Unfortunately, it's time to move. You've got ghosts. Why else would your dog stare at the wall and growl? Wait, kidding ... don't pack just yet; there are some other possibilities. But don't jump to conclusions on your own. See your veterinarian and ask about your dog's odd behavior.
Primary Concern: Cognitive Dysfunction
Obviously, you're worried there might be something wrong with your best furry friend. This is a legitimate concern, which is why you need to bring her to the vet for a checkup. Certain health problems may cause your dog to stare at the wall and growl for no discernible reason. Canine cognitive dysfunction, which is like Alzheimer's disease or senility in humans, is definitely suspect, particularly if your dog is getting on in years.
Are There Other Symptoms?
To figure out what's going on, your veterinarian needs a good description of your dog's behavior and any abnormalities or possible symptoms. Take notes on when your dog stares at the wall and growls, how long it lasts, what's going on in the house at the time and other details. Jot down anything else out of the norm or of concern. Other signs and symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction include sleeping more during the day or less overnight, becoming antisocial, pacing or wandering aimlessly, shaking, lethargy, seemingly getting lost, having difficulty navigating doorways or around obstacles, difficulty with once-familiar tasks, soiling in the house and major behavioral changes.
What Does Growling Indicate?
Growling means different things, depending on the context. It's a warning prior to territorial aggression, but it's also a defensive behavior. Dogs sometimes growl at prey, out of anxiety, or just to say "leave me alone." You should be able to tell by watching your dog while she growls at the wall if she's gearing up for aggression or slinking back in defense or uncertainty. The former may mean your dog hears something, such as mice, rats, a squirrel or other animals in the wall. Your dog can detect them much easier than you can, and she's bound to react. On the other hand, growling defensively or out of confusion points more to a neurological problem.
Other Things to Consider
You're undoubtedly eager to get to the bottom of this puzzling behavior. There are other clues that may hint at what's going on when your dog stares at the wall and growls. If it only happens once or twice, it's probably nothing to worry about. If it happens with some frequency, does it always happen in the same place/room or at the same time of day? This is unlikely to be coincidental, and probably indicates animals in the wall. If it happens randomly and in many different places, a health problem is more likely. Does your dog also sniff at the wall or otherwise investigate it? This suggests there's really something there piquing her curiosity. Is your dog prone to staring off into space elsewhere or to other unexplained vocalizations? If so, there may be some disorder at work. Consider details like these, and make sure you mention them all to your veterinarian.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.