Everyone instinctively understands that a growling dog is one that should be left alone. At the same time, if you are a dog owner, you know that there are also times when your pooch may growl in a non-threatening way. After all, dogs are limited in the ways they can communicate, which means they must find ways to use barks and growls to communicate the message they are trying to convey. As such, there are different types of growls and meanings behind what the dog is trying to tell you.
Why Dogs Growl
There are many reasons for a dog to growl. When a dog is scared, it may growl out of a combination of fear and aggression. In other cases, a dog may growl to assert itself as the alpha dog, which is referred to as dominance aggression. Dogs are also very territorial and, therefore, will also growl if someone or something is on its property or if someone or something is threatening the things it values. Dogs also growl regularly when they are chasing something or when they have cornered a small animal. In this case, the purpose of growling is generally to intimidate the other animal. On the other hand, a dog may growl when a person or animal approaches it and tries to touch it while it is in pain. Similarly, female dogs may growl when giving birth or after giving birth to warn others to stay away.
Most dogs will give you a warning growl before attacking. In most cases, this warning growl is characterized by a highpitched throaty growl. This growl is usually the dog’s way of telling you to leave it alone, but it is not necessarily prepared to attack. If you push the dog further, however, the sound of the growl will likely change – as will the meaning behind it.
The Prepared Growl
If you push the dog further, its growl may change to a medium pitch that resonates from within the chest. When the dog starts growling in this way, it is a sign that the dog is prepared to attack. At this point, if you don’t back off and continue to push the dog any further, you may find yourself getting bitten.
When getting ready to attack, most dogs will growl with a low-pitched tone that is often characterized by a growl-bark combination or what is referred to as a “belly growl.” If the dog is barking at you in this manner, be prepared for attack, as it is likely to happen soon.
It is important to note that a dog growls when it feels a need to protect itself. While a dog may growl when it is angry, they often growl intending to warn you when they feel frightened or otherwise feel a need to protect themselves. Therefore, you can avoid being growled at if you take steps to prevent the dog from feeling threatened.