Why Does My Dog Growl At Some People And Not Others?

Dogs are very interesting creatures. They are so simple at times and confusing sometimes. Maybe we humans don’t spend enough time trying to find out the reason. That’s because we always judge any situation very quickly. Every Dog has its personality due to which they are all different. Every dog is a product of different circumstances and hence they react differently to situations to make them feel safe and comfortable.

Dogs are always alert. When someone new approaches he will react immediately sometimes by growling and sometimes by just remaining silent. People always have such a tough time imagining why their dog growls at some people and does not growl at others. Sometimes he may even growl at your family people and are at someone you love the most. Does it not make him sound like a psychopath?

Aren’t we humans ourselves like this? We never tend to like a person at the first meeting. We don’t even like some people for no reason at all. Perhaps we may not like them because we feel they are arrogant or distant or maybe something in that person which is just not striking a chord with us. Dogs are also just like this. They sometimes like some people and dislike some others. 

Reasons for Growling Dogs

Smell of People

Each human smells differently for dogs. Dogs have a very high sense of smelling than humans, in fact maybe about 10,000 to 1,00,000 times more than humans. Because of this we just cannot imagine the kind of information our dog would collect on a person by just smelling them. A surprising fact is that trained scent dogs can even identify identical twins who must have ate the same food or are living in the same environment.

There could be something very crafty or minute about a person’s smell that makes your dog growl at him which maybe our human nose cannot notice. It may not be of concern to us. But for your dog, it may be associated with some negative aspects like the smell of some strange dog or the smell of another dog’s fear. 

Looks

Dogs depend on their vision to recognize a person. They use facial expressions to communicate with others. We humans may not recognize some facial expressions as much as a dog does. When your dog growls at a person it could be because he finds some feature that is similar to a threat from his memory.    We are all different in size, shape, and height. All of us have different ways of walking, sitting, or presenting ourselves. Some people’s features may remind your dog of some danger. He could also be finding that feature unfamiliar and this makes him insecure and scared. When familiar people themselves suddenly get up and move or wear a hat may make him growl.

Research says that dogs always monitoring the social interactions their owners have with other people. They use this information to form their opinions. For example, if a person is behaving a little unhelpful or unfriendly to you then your pet will react by trying to avoid that person or by snubbing that person in future interactions. 

Dogs are watching how helpful or unhelpful a person is being to their owners in a given situation. This has no connection with them nor does your dog get any rewards or benefits because of this person’s behavior. But still, the dog’s observation makes him react to that person just the way he reacted to its owner.

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Possession

Dogs are very possessive of their things as well as their territory. When a dog is eating, playing with toys, or chewing a bone and someone approaches it, then your dog will display possession. It will growl at them to show them that this is their possession and that person has no right to it. Also, whenever a courier person or postman or delivery boy comes your dog may growl at them. This is because it feels that an unknown person is coming into its territory. Sometimes your dog may also growl if suppose someone sits on its favorite place in the house like the couch or on the bed.

The protection of their resources has been an ancient behavior in dogs. When a person moves towards something it cherishes a lot then your dog will bark as it feels threatened. The presence of a new person or a dog or an unknown animal may make your dog feel that his privacy is being invaded and he may start growling at them. 

Traumatic Past

Many dogs have been put through a lot of abuse physical or emotional in their past. 
This past abuse can have a very traumatic effect on the dog to relate to people. Thus your dog may be put through a lot of anxiety and aggression. 

If your dog growls at certain people and not others it could be because that person reminds him of his traumatic past. It could be the smell of the person or their resemblance to the person who had hurt your dog. Sometimes your dog may feel that a particular gender is responsible for his abuse. 
It could also be a person’s body language which does not work well with your dog making him growl at that person. 

When did this all start?

Any behavioral change in your dog is always connected to some very specific reasons. 
He does not just like that start growling for no reason. Some of the reasons could be :

  1. It could have all begun after the person mistreated it some time ago making your dog feel threatened
  2. It could be as that person played with it earlier and now it is trying to seek their attention to play
  3. If your dog feels threatened by its toys, bone, or food
  4. If your pet’s territory seems to be captured by the person
  5. To ensure safety for their owners when a stranger approaches them
  6. Poor socializing as he may not behave met many people 
  7. If it is a child maybe he feels that child is being more pampered than him in the house

How to Stop him from Growling at only some people

Behavior problems like aggression, territory possession, and fear are serious problems that your dog may be facing. But sometimes just a little bit of change by trying to handle the situation calmly and patiently by telling him not to growl could help. If his growling is continuing then he needs some serious training sessions.
A dog trainer or animal behaviorist could help you out in dealing with your pet’s problem. They could help you with the course of action required to solve this.

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When you work with such trainers do not forget to tell them the occasions which triggered off his growling at only certain people. This will help your trainer to slowly work on it. Try to train your dog to behave properly with the person at whom he growls if that person is known. Also do not reward him for this kind of bad behavior of growling at family members or a friend. Only then he will realize that he has done something wrong.

Dogs growl to alert about any perceived threat and to remove that threat from their way. As an owner, you may be upset when your dog growls only at some people and not at others. You may feel like suppressing his growl or scolding him for doing this. But let me tell you this is not a good idea.
By teaching him that his growling behavior is not acceptable to you it could only take away his ability to warn you at times when this is needed. So, the best thing would be to train your dog not to growl at least at people known to you. He should be taught that this person is not going to harm him or abuse him or take away his food or territory. 

Conditioning

Dogs must be trained to view the person known to you at whom he grows for various reasons. First, start by making that person sit down quietly in a chair. Try to remove all his toys and food which he could try to take guard of. Bring your dog to the room on a leash and keep him at a distance from the person so that that person does not get scared of your pet. 

But at the same time ensure that your dog and that person are on the same line of vision. If there is no growling then praise him as well as reward him to show that you appreciate him for not growling. Repeat this until he becomes closer and closer to that person. In between these trials do not allow your do to get closer to the person until you are sure that his behavior has changed as there are chances that he may try to harm that person.

If your dog is growling at some member of your family then try to improve the relationship between your dog and that member. Try to make your family member feed him or give him toys to play with. If he gets a little better let that member take him for a walk. Playing trust-building games and activities could also help.