We are well aware that dogs are much more complex than we once thought. There are many studies on why dogs behave the way they do. This is good news because it gives us hope that one day we will be able to understand what they are trying to tell us. When dogs growl, they communicate with us, and that’s just one of the many ways they do it.
It may seem that a growling dog shows a form of aggression, and we are therefore often inclined to scold them and try to discourage behavior. Of course, this only makes the situation worse because we do not really listen to what the dog is trying to tell us.
Therefore, we may end up with an aggressive dog that may bite someone or be abandoned, stigmatized or, in the worst case, even killed. This situation only continues to feed the stereotypes around specific breeds or around dogs in general.
If dogs growl, does that mean they are aggressive?
When a dog growls, it’s not just about aggression, it’s just part of the many forms of dog behavior. In fact, dogs growl mainly to communicate. Depending on the situation, how the dog is trained, the dog’s character or emotional problems and previous experiences, growling can be about:
- Self-defense or defense of a family member
- A desire to play
- Defense of a resource
As you can see, growling in dogs can actually be something positive. Many dogs growl and bark when they play and even when they are around other dogs or human friends. Thus, their growling is not necessarily a threat but part of their joy of playing.
Defense of a resource
One of the many reasons why a dog growls may be because it wants to defend its resources such as food, toys or other items that it considers valuable. Most owners get angry when this happens and often even remove the object that the animal is trying to protect.
However, removing the item does not help at all in this case. The only thing the dog understands in this situation is that something that, for the dog, is very valuable is removed. As a result, the bond between owner and dog becomes weaker. It is also important to add that the dog may actually become so frustrated that he may even bite his owner.
The best way to handle something similar is to try to get the dog to lose interest in that particular item. For example, do not remove a toy that the dog values highly. On the contrary, give your dog many other toys that he will like. This leads to the toys losing their value when the animal has so many of them.
Does growling in dogs mean that they are about to bite?
All dogs have the ability to bite. Just because a dog growls does not mean that it will then bite. There are times when dogs growl and then just walk away. As we mentioned earlier, growling is a way of communicating and does not always mean aggression.
However, if the stimulus that causes the growling does not disappear, the dog can actually bite. However, you will notice the aggressiveness through the dog’s body language. It is very noticeable when there is something that really bothers the dog.
Therefore, it is important to know how dogs communicate and what they are trying to tell you. Unfortunately, many dogs have stopped practicing some of their previous behaviors because they have noticed that these have no effect on us, and they can instead be bitten all of a sudden.
Should you try to make the dog stop growling?
We can not pretend that dogs never growl because that behavior is part of their nature, just as they will bark. Both are a natural form of communication, and it is normal and healthy for dogs to do so. As always, keep in mind that excessive growling or barking is not normal, so keep a close eye on it.
Anxiety, stress, mismanagement of frustration and other problems that a dog may suffer from promote behaviors such as growling. For that reason, do not try to correct the behavior. Instead, you should look for the reason why your pet behaves in this way.