Growl-y Dog? Here’s 3 Amazing Reasons Why Your Dog Growling is a Good Thing

dog growling

Do you have a particularly growl-y puppy, who you think goes a bit overboard with it? Not all owners love dog growling, you know…

And it’s perfectly ok to feel that way. It is, after all, meant to intimidate or warn another person or animal isn’t it?

But is there something like too much growling? Can a puppy be too growl-y?

That’s actually a tricky question to answer. And the reason why is the same as why saying that someone is too talkative depends on what they’re talking about…

You see, growling is one of the ways dogs communicate. And it’s not like a growl just simply means “Stay Away!”.


There are many different types of growling…

And it’s only after you have some idea about what your dog’s trying to say to you that you can really decide if they’re “talking too much”.

You see, dog growling isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not even necessarily something to be scared of, depending on whether you really understand the dog in question.

The first thing you do is identifying what kinds of growling your puppy engages in…

Step 1 of Dealing with a Growly Dog – Knowing Why

Like we said earlier, a dog growling could mean one of several possibilities. And you’d be surprised that pure aggression isn’t the most likely one of them.

A dog growling could mean he is:

  • Fearful or anxious of a new person or animal nearby, or just with the general situation
  • Injured or sick
  • Feeling territorial or possessive about food, an object, person, or another animal
  • Startled. Yeah, he probably wasn’t expecting you or you doing something, and you just him a shock
  • Feeling pissed or aggressive. We didn’t say it’s impossible, did we?

So as you can see, it depends on the situation or the dog’s mood. Just like us people.

Don’t tell me you’ve never walked around sniping and scowling at random people, not realizing or meaning it.

So depending on the case, there are different types of growls. And if you’re good at intuiting it, or just get to know the dog well enough, you can differentiate!

It’s all in the body language most of the time. If you know what signs to look for, you can usually make out what the dog is feeling.

And that takes us to…

The Different Types of Growling

While every dog has a different growl, so it’s hard to box each of them into a separate type, you can broadly identify a few different types of dog growling…

1. Threatening growls

If the dog is feeling anxious, fearful, threatened, possessive, etc. she will growl to warn you to keep away.

Normally the volume of the dog growling would go up as you approach the dog or the object/person/other stuff she’s possessive about.

Plus, other signs could include a general stiffness to her posture, dilated pupils, and a baring of the fangs when you approach. It’ll be like she’s staying still right before the battle, preparing herself, like a coiled spring.

If the dog really wants to fight you or hunt you down like your worst fears, she might keep it more subtle than overly loud growling.

2. Playful or pleasurable growling

Some dogs growl when they’re feeling playful or affectionate towards you. It’s usually low pitch, as a pleasurable moan as you scratch or pet them.

Or it could also be kind of sing-song, almost like they’re trying to say something. In any case, you can make out it’s a good thing from the body language. Like wagging, or prancing around you, rolling over, etc.

3. Fighting growls

Oh, you know these. It’s like angry barking and loud growling melded into each other as dogs go at each other or other people.

So Why is Dog Growling a Good Thing?

1. Communication

Like we said, growling is one of the few ways a dog communicates. And if you understand him well, you get immediately clued in on what he’s feeling.

2. It’s For Their Own Safety


Now a dog rarely ever growls at their own owners.

If your dog growls at you a lot, and for no apparent reason, you might have a problem. You should get in touch with a professional doggy behavior specialist in such a case.

But in others, your dog is most probably just telling you something’s not right with him.

It could be that he’s sick. Or that he’s injured. Maybe barking hurts. Or he’s just toughing it out, and growling is his way of giving me some timeout for a while.

In any case, it basically means you need to investigate. If he didn’t growl, you probably wouldn’t know you should.

3. For the Good of Others

Imagine you train your dog out of growling. And now she doesn’t growl at all, no matter the circumstance.

Now, suppose you encounter another dog on your walk, and the other dog is overly enthusiastic or playful in his approach.

If your pup doesn’t like it and doesn’t growl to indicate her displeasure to the other dog, there is bound to be a fight.

It could be a similar case with first-time visitors at home. Or a playful child that your dog is perhaps wary of.

Unless the other is warned in these cases to leave your dog be, things could escalate badly.

If you look at it objectively, growling is just a very safe, non-aggressive way of warning someone. What’s wrong with that, honestly?

We hope you found this post on dog growling useful. If you have some inputs of your own based on your experiences with your dog, do let us know in the comments section below!

One Comment

  1. My dog is still a puppy, just 17 months old, and he’s a Westie, supposedly very mild-mannered, right? WRONG. He has growled at me many times and bit me once. If he’s “just communicating with me”, the message I’m getting is that he hates me. Each growl causes me to back off, give him space. Tonight, he wanted to be on my lap, which is very rare. In 17 months, he’s only wanted it twice. As he was lying there, I was gently petting him, stroking his head, his back, and, yes, his tail. I have stroked him many times before, and he usually likes it. Tonight, however, when I stroked his tail, he growled at me and jumped down off my lap. Several months ago, when he bit me, I ultimately realized that I was at fault. He was in his crate, with something unknown in his mouth. I reached into his crate to remove the item, afraid that he might choke on it, whatever it was. Obviously, I was intruding on his territory, and he bit me. Since then, I never take anything out of his mouth, regardless of what it is, and I never enter his crate. But tonight, when he growled at me for petting him on my lap, I had a big question mark over my head, and am assuming that he simply does not want to be touched by me. Clearly, this is no lap dog — I get that now — but how much space am I supposed to give him?

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