What Can Make a Dog Suddenly Growl at Someone He Loves?

Growls have different causes, so determine the root to solve your problem.
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Humans and dogs don't speak the same language, and the onus is on you to determine what's made Fido growl before someone gets hurt. Think through the actions that led to the growl to start curbing this behavior and demonstrating who is really top dog.

Territorial Growls

Dogs who view their role in the household as a dominant one sometimes growl to warn their people away from what they see as "their space." If your pooch gives a warning growl when you sit too close to him on the sofa, this is probably why. If you back off, this reinforces the dog's belief in his own dominance. Over time, it may cause the growling to worsen.

Social or Fear-Based Aggression

Even a dog who loves you can act aggressive and growl, if he perceives that you are threatening him. Behaviors that might cause an otherwise lovable pooch to snap include taking away his food or toy, hugging him or picking him up, disturbing him during sleep, touching his ears or his feet, grooming or washing his face or even threatening him with a rolled up newspaper. If you suspect your dog might have growled from this type of aggression, schedule some training time with a behavioral specialist.


Chances are, you're kind of a bear when you're sick or injured. Well, the same can be true for your pooch. Dogs that are otherwise mellow may snap or growl when sick, injured or in pain. Take extra care when helping your dog into the car or preparing to go to the vet, lest your helping hand goad a growl from Fido. If pain is the underlying cause of a growl, then the behavior should stop when your dog feels better.

What to Do

If you suspect that your dog is growling from some type of aggression, seek help from your veterinarian or from a dog trainer or behavioral specialist. Dogs who growl from social aggression may be helped be calming medications; those who grown for territorial reasons need a reality check that you are the boss.

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