Dogs are one of the friendliest species of animals. They love being petted and enjoy spending time with humans. But sometimes, some dogs may show aggressive behavior, especially when they are around strangers. According to Wallys World of Dogs: Long Island Dog Training, there could be many reasons why dogs growl at strangers, from anxiety to past trauma.
Why Do Dogs Growl At Strangers?
Growling is a way of communication for dogs. While many people think growling is a form of aggression in dogs, there could be many other reasons why your dog could be growling at strangers.
Your Dog May Not Be Used To Strangers
If your dog is not used to meeting too many people, being among strangers may make it feel nervous and scared, leading to the growling. Usually, when a stranger approaches your dog, it may look at the person and assess if they are friendly or not. The dog will observe various things like how the stranger speaks, how they move, and how they smell. Your dog may also get anxious around young children who scream a lot, speak loudly, or squeeze it tightly.
Anxiety and Fear
Fear is one of the most common reasons why dogs may growl. Sometimes, you might notice your dog growling during fearful situations like thunderstorms or fireworks. Similarly, they may even growl at strangers around whom they sense danger. Such situations can cause anxiety in them.
Your Dog May Have Had A Negative Experience Around Strangers
If your dog has had a bad experience with strangers previously, they may develop trust issues and growl at them. It is important to ease your dog into meeting new strangers as they may see all strangers in the same light and maybe fearful or doubtful about them till they become friends with them.
Greeting or Wanting To Play
Your dog could be growling at strangers to get their attention to greet them. Another reason is that they may want to play with them. While the dog’s intention may not be wrong, it should be trained to greet people properly lest it scares them off.
Sometimes, dogs growl because they think another dog or stranger doesn’t belong on their property. That is why you may notice your dog growling at people like delivery personnel, neighbors, or any other person entering your property. In some cases, the dog may even growl at you if it thinks you are encroaching its territory.
Learning From You
Dogs are sensitive to human behavior. They can detect body language and tone of voice. Hence, the way you react to a stranger will also impact how they react to them. If you are generally calm around strangers, then chances are your dog will also be the same. But, if you seem anxious and tense or are loud when greeting strangers, even positively, then the dog will try to imitate similar behavior and will growl either out of fear or excitement.
How To Stop Dogs From Growling At Strangers
Don’t Punish Your Dog
When your dog growls, it is just trying to get your attention. If you punish this behavior instead of staying calm, it can resort to stronger behavior like biting next time. Instead, acknowledge your pet and try to understand what it is trying to say.
Try To Reassure Your Pet
If your pet growls at a stranger, then reassure it and try to keep it calm. Speaking to the dog and telling it everything is alright will help it stay calm. You can even keep it on a leash when walking to avoid it growling or attacking strangers. If none of this works, you can even speak to professionals for dog behavioral training.
Get Your Puppy Used To Strangers
One of the best ways to get your dog to stop growling at strangers is to socialize with different types of people. This means people who may look different, dress differently, speak different languages, and more. The more your dog sees different people, the more it will get used to being around them. However, you must be careful while interacting with strangers around your pet. Anxious dogs may get even more anxious. You must ease your dog into interacting with strangers.
While it is common for some dogs to growl at strangers, this behavior should not be ignored. Speak to professional trainers if you notice that your dog is growling or getting aggressive at strangers.