You’ve likely walked close to a dog and were met with a growl. Instinctively this sent fear through you and you knew to keep your distance. Indeed dogs use growls to communicate with us and mainly signals that you should stay away. Before moving on to dog training management it’s important as a dog owner to understand what your dog means by growling at strangers.
Let’s find out!
1. Your dog is in Pain
We’ve noted that different things could cause a dog’s growl. Instead of stopping your dog from growling it is important to treat the underlying cause.
One of the main reasons why your dog could growl at strangers is pain. If your dog is usually friendly and allows other people to pet it then suddenly you realize that it growls when touched, then there is a likelihood that it is in pain.
The best thing to do is to call a vet immediately and have it treated. You may also notice other signs such as a change in movement, lethargy, weight loss, or even hair loss in the affected area.
2. Your pup is afraid
You might think that a dog in fear will likely run and hide. However, a dog is even more likely to growl at a stranger when it is afraid. Other dogs may be afraid of situations such as during thunderstorms to when there are loud and sudden noises.
If you notice that your dog is growling at strangers such as men and children, the best course of action is to remove the fear from its life. You can do this by exposing the dog to its fear and reassuring it. If you are not confident, then you can always seek the services of a behavioral specialist.
3. Your dog is territorial
Dogs are naturally territorial which means that they have the instinct to protect and defend their territory from new and unfamiliar dogs or people.
The problem with this is that the dog could end up causing serious harm to a stranger who encroaches on what your pup believes to be his territory.
You may also notice that your dog gets possessive with the bed or the couch. This is a sure sign that your dog is territorial. Your pup may also growl when someone comes close to a toy or food. This is called possession aggression. You can do dog behavior management by seeking the services of a behavioral expert.
4. Your dog is just having fun
A dog may also growl when playing. This is especially so when playing tug games with a toy or when playing with other dogs.
Your dog is likely not going to harm strangers and is just having fun. That said, it is still important to closely monitor how vigorous your dog gets when playing as such growling can often result in aggressive and sudden behavior.
Teaching your pup not to get over-excited is a great dog behavior management and can help prevent aggressive behavior.
The correct method to stop your dog from growling
Often dog owners will scold and punish their dogs for growling at strangers. This teaches the dog that growling is not acceptable. However, this may cause the dog to react to its fear or pain by biting someone.
Dealing with the underlying problem is the best way to handle dog growling at strangers. Once the fear or pain, or territorial behavior is gone, your dog will not need to growl at strangers.
If you are not sure why your dog keeps growling at strangers, hiring a dog trainer will help pinpoint the problem and help you with managing the behavior.