Why does my dog growl at nothing?


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Growling for a dog is perfectly normal as it is barking and howling. For dogs, growling is something they do when they want to tell something to their owner. It is how they communicate by growling, barking, licking, sniffing, etc. It is common in all breeds of dogs. New dog owners don’t get why their little new member is growling at literally nothing. 

So, what causes dogs to growl at nothing? The most common reason is that they can hear, smell, and see things that we cannot. Dogs have more sensitive senses than humans. Dogs are extremely sensitive to sound and can hear things that we cannot. Dogs can detect animals nearby much earlier than you because of their excellent hearing abilities and an acute sense of smell. Other reasons for this could be medical issues, and you have previously encouraged this behavior.

Dogs are literal fur balls and are the cutest and when this kind of behavior such as growling, barking, and snapping for no reason comes then it can be a little annoying and also scary sometimes. If your dog does this too then today I am going to tell you all the possible reasons for such behavior and how you can stop this behavior. 

Reasons why dogs growl at nothing?

1. They hear something

Dogs have more sensitive hearing than we humans do. They can be 10 times better than human beings. You must have noticed your dog’s body language and behavior changes when they hear specific sounds sometimes which is perfectly normal. They react to sudden sounds. Your dog can react differently when they hear a high-pitched sound as most dogs do. 

Sometimes, you must have noticed your dog hiding or barking or growling when it rains and thunderstorms follow. It is because they don’t like the sound of water coming on the roof. It can make them uncomfortable, that’s why their behavior changes during rainy seasons. It is something which doesn’t happen often so they can’t get used to these sounds. Most puppies care more for these sounds than older dogs do. 

2. They see Something

Dogs can see things that we don’t even notice. They can see more clearly at night and we humans do. So if your dog is growling at nothing then this might be the reason. They are really good at noticing movements and observing things. But it’s not as good as their sense of smell. 

If they are growling or barking at nothing then maybe your dog is doing so to alert you that there is something or someone strange. Dogs have the best vision at dusk and dawn. Their low-light vision is far superior to that of humans, but their overall vision is not.

3. They smell Something

Dogs understand most things by their sense of smell. As humans, we cannot even do anything just with our noses but dogs do. They search and analyze things just with their noses. A dog’s sense of smell is about 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.

By just smelling, dogs get the entire story. That’s why when you go out to meet someone or another dog, as soon as you come home they can smell that you met another dog. If your dog is growling at absolutely nothing then it might be the reason that they smell something strange or something new. 

4. Stress or Anxiety

In stressful situations sometimes dogs feel anxious and stressed so they act strangely as they don’t seem to know what is happening to them. This happens when you take them to a vet which they dislike or when you take them to a crowded new place which makes them feel anxious. 

5. Medical Cause

Sometimes when dogs are ill or in pain they start growling and barking which is normal as they don’t get what they are actually going through. If you touch your dog and he starts growling that might mean that they are in pain and don’t want you to touch him. 

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), is a cognitive disorder in dogs. It’s a condition caused by the aging of a dog’s brain that causes behavioral changes and primarily affects memory, learning, and comprehension. Furthermore, clinical signs of dementia are present in 50% of dogs over the age of 11 but it can start at any age. 

6. Encouraging the Behaviour

Dogs are excellent observers. You might have encouraged this behavior when he was growling or barking. Now he knows if he would do that he’ll get your attention. If you keep on doing this, it will teach your dog he will get a reward if he growls. 

If this is the cause of your dog’s growling, he will almost certainly growl whenever it wants treats, attention, toys, or to go outside.

What to do about your dog growling?

1. Distract him

It is the easiest solution and it helps a lot. You can give your dog different toys or just play fetch with him which helps to distract your dog and he won’t be growling anymore. Don’t make the mistake to encourage the behavior if you know he is just growling to get your attention. 

These are available on Amazon and are top-rated at a reasonable price. Some of the chews toys are:

You can play fetch with your dog. You can buy fetch ball from Amazon. It is top-rated and at a reasonable price. 

You can also buy a ball launcher if you cannot go outside to play with your dog. This will keep your dog busy once he understands how it works. It will keep your dog entertained and give your dog proper exercise too.

You can give your dog training and reward him if he listens to you. Treats really make training effective. Treats are great for getting your dog food motivated. Who doesn’t love food, right? There are treats that are tasty plus fulfill your dog’s balanced diet and give them nutrition to grow healthy. 

2. Don’t Encourage the behavior

If you know that your dog is just growling to get your attention or a treat then you must ignore him. If you keep on ignoring him he’ll know that this behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. He will understand that he will not get anything out of this. 

3. Talk to the vet

If your dog is in pain or injured then you must take your dog to the vet to get your dog checked out if he is okay. You must also tell your vet about the problem of growling whenever you come near your dog or touch him. He will help you get out of this problem. 

4. Take your dog outside

You can also take your dog outside for a little walk to distract him. This will also make him feel nice and dogs usually love waking running. You can also him to the dog park. By this, if he is still a puppy he will get socialized with new dogs and people as well. 

5. Comfort your pup

If you know the reason behind this unnecessary growling which is due to thunderstorms or rain. Then you must comfort your dog by petting him gently and cuddling him. 

For this, you can use thunder shirts which help to calm your dog and relieve their anxiety. There are certain calming coats/t-shirts for calming your dog in stressful situations. These coats apply constant mild pressure to calm dogs. You can buy these listed coats from Amazon:

Final Thoughts!

So now you know the reason for the dog’s growling. So if your pup shows this kind of behavior then you must keep a close eye on him to rule out the underlying problem. If you can’t seem to figure out why your dog acting like this then you should contact your vet. 

In most cases, dogs growl at nothing because of their extra sensitive senses. Other times it’s due to canine dementia or even stress/anxiety.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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