Trainer's Tips On How To Respond To Dog Growling


Dog growling is an unequivocal warning from our canine counterparts, and ignoring it would be foolish. Often misunderstood as aggression, growling is a dog's way of expressing its discomfort or anxiety in a situation. It is an instinctive behavior that reflects their deep-rooted evolutionary instincts as pack animals. Instead of simply labeling it as bad behavior, we should respect the intent behind the growl and acknowledge it as a communication tool used by dogs to convey their emotions.

By doing so, we can better understand our furry friends' needs and work towards creating a safer environment for both them and ourselves. Ignoring or punishing growling not only dismisses the dog's feelings but also escalates the risk of more severe reactions such as biting. As responsible pet owners, we need to educate ourselves about canine behavior to cultivate strong bonds based on trust and empathy rather than dominance or fear.

With that in mind, expert trainer Dog Training Now has shared a useful post on Instagram in which they reveal how to respond to dog growling. Here's what Dog Training Now has to say about dog growling:

A Screenshot of Tips On How To Respond To Dog Growling

Understanding Dog Growling

According to Dog Training Now, dog growling is an essential form of communication - it serves as a means for your furry companion to convey a message. Dogs growl to express a wide range of emotions, including fear, aggression, and even a desire to engage in playful activities. Therefore, you must comprehend the various types of dog growls in order to accurately interpret their intended meaning.

Dog Training Now strongly advises that you consistently observe the context in which your dog growls. You might discover that your dog emits various types of growling sounds depending on the situation. By learning to discern the circumstances surrounding each growl, you will be better equipped to understand your dog's intentions.

Although these sounds may appear similar to us, their meaning is entirely contextual! While one growl may convey a sense of threat, another could indicate pure enjoyment! Says Dog Training Now.

Don't ignore it

Growling is indeed a common behavior among dogs, but as an owner, ignoring it is the last thing you should do. As I mentioned earlier in this article, Growling is often an indication that your dog feels threatened or uncomfortable in their current environment. By dismissing this warning signal, you risk escalating their fear or anxiety, which can result in aggressive behavior towards humans or other animals.

Instead of turning a blind eye, acknowledge and respect your dog's growling by taking immediate action. Assess the situation and remove any potential stressors that may be causing their discomfort. Offer reassurance through calming body language, soothing tones of voice, or gentle touch if appropriate.

Address any underlying issues causing the growling, such as fear or territorial aggression, by consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can guide you on appropriate methods to desensitize and correct these behaviors.

Remember, ignoring growling is not only irresponsible but also jeopardizes both your and your dog's safety.

Don't punish it

When it comes to responding to a dog's growling, the first tip that cannot be stressed enough is to absolutely refrain from punishing them. Punishing a dog for growling sends the wrong message and can exacerbate its behavior by suppressing their warning signs. By punishing them for growling, we send the message that it is not okay for them to express their discomfort, potentially leading them to skip this vital warning stage and resort to more extreme behaviors such as biting without prior notice.

It is essential you understand and respect that your canine companion has its own unique set of emotions and limits. Instead of punishment, you should focus on identifying and addressing the underlying cause of the growling while ensuring everyone's safety, as recommended by Dog Training Now.


It may seem obvious, but far too often, we humans tend to dismiss or ignore our furry friends' vocalizations. Growling is no exception. We must remember that dogs communicate primarily through body language and vocal cues, and growling is their way of expressing discomfort or warning us about potential threats. By disregarding or silencing growls, we risk escalating the situation further and undermining our bond with our beloved canine companion.

So, be bold enough to pay attention and interpret the message conveyed by your dog's growl accurately. This means not only evaluating their immediate surroundings but also considering any recent changes in their environment or health that might have triggered the behavior.

Remember that listening is the crucial first step towards maintaining open lines of communication and ensuring a harmonious relationship between ourselves and our four-legged friends.

Types of Dog Growls and Their Meaning

When it comes to dog communication, growling is often misunderstood and labeled as aggressive behavior. However, it is essential to recognize that there are different types of dog growls, each conveying a specific meaning.

The first type is the play growl which can sound intimidating but is accompanied by signs of excitement such as a wagging tail and a relaxed body posture. It serves as a way for dogs to engage in social interaction and establish boundaries during playtime. 

Another type is the warning growl, characterized by a low-pitched tone. This growl indicates that the dog feels threatened or uncomfortable and is giving an audible signal to back off or respect their personal space.

There is also the aggressive growl, According to Purina, aggressive dog growling is solely an expression of power and stands out as a potent indication of potential danger. This guttural and deep-throated noise is accompanied by an intense display of body posturing, such as raised hackles, bared teeth, and a rigid stance.

The aggressive growl represents a clear warning sign that the dog perceives a threat or feels territorial. It serves as a direct communication method to keep intruders at bay or signal their desire to be left alone.

Recognizing an aggressive growl is vital to prevent dangerous situations from escalating further. Whether it be provoked by fear, frustration, or anxiety, this type of growl must not be taken lightly or dismissed easily; rather, it demands immediate understanding and resolution to ensure safety for all involved parties.

Finally, there is the pleasure growl. As per Purina, a pleasure growl is characterized by a deep and resonating sound, which can persist for a longer duration compared to other dog growls. It becomes quite evident from the context in which your furry companion emits this delightful growl - typically when they are receiving a belly rub or engaging in an activity they truly relish!

Although they may appear to be baring their teeth and technically 'growling', this form of dog vocalization is far from the conventional interpretation of an aggressive growl. In fact, what your dog is truly expressing here is an unequivocal message of sheer adoration, as if to say, "I absolutely adore this! Please, I implore you, do not cease!"


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