Has your dog suddenly started to grow at you? While growling can be due to many different reasons, such as your dog is sick or injured. If this behavior suddenly started, there may even be other reasons. Once you figure out why your dog has suddenly started to growl at you, you can start behavior training to correct this unwanted behavior.
Potential Reasons for a Dog to Growl at You Suddenly
These are the most common reasons that your dog may suddenly have aggression issues or growls at you. Once you figure out why your dog is growling, you will be able to start to train your dog to stop this unwanted behavior.
Some dogs will growl at people when they have anxiety. This may be a new person who comes into their house or when they’re put into unfamiliar situations. Some dogs have anxiety their whole life, but some develop anxiety due to something that has happened, such as a recent move or other major changes in their life.
Your dog may suddenly growling at you out of fear. If they have suddenly started becoming afraid, there may be a reason for this sudden fear, such as if they’ve been introduced to a new stimulus. Some dogs have a transitional period where they need to get used to the new situation. This is commonly seen in dogs when something like a new baby first appears in the house.
Fight or Flight Response
Some dogs will growl because of their fight or flight response. If they get into a dangerous situation, your dog may choose to fight and growl at you or whatever is trying to harm them. Or they may express their flight response and run away while they are growling. They may even start growling at you if you are between them and what is causing them to be scared.
Some dogs will growl at you when they’re trying to guard their food or toys. Some dogs are very possessive, and will growl when you or another pet gets close to their things. This is a behavior that can take a while to train your dog to stop doing. Most of the time, it’s best to start this training when your dog is young. When your dog is eating, it’s best to reach into their bowl and take some food out. This teaches your dog to not growl at you when you need to take things from their bowl.
If you’re breaking up a dog fight between your dog and another, they may growl at you. This usually is not because they want to hurt you. They are still in their fight mode and will growl and maybe attack you. It is always best not to get in between two dogs who are fighting. You should try to make loud noises to distract them to get them to stop fighting.
Rage syndrome is when your dog suddenly becomes aggressive. Usually, there are no apparent reasons for this type of behavior, but they will just suddenly start growling and even attacking you. Usually, there is no medical reason or stimulus for this type of behavior. Some dogs will have an intense look in their eyes right before they become aggressive.
If your dog is sleeping in their bed, and you suddenly wake them, they may growl at you. Startling your dog can lead to a little aggression when they wake up. The best thing to do is to call their name and not sneak up on them. This gives them time to wake up and see what’s coming near them.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Dog Dementia
As your dog gets older, they may not recognize you anymore. This may lead to them growling at you. Dog dementia is when their brain no longer allows them to recognize people or things around them. This leads to your dog being scared and possibly growling at you.
Reaction to Punishment
If you punish your dog or tell them no, their reaction may be to growl at you. This is them telling you their feeling of getting in trouble—kind of like a kid talking back to you when you discipline them. Continue to be firm with your training and teach them that this is not appropriate behavior.
Hurting or Injured
If your dog has hurt a leg or has a hurt stomach, they may growl at you. This is their way of expressing pain and wanting you to stop touching them where you are touching. If a dog has a broken leg, they will growl at you when you move them. This is not aggression but rather growling in pain.
A Medical Issue
If your dog is growling at you and you cannot figure out exactly why there may be a medical issue. This may be stomach pain, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or something else that is causing them to growl. Some dogs, as they start to get older, develop dementia, or other neurologic issues that causes them to suddenly start to growl at you. Your vet will be able to help you figure out if your dog is growling due to a medical issue.
What You Can Do About Your Dog Growling at you Suddenly
If your dog has started to growl at you, there are things that you can do to train your dog to stop the behavior. The first thing that you need to do is to determine why your dog is now suddenly growling at you. This may be very easy, but this can be difficult to figure out.
If you’re not finding anything wrong with your dog, it may be best for them to see your vet. This can help rule out any medical issue. Once you have determined the cause, you can start working on training.
These are things that you can do to train your dog to stop growling at you:
If your dog is growling due to a certain thing that is causing them stress or anxiety, you can work on desensitizing your dog to these things. If your dog growls at loud sounds, the doorbell, a certain person visiting, start to try playing these sounds or having these people visit often. If they are growling at a certain person, try letting that person offer them treats as a reward when they let them enter your house without growling.
Training your dog to relax
Teach your dog to relax in stressful situations. When they start to get a little stressed, try playing calming music or giving them calming treats. Allow them a little time to relax before trying again at introducing the stimulus to your dog.
Counterconditioning is when you train your dog that the stimulus that they are experiencing are good things. This could be your dog growling when someone walks by your house. Every time someone walks by, you change their attention and behavior toward a treat. Every time someone walks by, give them a treat. Eventually, they will associate people walking by with them getting a treat and not growling.
Teach Your Dog New Behaviors
When your dog starts to growl, try to teach them something new. This may be a new trick or skill, or even each of them that this behavior is not acceptable by making them sit every time they start to growl.
You can easily manage your dog who growls or shows other aggressive behaviors by keeping them away from things that trigger them, like children. If your dog only growls when they are near, kids keep them away from any kids. You may even consider using a muzzle when they are around kids. By decreasing these triggers, your dog can learn not to growl.
Consider your Dog’s Feelings
Be considerate of your dog’s feelings and whether you’re putting your dog into situations that make them uncomfortable. If your dog is uncomfortable, the first thing that he or she is going to want to do is growl. Keeping their surroundings familiar to them can help decrease the times that they growl at you.
Observe Your Dog
Pay attention to your dog’s behaviors and surroundings that lead up to them growling.
Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation for Your Dog
Keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated by giving them lots of exercises. This will help keep them from having any extra energy that may cause them growl at you or someone else. Take your dog for long walks around the neighborhood or even get them some dog puzzles to keep them active while indoors can decrease the number of times that they want to growl at you.
See Your Veterinarian
If you’re having trouble figuring out why your dog may be growling at you, take them to your vet. Your dog may be in pain, and you may not be able to see where. They may have an underlying neurological or medical condition that is causing them to suddenly growl at you.
Your vet can examine your dog, run blood work, and take x rays if needed to help figure out what is wrong with your dog. It is always best to have your dog examined by your veterinarian at least every year. This makes it easier for them to diagnose any new health condition.
What to Avoid When Your Dog Growls at You
When your dog growls at you, there are things that you need to avoid doing. These are:
Don’t punish your dog; instead use positive reinforcement of their good behaviors.
Punishing your dog can lead to them being even more aggressive and growl even more. When your dog doesn’t growl, let them know that they behaved correctly and offer them a treat as a reward. Treats can go a very long way when training your dog.
Growling is a warning sign and better than having the dog just bite.
If you teach your dog that growling is bad, they may just bite instead. Growling is warning you that they are hurt, do not feel good, or want to be left alone. If you teach your dog that these behaviors are bad, they may stop warning you and go straight to biting you.
When to Seek Professional Help
Some dogs can easily be trained at home. If these behaviors start to get worse and are not improving with at-home training or even getting worse, it is time to seek professional help. First, start with your vet for an exam to make sure that your dog is not ill. After your vet has said that everything is medical good with your dog, then look for a professional trainer. They will be able to teach your dog to stop growling and teach them many other tricks and manners.
There are many different reasons that your dog may be suddenly growling at you. It is best to start to watch your dog figure out what is triggering these events. It may be best to start to keep a log of your dog’s daily behaviors to help figure out what is causing them to growl at you. Once you have figured out why your dog is growling, you can quickly and easily start teaching your dog that these are not acceptable behaviors.