If you have ever wondered about the above question, you are not alone.
Several dog owners often wonder why they hear growls when they hug their dogs, after all, they are just showing their pups how much they love them, so why would a dog growl?
Although some people mistake dog growling for a noise similar to a cat’s purr, growling is not a sign of happiness from your dog. It is how a dog complains about something, as a human being would, and if not taken seriously, can lead to dog bites.
So, why does my dog growl when I hug him? The common reason is your dog is feeling uncomfortable when you try to hold him in an embrace. The growl could again be a sign that your dog is stressed, or anxious, or an expression of your dog’s dominant behavior, that is if he is a domineering dog.
Read also: Why Does My Dog Want Me To Hold His Bone?
Common Reasons Your Dog Growls When Being Hugged
1. He is not used to hugging.
The way dogs and humans express their emotions is different from each other. While humans would like to give warm hugs and say good things, dogs show their emotions by licking each other.
Your dog does not like hugging because it is not a ‘dog thing.‘ If you want your dog to get used to it, try to make him see it as a positive activity, and reward him by giving him treats or thinking about him when he complies.
Some dogs are natural huggers and will even initiate it with you when they have the chance, and some have continuously been hugged as puppies, making them used to hugs by the time they are all grown up.
2. Invasion of privacy.
Just like you would not want someone to burst out of anywhere and get very close to you, your dog also does not want just anyone to invade his privacy.
If you try to hug your dog and you notice he turns his head away, or suddenly grows stiff during the attempt, it might be a sign that your dog does not want you touching him at that particular time, or is not just in the mood for an embrace at the moment.
Your dog could also be anxious about something, and a sudden hug could startle him, making him immediately aggressive.
3. He sees hugging as a threat.
In the natural world, the neck is a sensitive area that can lead to the death of an animal when attacked.
Holding on to a dog’s neck when hugging him from above the van triggers his aggressive side, as he may think you are trying to choke him or do something harmful to him. Dogs sometimes take this position when they want to get into a heated fight with each other.
Some dogs immediately use their muzzles to hit the hugger, leading to a nosebleed or facial injury. If you continue to ignore his growls every time you try to hug him, he may as well get angry and bite you instead.
To reduce this, approach him with care if you want to offer him a hug and gradually try to draw him in. If he is still aggressive, it is best to drop the idea of a hug.
4. He is a dominant dog.
If your dog likes to be the leader in your relationship with him, he might not want you to take certain actions like hugging him.
Dominant dogs are usually aggressive when they do not get what they want when you show your authority or when they are forced into something that they do not want, like a hug.
Some people do not buy the idea that dogs try to show dominance in relationships with humans, but dominance exists as a primal instinct in sine digs, even until today.
If you want to discourage this behavior, show the dog you are in charge by being firm on him, but not beating or fighting with him. Also, try to hug him from time to time, reassure him that everything is alright, and prevent him from taking part in violent or excessive games that could make him even more dominant.
5. He could be going through health problems.
If your dog, who was usually receptive to hugs out of the blue, stops to accept your hugs or hugs of those around you, it might mean that your dog is having a health challenge, especially ear pain, or infection, or is going through a period of stress and feels down.
Find out if everything is okay with your dog by checking him up or taking him to a veterinary doctor to see if everything is wrong with him health-wise.
More Reasons Your Dog Growls When You Cuddle Him
6. His sleeping pattern was disturbed.
Remember the idiom ‘Let sleeping dogs lie?’ Dogs get in a bad mood and feel grumpy when they are disturbed from their sleep.
Normally, any attempt to hug a dog while he is asleep or try to wake him up from sleep with a hug will result in a growl.
To avoid this, do not disturb a dog while he is asleep or feeling sleepy as he is not in the best mood for a hug. This should be communicated to children, as they usually try to hug sleeping dogs.
7. He does not like to hug you.
Strange as it may sound, your dog may like to be hugged by everyone, but you. No matter what you do to encourage them to hug you, some dogs will still not hug you but welcome hugs from other people.
Check your relationship with your dog; maybe he is constantly afraid of you or detests you, and that may be the reason he does not want your hugs. If your relationship is in order, check with a professional to see if your dog is okay emotionally or has some underlying issues.
8. He is being selective.
Your dog might be a selective hugger; he only allows certain people to touch him and hug him. He might like one of your friends but run from the rest.
Your canine might not have a social personality too, as dogs who are more social with humans and other dogs always enjoy hugs more than those who like to stay alone.
If your dog displays aggression or calming signs like opening his eyes wide or yawning and growling when you or someone hugs him, it is a clue that he does not want to be hugged. People the dog is not comfortable with should be told not to hug him to avoid getting the dog angry, restless, or bitten.
9. His breed is not a hug-loving one.
Some breeds have generally been known to love hugs , such as Rottweilers, Weimaraners, Boston Terriers & Labrador Retrievers can easily be hugged or even offer you hugs when they are happy or excited, while German Shepherds and Chow Chow are known to be averse to hugs.
So if you try to persuade your dog to hug you and he refuses, it probably is because he does not come from a breed who are innate hugger. You should not feel discouraged if your dog’s breed is less receptive, as you can use rewards and tricks to make him accept them one step at a time.
Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language
To decipher your dog’s behavior accurately, it’s essential to pay attention to their body language:
- Ears: If their ears are pinned back or flat against their head, it may signal discomfort.
- Tail: A tucked or lowered tail can indicate anxiety or fear.
- Eyes: Dilated pupils or averted eyes may show stress.
- Whiskers: Whiskers pulled back against the face can be a sign of distress.
How to React
Your dog’s safety and well-being are paramount. Here’s how to react when your dog growls during a hug:
- Respect Their Space: If your dog growls, immediately release the hug and give them space.
- Observe Their Body Language: Pay attention to their cues to understand what’s causing the growling.
- Consult a Professional: If the behavior persists or is accompanied by other concerning signs, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist.
Conclusion: Why Does My Dog Growl When I Hug Him
A dog’s growl is a sign that he does not know what going on, and if you hear it, no matter how low, during a hug, it is a clear sign that your dog is not a fan of hugging.
Do not try to force him to be a hugger, or he can retreat or become aggressive. Rather, you can encourage him to be more open to hugs by treats or pats on the head. However, if it does not work, you can always enjoy the company of your friend, without the hugs, of course.
Like it? Share it!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is it safe to hug my dog?
Hugging your dog can be safe if your dog enjoys it. However, always be mindful of their body language and signs of discomfort.
Can I train my dog to enjoy hugs?
You can desensitize your dog to hugging through positive reinforcement and training, but not all dogs will learn to love it.
What should I do if my dog growls when hugged?
Respect their boundaries, release the hug, and observe their body language. If the behavior persists, seek professional advice.
Are there breeds more prone to growling during hugs?
Any breed can growl when uncomfortable, but individual temperament plays a significant role.
Can growling during hugs be a sign of aggression?
While growling can be associated with aggression, it’s often a sign of discomfort or anxiety rather than an aggressive intent.