When we first introduced our most recent dog into the family (consisting of two humans, one resident dog and one cat), we noticed that he growled a good bit. At the time, he was trying to get his bearings and learning how to assimilate into our routines so we weren’t necessarily worried about the growling. Even so, it was disconcerting. Because I wanted to reach a state of harmony as quickly as possible, my first instinct was to correct his behavior. That would have been the wrong thing to do. It’s important to understand why your dog is growling rather than immediately try to hush him.
Why do dog’s growl?
Dogs are expressive animals, which is one of the things we love about them. They communicate when they are happy or sad; they communicate when they are nervous, fearful or angry. We mostly understand what a dog is communicating by observing his face, ears and body posture. When a dog growls, however, the reason can be ambiguous to us. Why is he growling? Is he going to attack someone or something?
A dog growls in order to communicate, and as responsible pet owners it’s important for us to try and understand what prompted the growling. Generally, a growl indicates that your dog is unhappy, uncomfortable or afraid. He may be reacting to a perceived threat, or he may simply be playing. In fact, growling is divided into three escalating categories: play-based growls, fear-based growls and growls of warning before aggressive or defensive action is taken.