Dog Growling: What Does it Mean in Chicago, IL?

Many individuals think that when a dog growls, they are aggressive. However, there are many reasons why your dog may be growling. Learn how to be mindful of what your pup is trying to tell you.

Your dog could be growling because they are frustrated or feel territorial. On the flip side, your pup could be feeling playful or affectionate. Their body language and facial expression can tell the “tail.”

If your dog is being aggressive, there are things you can do to teach them good behavior. If you want to find out what it means when your dog growls, check out this article.

Angry dog aggressively barking and defending his territory

What Does it Mean When My Dog Growls?

Every creature has their own way of expressing themselves, and each member of the animal kingdom has their own distinct way of doing just that.

  • Humans scowl and shout when they are angry
  • Cats will hiss and spit when they are afraid
  • Lions will roar when they are claiming their territory
  • Monkeys will jump up and down and squeal when they are excited

So you can see that we live in a world of sounds and motions that portray how someone or something is feeling.

There are many explanations for why your dog may growl. Your pup may not act out of aggression, but they may be simply expressing themselves. There are all different kinds of growls. You may be able to tell more from your dog’s body posture when they growl.


What Are the Different Types of Growls, and What do They Mean?

Warning Growling

If you catch your dog in a bad mood, and they growl at you, it may be a low rumbling growl, which can mean “leave me alone.” It is best to listen to your pup when they express their desire to be left alone. You may be able to tell more from their stiff body posture. They may also lunge, bolt, or snarl in a way that lets you know they mean business.

Frustration Growling

Sometimes when your dog does not get what they want, they may growl at you. This type of growl may mean that they want food or want to go outside and play. It could be many different things. This type of growl is generally not as low as other growls, but it can come across as bossy, like they are saying, “I want it now!”

Playful Growling

Dogs can sometimes growl when they are playing, especially when they are playing to win, like when they are playing tug of war with you or wrestling with another dog. When they are playing, they like to express themselves, and it is not fierce or aggressive at all. They are communicating the message that “this is fun!”

Affectionate Growling

Much like a cat’s purr when feeling good, dogs may growl when you are petting them. If this is the case, their bodies will be nice and relaxed. They may look at you with adoration and growl out of love as if they are telling their Mommy or Daddy, “this feels good; pet me more.” An affectionate growl is the best sound in the world to a doting pet parent.

Territorial Growling

If your dog perceives someone as a threat, they may feel threatened for themselves or their humans. Growling at the danger is their way of saying,” I will protect myself and my humans; get lost!” If their growling is territorial or protective, your dog may present stiff body language and snarl with their teeth exposed.

If your canine is growling at people or other dogs they do not know, you may need to socialize them more. You can try a training program, like the AKC Family Dog Program. It will help with their obedience and socialization skills.

Aggressive Growling

If your dog has an aggressive growl, it can be scary for you, other people, and other animals. Sometimes your pup is trying to express their dominance over another animal, such as a cat or another dog. An aggressive growl may sound like a deep rumble. Your dog may be saying, “I am ready to attack.”

They may stiffen their body and snarl. An aggressive dog can be dangerous. You should seek out help from a professional dog trainer who can help your dog learn the discrepancy between good and bad actions and act appropriately.

Possession Growling

Your dog may be growling at you if you try to take away their possession, like their chew toy or even their food bowl. Your pup may present with snarling or exposing their teeth if they feel you are trying to take something from them.

Another form of possession is when your dog is possessive of you or another family member. They may not allow other pets or people in the house to go near you because they do not want to share you. Suppose your pup is growling because they are green with envy over you, showing attention to another pet. In that case, you may want to work with an animal behaviorist to help them learn how to behave appropriately.

Pain Growling

If your dog is having pain, they may growl at you when you try to touch them. They may quickly move away or even bite. Your dog could think that it will cause more pain if you touch them, and they react by growling as a warning to stay away. They may be saying, “Don’t touch me; it hurts!” If you see that your dog may be hurting or in pain, you should get them to the vet as soon as possible.

How Can I Help Prevent My Pooch from Growling?

When you are trying to help your dog not to growl out of stress, you need to try and change the situation so that your pup is more comfortable. For example, you and your dog may cross paths with another dog and their human while walking on the sidewalk in your neighborhood. If there is aggression between the two dogs, cross the street to help your dog avoid confrontation.

If you can determine why your dog is growling, you may be able to resolve the situation. You may also need to find a more permanent solution, such as a behavior modification program, like the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program. This program is the gold standard of behavior for dogs, and it proves that all dogs are capable of being good dogs. Sometimes they need a little help and encouragement.

Angry dog growling in Chicago


It is essential to find out why your dog may be growling so that you may be able to help them from any pain or stress that they could be experiencing. Next time your four-legged fur baby growls, pay attention to their body language.

Your dog may not express aggression but try to communicate something to you. If there are signs of hostility, you should do whatever you can to help them learn how to behave appropriately. As a parent of a precious pup, you are responsible for ensuring your canine has a happy, healthy life.



About Us

At Wrigleyville Veterinary Center, it’s plain to see that our veterinarians chose their profession out of a genuine care for animals and a dedication to nurturing human-animal bonds.