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  • Writer's pictureSara Scott

Staying Calm When Your Dog Growls: Dos, Don’ts and Next Steps

Hearing your dog growl can be alarming. But how you respond in the moment is critical to prevent escalating the situation. This article covers tips for immediate response and long-term strategies when dealing with a growling dog.

A Belgian Laekenois dog with tan and black fur snarls with an open mouth, bared teeth, and curled lips. The dog's eyes are narrowed. Only the top half of the sitting dog is visible against a plain white background. This close-up photo illustrates an aggressive dog snarling and growling.

If Your Dog Growls:

Stop and Stay Calm

Immediately stop doing whatever it is that has prompted your dog to growl. Avoid matching your dog’s energy with anger or fear.

Give Them Space

Back away to provide distance. Don’t corner them or invade their space, as this can heighten anxiety. Allow room to decompress.

Evaluate the Trigger

Note what specifically prompted the growling. Identifying the trigger is key for addressing the underlying cause.

Don’t Punish

Never scold or punish growling. This risks teaching the dog not to communication via growling, increasing risk of bites without warning.

Allow Recovery Time

Let your dog settle before engaging again. Rushing back into interaction can be counterproductive. Give them a chance for their nervous system to return to a calm state.

What To Do Next:

Implement Management

Use baby gates, leashes, etc. to prevent scenarios that lead to growling, while working through a an alternative behavior.

See Your Veterinarian

If pain or illness seems related, your vet may recommend medication along with behavior modification.

Get Professional Help

If the growling persists or its cause is unclear, consult a certified trainer/behaviorist for tailored guidance.

The Takeaway

Staying calm, giving space, identifying triggers, and avoiding punishment are key in the moment. Long-term, address the roots through positive training, counterconditioning, and management under professional guidance. Soon your dog will feel understood and relaxed minus the growling.


Worried about your dog's growling? As a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, I can provide personalized guidance tailored to you and your pup's unique needs.

Schedule a consultation with me, Sara Scott, to get expert advice on addressing the roots of your dog's concerning growl using positive reinforcement training and behavior modification.

I'll design a customized plan with practical solutions to help your furry friend feel safe, build confidence, and communicate happily without resorting to growls.

Don't let growling become a source of stress in your relationship.


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