Reasons Why Dogs Growl

Dogs sometimes growl in playful situations

Dogs can growl for different reasons
Dogs can growl for different reasons | Source

Learn About This Intimidating Behavior

Your dog may growl for several reasons. He may growl at you:

  • If you get too close to his bone
  • If you try to move him off the couch
  • If you tend to abuse him
  • Or he may growl at other dogs and people
  • In many cases, it is a sign of discomfort or a request to send somebody away. For the dog, it is often a way of telling you to stay away, or you may get bit. Often, it will be a slight mumble that may escalate to baring teeth and biting if the warning is not taken seriously.
  • In other cases, the growl is just a symptom of fear, a way for him to protect from a threat. author and certified dog trainer Nicole Wildeclaims: "Whether a dog is growling at another dog or a person, it’s simply a warning. If the dog wanted to attack, he would have. Growling is meant to avert aggression, not cause it."

Distinguishing the underlying cause, whether it's fear, discomfort, or annoyance is vital for owners to decide the right course of action. An important note: Growling needs to be addressed quickly. A delay in doing so, creates a viscous cycle that may be more hard to eradicate. It is important to change the dog's emotional response to whatever triggers the growling in the first place.

Let's look at a few examples.

Keeping Strangers Away

A dog that has not been properly socialized may growl at people. It might start this way: the dog has become naturally suspicious of people. People come too close and the dog is uncomfortable and its body will stiffen. The dog wants to figure out a way of not preventing people from getting too close to him. So, he tries to growl. The growling works, because the stranger is startled and leaves. The dog is proud of himself and will continue this cycle. Once the cycle has set in, and if a stranger doesn't react to the growl, the dog may feel like upgrading. Then, it will bare its teeth while growing and eventually will bite.

In this scenario, the issue needs to be addressed quickly upon the first signs of not being comfortable.

  1. The dog should have been exposed more to people.
  2. Those people should, at a safe distance and with the dog perfectly under control, toss a treat until the dog starts to become more and more comfortable as he recognizes that these people were not a threat.
  • A great read for this kind of problem is Patricia McConnell's "Cautious Canine" book.

To Avoid Pain

A dog is hit by its owner as a form of discipline, whether it be because he chews on furniture or urinates on the carpet. He may submit initially, but then one day, out of fear of feeling pain again, he decides to growl at his owner.

This type of growling is fear related. The dog should not be hit any more and the owners should work on creating a bond. He needs to be rewarded for wanted behaviors, instead of being punished repeatedly for unwanted behaviors.

(Learn more on by reading: Why Dogs Should Not Be Hit)

To Avoid Annoyances

A dog is reluctant to having his nails clipped, and every time grooming time comes, he puts up a fight. Finally, he decides to growl. Since then, the owner has been intimidated and has given up for some time. Then, when the owner decides to give it another try, the dog will bare its teeth even before it's picked up. The dog has effectively learned to have it its way. Now, because the behavior was not corrected, it has escalated to a point that the dog dislikes being touched.

In this case, the owner should work on making nail clipping fun by rewarding with treats so that the dog does not fear the nail clip or try to avoid it, instead of putting up a struggle.

To Help Keep Privileges

Another scenario is when he refuses to be moved from a bed. Let's say the dog has always slept on the bed with its owner. Then, one day, the owner decides the dog must sleep somewhere else. The dog therefore, upon being moved, growls at the owner, who is surprised and frightened, so he backs away. The growling behavior has now been reinforced, and the dog will use it more frequently to show its power.

The owner in this situation should train the dog a command so that he can get off the bed without involving physical touch. A "go to your mat" command would have proven helpful in this case. Also, the owner shouldn't allow the dog on the bed one day and not another. They need consistency.

To Acquire Valuables

You give your dog a bone, and one day he stops eating it as you pass by. He stares at you and stiffens its body. You walk away. Next time, when you are too close, he growls again. The problem escalates and now you cannot get in the kitchen anymore.

In this case the dog has effectively learned how to keep you away from valuables. The dog believes the bone is his, and has lack of trust is his first thought—that you want to get the bone from him. In such scenario, taking the bone away is the biggest mistake. He must learn that the bone comes from you, but that you do not have any intention to take it away. Rather, start tossing treats every time you pass by. The dog soon learns that good things happens when you come close and that you are the provider of such good things.

As you can see, dogs growl for various reasons. Respected dog trainer Pat Miller claims that it growling is a gift and should be treasured. Knowing exactly why your dog growls is vital in treating the behavior issue properly. Most cases of aggression out of fear or general aggression should be addressed by a professional trainer or behavior specialist.

Disclaimer: the above article is for educational purposes only. If your dog has a behavior problem consult with a dog behaviorist. There are also a lot of great books on the topic, if you Google or check on Amazon. Do not attempt the above tips on your own.

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Comments 150 comments

lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

Excellent Hub! Very informative. I really enjoyed it.

amanda 6 years ago

My female dog growls and wags when someone comes home to let them know she wants attention. Never aggressive, just happy!

MasamiH profile image

MasamiH 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

Thanks for the information! I am still learning about dog's behavior. My Shih-tsu is also growls when he needs attention. He also growls when he was removed from sofa or bed,but he never bit or hurt people because of it. Instead, he nibbles my hands but very soft. He is very kind to people.

Amy 6 years ago

We just got a dog from a shelter and he is perfectly fine when we feed him his regular daily meals, but when we give him a bone to chew on, he growls if we get too close. He also tries to hide the bone by either digging and burying it outside or hiding it behind furniture if he is inside.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Greetings, this may be an issue of trust. Bones are very high valuable treats for dogs and he many fear you are trying to take his bone away. Here are 2 a helpful articles:

lisa 6 years ago

I just bought a pomeranian whom which is 1 1/2 years old, I bought him from a so called breeder which i highly believed that he was abused by, because he is absolutely attached to me but severely aggressive towards my husband and my 3 children, he also bit my husband twice already. What should I do?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Sounds like he is perhaps protective of you? Like does he attack your husband when he comes near you or send him away from the bed? Try not to baby your pom too much, try to implement NILIF (Google it) and have your hubby and kids enforce the rules. Never pet or comfort your dog when he is acting aggressively.

Another possibility is that he is fearful of your hubby and kids. If this seems like the case (many dogs act aggressive when in reality they are scared) have them walk her and feed her to show him they mean no harm. Let the kids approach him quietly and kneel down on the floor not giving eye contact. Since this is a new pet I think this is most likely the case. Give him a bit time, if you are home most of the day he may think your hubby and kids are strangers that must be sent away. Give a couple of weeks to adjust to all the changes.

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thehands 6 years ago

Sometimes I just growl back, if it's not my dog.

sandra 6 years ago

My dog has always been a bit of an aggressive dog he is friendly, he is a lab/chow mix, beautiful dog but he is aggressive, not necessarily with food or bones or toys but with people, when strangers come in he growls and gets very upset, when he does bad things and you discipline him he fights back and nothing phases him, and he has spells where he goes how do I say uh psycho? He gets a dangerous look in his eyes and gets very mean. The other day he came at my face and grabbed my mouth and held on. I don't want to put him down, under all that mean I know he's a big softie. I just don't know what to do. (Sorry so long)

Darcy 6 years ago

I just bought a puppy (8 weeks old) and I have 2 older dogs (age 4 and 5). The 5 year old (male) growls and shows his teeth everytime the puppy gets near him. The 4 year old (Female) has accepted the puppy somewhat. What do I need to do to have the older 5 year old male accept my puppy? My two older dogs are good dogs, they love people but have this problem with the puppy. It's been a week now and he is still acting this way. Anyone have any suggestions?

Anna 6 years ago

my dog growls at me when i try to move him off things or give him a bath, but only wen im by myself.. but he actually snaps at me first wen i go to actually move him, then wen i try again growls.. and if i touch him snaps again! its omly happened 3 times.. and its been over like 4 months.. but its really irritating and as soon as someone else walks in to help he wags his tail like hes such a good boy, what am i supposed to do if he snaps first? i always pull away before he gets me..

amanda 6 years ago

my dog is very picky about all kinds of food human or dog food.

she walks up to her food and gives it a taste then she walks away.

i cant afford to treat her like a queen by having having all kinds of food around her for her to choose from when i don't even treat myself that good.

ive taken her to the vet but it does no good.

this is something that has been going on for a long time.

lately shes been getting thin because shes trying to survive on snacks instead of food so i decided to force feed her food to save her life and it works but im risking myself from getting bitten by her because she growls shows her teeth and snaps at me.

but all other times shes a pussy cat.

amanda 6 years ago

by the way shes very healthy and active

and she doesn't suffer from pain when eating because she enjoys biting on her bones and hard snacks.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 years ago from USA Author

Even though she looks very healthy and happy I think a vet visit is in order here. Try another vet if the one before appeared to not see a problem, refusing kibble up to the point of getting skinny does not seem normal to me. and force feeding will ruin your bond :(

If the vet gives a clean bill of health (after running stool checks and a thorough exam)you must stop giving snacks and you should try to feed a premium dog food.

Premium dog foods are not the cheap ones you find at your supermarket. A good high quality food is healthy and dogs are eager to it.

Think brands like ''Blue Buffalo,Solid Gold, Wellness,Taste Of The Wild, Orijen Chicken soup for the dog lover's soul,...more expensive but healthier and your dog should like it...If you find them pricey think that you need to feed less because they are more wholesome than the cheaper varieties full of fillers and since they are healthier your dog will be too saving you vets visits due to feeding poor food in the long run.

Don't leave the food around all day. Give it twice a day morning and evening and if she does not finish the food pick up the bowl and serve it in the evening. Do not give any snacks midday! Let her feel hungry until her next meal.Eventually, she will learn to eat her wishes!

Engela 6 years ago

I actually need guidance - after 5 burglary attemps and intruders on our property, my Toypom growls and barks at night - even though I cannot see any movement outside. he is currently on a light tranquiliser in the evening, but it is not effective. Both dog and owner do not sleep very well. Any suggestion on how to break the behaviour pattern - prior to the events, he was quite at night.

Engela 6 years ago

Thank you for the suggestions. South Africa is currently not the best place to be due to crime. I found, sleeping with Tyson in a room where exterior sounds are absorbed, also helps.

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Tirzah Laughs 5 years ago from USA

My dog makes a sound that is similar to a growl but isn't. She's deaf and she makes this almost vibration sound that people mistake for growling. She's an extremely laid back, submissive dog. She often makes her growly noise when she plays with her toys or when she's self grooming.

I think for her it's like a submissive smile, it's not meant in a dominant way.

Heidi 5 years ago

I have an 11 month old female lab who is not allowed on any beds or furniture. The thing is, she only follows these rules when my husband is home and since he is away with work alot it's causing some problems. As soon as he goes she jumps up on the couch and looks at me. It's like a test. I tell her 'down' and if she decides to, she runs away with one of the cushions and shakes the living daylight out of it. If I go to remove her she growls and will mouth me but has never bitten. Have tried to ignore this behaviour and call her from another room to create a distracion but she will run away with the cushions instead.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Your dog is in the teen-age phase so testing sounds like normal behavior. Google ''nothing in life is free and try to implement it''.

When she takes your pillow and shakes it, she is pretending the pillow is prey and she is killing it. By growling at you she is telling you the pillow is hers, so possessional acts at work here...however she may also be playing too since if you go after her she thinks you are playing a fun game with her...

do not chase her, rather try to play the ''trade game''.. when she has the pillow, grab some great treat and tell her ''drop it'' as soon as she sees the treat she will drop the pillow and you will take the pillow while she gets the treat... teach this command using treats and soon she should leave the pillow as you give the command.. best wishes!

joanne 5 years ago

i have a male lab that's 1 1/2 yrs. Just recently he has started to growl at the kids, not when he is eating, just when they pet him

he gets this defensive look and growls, They arent mean to him and 12 yr who has played with him most is getting growled at more, i don't know what to do about this, help pls.

Moominlu 5 years ago

I have a little 8 month old schnauzer mini who quite literally barks at anything and everything...she's not aggressive with it but we can't reassure her enough or discourage it enough...we have another dog of roughly the same age but she is completely do we build the other pup's confidence?

darja 5 years ago

I have 9 months old mastif type dog, that I don't understand. She growls when some stranger gives her a treat!?! She takes the treat first and then growls... Sometimes she growls also if some stranger call her by her name or try to pet her, but sometimes she is ok with that. The worst is inside, outside she is usually ok. But it is strange that she is totally ok with strangers in the house if they ignore her. I don't know how to deal with that. I need to say that otherwise she is now ok, but we had a lot of problems with her. She was resource guarder, had also problem with body handling etc. I still don't know exactly if she is dominant or fearful, as she behave sometimes very dominant (especially at home), but sometimes she shows sings of fear (if she is free outside and some stranger wants to pet her, she will usually back off, she sometimes still pees when she greet you etc.)... Do you have any idea, what is in her head?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Some dogs do not like attention.. do not force her to interact if she does not feel comfortable... it is best to tell your guests to ignore her: no talking to her, no eye contact, no touching.. let her decide if she wants to interact.. if she is interested she will approach on her own...let her sniff your guests: she will then decide if she wants to stick around, leave or interact..

Dogs feel much safer outdoors where they have escape routes. If she really must meet let her meet outdoors but on her own terms.., indoors she may feel more trapped.. I feel this is more fear based than dominance based. dominant dogs are generally quite confident and are not likely to concerned about interacting with people..

darja 5 years ago

Thank you for your comment, but I was not clear enough. I don't force her to interact with guests. She wants to go to sniff them. If I allow her to go to them, she pushes her head right in their lap as she would like to be petted, but if they start to pet her, after some pets she starts to growl and she still holds her head in their lap. At the same moment she start to stare fanatically in their eyes as she would want to threat them. A few times she did that also outside. She ran outside to greet my niece, she puted herself happyly tail wagging in half submissive standing, almost on her back, leaning on niece's legs. She insisted also with her paw to pet her, but after some time, she started to growl and stare again... The same is with treats. She wants treats. She takes treats very carefully, even from the hand, but the next second she start to growl. But after she would like to get more...

Mrs. J. B. profile image

Mrs. J. B. 5 years ago from Southern California

Thanks for such great information

cocoa 5 years ago

I just bought a 2 month old abrador and saint bernard mix about two and a half weeks ago. Usually he's sweet and annoying, but then again, aren't all puppies annoying? What I don't understand is that sometimes when I let him roam around the living room or any other area of the house, he runs around like he's insane. When I sit on my couch he tries to jump up onto the couch and begins growling at me because I don't let him on. Then, when I get off of the couch, he instantly starts biting my feet, backs away for a few seconds, barks and growls aggressively and then runs back to my feet to bite them again. His biting is getting extremely annoying and it actually hurts. Once he starts acting so aggressively I honestly get scared because it's so random and I've done absolutely nothing to provoke it. Why exactly does he act so aggressively? It's literally out of nowhere. He has these random bursts of aggression, which become very painful to me because of his hard biting. During these bursts of aggression, he growls intensely, barks like a mad man and runs around the house like he has A.D.D. AND IT'S OUT OF NOWHERE! I thought he had rabies or something but apparently he doesn't. I'm afraid that he will become a violent and aggressive dog if we don't stop this behavior while he's young.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Google ''NILIF'' training, in other words, nothing is life is free and implement it immediately... it sounds like he is mostly hyperactive and chasing your legs out of predatory drive.. you need to take care of this immediately..I would enroll in puppy classes and introduce more productive games such as retrieving a ball.. when he bites your legs stop and say a firm ''no'' and give him a stuffed kong to invest his time on. His behavior is too boisterous and you must put a stop to it by channeling to something else. From now on he gets pet, fed and let out only after sitting. Couch is off limits at all times, put a blanket on the floor and that is his place, he is young so you have time to intervene, but if you do nothing this is a recipe for disaster..

curly 5 years ago

I have a three year old chocolate lab, she is very sweet, soft and gentle. Recently while taking her out for walks she has started to growl at strangers. This has never happened before, she has never been frightened by a stranger. How should I deal with the growling and why is it happening?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Greetings, in order to help her, you need to find a distance from which she does not react to strangers, and work from there. Work under the threshold, in other words, give a treat every time a stranger is walking by and gradually allow her to work closer and closer, always using treats, from now on, every stranger that passes will mean a good thing, this is classical conditioning at the best, stranger equals treat. A great read that will explain you how to systematically stop this behavior is offered in the book ''Cautious Canine'' by dog behaviorist Patricia McConnell. Most likely it is stemming by fear.

Natural Mystic 5 years ago


2 months ago I bought home a 2 year old brindle male (neutered) staffie from Battersea. He is wonderful, very well behaved, confident and a gentleman. Very good off lead and with other dogs.

Just one thing. This morning whilst I was sitting on my bed getting ready for work he suddenly stood up, stared at the top of my wardrobes/ceiling and continued to grow and bark (I say bark, his barks are just not very manly lol). He was also shaking. Was he seeing something I couldn't see? (this has happened a couple of times, and always in my bedroom)

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

It is not unusual.. dogs may hear and see things we cannot hear or see, I am not talking about paranormal activities, but perhaps there was something positioned badly on the top of your wardrobe that was making a slight noise.. could there be mice or maybe a cock roach? It is worth investigating if he continues unless there is somebody living upstairs making noises...

Natural Mystic 5 years ago

No no-one living upstairs. I actually got up and moved a few boxes and he went even more wild whilst I was doing it haha. And please don't mention cockroaches, or any other sort of bugs lol

Thanks Alexadry

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Hmm.. there must be something there.. the fact he acts even more worried is his way of saying ''hot, hot.. you are getting close''.. let me know if you ever find anything..sounds like a mystery..and yes, hope it is not cockroaches, lol!

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

Very good hub with lots of good information!

My six-year-old female dog sleeps with me, and she always goes to sleep while I'm still reading in bed. Similar to a child, she turns sideways while she's sleeping. When I get ready to turn out my reading light and go to sleep, I have to get her turned around to her side of the bed.

I've learned that if I calmly, but firmly, tell her to "move over on your pillow", she will (though still half-asleep) move back around out of my way. I don't, however, try to move her myself while she's sleeping. I think that would be asking for trouble, wouldn't it?


Dog Run 5 years ago

Very interesting story or article.loved it

judi 5 years ago

I have a 4 month old Bichone who will growl at me when I wont let her have her way,, she also bites me hard. what should i do

Amandah 5 years ago

I have a 9 month old mastif/spaniel mix and she is very playful. She just has problems around her food. If there is anyone in the same room or even in the house when she is eating she growls and barks and will even walk up to you and snap at you. She also growls and raises her head towards the ceiling if you try to pet her when she doesn't want to or try to move her. It is very frustrating and im not sure what to do about it. We have taken her to puppy classes where they told us some tricks but nothing worked. HELP!

Colleen DeAngelo 5 years ago

My weimeraner is 9 months old and is over 80lbs, she is

very tall. She growls when she is sleeping and I try to move

her. I don't want to get bit, I have been trying to socialize her because she growls and barks and people and dogs. We have had her since she was 5 months old. I don't know how to stop the growling.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Colleen, you need to implement Nothing in life is Free training, google it. Also, if she barks and growls at people and dogs try this method in my hub:

Becky 5 years ago

I have a 9 year old terrier who was abused by an ex before getting her from him. Her behavior was starting to improve but when I moved in with some friends temporarily at the end of May she has progressively gotten worse. She started out by mainly just growling everytime the husband came into the room where she was at and now she is growling at everyone even me. I am at a lost as what to do I need help bad because it is stressing everyone out.

She also growls and nips at their 7 month old lab mix and we are having to keep the dogs separate from one another.

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Sara T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

I just came across this great hub while searching for help with my growly 15-lb. female mutt. She's the best dog ever aside from a few little quirks. One quirk is that she growls at people walking by outside, including neighbors across the street. When we scold her, she turns away from the window as if the only option besides growling is to not look outside at all.. Sigh!

Anna 5 years ago

I've got a 7 month old lab and he's lovely but he does grown when we play a game of "pull." He knows that "pull" is a game and offers me a rope when I say the word but he'll growl if I touch his nose. I've not told him off as to me it is a growling always something to be worried about. I can take the rope off him by offering a treat or walk away and he comes back for more "pull" and I can touch his head and any part of his body whilst we play this game and he's never ever bitten me. Should I stop the growling or not worry?

gnat 5 years ago

Alexandry... much kudos to you for consistently checking back and helping out :)

Natural mystic: My 1 year yorkshire terrier seems to notice if anything is out of place and usually greet said thing with an investigative woof or 20. I wonder if those boxes had recently been put up there?

My question... Jasper (the yorkie) came to us at 7 months from a home where h'd literally been stuck in a small kitchen/paved garden and hadn't even seen grass or sand and his overall interaction I think were limited. We live across from the beach and he goes out a lot and he's eagerly interested in everything.

At first I would let him off his lead all of the time hoping to teach him recall but learned quickly that his eagerness to chase (bikes, birds, leaves etc) shut off the part of his brain which paid me any attention so I purchased a 50 foot training lead.

He can now be recalled, however if there are distractions he will only be recalled if he has already chased his bird or bike or dog etc. So in the interests of his safety and common courtisy he remains on his lead until the environment is fitting.

Leading me to my main point: While he is on his lead, his frustration in not being able to say hello to other (leashed) dogs or chased that bike etc sends him into a frenzy ...further exaserbating the need to keep him leashed. No amount of treats or calm guidance even dents his frustration. He sounds like he wants to rip people apart when really he just wants off his lead so he van jump all over them and teaching doggy etiquette to him is proving difficult when he's too lively to be let off enough to do so.

It feels like i'm ruining him because I can't find a solution. There are no dog trainers/behaviourists in my area.

Sorry for the essay :)

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

That's a common problem and that is why training in class is so recommended. In a classroom setting dogs get used to being around other dogs and will learn to respond under high distractions. Do you have a local PETSMART nearby? They help you train around other dogs in their store. If not, then you have some work ahead. What you need to do is work on getting your dog's attention with another dog at a distance where your dog responds to you. And then gradually lessen the distance over several days of practicing. In order to work well, you must have the tastiest treats he knows and possibly work him before meal time. Keep the treat at eye level and give it to him only when he makes eye contact despite the other dog. If you have a friend that has a dog this is the best way. You will have to set up these setting every day for several weeks, until he learns that great things happen when he decides to stick to you and ignore the dog. Keep the sessions brief and if you want to you can ask him a sit and then reward him for complying by unleashing him and allowing him to finally go play with his friend.

I have a guide that is for aggressive dogs but that works well for easily aroused dogs, if you follow it you may see results over time:

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Anna, it is not uncommon for dogs to growl when playing and getting excited. You can always mellow the game down a bit, by stopping the game as soon as he growls and giving him treats the moment he stops. Another method is to ask him for an obedience command the moment he growls so to give him an alternate behavior to praise.

gnat 5 years ago

Alexandry: Thanks ever so much for your help.

Our front room overlooks the beach so he spends a fair bit of time looking out at other dogs so that might be a good starting place in treying to keep/get his attention. The problem is finding a treat which he'll respond to. He just seems to shut off from eberything but his target.

I'll look at the provided links... many thanks.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

If he does not respond to the treat, try to find a distance where he is not that aroused and work from there, you are on the right track, best wishes!

lotus1668 5 years ago

I have a 5yr old female Staffordshire bullterrier, she has just started growling at othe dogs, when she has always been very friendly to other dogs. She has socialized with other dogs since she was a puppy and on a daily bases. One day a Boxer came running up behind her to play and scared her but it did not seem to affect her, could it be a delayed reaction now? How do we stop her nasty growling to other dogs when we walk her? please help!

Jerry 5 years ago

We have a very friendly 4 year old Golden Retriever. He never barks or growls when outside with other dogs. He never growl at anyone in the house or anyone who comes to the door. He looks out the window and growls, and sometimes barks, at people walking by especially if they have dogs. He also wakes us up every morning with this type of growling. Any suggestions?

Lexi 5 years ago

I have a very friendly, obedient 6 month old Leopard Coon Hound. I've noticed he's a little skittish when out for walks, but other then that is perfect until he's near any children. He is COMPLETELY terrified, starts growling/barking and will hide behind me. I've tried to snap him out of it, but nothing seems to work... he will even bark like this at strollers ~:| Lately i've been reluctant to take him out in public because everyone wants to pet him... ANY SUGGESTIONS??

nikhil 5 years ago

hell i have a 1 month and5 days cocker spaniel puppy with mw but sometimes in the morning when he gets up for food it takes me some time to make it so during the time i try to ply with him but he just starts growling and he starts biting me and sometimes does both together but i don't understand why because i give he a little bit of milk also so he dosent eat some dirt but even after that he just growls and bits ineed help vary badly pleaseeeeeee help


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alexadry 5 years ago from USA Author

Lexi, sounds like he lacked sufficient socialization, since he is young he needs some remedial work, never cuddle him, pet him or baby him when he is scared hiding behind your legs. He needs to associate children with good things, as soon as you spot a child from a distance pop lots of treats. Fill up a stroller with treats and have him investigate it, first when stationary then when moving, attach a bone to it and have the stroller drag it. Work diligently on the problem, if you stop socializing him now the problem will get only worse, try to contact a trainer to help you out, he is young so there is hope, but you need to work on this NOW

nIKHIL, it is unclear to me if your dog is growling when you get near his food? or is he nipping at you in playful manner?

SimonDiamond 5 years ago

I have a Boxer/Akita mix, he has a very submissive attitude and has only growled, a very low growl, doesn't show his teeth when in the presence of other male dogs. We plan on getting him and out other dog (a lab/shepard mix) fixed this winter but in the meantime. He seems to have a problem with our roommates dog. Another male. I am pretty sure it is because our roommates dog is fairly new and he has never had to share our place with another male. Whenever our roommates dog and our other dog (a girl) start to play, or when our roommate's dog seeks attention from my girlfriend or myself, the boxer/akita starts to growl at him. I am pretty sure that will end eventually after he is fixed but in the mean time, is there anything I can do to correct the situation. I've tried telling him no, putting him in the kitchen alone, and swatting his butt when he does this. I am not willing to hit him a lot or hard so please don't suggest I beat my dog anyone. If anyone has any other ideas, I would be very grateful.

Sandra 5 years ago

My 11 year old Maltese suddenly started growling showing her teeth and bites me. I cannot even groom her or brush her. What could be the problem? Thank you!

Jen Ortiz 4 years ago

Hello! I got a silkie terrior about a month and a half ago. He had been abandoned, and i think his previous owner was harsh with him. He came to us very timid. We have given lots of love and little disipline. Now he pulls at the leash like a pitt, barks a lot, constantly jumps and spins to go outside, but the biggest problem os aggression. He picked an end table when he came to us where he liked to be, hid his things there. The past 2 weeks or so he has become aggressive when you get near it, growling loudly. Now, the past few days, he has taken to hiding under our bed and becoming vicious if you try to even talk to him, growling and snarling. He hasn't hidden anything, i have checked, and i don't know what to do. I don't want any of my family to feel threatened, and don't want to find another home for him either. Please help!

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Treat this in the same way you would treat food aggression. Here are two of my guides on how to tackle this problem:

RandiFay 4 years ago

i have a chihuahua male and when me or my husband pet him or anything he growls and sometimes shows teeth. He has never bit but once. He was so sweet and still is but we cant figure out what causes him to contstantly growl at us. When hes under a blanket and we accidently touch him he starts growling or when we pet him and love on him he tends to growl as well. he dosent growl when it has to do with toys or food, its just when we pet and love on him. When we punish him or try to he growls worse like hes going to bite. i took him to the vet and they told me he is completely healthy with nothing wrong.....sooo what could be the problem?

Isaac 4 years ago

My very large 4 year old GSD "Han-solo" has never ever growled at me. I would find it completely unacceptable..:-o

Isaac 4 years ago

I got him as 12 week old pup. In kennels he was the dominant pup but early socialisation + obedience are very important.

caroline 4 years ago

We have a 2 year old black russian terrier who is very loyal and friendly with the family but has recently started growing at friends who come to the house. Because he is a giant breed, this has caused much concern with visiting friends.

It has happened 3 times, twice when friends have been sat at the kitchen table and he has approched them and put his head on the table next to them. They then stroke him and he growls. Once with my daughters friend who was only 7. He approached her, she stroked him and he growled at her. In every case the friends were quite loud and excitable in character, whereas as a family we are quite calm and quietly spoken, so I do not know if it was this that was the problem. When it has occurred we have sent him to his bed in disgrace.

The only other time he has growled was when he was examined by the vet, and when he went to the dog groomer , but I think this was more out of fear.

I would be pleased for any advice as I do not want this to escalate, neither do I want him to be banned from the house whenever any one visits

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Caroline, you should really have your dog assessed by a dog trainer/dog behaviorist. Since you mention your family is really quiet generally, it sounds like he gets stressed and overwhelmed when having new people in the home. Here is a hub I wrote a while back tackling this issue:

Leah 4 years ago

Hi, just wondered if anyone can help me, I have a male 11 month old husky, we recently moved house and we could clearly tell he was not happy in the house as it was much smaller than his first home, he would wildly run round and bark at us, pee everywhere, chew everything and would prefer to stay in the garden whatever the weather.. He had never done any of the above before- we decided to move to a house of similar size to his first home with us, we have seen our happy calm yet excitable pup back to normal.. However now when friends or family come round he is not his jumpy excited self ( which can be a good thing as he's not jumping all over them) but he is wagging his tail and going to say hi but letting out small growls which is worrying me.. He does not look aggressive when he does this and we tell him no straight away and make him sit until he is calm again before letting him go to play again, any advise would be a big help

Thankyou x

Jenn 4 years ago

Hello, I have a Male (fixed) 3yr old great dane. during the last week he has become extremely timid/fearful of sounds from the house/tv or people. He hasn't growled or barked at any person, just when he hears something, he'll bark and grumble in thin air or go to the window or door.He also paces thru the house and whines. It's typically me and my 11yr son, since this different behavior started, 2 things have happened: my 20yr old son is here visiting(which, they are nervous of each other) and we had to put a horse down, our dog was inside when that took place. Could that be the reason for noises startling him?

Aaron 4 years ago

Hey, i have a 2 yearold Rottweiler that seems to feel uneasy / tense when i pet him. When i smooth him he will put his head forward (away from me)and will make a repeated growling noise which will sometimes have a sort of whining noise at the end. I live with my 14 year old sister, mum and dad but seems to enjoy getting smoothed by them (and no ''growling noise''). I myself am 16. I don't know why he does this do you have any ideas? Thanks

Samantha 4 years ago

I have a 1.5 year old pit/lab, I have a few problems with him growling. He usually growls when he has a baby toy and I try to take it out of his mouth, I have tried everything from trading for treats, or a different toy to just grabbing it myself but it only last for a little while. He's always around a bunch of people of all ages and only growls at my sister who is 18. She has done nothing to him, but he will put his ears back as soon as she walks in and has shown his teeth twice. I'm starting to get nervous and don't want him biting anyone. He's a very loving dog, but when he even goes to the vet he goes crazy growling at everyone who comes near him so I think a trainer is out of the question. Any advice will help. Thank u!

Ankit 4 years ago

I have a 20 week old papillon puppy who growls and tries to bite me whenever I pick him up. When he does I shout at him and try and turn him on his back however I do get bitten. How should I deal with this?! He is fine in other cases.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Your puppy is acting defensive and shouting and turning him on the back is only making it worse. From today, try to change his emotional response. Touch is good and brings good things! Start by touching him slightly and immediately give a treat. Touch a little bit more and give another treat. Every time he is touched he gets a treat, then upgrade and try to lift a bit, and let him eat a treat as he is lifted. Gradually, lift more and more letting him always eat a treat while lifted. Graduate, by holding him up in your arms comfortably and getting him to lick some peanut butter off your fingers. Picking up from today means good things start, putting him down means good things end. He will learn to be picked up, keep it always positive!

Aaron 4 years ago

Don't suppose you could reply to my post a few weeks back? Its just the dog has now attempted to bite me. Thanks.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Aaron, did not mean to ignore your post, unfortunately at times I get swamped with posts and questions. It is hard to say why your Rott is growling without actually seeing him. Go on ''you tube'' and search for ''Rottie purring'' and see if this looks like what he is doing. Some Rotts get vocal when they like getting pet. I never had one do that but something worth considering.

However, if it is more of a growl than a ''purr'' then you want to practice caution when touching him. Try to google ''nilif training'' and implement it to his every day routine. He is a working breed so may do well with a bit more of purpose in his life.

Limit petting to very brief sessions once a day. Also, if he seems to growl from being uncomfortable, try to touch him lightly and give a treat, touch, give treat, touch give treat, touch give treat gradually increasing the touching sessions. He should start associating your touch with treats making him more accepting of them. I really would prefer having a trainer see him to evaluate better why he is doing this though so he she can give you the best advice. Please use caution if this seems to stem from him not liking being touched. Better have a professional assess him for safety purposes. Best wishes!

mitch 4 years ago

So I have an 8 month old black lab mix (unknown what with but I believe is a smaller dog because he is smaller than normal labs) and I had a friend of mine at my house that night sleeping on the couch in the same room as me. I live in a one room place above a garage and both me and my friend thought we heard something and instantly my dog barked extremely deep, and then a long deep growl while staring at the only door. me and my friend went downstairs to check it out but there was nothing and no signs of anyone or anything. I have only had the dog a few weeks and just want to know if there is some other reason that my dog barked and growled like this?

Aaron 4 years ago

Not a problem thanks for the reply ^^ and ok thanks will follow your advice and do a bit of research, will post back soon and update you :) tyvm

Tim 4 years ago

We recently got a 3 1/2 year old Lab mix who seems to be very playful and friendly (records at the shelter had nothing about aggressiveness). However, sometimes when my 4 or 6 year old are simply petting her (not any differently than anyone else does) she will give a sometimes short and sometimes not so short low growl. If she is touched (even just a soft petting) when she is sleeping, she often growls and turns at the offender. Do we need to start thinking about taking her back to the shelter.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Tim, how long have you had her? It could be she is overwhelmed from being in a new place, with new people, new sounds and new smells. Children should never touch a dog when it is sleeping, even the kindest dog may wake up startled and bite. However, growling upon being pet concerns me, she should not feel threatened, any chances you can have a trainer/behaviorist assess her? Or have a vet rule out a possible medical problem? I am concerned she may decide to bite one day, discuss this with the shelter. Labs are normally be very accepting of children and this sounds a bit atypical...but yet, you say she is a mix..any idea what mix? there may be a medical condition causing this, or it could be the shelter did not evaluate her well with children.

Tim 4 years ago

Thanks much for your comments. Sorry, I have not been on in a couple of days. We got her Dec 1st and I just saw an entry on the paperwork that I didn't see before that says she is a greyhound/lab mix. She is otherwise very friendly and playful. When she has her growls, it doesn't sound that threatening-almost like a pre-bark-but at the same time it doesn't sound like she is just "talking." I too am concerned that she might bite one day. We will continue to watch and get her into the vet again. thanks for your advice.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

The greyhound part may change things a bit. According to Michele Welton ''This sensitive breed prefers peace and quiet and soft-spoken people. Does not do well in an environment with frequent tension or loud voices. Greyhounds are nonaggressive (they tend to freeze when challenged or attacked) and they can be touch-sensitive (startling when touched unexpectedly). Because they are so docile, they must be trained with a very light hand and much more praise than correction.'' To some extent, perhaps she is overwhelmed, you will therefore have to assess if she is the right dog for your family. Some dogs do not do too well in families with kids, it is also best to pet on chest rather than the head. Best wishes!

brooke 4 years ago

Great hubs! And very helpful!

I have 2 dogs both almost 2 years old in the summer. But bella is the one I am havin trouble with. She is a half boxer half lab and is sometimes just outright crazy. She bit me today all because I made her go into her kennel because she jolted outside with a bunch of kids in the backyard. I can not get both of my dogs to not jump on people. No ones advice has helped me, and now she is biting and growling at me. She used to do this when she was young but now its back again. I wonder if my neighbors 2 outside dogs have anything to do with it? They always try and attack her and leave my boy pit alone. But she is a submissive dog outside. She will turn right over on her backthen run away..Inside is a different story though. Someone please help me! I LOVE my dogs

Tim 4 years ago

Thanks again!

Samantha 4 years ago

I have a 1.5 year old pit/lab, I have a few problems with him growling. He usually growls when he has a baby toy and I try to take it out of his mouth, I have tried everything from trading for treats, or a different toy to just grabbing it myself but it only last for a little while. He's always around a bunch of people of all ages and only growls at my sister who is 18. She has done nothing to him, but he will put his ears back as soon as she walks in and has shown his teeth twice. I'm starting to get nervous and don't want him biting anyone. He's a very loving dog, but when he even goes to the vet he goes crazy growling at everyone who comes near him so I think a trainer is out of the question. Any advice will help. Thank u!

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Here is a behavior modification program, but it takes time, do not expect miracles overnight.

His growling at the vet's is from fear, try to take him there often just for visiting and getting treats. Best wishes!

Samantha 4 years ago

Ok thanks, I'll try that. But the weird thing is he doesn't guard his own toys because I trained him to trust people around his bones and food, he guards other peoples stuff that he steals. Not sure if it's the same deal but I'll try.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Because he steals stuff he feels more motivated to defend such items, try to manage his environment so he doesn't feel compelled to steal (ie keep socks, underwear or whatever he likes to steal). Avoid chasing him over the items and manually taking them away from him. Instead, train 'leave it'' and ''drop it'' here is a guide:

Dick 4 years ago

I trained my Spaniel "leave" and "drop" and it really helped. And my dog now doesn't steal wellington boots and items like that

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Very good! For anybody reading interested in learning these vital commands, here is a hub:

Nancy 4 years ago

I have a 13yr old Jack russell, he has always been moody and didn't get along with our first dog and have to put a muzzle on him when we take him to te dog park...he will fight. He as bit my son in the face and my huband in the hand but this was several years back, Over all he can be a very loving dog. However we how have a 2yr old Collie and my jack is so jealous and he is peeing all over the house and when tell him he is a bad boy, showes his teeth and growels and a couple of times he has charged at me. My collie was tired of getting beat up by my jack (she has rips on her ears)that she has really hurt him. His face had to have surgery. He now is worse then ever.. They fight at least once aweek.He scares the crap out of me and my husband and I fight over how stressed the dog is making me. I don't want my collie to be aggressive she is a wonderful,social dog. I am really thinking of putting him down because he seems to be getting worse as the months pass...I need help. Thank you so much!

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

If this was only inter-dog aggression, I would say re-home him to a home where he is the only dog, but since this dog is also exhibiting aggression towards you and has a bite history I would recommend seeing a vet, then a dog behaviorist and asking his/her opinion and trying all venues before putting him down. It 's a real sad situation. Here is a helpful hub with a variety of options,

Michelle 4 years ago


I adopted a rescue poodle mix who overall is good dog about 6 weeks ago. He is 11 months old and was released by a breeder to the rescue group. He seems to have some separation anxiety as he follows me around constantly and gets distressed if he can't find me.

The biggest problem we are having is he growls at my husband and kids if they enter my bedroom or even walk by the bedroom. We have allowed him to sleep in his crate each night in the bedroom mainly because we wanted him to feel integrated into our home. When he hears my husband or kids by the bedroom door, he runs and hides under the bed and growls/barks. It has been getting worse.

I am not sure what the best course of action is as I do not want it to escalate. He will start obedience classes in two weeks. Any advice is appreciated.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Classes will help build some confidence and increase the bond, I would incorporate your kids and husband in the training sessions. Don't let him follow you constantly and don't give him attention. Try to gradually encourage independence by putting a blanket in a corner of the room far from you with a stuffed Kong. Put toys there too. Great things happen on the blanket! Because he runs and hides in the bedroom I am assuming the behavior is fear based. Does he take treats? You can try to have your kids and hubby pass very quietly by the bedroom and toss treats. This should change the emotional state from feeling threatened to feeling good about it. If he does not take treats he is too scared, have them do this from a farther distance and gradually build up from there. Is he taken out on walks? You need to boost confidence: lots of play, positive reinforcement. Don't encourage clinginess,rather praise independence and exploring things. Here is a helpful hub": Best wishes!

Michelle 4 years ago

Thank you for your quick response! We will definitely try your tips.

He does get walked daily by either my husband or me. I was thinking it might be fear based as he acts afraid of my husband the most. He usually cowers around him or tries hiding behind me. We are not sure if he had prior negative experiences with men and perhaps this may be part of the cause.

Thank you again and hopefully your tips plus the upcoming training will help him come around. We all love him very much and want him to enjoy his forever home.

Annique 4 years ago

I just adopted a 4 year old Pomeranian from a Shelter. He was very shy at first, but now he's showing us what he is really like. During the day time he's pretty quiet and happy to just be a lap dog. But at night, he's hyper and often play fights- sometimes it's cute, other times he's very aggressive. I'm not sure what to do, he won't listen to me, but will listen to my husband, when we tell him no or to stop. I don't know if this is normal behavior for a pomeranian or not. I should also explain that about 4 days after we adopted him I started a new job which I was away all day- except for breaks when I'd come home to spend time with him. But it was around that time that he started to get playful (he's almost like my mom's siamese cat at night- getting a little too playful). Does anyone else have a pomeranian out there that acts this way?

John 4 years ago

Sorry this is so long but it may help you. My dog was a 90 pound catahoula lab mix. He was great. Loved playing fetch, would shake with either paw, just a great smart dog. However, when I socialized him as a puppy he would become so nervous he would start foaming at the mouth. I would reassure him he was ok, but nothing seemed to work. One time he was totally dominated by a puppy a third of his size. He would just be terrified and put his tail between his legs. He would do the same thing and shake if we would vacuum the house or mow the lawn etc.

He was a very fearful dog, on the flip side however, around six months old he was trying to become the dominant one of the house by barking and growling at me and my wife. He never slept in our bed and we were doing our best showing him he wasn't the boss. If he got out of line we would just tell him to sit and stay until he just relaxed a little, which would work until the next time he became aggressive. It was strange how he would go from being so good at times, to timid and fearful one minute, to being complety dominate barking and growling at me and my wife. He was worse to my wife when I wasn't home. By 16 months old he would growl at her and show his teeth to her everyday. Eventually one time seeing him snap and growl at my wife I yelled at him and rushed towards him. I grabbed him by the neck trying to get him to relax and realize that he shouldn't growl at my wife. Big mistake, he bit me pretty bad on my wrist and arm. I had to get medical attention. I told the doctor my dog bit me and the next day I had a call from animal control telling me to put him on quarintine at our house. I was upset at the time that the doctor would call it in.

Anyways, life went on we had a baby daughter and the dog was great with the baby. Very protective and we thought our dog had grown up. Wrong, soon the growling and snapping started again and now we have 6 month old daughter. One time the dog ran out of the house and down the street. I saw a Mom and Dad with there young son on a walk. They looked like they saw a ghost crouched down holding there son. I asked them if they had seen my dog. They said yes and pointed me in the right direction. They also told me that my dog had growled at them and they were pretty scared.

I had a friend that claimed to be like a dog whisperer. He had known my dog since a pup and and would watch my dog for me while me and my family and I went out of time for a few days. The FIRST Night of being out of town my friend called saying that my dog was growing and snapping and was unstoppable. That trip was over. I also later found out that my dogs mother and three other dogs known from the litter had been put down for being aggressive and bitting. This began to really really worry me. I did a lot of research on aggressive growling dogs and kept trying to make my dog right. Deep down I knew he really was a great dog and companion. My daughter is almost two now and the dog is three. I took my family to Disney for the weekend and boarded our dog at the vet I had taken our dog to his whole life. I didn't feel safe letting anyone I knew try to watch my dog and was starting to give up hope of changing my dog. We got back from the trip and I was worried the vet had put my dog down for being aggressive torwards them. But I picked up the dog, vet said everything was fine and we went back to life as normal, living with an aggressive at times or great at times dog. The dog was becoming more crazy though. Now before we would let him outside he would go nuts, I mean bizerk and would run almost through the door growl while running around our fenched back yard destroying any toys or garbage cans or plants in his way. It was nuts. To fix this problem I made him sit and stay before going outside, then I'd open the door, I would go out side, and then give command to come outside. As soon as I said come he would go nuts and take off outside. I tried fixing it outside too. Nothing really worked.

Later that year we went to see my family and introduce our daughter to her grandparents for the first time. Shes almost two and a half now. Once again I boarded the dog the the vet. The morning I returned home I went to get the dog and bring him home. We had missed him and had all his favorite things ready for him. When I got to vet they informed me my dog had not been able to be let out of the cage for the entire week because he was aggressive snapping and growling at them. Then they asked me if I beat my dog. I said of course not. And told them everything I have Just typed here now. I felt at the moment I had to let my dog go and put him down which i did that morning. If anythng ever happened to my daughter, wife or any random person walking down the street I don't think I could have lived with myself. But for the last three months we've been more depressed than ever,especially me. There is such a thing as bad breeding and some dogs cant be saved. But if your going through something with a growling dog, do everything possible to help that dog. Otherwise you'll be left with regret like me. I know I did a lot but I still feel could have done more..

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Because his problems showed so early in life it sounds like it was something genetically linked. That terrible fear and foaming at the mouth as a puppy is very abnormal. I really feel your pain for putting him down but if his life was so stressful that he was fearful of everything and if you were living in fear of him hurting somebody that was really not a great life for both of you. Dogs today are required to be great companions that make good members of society. You had a big liability and thankfully nothing ever happened. The risks of lawsuits from dog bites are tremendous and you hear people losing everything when a dog bites. While it would be great if all dogs could be saved it is also true that some dogs are better off put down when chances for changes are low. Years ago I thought I had the power to change and save dogs but now as I train and rehabilitate more and more dogs I notice that with some dogs there is little hope and the risks of even trying to make a change in their lives is too high. I know some dog owners who have aggressive dogs and keep them chained up all day for fear of them hurting someone. That life only makes things worse and the dog is obviously suffering. My article below addresses how certain behaviors may never be changed:

I am really sorry.

John 4 years ago

Thanks Alexadry. Its been two emotional months, but this hub and your response is really helping a lot. THANK YOU

Ruth 4 years ago

Fascinating - my cocker spaniel has always been a major growler whenever I tried to brush him, pick him up, move him off the sofa, take his toys, etc. He recently had surgery which prevented him from jumping on furniture, so being on the sofa, my bed, etc. was/is out. A funny thing happened - he is like a new dog in terms of respect. I took full advantage of this turn in his behaviour and have started positive training with treats. After 10 years, I can now groom him (before he would NEVER let me come near him with scissors or a brush), pick him up, bathe him and take his toys. He will still growl on occasion, but I am firm and will not give him a treat. He is like a different dog, and it all started because he was on the floor and could no longer be with me on the high places (sofa, bed). It's taken a couple months of positive training for him to let me do the things he would never let me do before, but it's worth it!! My dog, age 10, finally trust me and sees me as someone to respect! Really exciting, actually!

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

That's great! I love stories where the bond between dog and owner gets better! Following is a hub about not keeping dogs on bed:

Dave 4 years ago

I have a 4 year old beagle who has had a growing/barking problem for a while. It is never directed towards people in the house, only people outside. He might not even see anybody. He may just hear something such as the neighbor's car door closing or even the air conditioner turning on. He constantly growls at every noise he hears, if the noise is loud enough he starts barking. He does not growl or bark at people he knows, only strangers. Food, bones/toys, and my kids climbing on him are never a problem. I am out of ideas. How can I get him to stop growling at every noise he hears?

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

If you know what triggers his growling, try to immediately toss a treat every time you hear a noise that sets the growling. He should go from growling to anticipating a treat after some time. Make sure you toss the treat immediately after the noise and before he gets a chance to growl. I would recommend socialization classes with a good trainer and taking him more on walks to get used to noises and getting desensitized to them. Play some noises that you know trigger his growling at as low volume if you can replicate them, and toss treats, noise, treat, noise treat. Your dog sounds anxious and you need to help him out, best wishes!

Dave 4 years ago

That makes sense and might would work, but the problem is he growls every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day, at noises that the human ear cannot always hear. I would be constantly giving him treats all day long, and I can not anticipate things that I myself can not hear. I agree with getting him out and more familiar with the noises however, that is really difficult with 2 kids in diapers. I am getting to the point I want to find another family for him. I have had people suggest shock collars so he receives punishment instantly when he growls, but I have mixed feelings about it. Do you think it would help? As I said before, I am out of ideas.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

No, shock collars will exacerbate the problem because this is anxiety based! You can read more about the risks of using electronic dog collars here:

If the noises are not audible by you and you cannot predict them, try to have the radio or tv on to create "white noise". Dogs can hear noises we cannot hear. These are two other hubs that may help:

If you cannot give treats often, you can try to invest in a Kong so he can work on it and try to stop focusing on the noises. A bully stick is also a great treat that can last very long. Lots of socialization and exercise may help him relax. A tired dog is a good dog. Was your dog always this way? or is this a new behavior? how is he with your kids?

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Did you try a plug-in DAP diffuser? There are also CD's for dogs to calm them down. What about Thundershirt? What about music therapy? here are more links, I really hope to help.

Sharon 4 years ago

Hi. We have a 2 year old Lab mix that we rescued in May last year. She is an absolutely brilliant dog. Very gentle (unless she’s playing), very calm and loving. This is the first dog we have owned and we’re learning all the time. The only thing that I am a little unsure about is when she growls. She frequently brings one of her toys to us and loves it when we chase her with it. The problem is when we actually catch up to her she growls (sometimes quite loudly) and turns her head in the opposite direction. Sometimes she will hide under the chair. I’m never too sure whether she is playing or telling us to get off and leave her alone. When we do take the toy we always throw it again for her retrieve. We have tried swapping the toy for treats which she’ll quickly grab and then try to grab the toy too. She has never shown any signs of doing anything more than growl and will sit and wait for us to throw the toy for her again. So is her growl a play growl, or is she telling us her game is over??

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

It is hard to say without actually see the body language. It does not hurt to err on the side of caution and assume it is a real growl. Since you already do the trade it game, try to trade with a stuffed Kong so she can work on that instead of getting the treats AND the toy. The fact you are chasing her makes the growling worse because she feels more motivated to protect the resource.

Nicole 4 years ago

I have a wonderful 11 month old great dane girl called Nera, who although we didn't do puppy preschool, we did lots of socialisation, took her to school (we have an 8 year old), met lots of dogs, people etc…

A few months ago I noticed her stalk a few men (maybe 5 or 6 times..hasn't happened in quite a while). She would usually follow them a few feet away, head down, snake eyes at them…and if they turned around to try and talk to her, she would woof at them (not growling though) – never got any closer to them…just woofed from a distance, and skittered around them. So I did some work with her and got a few men to ignore her (easier said that done actually with a huge black great dane!) and let her come to them on her own terms, and then gave her treats…So she has been quite good for a couple of months, having said that, I probably haven't come across many strange men whilst by myself either (and she has only ever done it when I am by myself (I.e no husband around).

Until the other day…I was alone (without husband and child) and she bailed up a man, and I was a bit scared she would bite him! Now I have to say, her taste is impeccable…every man she has ever eyed off, has been a creep – someone who I would give a wide berth in a dark alley…she only ever targets those men who are alone, and odd looking (at least to me!)…Dads with kids are completely fine, other men with dogs, or with wives/girlfriends etc are not targeted…I do believe she is possibly right in her assessment of character, but her behaviour the other day stepped it up a notch from just suspicious behaviour to aggressive, and obviously the last thing I want to happen is to have her bite someone!

So the man the other day was walking past us, but about 20 foot away, and she spun around like a homing missile and rushed him. Got about a foot away, hackles raised and growling, snarling…he put out his hand to her (as they all do) and she then started leaping around him woofing, he started to run, she chased….ignored my recall completely (quite unusual, she is pretty good normally), and still growling at him until I managed to get in between her and re-leash her.

I guess she's just a silly teenager, and doesn't have much self control. I do 'try' to implement the NILIF philosophy at home, however as most pet owners, can't help myself lavishing affection upon her, so possibly am not strict enough! Nevertheless I am perplexed, as I am the disciplinarian and strict one at home, not my husband. We have only ever used positive reinforcement training methods with her.

She does walk nicely on-lead, and whilst not well-trained, we do work on her behaviour regularly.

I am at a loss...I can't pick which men she will react to so it's quite hard finding 'dummies' to practise on..and not sure why she thinks she needs to protect me...Any suggestions are gratefully accepted!

cheers Nicole

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Read my hub below, also it could be your dog is in the second fear stage. Best wishes!

Jen 4 years ago

My dog is an older dog, and I suspect his growling is because he's in pain. I've had him about 7 years,now, and he's started growling when I pet him, pet his ears, scratch him or of course, try to move him...I need to get him to a vet, but money is basically nonexistent at the moment...I'll start giving him baby aspirin...that did seem to help with his mood when I did it before, but moving around over and over, I have lost them. Time for me to buy more, I guess...

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Be careful with aspirin as it is not meant to be given more than a few days. If he is in pain, your vet should prescribe a better anti-inflammatory that is safer and can be given long-term. Here is a hub about it:

tabitha 4 years ago

Hey i have a 1 and a half year old oty and she growls when i try dry her with a towel. lso this morning i noticd she had a sore paw so trid 2 touch it to have a luk and she growld and snapd at me. I understand that she is sore and didn't wanting m touchng it but she has startd growling at us a bit nw we always tel her off and then she does what we want but just wondering if there is anything else we could be doing? As i am getting anoyed with her growlng especialy when dryng her.

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Get that paw checked out first thing. It would be unfair to judge her when she is in pain. After the paw is cured, if she growls when you are drying her with a towel, take some time in desensitizing her and counterconditoning. This means, every day pass the towel very lightly on the fur and treat, pass towel, treat, pass towel treat. Also, pass the towel right before feeding, pass towel and give the food of bowl. You want to passing the towel to become a cue that food or treats are coming. With positive associations formed, your dog should be more accepting of the towel When you remove the towel from sight, no more treats. Towel brings good things!

Melissa 4 years ago

I have a 3 year old chocolate lab and she has always been very friendly and great with kids. About a year ago, we had to move back into my moms house and she has a cat that is not that friendly. I noticed a change in my dog. She has never growled or snapped at anyone before until about 6 months ago she growled and snapped at my daughter who has grown up with her since she was puppy. At times not all the time she will continue to act this way with my daughter and it scared me. We got a lab because we knew they were good with kids and now that we moved to a new place she acts differently with my daughter. Any suggestions?

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

What was your daughter doing when she growled and snapped? Some dogs are more reactive when they move to new places and this may cause them to feel more "on the tip of their toes". If your dog is uncomfortable around this cat, there are chances she is uncomfortable and more easy to react, if startled or touched. It may help to make your dog associate pleasant happenings with your daughter if she could always warn her before approaching her and give her a treat. Like "hi rover, here is a treat for you, what a good dog!" If the cat is not that friendly, I do think that it may affect arousal states and make a dog more reactive and less comfortable adding to cumulative stress that may cause the reactions your are seeing. Of course, I can only make assumptions, without seeing the behavior I really do not know what is going on, it could also be she is in pain or has a medical problem which is often the cause for out of the blue aggression as what you are seeing. She may have ear problems if she growls when touched near the head. Always see a vet before assuming a dog has behavior problems; it is astounding the number of dogs that react in such a way due to pain or other health disorders. However, it should not hurt to help her associate your daughter with pleasant things. Please supervise interactions all the time, make sure only good things happen when your daughter approaches, she should get treats and only belly rubs or things she particularly likes. Keep the interactions short and sweet initially. Because your daughter's safety is at stake and you are scared by the behavior, I recommend to not try anything of this your own but consult with a dog behavior professional, a certified applied animal behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist. Never leave dog and child unsupervised. Best wishes.

Chance 4 years ago

I need help. I have a pit bull mix, got her at 6 weeks from a shelter. She will be two years old in December. Scary smart dog since she was a pup however she has always been very nervous and scared of everything. Hates boxes for some reason, moving them towards her or the sound opening and closing them makes. Paper and plastic bags, anything resembling something that could be used to hit her. It always seemed like she had been abused or something before we got her but again we got her at 6 wks old. She has never been mistreated by my wife or myself, disciplined yes but never abused or mistreated. In fact she behaves and listens so well I can't recall the last time we had to correct her for anything. Her scaredy-catness has become endearing, watching her run away when you crumple a plastic bag or something. She is a part of our family and loved very much. My immediate concern is what happened today. It has become almost ritual that if I take a nap on the couch she wants to get up and sleep with me. If I give her permission she gets up and sleeps behind my legs. When I got up today and told her to get off she wouldn't move and looked at me strange, I put my hand on her butt and pushed. She growled and drew up her lip! That pissed me off and I stood up (and probably cussed I'm not sure) at which point she jumped down and retreated to her own bed. I am still shocked she did that. I'm not afraid of her at all but I'm concerned about my wife especially since Li-lu has always been a daddy's girl. My wife was already a little concerned about the whole pit bull stigma when we got her although this concern faded quickly once my wife realized how sweet she was. But now this, I mean she is close to 100lbs. now and amazingly powerful. Built like a tank and I have seen what her jaws can do to bones. Its a scary thought and I got to admit it kinda broke my heart a little. How should I react to this?

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

If she was abused, she is more reactive and prone to defensive aggression. Pushing her likely made her uncomfortable, but I cannot say if she was defensive or simply reluctant to get off the couch, because I cannot see her body language. Since we do not know, better off not allowing her on the couch in first place. The coach is a privilege and dogs that growl should not earn it. However, it is also true she perhaps never was taught an "off command". She should learn it just in case. When she is invited on the couch, say "off" and toss a treat. Invite her up and repeat 2-3 times. Then, call her back up, hide the treat behind your back or in a pocket and toss the treat only once she is off. You should not need to shove your dog off by pushing, your dog should comply to a command. She is also turning into her dog adolescent stage where you will see some "make me" behavior and testing. Be gentle but firm. If she is scared of boxes, make a fun game. Put a box on the floor, as soon as she looks at it, toss a treat, when she walks toward it, toss a treat, when she smells it toss a treat. Lift the box and make treats fall down the ground, great things happen with boxes, make games! if she is too afraid take a step back in the process and start all over. Here are some helpful reads for the adolescent stage and counterconditioning:

Greyce 4 years ago

Hi, we have a 4 month cocker spaniel who is very playful, loving, etc. My husband went to a BBQ at a family member's house and took him to play with their dogs (a yellow lab and a beagle). They spent the whole day over there and got home at bedtime. I put our puppy in his crate (he is crate trained) and after a while noticed he was continuously growling in his crate. I took him out and noticed he was shaking so I picked him up and he would almost fall asleep but then would all of a sudden start growling again. I kept stroking him to try and call him down and he eventually snapped at me and bit me in the nose. I put him back in his crate and he kept growling and snapping inside his crate. He had never done this before, he is crate trained so he doesn't even cry/whine in the crate. I wonder if somehow he got hurt playing with the other dogs? Should I take him to the vet? I'm worried as this is very odd behavior for him. Thanks

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alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Yes, please take him to the vet, this does not sound normal and seems out of character. Some seizures may also cause aggressive displays, try to record the behavior on tape and see your vet, let me know what it turns out being if you wish, kind regards and best wishes for a speedy recovery if this is something health related.

kenny 3 years ago

Hi, i have a terrier mix and hes around 2 1/2 years old now. Hes always been very friendly. The only time he ever growls is when hes playing with toys like ropes (tug-a-war). This has never been a problem ...all in good fun. Recently he started growling at me and others when you pet him when hes sleeping or if your face gets to close to his. He even bit a friend of mine not too long ago. Im not sure what the problem is? He was never like this before. He was always very effectionate. what is the problem and how can i fix this?

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

When out of the blue, out-of-character growling like that happens it's best to see a vet to rule out potential medical problems. Ear pain, is one cause at times. Several dogs may growl when sleeping if they get startled, and it's best not to pet them when they're asleep. There is a reason for the saying "let sleeping dogs lie". Some dogs do not like having faces in their face, in the dog word this is rude behavior and the dog may think you are about to bite. It's another big rule not to put your face in any dog's face especially if you don't know the dog well. You may find this article helpful:

Amy 3 years ago

My puppy growls at me when I refuse to share my food with him. I think its just him saying I'm mad you won't give me any. Like he's pouting.

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Hello Amy, you may then want to reward calm behaviors, and only give him goodies when he doesn't growl. Try yo ask for a sit first, and if he breaks the sit, no treats. No more goodies when he acts pushy.

Amy 3 years ago

Thanks :)

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epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Great hub and so very true. If you notice your dog growling, try to remedy the issue before that growl turns into a bite. Sharing and voted up!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Yes, that's very important. Wow, looked at the date I wrote this hub and it's more than 4 years ago! Need to fix a few things on this, thanks for sharing!

debbie 3 years ago

A couple of months ago our 7 year old chocolate lab male (not neutered) has started showing signs of aggression towards my husband if he tries to kiss me. When my husband goes to work in the mornings and the dog is laying on the bed by me when he leans down to try to kiss me the dog jumps up stands over me and growls and snaps at my husband and follows him around the bed not letting him near me. My husband thinks he's playing a game since sometimes his tail is wagging but I told him no his serious. Now lately he growls if you just say the word "kiss" or make the sound of kissing. My husband now can point to the bathroom and he will jump off the bed and go in the bathroom where he shuts the door kisses me goodbye and then open the door to let the dog out he's right back on the bed growling again. At first it was cute "he's protecting me" now it's annoying and getting worse.

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Try to transform the kissy noise into a cue that means something great is about to happen. Make a very light kissy noise and then toss a treat immediately before he times to react. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Then, make the kissy noise and bring the treat at eye level and give it the moment your dog looks up to you With time, your dog should no longer react but look at your for the treat. Do the same with the word "kiss" say it and toss a treat, repeat, repeat, repeat.Then upgrade say kiss, make the noise and toss treats. Finally, have your hubby actually kiss you while a shower of treats land to the ground. Make it a party! Of course, try this over the course of several days or weeks. If your dog ever reacts, take a few steps back as he may not be ready for the next step. If you think there are too many treats involved, and your dog loves his kibble, use your dog's kibble for these exercises, best wishes!

xjlynn87x 3 years ago

We just recently moved in with my sister. My 6 year old male dog, dezel, has started to act off. He will stare my sister down and watch her every move. sometimes he will get up on the couch to sit beside her or when she calls for him he will put his feet on her knees and wag his tail. He will even give her kisses but then for no reason at all he will start growling at her. I have never seen a dog kiss you and then start growling at the same time. its come to the point that i try to keep him away from her because i don't want anyone to get hurt. He sometimes growls at my sisters son that is 3. he doesn't do anything to him but if he gets to close he will growl. he actually tried to snap at him the other day. i though maybe it was just his nerves from the move but still i don't want him to hurt anyone esp the kids. what should i do?

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alexadry 3 years ago from USA Author

Some dogs are in conflict and can't make up their mind if the other person is a friend or a foe. You will need to identify what is getting him to react. Write down what your sister is doing at the moment she is growled at. Is it when she moves in a certain way? If so, let your sister, very slightly move in that way, but this way to deliver treats. Teach her also to occasionally make a smacking noise with her mouth, bring a treat at eye level and deliver a treat when the dog looks at her, even though he may be really looking at the treat. You want whatever sets the dog off to become a predictor that a treat is coming. Your dog has gone through many changes, and dogs don't like changes. Changes can get very stressful and it takes time for cortisol to get out of the dog's system. Read my article on trigger stacking. If he was never exposed to children, a child is very different than an adult. Yes, safety always comes first, you may want to keep your dog leashed to you when you work on counterconditioning him (changing his emotions about your sister and child)-- imagine an umbilical cord connecting your dog to you. Also, have your child toss treats when he moves close to him (obviously wen leashed to you), but not so close that he delivers a growl. Have him toss the treats slighlty behind the dog's shoulders so he as to go back to get te treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat, several times. Changing behavior is not easy, you may want to read my articles: the power of counterconditioning, dog desensitization and understanding a dog's threshold. Because safety is so important, you may want to hire a dog behavior professional to guide you through, at least initially. Best wishes!

xjlynn87x 3 years ago

Thank you! This is very helpful! :)

Lyndsay 2 years ago

Hi i have a four year old staffie called Marley, he loves his ball and he is very stuborn but does what he is told in the end, he go's through phases of growling when you tell him to go to his bed and when you stoke him sometimes aswell, it's so frustrating I have two girls my youngest 4, so I would really a bit of advice, I don't allow him up on the furniture but he will try and he always growls when you tell him to get down, I do think it's a dominance thing, but I'm not sure what to do thanx

Linzikyrachanaz 2 years ago

Hi I have a 4yr old staffie called Marley, we have had him since a pup, he loves his tennis ball, he is very stubborn but does what he is told in the end, he's started to growl when told to get out of his bed in the sitting room and into his other bed in the kitchen, and sometimes when stroked, it's so frustrating I have 2 children the youngest 4, so I would really love abit of advice what to do, I don't allow him to on the furniture but he will occasionally jump up, when told to get down he will also growl then, I do think it's a dominance thing but would love to hear some tips on what to do thanx

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

I would have a behavior consultant to come to your home especially since you have children in your home. He is using his growl to communicate therefore it should not be suppressed, but you need to work on the underlying causes of it. This article may be helpful

lyndsay 2 years ago

Hi thanx for the links iv been keeping him on his lead more and praised him for good behaviour and just egnored the bad, Iv been thinking about rehoming him with having the little en, Im gona look up for some local dog specialist s thanx again

john trent 22 months ago

yes I have a female have chow dog misty about 2yrs old a rescue dog left abandoded outside people left here we took here in she will go out on back porch will not go out side will lay down flat on street what could be wrong with her to act like this or what causes this ?

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alexadry 22 months ago from USA Author

It could be she's frightened of going outside and freezes, hard to tell without seeing the behavior though.

Samantha Weierke 17 months ago

My 5 year old male yorkie poo growls and will snap at my 14 year old son whenever he comes home. He doesn't do this to anyone else in the house. Why is this and what can we do to stop it? The dog just doesn't seem to be submissive to my son at all. I have a 5 year old daughter and 10 year old son who he has never snapped at- he will growl when he gets sick of my daughter carrying him around but never snap. Please help! He has also started randomly peeing the house - he does it when no one is looking.

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alexadry 17 months ago from USA Author

Have there been any recent changes? Did your son lately do something coming home that could have caused fear such as dropping something, slamming the door? The randomly peeing in the house sounds a lot like stress. In small dogs fear is at the bas of many aggressive behaviors. There may be a trust issues at play, but only a dog trainer/behavior consultant can you tell more by observing the behavior. Here's something about trust but would look into all the links to better understand what may be going on and seek the aid of a professional.

Kim 15 months ago

Hi, 3 months ago we rescued a chizer he's 11 months old now he is very loving but needy & possessive & recently he has started to growl/snap when removing from my lap. Is this a dominence thing and how should i correct it?

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alexadry 15 months ago from USA Author

Most likely, your dog simply doesn't like to be removed from a cozy spot or may dislike being picked up from your lap. You can train an"off" command, by saying "off" as you let him smell a treat and toss it away from your lap. After repeating several times, say "off," make the gesture as if tossing the treat, but this time give the treat only after he's jumped off your lap. I wouldn't try to remove him manually as he might bite you hands. Also, I would start letting him get on your lap only upon your request and not every time he wants. Teach him that when you tap your lap hes "allowed" and when he tries to get on your lap uninvited, you get up as soon as you notice his intent or move a big book on your lap so it's occupied. I like to keep a lap top on my computer when I don't want any uninvited guests on my lap.

Kim 15 months ago

Ok i will try that because he is very clingy & has to be on you at all times so this way i get a little breathing room too!! Thank you so much for your quick response!!!!

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Suzanne Pitsenbar 12 months ago

I have a 6 month old Pomeranian who has just started barking and growling at my husband when he comes through the front door. I stay at home with the dog 24/7. My husband works two jobs, but does interact with the dog a lot when he's at home. He plays with him, takes him outside to potty, rewards him with num nums. I know our dog loves him, cause he gets excited and starts looking out the door when it comes time for hubs arrival home. I have read the NIFI. Do you think it would be wise for me to restrict my attention to the dog? What should I do? I'm afraid my husband will eventually not be able to tolerate this behavior. Thanks.

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alexadry 12 months ago from USA Author

You mention your dog is looking out for him when he's anticipating your hubby's arrival. How is his body language when hubby comes home? Is he all wiggly and happy? Some dogs bark when they're excited and like the attention they get, but you also mention growling though. Does it happen only the first few seconds he comes in and then he's like 'oh it's you..." and stops barking and growling? Perhaps you can keep a little dish with treats, so that your hubby can toss a few on the floor for your dog to catch the moment he comes in? A dog who is busy finding treats, doesn't have time to bark and if your dog doesn't like people coming inside the door, you can change the emotions by making great things happen (treats!) when somebody comes through the door. If you hubby doesn't feel like it, you can always open the door and make those treats fall to ground as your husband walks in. If it's happening only when he comes in the door, you should see an improvement as days go by.

Lauren 7 months ago

I have a multipoo. She fowls while someone put'ts down he hand at her but. I think it is a sensitive thing. She growls. Why?

Lauren 7 months ago

She growls

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 months ago from USA Author

Could be your dog is not comfortable having hands around her face. Does she often go to groomer? I have been seen a lot of dogs lately who are groomed often who become hand shy after being often at the groomer.

Tiffani 6 months ago

My 3yr old pomapoo is becoming very aggresive when you try to make him move off the couch or the bed. For example 430am my poodle mix was laying in the bed between my legs i went to move him to scratch my leg an he growled an bit me what do i do. Me an my husband have children an trying for our 3rd child. Were very worried he will end up biting one of our children if they try to make him move

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alexadry 5 months ago from USA Author

Please find help from a force-free trainer/behavior consultant as soon as you can.

Linda 5 months ago

We have a staff cross from dogs home had him for 9-10 years now all of a sudden he has started to growl at us when we either speak to him or stroking him any ideas why

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alexadry 5 months ago from USA Author

I always recommend a vet visit first when a dog who has never growled before starts the behavior out of the blue.

Susan 3 months ago

My pitbull lab cross was a rescue dog. Not really sure of the circumstances. He barks at everyone that comes to the door but with my oldest son he continues to bark and growl at him. My boyfriend thinks it's because he must abuse him somehow. My son is very loud and bangs around allot and the dog has actually peed on the floor because of this. I have seen them playing together and sitting together as well. I hope that he is not abusing him. What do you think?

Rikos 3 months ago

How weird is this? If our dog is sitting by/on my lap and my girlfriend jokes around trying to unzipper my pants, the dog will growl and try to nip at her!! It's almost like she thinks she's the protector of my penis. It's very strange. We tried a couple more times and sure enough she did it again. Sometimes actually laying over it so she can't reach the zipper at all. If she does, the dog will growl at her or try to nip. What the heck is that all about.

Edgar 2 months ago

My 5 year Frenchie will growl at people when they are petting him. He doesn't bite, snap or show his teeth. He goes to them for attention and then growls. When they stop petting him he looks at them and generally acts like he wants more attention, but will growl again when they pet him. I say that he's confused and doesn't know what growling means but I have no clue. He doesn't do it all the time and doesn't do it to all people.

kel 4 weeks ago

We have a male Pom that is deaf. He loves to jump in your lap and get attention. The problem is he growls and acts like he is going to attack while wagging his tail and getting his pets. He has never bitten anyone, but sounds and acts like he is getting ready to. He is very difficult to clip nail and groom because of his behavior.

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