Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Him?

Dogs are a great way to relieve stress and get some exercise. They’re also very affectionate, which is why petting them can be an enjoyable activity for both the dog and the human!

However, sometimes dogs growl when you try to pet them. Why does this happen? Below we will discuss some potential reasons that your dog might be growling when you offer him attention.

Does A Dog Growl Only To Convey Aggression?

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Dogs will often growl as a way of communicating with other dogs and with humans. While many people believe that this behavior is always linked to aggression, there are actually several reasons why a dog might growl. In order to understand your dog’s growling habits, you need to know what each type of growl means. A growl can even be out of pleasure, depending on the context. There are several reasons why dogs might growl, some of which have nothing to do with aggression. So what are the different reasons your pup might be letting out a little growl.

Why Does My Dog Growl When I Pet Him?

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Dogs have all sorts of different growls. Each one has a specific meaning depending on the tone and context in which it is used.

Sometimes, dog owners may not understand why their dog is growling, especially when they are being petted. Let us look at the different reasons why a dog would growl when you are petting it.

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Positive Reactions


When you’re petting your dog and it starts growling, does it mean that it’s content? Yes. If this is a rare treat your dog is getting, your dog is probably expressing contentment.

Contrary to popular belief, most experts believe that when a dog growls while being petted, the low continuous growl could indicate a content dog.

So the next time your furry friend starts making noise while you’re petting it, don’t stop – he or she is feeling satisfied.

Wants More:

Does your dog ever get really excited when you pet it, and start to growl? You’re not alone. In fact, a lot of dog owners have wondered whether this is just a way for their pup to actually ask for more petting.

Dogs love the attention and petting too. So if your dog wants more, there is nothing wrong with it unless it’s excessive.


No matter how domesticated they may be, dogs will always have that wild streak in them. And while we may not always understand what they’re trying to communicate with us, there are some things we can be sure of.

For example, when you pet your dog and it growls in enjoyment, it’s definitely not trying to scare you off! In fact, this is just one of the many ways dogs communicate with us.

So the next time your furry friend does something that confuses you, don’t worry – he’s just trying to tell you he loves it.

Response- Acknowledge:

Dogs communicate in many different ways, and we’re just starting to learn how to decipher their barks, whines, and body language.

However, dogs can growl to convey their acknowledgment of being petted. Who knew that Fido was such a communicator?

Negative Reactions

Doesn’t Like The Spot Where You Are Petting:

If you watch your dog carefully when you pet it where it doesn’t want to be petted, you may see its lips curl up and back slightly, revealing its teeth while it growls.

So next time Fido gives you an attitude about being petted, it is probably because he does not like being petted at that spot of his body.

Pain Or Underlying Medical Condition:

Many dogs use low-frequency growls to convey pain or an underlying medical condition, even if they’re not showing any other signs of discomfort.

By learning to listen to your dog’s language, you can better understand what they’re trying to say – and get them the help they need before it’s too late.

Circumstances Leading To Fear Or Anxiety:

Dogs can communicate their emotions and intentions through a variety of vocalizations, including growls. Some dogs convey fear or anxiety.

This could be due to the surrounding circumstances leading the dog to undergo fear or anxiety.

For example, the presence of a larger dog, etc, or even separation anxiety if you are petting it right before leaving home.

Stranger Present:

Dogs are known for their loyalty, protectiveness, and adorable nature. But what many people may not know is that dogs use growling to communicate with others. 

Growling is a dog’s way of telling you that they’re uncomfortable and that there’s someone or something in the vicinity that they don’t trust.

The presence of a stranger may instigate the dog to be protective of its owner and growl at the stranger.

Doesn’t Like Being Pet:

Dogs communicate in many ways, and one of the most commonly used methods is growling.

While growth can be used to show dominance or anger, it’s also often used when dogs don’t like something. For example, your dog may start growling if you try to pet it when it doesn’t want to be petted.

In rare cases, your dog may have an independent personality or perceive itself to be the leader. In such cases, the dog may express its dissent to being petted.


Do you ever get the feeling that your dog is trying to tell you something when they start growling during petting? Your furry friend might be trying to convey an injury at that spot.

It has been found that dogs who were being petted in certain areas would often growl as a way of communicating discomfort or pain. This could be indicative of a sprain or ligament tear which isn’t visible to the naked eye.

Doesn’t Know You Are The Pack Leader Yet:

There’s a reason your dog growls when you’re petting it – and it’s not to scare you! It turns out that dogs use growling to communicate their rank in the pack, letting you know that they’re not quite ready to accept you as boss yet.

So next time your furry friend starts growling at you, give your dog some time to accept you as the leader of the pack.

Wants You To Stop:

Dogs use growling to convey a number of messages. One message that dogs commonly use growling to communicate is that they want you to stop when you are petting them.

If your dog starts growling when you are petting it, it is important to stop and figure out what is causing your dog to act this way. In most cases, the reason your dog is growling is that it doesn’t like how you are petting it.

Understanding why your dog doesn’t like how you are petting it can help you build your bond with your dog.

How Do I Know Whether It Is A Positive Or A Negative Growl?

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Surely the next question in your mind is how do you figure out which growl is positive and which one is a negative expression. Meaning, whether the dog is enjoying the petting or expressing disapproval.

Well, there are a few ways you can decipher that. As a dog owner, it is important to be able to read your dog’s body language. This way, you will be able to understand what your dog is trying to tell you.

  • Begin with the context in which the entire thing is happening.
  • Is the place new? Is a stranger present?
  • Is the body of the dog relaxed?
  • Is the growl accompanied by barred teeth?
  • Are the ears pulled backward?
  • Is the tail loose?
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The answers to all these questions will help you determine if the growl is positive or negative. If :

  • the body of the dog is relaxed,
  • the legs are at ease, (not stiff),
  • the teeth are not barred,
  • the ears are loose and hanging,
  • the tail is not lifted or stiff

Then, you can be sure that your dog is not expressing a negative feeling. However, be sure to check for an injury or an expression of pain where you may even hear a whimper or see a withdrawal of the leg.

Remember, each dog is different and your journey with your dog will enhance your knowledge about its expressions, body language, and behavior.

What To Do If Your Dog Asks For Continued Petting?

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Dogs are definitely one of the most loving creatures on the planet. They love being around their humans and always show us how much they appreciate us.

It’s no wonder that we love them right back! There are times, however, when our dog may not want to stop cuddling even after we’ve had enough. So what’s a pet parent to do if their furry friend just won’t stop asking for more?

This could be a sign of separation anxiety and deserves your attention. This is an indication that you need to spend more time with yourself and there might be a need for professional help.

Speak to your dog reassuringly and If possible and feasible, enroll your dog in daycare where he will find some company as well a great amount of mental stimulation.

This could relax your dog to a great extent and reduce his anxiety to a large extent.

How Do You Know What’s Happening With Your Dog?

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Dogs are interesting creatures. They can show so many different emotions, and it’s often hard to tell what they’re thinking. In order to keep your dog healthy and happy, it’s important to understand what’s going on in its head.

This means being able to decipher the various things they might do – like bark or wag their tail – and knowing when you need to pause and check-in with them.

The first thing you should check for is if your dog wants you to stop petting it. Are you being rough? Have you been doing it too long?

The eyes and tail of the dog can help you a great deal here. If the eyes are wide open and the tail curled, then this could be fear or anxiety.

Then, it is important that you assess the circumstances for anything that could be triggering the dog’s fear. Even a past traumatic incident might be the cause.

These are times when you need to go slow and be reassuring. Is your dog not comfortable? Does your dog want to run out and chase something or even relive itself?

If your dog is looking at a particular place or trying to get up then an immediate circumstance could be the reason. Does this happen always? Then you may need a behavioral therapist to assess the dog.

Do you pet your dog right before you leave for work? The dog might be associating your petting with something unpleasant.

You might want to change that to petting your dog after getting back home from work. This may help the dog to associate petting with something pleasant.

What To Do If Your Dog Does Not Like Your Petting?

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Have you ever been in a situation where your dog doesn’t seem to like being petted? It can be a little bit confusing and even frustrating, but don’t worry!

There are some things that you can do to help make your dog more comfortable. In this section, we’ll discuss some tips for making sure your dog enjoys getting petted. Stay tuned!

It’s normal for some dogs to be more tactile than others, and there are many ways to make this experience enjoyable for both of you.

If your dog is hesitant when you try to pet them, take a step back and let them come to you. Talk softly and reassuringly, and give them plenty of praise when they eventually do let you touch them.

If your dog reacts negatively to petting, it’s important not to force the issue. Be patient and keep trying gradually over time until they’re comfortable with it.

In the meantime, there are plenty of other things you can do to show your furry friend how much you love it.

Pro Tip: Stop to check your perfume, your pet cat if any, cigar smell if any. Do you work in a place that involves any strong scent? Try and eliminate this one by one.

We as dog owners, love to pet and show affection to our furry friends. Whether it’s a quick pat on the head or a good long belly rub, we love making our pooches feel loved.

But what do you do if your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy being petted? Some owners might think their dog is being naughty and start smacking them with a rolled-up newspaper.

This is not only ineffective but could also be dangerous for your pup. It is important that you do not punish your dog for refusing to be petted.

Allow it some time to adapt to your behavior. More in a case where you adopted an adult dog. Stop petting your dog and move away from it until it comes to you. Try petting more gently and in a different area.

Pro Tip: Are you petting your dog while feeding it? Then you should try stopping that and observing your dog.

Try to assess if your dog is simply a dog with a dominant personality or it is unfamiliar to being petted. You may finally want to see a veterinarian or behavior therapist who can help both the dog and you.

Wrapping Up:

Dogs growl when they are in pain, scared, or startled. If you have a dog that is uncomfortable being petted and becomes aggressive when touched then there may be something wrong with the animal.

Check for any injury to see if this could be a reason why your pup isn’t feeling well before handling them again in case of illness or injury.

Pets need patience from their owners so make sure you handle pets gently and don’t overdo things like petting or playing too rough.

You can also reassure your furry friend by speaking softly while stroking him/her until he/she settles down enough to continue what’s been started without getting upset.

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