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Reasons Why Dogs Growl

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."

Dogs can growl for different reasons—sometimes dogs growl in playful situations.

Dogs can growl for different reasons—sometimes dogs growl in playful situations.

My Dog Growls at Me Now!

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 Wilde claims: "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 vicious cycle that may be harder 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 anymore 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.

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 the 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. Upon being moved, the dog 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 a lack of trust as his first thought—that you want to get the bone from him. In such a 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 happen when you come close and that you are the provider of such good things.

Dogs Growl for Many Reasons

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.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My dog has growled and shown teeth at my wife a few times lately. It’s usually when he is sitting with me and she gets near. Is he protecting me? Or is he kind of owning me? He is a four-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier

Answer: I don't believe dogs have a real sense of "ownership" as us humans do, but it may be that your dog feels safe near you and feels threatened or just uncomfortable when your wife comes near. It may be an issue of "trust."

Question: My dog always growls at my sister when she gets close. Why is this?

Answer: Your dog may not feel comfortable having your sister near him/her, or he/she may not like your sister being near you.

Question: My Rottweiler bit me when I tried to hug him. How do I solve his aggressive behavior?

Answer: You would need to see a behavior consultant using force-free behavior modification for safety and correct behavior modification implementation. For the time being, please be careful and avoid placing your hands or arms around your dog, hovering over him or placing your hands near his head or shoulders.

Question: My son and daughter-in-law have a Golden Retriever that always growls at me and no one else. What could be the reason?

Answer: There are various possibilities. A common one is something you may have done or do that makes him uneasy. For example, you may have startled him if you dropped things or carry large objects or maybe sneezed or coughed. Maybe you move fast or talk in a certain way. Maybe he's protective of the children and growls when you approach. It would be interesting to see in what context the growling occurs to identify what triggers him (e.g. walking close too him, coming close to your son or daughter). However, if you mention this happens always, then it likely it started with something you did in the past (or keep on doing) and then spread to your mere presence, hence always evoking the growling.

Question: My sweet pit bull had a swollen paw from foxtails. When I tried to remove them, she growled at me. Should I be concerned?

Answer: Most likely she growled because she is in pain.This is the most likely scenario if you have usually been able to touch her paws in the past with no problems before this mishap.

Question: My dog had tummy trouble, and one night he wasn't in bed. He was on the floor, and he started growling. I began talking to him, and his tail started wagging, but he continued to growl. Do you have any ideas as to why this happened?

Answer: If this is out of character from your dog, there are chances that the growling was a pain response. Your dog's way of telling you "please leave me alone I am not feeling well." I would suggest seeing the vet if this persists.

Question: Why does my dog growl at me when I get close to my husband?

Answer: There may be chances that your dog is protective of your husband. Some dogs guard people as they would with valuable food and toys or sleeping areas. There may be a chance your dog isn't comfortable with you moving closer to your husband if that means moving closer to him as well though. Or perhaps you do something your dog isn't comfortable with such as sitting down quickly, or making a sound when sitting down. Not always things are cut and dry, so you may need a professional to come to your home for an assessment.

Question: My 1 year old dog growls when my son comes down the stairs. Why is this?

Answer: It could be that your son coming down the stairs makes him uneasy. Perhaps he wasn't expecting him to come down, or he walked down the stairs too fast or with an impact, making noise with his feet. To dogs, seeing a person coming down a flight of stairs may seem odd. Since this seems to trigger the growling, you can try practicing some rehearsals and feed your dog high-value treats every time your son comes down the stairs. Your son can alert you before he comes down so you can prepare yourself with the treats. If things seem to escalate and your dog seems unsafe or won't take treats, please see a professional.

Question: My little wire-haired dachshund who is usually very relaxed and sweet natured, has recently started growling at me. He is 3 now and has never done this before, though he has not had the snip. Another person has recently moved into my flat, and I wondered if this could be a factor? He doesn't growl at her though, just me, and not his usual playful growling. The other day I went to pick him up when he was lying on the floor by her and he growled. Very out of character for him. Any deas?

Answer: It could very likely be that your dog is particularly stressed out by these recent changes in the household. When dogs are stressed, they may not sleep as they should, they may startle and they may be over reactive. It could be your dog does this to you rather than to her because you are the one who interacts with him more. Of course, there may be other things going on such as medical issues that may need to be ruled out, but it sounds a bit too much of a coincidence that this growling has started right when this person moved in. So stress may be higher up the possible list of differentials.

Question: Why is my 2-year old Chihuahua lying around and growling when I touch him?

Answer: If this is uncharacteristic for him, it would be important to see the vet to rule out any medical problems. With medical problems ruled out, it could be he doesn't like to handled or he is protective of his bed/sleeping area or just wants to be left alone when he's ready to take a nap.

© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli


Patti Brasher on July 09, 2020:

We have a pitbull mix dog and when I’m in bedroom and my husband walks in my dog has started occasionally growling at my husband. He acts like he is protecting me but my husband gets upset when he does this. This morning I was getting out of bed and the dog came to my side of bed. As I was trying to get my shoes on my husband walks I. And my dog is just staring at him and growling. It seems it only happens in the bedroom.

Mary on April 20, 2020:

I adopted a 2 month old Shih Tzu. He growls and barks when I couldnt play with him. I tend to ignore so he would stop but I dont know if its the right response. Im worried that if I keep on ignoring him, he will see me as weak and challenge me on hierarchy.

Tiffany on January 23, 2020:

I have a 10 month old Chihuaua, Harley. Usually he growls at my fiance when he is kissing him. But now yes is growling at me whenever I kiss him then he will lick me then try and attack me. So I put him down and he still wants me to hold him and love on him. I am so confused. Also, not sure if this is the reason but ever since I got him (I was still bottle feeding him) he has been an inside dog but recently we had to move in to my fiance's parents and we are about to have a baby so my fiance's father says no dogs in the house. So I have been putting him in a bin with a blanket and a jacket that smells like me. Then putting the bin in a she'd because I don't want my dog (my baby) to be cold. Lately I haven't been able to spend much time with him like I was when he was inside. Could this be the reason he is acting so strange? Please help.

Amber Medina on January 08, 2020:

I have a 2 year old Cane Corso when he has something he should have in his mouth and my boys who are 15 and 11 try to remove it he growls and snaps. Now he is not like this with my husband and I, should i be worried for the safety of my kids? Can he be trusted? I am just worried it will only get worse.

Kelly on November 24, 2019:

I have a Pomklee I have had since he was 6 weeks old he is now a little over a year old he has always been a very love able playful boy my children and I are always hugging and loving on him and he loves it out of the blue I was hugging on him like normal and he growled at me? Why? What do I do about this?

John on October 09, 2019:

My ten year old staffie zeb,keeps growling at my wife,this started at lrast a year ago,my wife only has to walk in a room and he starts,we can luve with, but noe hes even growling at our grand children, i want to put him down, hes getting unpredictable , what should i do.thanks

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 30, 2019:

Hi Winnie, the first time we ever hear a growl coming out of our dog's mouth, it sort of breaks our heart doesn't it? It sounds like you have a very sweet boy, and beagles are normally that way, what comes to mind is that probably he is frightened by something.

Something perhaps happened that made him decide to stay under the table when he is a bit scared of something.

If this happens every evening, maybe something of your mother in laws' bedtime routine doesn't make him comfortable. This can be anything innocent. Can it be she was picking him up and petting him or wanting him to spend time with her in bed and he didn't like that? Can it be she was leaning over him and giving him good night kisses?

Innocent things like this given from a stranger (or somebody they do not see too often) can sometimes have dogs run for cover and not want to interact.

Of course, there may be other things that may trigger this. Perhaps she used to let her shoes fall to the floor with a loud thump before going to bed, used to cough loudly or something else. Nothing bad but some dogs are sensitive and get scared when there are other people in the home and they don't know them too well.

Sometimes we see dogs hide under tables this when they are chased around by children or other pets or when they don't want to do something (like given a bath, have nails trimmed or picked up etc).

The growl is sort of a way to say "I feel safe here, please don't get me out of here." Dogs who are forced out by pulling them can sometimes even bite, out of defense. So caution is needed. Even the sweetest dogs can bite when scared.

In any case, it seems like your dog is happy to see it's you and he comes out from his hiding spot.

Hiding in dogs is highly reinforcing because they feel safe, so it may take some time to get him out of this behavior. Sometimes creating a new bedtime routine can help.

For example, before he goes to his hiding spot, you can try to engage him in some game or let him do some tricks and reward him with some tasty treats or set up a treasure hunt by hiding some of his kibble around the home.

As new positive associations are made, he might feel safe again and stop feeling the need to hide.

Winnie1218 on September 30, 2019:

My almost 4 year Beagle boy is a rescue we've had him for almost 2 years, he is very sweet and a good boy. He plays indoors with us runs around like a crazy dog, rolls on the carpet and makes a grunting noise. lol He has a big backyard to play in, we are a busy family with sports after work so he does not get a walked until the weekend. He sleeps in a kennel, We recently got him a XL kennel and he seem to like it just fine, I left his medium size out to see if he preferred to go back to smaller kennel just in case. My mother in law was in town for a month so he spent more time inside, he started going under her bed & she loved him, pet him all the time and feed him more than usual against our request not to. Lately, I heard that same grunting noise and then it get a little more like growl but hes under the table and he looks like hes looking at someone in the upper corner of the table, he starting to do this every night? When he sees me he stops and comes out and wags his tale or runs to me for love. I crawled under the table to see if there was something there and another time to see what he would do.. he does nothing hell move out the way, is this something I should be concerned about?


Jade on July 14, 2019:

My 6 year old Chihuahua has suddenly started growling if I don’t let her play with other dogs, if I let her go near them, she is perfectly happy, her tail is wagging, but sometimes she can get a little over excited and scare other dogs, (believe it or not), so on occasion I hold her back and she growls, I then feel like the other dogs owner is thinking she is aggressive and they usually pull their dog away. Is she growling at me in frustration because I won’t let her play?

Tammy Nichols on June 19, 2019:

I have a 13-year-old Chihuahua every time my husband gets up to go to work or if I need to leave the house she gets to the point she will growl every time you make a move. And I want to know why and what I can do to stop it.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:

Marsha, so sorry to hear this happened. Perhaps when you walk into the living room and she's next to your husband, you can toss some tasty treats her way. Do this as often as you can so that she learns that when you come close great things happen. However, have a behavior professional help you out initially to make sure you do it right without putting your dog over threshold.

Marsha on May 28, 2019:

My husband and I purchased an american bully about 8 months ago, she was 6 months when we got her. My husband has been the sole care taker, however I have taken her out for walks a couple of times, but havent lately. My husband took her out of her cage for a while and as i was walking into the living room she was laying beside my husband and when i came in she looked up and growled at husband said it was alright cause her tail was wagging, but now i am terrified of her!

Laylanie on March 24, 2019:

My dog growls when i look in one ear. Could he be in pain?

Hes not one to growl ever. Hes genuinely sweet and loving.

Justin McK75 on March 03, 2019:

My dog is a 1 year old shortly. My girlfriend's daughter comes to visit about 3 X's a month and everytime she does he snarled and snaps at her. This is the only time he exhibit's this behaviour. I cannot understand why he's doing this. I find myself fairly intuitive with him but am baffled by this one . Ant help would be very helpful.

Kales on February 19, 2019:

My younger dog often intergects herself when paying attention to my senior dog, the big issue is that some times She starts to growl or get mean when the senior dog for eg is invited on the couch she's on too, or if I started paying attention to the jealous one first and the senior one walks by / near she growls ! We got the younger dog when she was about 2/3 months old.. so she's been around my senior dog all her life... what's going on!!

Austen R on January 03, 2019:

Whenever I put my head near my dog she growls and moves away, I’m extremely worried and believe she hates me. What does this mean?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2018:

If your Rottie is touch sensitive, it may be worthy having your behaviorist guide you through a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please play it safe.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2018:

Tracy, some dogs become more reactive at night if it's dark and they are more prone to react rather than "think" does this sound like the case?

Lovmygrandpup on December 26, 2018:

My son and his pit moved in with me last January ( he sold his house so was with me till found another ). He last week moved into his new house after him and the dog where with me for 11.5 months. The dog was attached to me before they moved in and even more so after. When they moved to the new house a few days ago I went over for the first few days to clean and unpack visit with the dog and let home out so was there Wednesday Thursday and Friday. And Sunday. Didn’t see them on Monday ( Xmas eve). But when they came over to my house on Xmas the dog found one of his gifts under the tree we let him open it It was a ball ( a hard one being a pit he chews thru most toys ) he usually will bring you the ball for u to throw but when I tried to play with him he growled. So I just let him be. After a while he came to me. And dropped the ball when I went to pet him he growled again. Which he has never done before. My son scolded him he even growled at him. He put his muzzle on him and a time out. Later when I petted him he was ok at first but the growled again. Could this just all be because of the moving to a new house. And when they came over he was confused? (S.n. I went over to his house today dog was happy to see me. Should we be worried?

Becca Kay on December 09, 2018:

My boyfriend and I got a puppy, she is 6 weeks old. We’ve had her one week and she is very loving and happy, BUT. When my boyfriend is around, she only wants him. I’m the one who nursed her back to health and is training her, but when he’s around, she growls if I pick her up or move her at all. Even if I’m putting her closer to him. Does she not like me, or is she possibly possessive of him?

LizJaunich on December 03, 2018:

I have a two year old male rottie, that I adopted from a shelter at 6 months. The first 6 months of my pups life were hard, and it will always impact him physically and mentally. Sine he has live with us and essentially become our child, he has hit the jack pot. Vader can be aggressive to other people, I believe he is protecting his pack, We adopted a Pyrendoodle (his behaviorist suggested us to get another dog to ease his anxiety of not being around me) In Feb of this year, and he loves her and protects her but gets really angry when she goes up to people with out his permission.

Vader and I are thick as thieve, we both equally think the sun rises and sets upon the other, but recently ( 6 weeks or so) he has been growly at me. Especially when I hug him, I have always hugged him and he appeared to love it, now not so much. I thought that maybe he was made at me (he is moody) for getting a second job on the weekend, so he hangs out with his daddy more. Which is great because their bond wasn't so strong before. Today Vader lunged at me, when I was saying goodbye. I think he thought I was going to take his biscuits That I just gave him. Oddly enough I burst into tears because my feelings were hurt, and he followed me and came over to say he was sorry.

As I was taking to him, My hand passed over his chest area (which is getting broader lately) and he growled at me again. My husband can touch his chest and not get growled at so what's the matter with me doing it? I know he is trying to tell me to stop but on the other hand he cannot continue to growl at me or lunge. Help please.

Tracy Doughty on November 27, 2018:

My Amstaff behavior toward my husband is confusing and scary day my amstaff will let my husband walk him give him treats then that night he will have the most vicious growl and will be in a attack position im called to the rescue and have to come in between them this is all the time i do not hit him i use my stern voice and have to repeat myself several times to get his attention ....what do i need to do?

Mohamed Altamimi on November 27, 2018:

Why my 3 years male gsd aggressive towards babies while very friendly with adults ?

PEGGY on September 20, 2018:


Swampy Joe on September 05, 2018:

I never blame the dog. It' s always the owner. I was out for a walk passing by a house and an unleashed dog growled at me and proceeded to block my way. I stopped and allowed the dog to sniff my hands and even knelt down so I wouldn' t seem intimidating. It wagged its tail a little but seemed unconfortable. All this while the owner was simply standing in her driveway watching and nit attempting to retreive or call to her dog. It finakky moved away and I carried on. I think I' m lucky I wasn' t bit. Beware bad owners.

Kaylapow on August 29, 2018:

Hello, my dog is 2 years old and spade. For at least a year she growls over food and toys mainly to my other dog and food has even snapped at her. How do.i correct.this because.i took it away and i read above thats not the answer. My biggest concern is her back and bum she does not like touched at all and although she doesnt bits she growls and gives warning which is worry some for chileren who may not understand. I am unsure why it bothers her in the first place. Example she can lay on me head barried on my shoulder then i cuddle her back and she growles?!?!

Pattie on August 07, 2018:

My Pittbull just started growing at me when I go to kiss the top of his head goodnight why ?

Joanne on March 09, 2018:

My son and daughter-in-law have a golden retriever 11 month puppy that always growls at me and no one else. What could be the reason

Richard Turner on March 03, 2018:

When i'm lying down not quite asleep why does my dog look up at me and give a low bark and a low growl? Is she trying to say ' i know you're not asleep '?

ryneria on March 02, 2018:

My yorkie keeps looking around and his eyes is actually following something around in my apartment and then he runs as close as he can to me sometimes getting between my legs shivering and never taking his eyes off of whatever only he is seeing making it difficult for me to walk. Ever so often he keeps looking back at me as though he expects me to do something. My previous dog (shih-tzu), i had from 8wks old to almost 17yrs that passed on in 2016 did the exact same thing. Only when he was close to expiring it had gotten worse. He'd sit for hours and just stare at the empty living room sofa and would not budge. Can anyone out there tell tell me if I should be alarmed??!! Two (2) different dog breeds, two (2) different ages, but same behaviors and reactions. I just got this dog less than 2 wks ago. I've kept him before but only in the extra bed rm when my daughter would go on vacation. It's her dog. Besides my dog was alive then and very possesive of me. He'd pee right in front of me while looking me in the eyes if he saw me show any attention to the yorkie. I had too sneak in the back rm when he went to sleep to pet the yorkie. Anyway both of these dogs also were very healthy and happy animals. The yorkie I'm keeping now is17 yrs. Old. He never exibited this behavior before when he stayed over. But then he did'nt have free reign of the whole house. So does anyone have any ideas as to what I should do?? Any and all suggestions are welcomed!!!

Thankyou in advance

Anxious in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Knocker27 on February 28, 2018:

My male dog who is 5 years old and been with my fiancée and I for 2 years and sleeps with us under the covers on my side of the bed, has suddenly started to growl quite badly almost to the point of snapping/attacking. On one occasion he almost bite my face. the only change that has happened is that I work Nights 4 days a week. This behavior doesn't happen when he sleeps with either of us on our own, only when we are sleeping together. Our other dog who also sleeps with us has shown no signs of any behavioral changes. When we are not in bed he idolizes me and will never be far from me and always kissing, lying on me and wagging his tail. We have taken him to a vet and they have found nothing wrong with him. Sometimes when he growls for no reason in bed I will shout his name and he will stop and start kissing me, curl up again and go to sleep, the growling will stop for 10 minutes to hour and then start to get progressively worse again sometimes to the point of it appears he is going to attack. We are concerned that he might attack either of us or our other dog. What suggestions do you have? Thanks

Knocker27 on February 28, 2018:

My male dog who is 5 years old but been with my fiancée and me for the last 2 years has recently started to growl quite ferociously when we are in bed together and asleep. He hasn't bite me yet but got close to it. He always sleeps on my side of the bed under the covers, the only thing that has changed is I now work nights 4 days a week so he still sleeps on my side of the bed under the covers when I'm not there and also when I get home he will sleep with me, he only seems to growl when my fiancée and I sleep together. During the day or night when I'm there he idolizes me and will never be far from me and constantly licking or laying on me and his tail wagging constantly. We have taken him to the vet and they have found nothing wrong. Our other dog hasn't showed any abnormal signs of behavior. When I do hear him growling really loud almost on the verge of snapping/attacking I shout his name and he will start to lick my face, then curl up again go to sleep, this behavior is completely out of character for him and we are worried that he may attack one of us or our other dog who also sleeps on the bed. This only seems to happen when he is in the bed

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 25, 2018:

Many dogs growl when they are in bed, it could be simply the dogs want to sleep and be left alone or they may be protective of their sleeping area.

Ara on January 23, 2018:

If my dog growls at me when she is at her bed...does that mean that im not her owne? Or that our relation is not real? That the bond is not real? That there is no loyalty or love or respect? That is just an interest relation from her side?

Jess on December 22, 2017:

We adopted Hershey a hound mix on Thanksgiving, she is 9 months old. Every so often she will growl at our kids aged 13 and 17, but not every time. The kids see her everyday and play with her and sit on the sofa/floor with her, but at times when they come into the room she will growl. She saw the vet the other week and he said she is in perfect form. Any ideas?

blue on December 16, 2017:


I have a 3-year-old mixed breed, and I usually let him sleep on my bed most of the time, and then sometimes I make him get off the bed because he's on my pillow, but I always let him come back on. Today I could not wake him up so I grabbed him by the scruff like I usually do if he does not hear me.

I was going to pull him off, but he turned his head and it seemed like he was going to bite me, he growled and I backed up. I put him in his cage for 30 mins.

But I don't know why he did this, was it because I'm invading his personal space? He has never acted like this before.

Please help.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 09, 2017:

Megan, it can be you have some critter that has moved in the walls or attic. How old is your dog?

Meagan on November 29, 2017:

Hi, my dog tonight was in the couch with me and my husband, he kept staring at the same exact spot in the hallway growling for long and consistant periods of time. What could this indicate because it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. My husband is in the military so he is gone for periods of time and I have absolutely no idea what to think of him doing this.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 07, 2017:

Egoofmrblue, if this behavior is totally new for your dog, consider having him seen by the vet. Maybe he has pain somewhere?

egoofmrblue on October 23, 2017:

Hi, so I have a 2 year old Siberian Husky and he just growled and threatened to bite my hand this morning. The thing was, I didn't get to pet him last night because I was feeling sick (before I leave for work and before I go to sleep, I never missed a day to hug him but it just happened I can't really support myself last night).

This morning, he was up and very excited, I thought he was just catching my attention. When I was done fixing myself, I went to his kennel and he sat down. I was about to rub his head when he laid down and threatened to bite me. He was growling, I waited for him to calm down but he didn't. So I left while he was still mad.

I hope you can help me address this type of attitude so I know how to handle when he acts this way again. Thank you very much, God bless!

Kaye Rivera on October 23, 2017:

Hello, could you help me? Every morning before I go to work and every night before I enter my house, I never forget to pat him and hug him... basically show him my love. And then last night, I was feeling unwell so I hit the bed right after I got home without petting him. The next morning, he was all excited and already up so I thought he was just calling my attention. When I was done fixing I approached his kennel and then he sat down, I pet him but he just threatened to bite my hand and then growled. I stared at him for a minute and waited for him to calm down but he didn't stop growling. I hope he's not mad at me for not petting him the last night. I hope you can help me address this kind of attitude so I can deal with it the next time it happens. Thank you

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 19, 2017:

Rena, can be many things. Now that it's fall, there may be critters trying to establish a home in the attic or basement producing noises. Some dogs may growl when owners snore or if there are outdoor noises. Can also be he was sleeping and growling in his sleep?

Rena on October 16, 2017:

Our 18 month old mini schnauzer spends the night in our bedrooms, ours and our kids. Last night we heard him softly growling, we found him in our sleeping 10 year old's room on the second floor. we are not sure who he was growling at, he never growls at family members. Any ideas what can cause his growling?

Patricia on September 17, 2017:

I have a 9 month old Papillon/spaniel we recently kenneled her at our vet a week ago. When we picked her up she seemed so happy to see us. A day or two later the bad started to come out of her. Since then she will bark or growl at me for no apparent reason. I am good to Ivy she has been beyond spoiled. We took her back to the vet he has recommended giving her anxiety meds to which i am reluctant in doing so. She's never behaved this was before going to rge kennel. She's always been a loving little puppy. I learned from a girl that works there that on the Thursday before the Saturday thst we picked her up that she had noticed Ivy acting scared of a female and male employee. When we took her back to the vet this female employee was there and Ivy growled at her and acted scared of her. But no one would admit to any incidents happening to her. And sincw then she has been barking ferociously and growling at me as if she were going to bite me. I can not figure whats going on with her and why she is doing me this way? Also should I medicate her with anxiety meds to help. I've been in tears as I do not want to give her up but I don't see anyother way? Please can someone possibly shed some light on this? Thank you!

Danny on August 23, 2017:

We've got a rescue dog that for weeks has slept in our bed no issue. Now he barks and growls in the middle of the night if I get up and then try and get back in bed. How do I face this growling that turns into barking and get back in bed peacefully? He needs to know that it's not okay to do that, so I think just backing off reinforces that he's allowed to do it. Meanwhile, I'm not trying to get bit at 2am.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 03, 2017:

Susan, can it be he's acting protective of you? Does it only happen when you are around?

Susan on June 29, 2017:

My cocker growls at my partner . But never at myself . Unsure to why he does this. My partner takes him for a walk . When he gets back he just sits growling at him . It's been going on for a while now.

Dorothy Major on June 10, 2017:

I have an 11 year old chihuahua I've had for 10 years. About 6 months ago he displayed a dislike of me. It is particular with my hand movement, or if I look at him. I have never hit him, so his apparent dislike of me is perplexing. He does not do this to anyone but me. I also see him just staring at me for long periods of time. One last confusing point, when I leave him, then come back he gives me a couple of moments of "glad to see ya" then back to his dislike of me.

Anyone have any ideas?

giovanni on May 21, 2017:

My dog will growl it I get to near to him or my sister when my sister is sleeping. Why is he doing this?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 07, 2017:

Brenda, what do you do stop the behavior? Look up positive interrupter, and have a trainer guide your through on how to train that.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 20, 2017:

Seems like there is a bit of conflicting body language going on there. It is hard to say what is really happening, sounds like she is demanding attention as when he stops she tries to engage him. Many dogs will do the hand nudge and some may grab too, especially if the nudge doesn't work. The "growling" may be just her way to show her enjoyment (like the Rottie "purr" some Rottweiler owners describe) even though a bit odd,. I would thread with caution though just to be safe and have a professional watch the interactions fr a better insight, some dogs have conflicting emotions and may like to be pet one moment and not another.

RUFFINA on April 10, 2017:

My dog growls when my husband pets her. If he stops, she grabs his arm and nudges under his hand and displays all of the 'consenting behaviour' you mention above. We are confused as to if she enjoys it? Fyi, when I pet her she does not growl.

Erin on March 27, 2017:


I have a 10 month old black lab dog and he seems to growl in the evenings or if he's tired? If he's in his bed you just need to look at him and he'll let out at growl at you. If you ask him "what you growling at?" Even gently spoken he will jump out of bed and come and see you. He'll pant or keep growling but is like he's wanting pet. If you do pet him though he'll get even louder in growling.

I don't understand why he's growling? He's a great dog and it's seems only to happen at night time, I don't know what to do to stop this behaviour.

Any help would be wonderful!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 24, 2017:

Basil Dog, if these changes are recent and he was usually fine getting his nails done, there are always chances that there is an underlying medical problem going on that is making him react this way. This is further a possibility considering that your dog refuses to eat the food he always eaten and is now growling for other things like brushing his teeth, petting him etc. So I would start with a vet visit first, let them know these recent changes. It is very difficult to work on behavior problems if there is an underlying condition causing these changes.

clarissa on February 13, 2017:

My dog always growls at my dad and other man what should I do ???

Basil-dog on February 13, 2017:

Hi Adrienne... I have a 3 year old Shih-tzu/poodle cross that I adopted 6 months ago from a rescue shelter. He had been in 4 different homes before he came to his 'forever' home with my husband and I. I saw absolutely no behavioral issues until last week. He had always been a very gentle and obedient little dog since we got him. He would roll on his back when you would go to pet him and was very docile. Last week, I decided to clip his nails. I had done this before with no issues. This time, he growled, then proceeded to bite me several times, to the point where he drew blood. I pulled away, and have decided to go to a professional groomer to clip his nails from now on. Anyhow, ever since this incident, the dynamics have changed. He refuses to eat the dog food he has always eaten, and he growls at me for things I was able to do before- brush his teeth, pet him, etc. I have heeded his growls and have backed off when he "tells" me to. I am afraid that he thinks he's the boss now, and I don't know how to get the dynamics back that we had before. Any ideas?

Olivia b on January 08, 2017:

My dog use to love being pet and loved and then she went into heat for the first time now she bares her teeth and growls at me when I try to pet her nit sure how to make this stop any advice

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 24, 2016:

What health issues have you had? If you are coughing more, clearing your throat perhaps this has scared your dog. Other things that can scare dogs are seizures, sneezes, sudden movements etc. Different smells may also cause behavior changes. Also, at 12, dogs may have vision problems or hearing problems that can make them more jumpy. You can try feeding some small treats or kibble if he likes it a lot when you enter the bedroom, when you get on the bed, when you enter the home, and make it a new habit.

JIM on November 09, 2016:


kel on September 17, 2016:

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.

Edgar on July 28, 2016:

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.

Rikos on July 06, 2016:

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.

Susan on June 29, 2016:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 01, 2016:

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

Linda on April 30, 2016:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 24, 2016:

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

Tiffani on April 03, 2016:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 21, 2016:

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.

Lauren on March 20, 2016:

She growls

Lauren on March 20, 2016:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 18, 2015:

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.

Suzanne Pitsenbar on October 18, 2015:

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.

Kim on July 26, 2015:

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!!!!

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 25, 2015:

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 on July 25, 2015:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 13, 2015:

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.

Samantha Weierke on May 09, 2015:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 06, 2014:

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

john trent on December 05, 2014:

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 ?

lyndsay on July 02, 2014:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 01, 2014:

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

Linzikyrachanaz on July 01, 2014:

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

Lyndsay on July 01, 2014:

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

xjlynn87x on September 26, 2013:

Thank you! This is very helpful! :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 08, 2013:

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 on September 06, 2013:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 10, 2013:

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!

debbie on August 09, 2013:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 08, 2013:

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!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on July 08, 2013:

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!

Amy on July 05, 2013:

Thanks :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 05, 2013:

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 on July 05, 2013:

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.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 18, 2012:

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:

kenny on November 17, 2012:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 30, 2012:

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.

Greyce on September 30, 2012:

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

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 28, 2012:

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:

Chance on September 27, 2012:

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?

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 26, 2012:

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.