope with a growling dog better if you evaluate the situation. However, avoid putting yourself in danger, particularly if the dog is not your own. If your dog's growling escalates to snapping or biting, you should seek the advice of a dog trainer or behaviorist.

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