Why doesn't my dog ​​growl at anything

"What to do if your dog growls at you: the three most important things"

How do you react correctly when something happens that you never wanted to experience:

your own dog growls at you!

or he growls at a child.
or the nice little puppies from the neighbors.

Help! That must not be. that's not possible! you can't let him get away with that!

do you think that too? or something like that?
has it happened to you before and did you then think exactly that?

and above all - did you ask yourself the question:

how do I react right now?

Then you're not alone! Many people feel that their dog's growling scares and disturbs them at first.

growling is a normal reaction of the dog. not that it would be great if it came to that. don't get me wrong! but i'm happy for every dog ​​that - when things get tight for him - growls and doesn't react more clearly. how to go there and pinch or bite!

I have often dealt with such dogs. As a rule, these are those who have been punished for growling (how harsh or not harsh is not so important). the ones who have learned that you shouldn't growl, but rather snap shut. and who then finally achieve what they wanted: to be left in peace!

The situation is not about anything else: leave me alone!

the dog feels threatened.
and he says it.
loud and clear with growling!

mostly because the quiet and polite thing was not heard beforehand!

Exactly: he said before that it couldn't be done that way.
that it is too tight for him.
that he feels threatened.
that he's afraid you're taking something away from him.
that he's afraid you're getting too close to him.

but it didn't help!
on the contrary: the threat is growing and the fear is growing.
so the dog becomes clearer. and growls.

and if that doesn't help?
then he defends himself.
and snap or pinch or bite.

and that is exactly why it is so important to react correctly to the growl!

Here are the top five things for you guys:


1. read your dog correctly!

Of course that sounds stupid if your dog has already growled at you. But of course it would be best if you didn't let it get that far in the first place.

at least not in the future.

of course, you have to read your dog correctly. So hear and see the soft tones and the polite announcements with which he lets you know that it is now gradually becoming uncomfortable.

this includes above all all appeasement signals.
with this the dog tells you: uh, ... this is now a bit tight / uncomfortable / threatening.

then maybe a few stress symptoms:
that means: now I'm so excited that I can no longer think clearly. now I can’t really take it.

then that "freeze":
this is the moment when the dog switches from its efforts to peaceful conflict resolution (which didn't work because you didn't notice it ”) to defend itself. if you don't notice that either and keep doing what your dog feels harassed with, the next thing is the growling.

Knowing and understanding the body language of your dog really well is essential!
in everyday life anyway. but especially if your dog finds different things difficult.

whether you yourself are the trigger. or the children of your visit. or the neighbor's puppy. or whatever. no matter.

normally your dog only reacts with reassurance. and then with escape or defense.
and it shouldn't have to get that far!

(By the way, normal case means: your dog has had a reasonably normal socialization and he has not already learned that he does not have to linger long with appeasing, because it does not help).

so look carefully!
and learn to read your dog really well!

»The book“ calming signals workbook ”by clarissa v. reinhardt at animal learn publisher gives a very good overview of the signs of appeasement in everyday life.
»My webinar“ dogs / body / language ”provides you with a clear introduction with many pictures into the body language of your dog.

2. growl means “stop” - step back!

if there was a subtitle for the growl it would say:

"stop! no step further! this is too much! stop!"

if you yourself were in a position where you call out to someone “stop! stop immediately ”,
what would you expect and wish for as a reaction?

obviously that it stops! that he lets you vent a little.

this is exactly what your dog wants from you!

so do the only sensible thing: a step back!

let your dog breath.
take the pressure off.
stop with the harassment, threat, constriction….
whatever it is that your dog is getting too much.

exactly: whatever it is!
it doesn't matter if you think that's not that bad.
or he has to endure it.
or that's really nice and harmless.

if it is too much for your dog,
so much too much that it growls!

then there is only one thing: leave him alone! take a step back.
in english there is this wonderful term “back off”.
This means, in a general way, not to get on someone's skin, but to do the opposite.

Unfortunately, the human reaction is often exactly the opposite:
we are so scared because the dog growls or growls at us that we put a little pressure on it.
So get excited, tense up, a frightened “crazy”? what are you actually thinking of! " or something like that from the pile or even scold or press the dog even more.

Smaller breeds in particular often pay extra: the yorkie, who growls at some point while doing their hair, may experience that their head is simply turned away or their mouth shut - and it keeps pulling and tearing.
the 50kg rottweiler usually achieves a better effect with the growling.

mine but both do the same: it's too much! leave me alone!
and both should get the same reaction from you: stop! and leave alone!

after all, the matter should not escalate any further!

bad enough that it came to this this time.
So: let out the air, let out the pressure, leave the dog alone.

and calmly consider how to proceed….


3. relearn

of course it is not possible for your dog to growl at every child.
or growls at you every time you wipe his paws or walk past him when he has a chew bone.

that's a problem. and must be solved for the rest of life! absolutely!

the problem is not the growl!

the problem is the situation.
the problem is that the dog feels harassed in this situation.
and the real problem has to be solved!

this requires: relearn!

sometimes from the dog.
sometimes from people.

The easiest way is when you can simply avoid certain situations. there is no need
- to hold your dog by the collar and (unintentionally) to would
- to bend over him frontally and from above
- hold it, push it around, push or push it
- to allow strangers to cuddle and hug your dog (not even small strangers)
- to let him with dogs that scare him or that harass him.

so avoid it first! that usually requires relearning from people :-).
and a close look and “read” your dog so that you can react and intervene in good time.
(see point 1 above)
other situations - which cannot be avoided or which the dog will experience again and again - must be rebuilt and “defused”.

so that the trigger disappears!
so that the dog no longer sees you as threatening, but as neutral or even positive.
so that he has no reason to growl and fight back.

(if necessary, get professional support so that nothing goes wrong!)

There is only one thing you shouldn't do with growling: take it lightly!

because the matter is too serious for that.
if not for you, then for your dog.
after all, he should trust you and be able to rely on you!




brigid weinzinger is an animal trainer and behavioral consultant for dogs, cats, horses and humans. she blogs at www.denktier.at about life with animals and tips for their training.