The Gift of the Growl
Do you yell at your dog to stop growling at you?
Many dog owners feel immediately defensive when their dog growls at them but it’s just your pet’s way of communicating with you. How would you feel if someone told you to stop every time you spoke about something that was important to you?
Dogs have different types of growls to address different needs. For example, your dog has a special growl when they play, seek attention, feels hungry, stressed and frustrated. Some growls are a cute affectionate way your dog plays when you are in the middle of a game of tug-of-war with their favorite toy while others are more serious.
The next time your dog growls, try to pay attention to their needs. Growling is not bad but it is your dog’s way of telling you something and warning you something more serious could happen. It’s wise to think of it as the gift of the growl.
If you think about it this way, your dog growls first to tell you they don’t like something. However, if you train them not to growl anymore, they will just react with a bite or other aggressive behavior. So, it’s wise to let your dog verbally communicate with you the way they need to which will help you both live in harmony in the household.
Dogs Won’t Bite if a Growl Will Suffice
Dogs don’t want to run around biting everyone, especially not those they love. However, there are moments when they feel threatened and don’t know any other way to respond other than to growl. Dogs won’t bite if a growl will suffice.
Many dog owners experience a threatening growl when their dog doesn’t feel well. When dogs feel sick they usually hide under furniture or find dark cozy places in the house to rest. This is their natural instinct since they are den animals and require shelter to feel safe.
However, as pet parents, the first reaction is to help your dog by removing them from their safe environment and trying to heal them with love, attention, food, and water. Have you ever tried to remove your dog from their den environment and heard your dog growl at you?
The growl kind of scares you because your sweet loyal dog has never behaved this way before. Your first reaction should be to leave them alone and observe their behavior to determine if they need medical attention. React to their growl by backing away and give them space as you observe their needs.
On the other hand, your dog might growl at you for simple reasons such as attempting to take one of their favorite toys. Always know that a growl is a communication skill your dog has perfected and it’s up to you to read their language.
When your dog growls they are giving you a warning sign before they take action and bite you. You might not feel great about it but they are doing you a favor. Keep in mind when communication is ignored or punished it can lead to a bite.
The next time your dog growls, take a deep breath and take the time to learn what they are reacting to and what is causing them stress.
Remember, stress levels rise higher when punishment is added for growling. Do your best to remain calm, don’t punish, and react in an understanding way. Your goal is to always let your dog communicate with you and let their feelings be heard!