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Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Them? [BEHAVIOR EXPLAINED]

Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Them? [BEHAVIOR EXPLAINED]

If you are a pet owner who interacts with your dog well, there are chances that you understand how it communicates. For instance, growling is a way dogs communicate with each other and humans. To be safe around a dog, you need to understand what it means when it growls.

When petted, dogs growl for various reasons, including medical issues, pleasure growling, dislike of some people, warning signs, lack of respect, anxiety, aggression, unstable behavior, sensitive areas, fear, pain, frustrated growling, and fearful growling. Dogs do not do things without reason.

You must have noticed that your dog exhibits unpredictable behavior, which can confuse you. This behavior could be mistaken for aggression, but most times, it is not.

trying pet dog young

Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Them?

When many people hear growling, what usually comes to their mind is aggression. Well, that’s quite reasonable to think. Seeing a dog when it growls could sometimes be very scary. However, you could be wondering if growling while petting also means aggression. Well, the truth is, when a dog growls, it is trying to communicate.

It can be ironic when a dog growls when you pet it because petting makes the dog happy. When a dog growls at you while petting it, it could be a way of informing you that such a dog is not cool with what you are doing. Beyond this, there are other reasons why dogs growl when being pets. We will be considering the reasons below:

A Warning Signal

Truly, petting your dog could be a way of you trying to make it calm and spend some time with it. But, while doing this, if you notice your dog suddenly begins to growl, it could be a way of telling you that’s enough. Your dog could do this because you are likely doing something it does not like.

Your dog could be telling you to leave it alone. The dog has the right to want to be left alone, and you should respect it. Also, dogs don’t like to be squeezed hard; it could be hurtful for some dogs. So, you need to understand that the dog is uncomfortable with what you are doing. You can leave it for a while then return to pet it.

A Pleasure or Affectionate Growling

Just like a dog could growl while petting it, indicating it is uncomfortable with what you are doing – the dog could growl when it enjoys something. This kind of growling is usually low and affectionate, which could be with a moan. It could either be for a short while or an extended period.

You can always easily tell the dog is in pleasure and comfort from how it does. The dog would feel more relaxed and want you to pet it more. When you stop petting it, the dog could quickly get up towards you to lean on its back. It is just a way of telling you it enjoys what you are doing and wants more.

The Dog Has an Injury

Another reason why your dog growls while petting could be due to pains. Your dog could have an injury from various things, including another dogs’ bite or a bone fracture, without you knowing. Approaching such a dog to put it on the wounded spot could cause more pain. As such, the dog could growl. If you notice your dog is injured, you need to take it to a vet for treatment.

The Dog Dislikes Strangers

Indeed, dogs are friendly and social creatures, but they will not be friends with everyone, especially strangers. If you have an aggressive, territorial dog, you should not bring strangers near them. Some dog breeds are aloof from strangers; others dislike some people in general.

So, if you are petting your dog while a stranger is around and it growls, it is an indication that the dog dislikes strangers. The growling could even worsen if the stranger attempts to pet the dog. Every attempt of physical contact by the stranger will be rejected with a low growl.

A way of curbing this behavior is by socializing your dog and training it properly. Also, if a stranger is to come around, ensure the person and the dog get familiarized before petting it. Then, the person should carefully approach the dog. However, your dog does not have to be friendly with every stranger, especially a security dog.

The Dog Has Anxiety

Anxiety and fear affect dogs in different ways. It could cause a dog to growl, pant, pace, urinate, shiver and sometimes even lead to the dog being destructive. So, if your dog has anxiety, there are chances that it growls whenever you pet it.

There are usually different things that trigger anxiety in dogs. Some trigger factors include abandonment, meeting new people, and loud noise. When any of these is triggered, petting a dog will cause the dog to growl. To help a dog with anxiety, you need to identify the trigger factor first and then remove it.

growling little dog

Why Do Dogs Growl When You Pet Them?

Dogs are complex animals, and you must study them to understand them. When you pet a dog, the normal expectation is to be happy, relaxed, and excited. Sometimes, instead of getting the expected reactions, the dog will growl instead. Some of the reasons why this happens are;

The Dog Does Not Respect You

Dogs are descendants of wolves, and wolves live in packs; each pack has a leader respected by all pack members. This also happens with dogs; they will respect you if they consider you the pack leader. This will sound surprising, but if a dog thinks of you as a bad leader, it will try to be the leader.

The dog will only consider you a leader when you are gentle, kind, and caring; dogs do not associate leadership with dominance. So, if your dog does not consider you the pack leader, it will growl when you pet it. The dog will also not obey your commands anymore, and it will become snappy when you correct it.

Unstable Behavior

When your dog is unbalanced, it will experience a lot of anxiety and uncertainty that will cause it to display unstable behaviors. It could be nervous when you pet your dog, leading to anxiety. Also, your dog could growl because it wants to keep people away, including you.

If a dog is unsure of itself and you try to pet it, it will not see it as a friendly gesture but as a disturbance, which could trigger an aggressive response. When a dog has unstable behavior, it is mostly caused by an underlying health issue. It is best to take a dog with unstable behavior to the veterinarian for a checkup.

Also read: Why Does My Dog Sigh? Examining What This Dog Sound Means

Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Him But Still Wants To Be Pet?

Every dog would love to be pet by its owner. We have already explained likely reasons why your dog growls. However, if you notice your dog growling at you and want to be petted, it is simply a way to show affection. The dog would feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Also, this type of growling may be the sound of a cats’ purr in a louder tone. The dog could also sound like it’s trying to talk to you. Most dogs love attention, and they will do the weirdest things to get your attention.

Final Thoughts

Dogs growl for various reasons, and there are different types of growls; playful growl, frustrated growl, affection growl, fearful growl, fighting growl, aggressive growl, and pain growl. You must identify these growls and know what your dog is communicating to you, so you can know what to do.

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