Dog Growling — 4 Things to Know
The little dog had been in our training center for 15 minutes before he noticed the giant painting of a dog hanging on the wall. His eyes widened as he took a step toward it, growling. “Pssht!” his owner hissed, snapping her fingers at him but to no avail; that only made things worse! The pup ignored her and continued towards it until she closed up all available space between them with an authoritative hand gesture instructing him otherwise – which was enough because we’ve never seen such obedience from any other canine client here! He jerked back into place, although still shaking slightly whenever its gaze lingered on the magnificent work of art–the one thing this tiny creature seemed powerless against even if appearances were not always what they seem.
Why does dog growling happen?
When a dog growls, it is not often an invitation to play. This sound can come from fear, insecurity, and even guarding behaviors, but they all have unique tones distinguishing between defensive aggression and playful musing. When we hear our pet’s warning bark on instinct, we can turn around before any harm comes of us by knowing what exactly needs attention in his world without him telling us with words alone.
Responding to a dog growling
“Why are you yelling at your dog?” I asked the little pup’s owner. “I want him to know that his behavior isn’t tolerated,” she replied, glaring at her pet through narrowed eyes as it cowers behind a chair leg.
“You do realize he can’t understand anything we’re saying now, right? He needs some love and attention.”
It’s always hard to keep your cool when a dog growls. I even get the urge myself from time to time, but it can lead us down an ugly path if we don’t control our emotions and deal with things appropriately instead. So next time you hear that menacing growl coming out of your pup, thank him for doing his job by alerting you to something he doesn’t like despite how scary it is or maybe because there are some controllable situations where dogs prefer. Not to be corrected at all!
Here are four things you need to know about dog growling:
- Dog growling warns you that something is wrong
Did you know that dogs growl when they are unhappy or uncomfortable? This is an early warning system telling us something’s wrong.
If your dog starts to growl, it may be a sign of bigger problems coming up soon!
- Punishing a dog for growling takes away your early warning system.
Dogs who are punished for growling often learn not to do it. However, getting rid of the growl doesn’t fix the underlying cause for the dog’s behavior, which leaves us with a frustrated and uncomfortable pup without any way to express themselves except by escalating their display (i.e., biting). The problem has been solved, but now you’ve created an unpredictable animal that will bite “without warning.”
- All dogs warn
Your dog’s warning signals are a way to tell you before they bite. If your pup doesn’t warn, it might indicate that he has been abused or neglected and is no longer confident enough in his owner to show their feelings openly.
There are many ways a dog can show their intention to bite, and it’s always important for the owner of any canine friend to be aware. If your pet stiffens up, shows whale eyes, hard-stares you, or curls his lip before eventually biting, this is called “biting on warning” and has much less risk than if they go from sitting still into an attack without displaying these signs first.
- Watch what you do to your dog. If he growls
The little dog was understandably horrified by what he perceived as a large, scary-looking doggy across the room. When it walked over to him and stared at him for so long, his tail started wagging frantically in fear.
His owner would have done better to acknowledge his fear, using treats to reward him for looking at and investigating the frightening painting (and she will in the future as she now has the tools). In this situation, growling was merely a symptom of insecurity. Treating that underlying cause well makes symptoms disappear much more quickly than suppressing them.