Why Does My Dog Growl

by Olivia Young
(Troy, Pennsylvania)

Why does my dog growl at certain people?

Hey, it's me again. Remmington has started a new problem. We took him camping with us and he was fine with people until a man walked by. Now when we first got him he had a huge problem with men but, since we have men (my fathers friends) coming up to the house a lot he has gotten use to them.

Anyways me and him were sitting with our other dog in front of the store. Many people walked by and he had no problem with them. They petted him and everything. Then this lady came by with a bunch of people and he started growling and barking at her.

I have no idea what set this off because on the way back we stopped and talked to this couple and he was perfectly fine. Any ideas what to do so this doesn't happen again?

Gale's Reply:

Hi Olivia

Since you can't read Remmington's mind, you can't know exactly why he growls at some people and not others.

Sometimes you can make an educated guess by being observant. Some dogs feel uneasy around tall people, people wearing hats or people who in some way resemble someone who mistreated them in the past.

Maybe he didn't like the fact that the woman he growled at had a group of people with her. If you think about it and stay observant, you may eventually see a pattern.

On the other hand, it could have more to do with his internal state than the person. Maybe he was tired of being greeted and petted by strangers at the moment he growled.

You can't ensure that your dog will never growl at anyone again. But, you can work with him to feel more at ease and be less reactive towards people and situations he is unsure of.

Two books that are very helpful in this regard are The Cautious Canine - How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears and Click to Calm - Healing the Aggressive Dog.

Good luck. Feel free to post back here and let us know how Remmington is doing.

For information on obedience training, check out our pit bull training page.

For help with behavioral problems, visit our dog behavior training page.

Comments for Why Does My Dog Growl

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Jul 25, 2011
Hi Olivia :)
by: Lisa

My answer would be about the same as the previous one, I too have a male dog that was affraid of men when I first got him as a pup.. As the time he's passed he has gotten alot better and loves certin men, but at times me can growl.
It has always been that I see him growling at people not just men when he feels uncomfortable or he senses something negitive about them. Like for example, if someone is yelling, being weird or possibly looks at him in the wrong way. He is very good at remembering people even after only meeting then just one time so I take his word for it and If he reacts this way toward someone I just simply calm him down by petting him and telling him it's ok.
I understand it can be very flustrating because people tend to look at your dog as vicious/evil just because of this behavyer, and as a pit owner myself I get alot a dirty looks from people who would automatically think my dog would be vicious/evil.
I always feel that my dog only does this when he feels uncomfortable or scared so to speak, because just like us a humans we show our fears in our body language and or speech. As a dog would by growling or barking.
I wouldn't take it as him becoming mean at all, it's just his way of saying he's not ok with that person !!

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