How do I get my dog to stop growling at my husband?

How do I get my dog to stop growling at my husband?

Growling is one of the most common ways a dog shows that he’s feeling threatened or defensive. Although your dog may growl at other people, it’s most common for dogs to growl at their human families because defending humans is often a high priority in the doggie hierarchy.

As a general guide, you can get your dog to stop growling at your husband by re-establishing the pack leadership, resolving the root cause of your dog’s triggers, and training your dog to feel confident around your husband or other family members.

There are many reasons why your dog might be growling at your husband – some are very easily sorted out! The first thing you should do is to determine whether your dog’s growling is truly aggressive or just a symptom that he needs more training. Here are three signs to look for:

  • 1) Is the growl high pitched, loud and continuous? Or does it sound like “harrumph” with an occasional low rumble? If so, your dog likely needs more training.
  • 2) Does your dog have a stiff, straight front? If so, he’s telling you that he’s uncomfortable about something. He may be anxious around people in general or simply nervous when your husband is present. If this sounds like the case with your family, seek professional help to teach your dog to be more confident around people.
  • 3) Where is your dog when he’s growling? Is he behind a barrier, such as a sofa or chair? Then the problem may be fear-based, and you should work to desensitize him to whatever is causing his fear, which you can do with counter-conditioning .

In the meantime, try to avoid situations that you know will be especially scary for him. For example, if your dog growls every time your husband walks into the room, shut your dog in another room before he enters and then close or block the door behind him so that your dog can’t slip out when he’s surprised by his presence.

If, however, your dog doesn’t offer a lot of warning before he growls, and if there’s no constant low rumble involved, then you should think about other possibilities.

There are common causes for your dog to display aggressive behaviors towards your husband or other family members. They include:

  1. Conflict aggression,
  2. Fear-based,
  3. Defensive aggression,
  4. Status-related aggression,
  5. Possessive aggression,
  6. Food guarding aggression
  7. Redirected aggression.

Dog Growls Due To Conflict Aggression

Conflict aggression is common because dogs are likely to fight or bite when they’re pressured. If your dog feels like your husband wants something that’s hers, she may become defensive and growl at him without warning.

This behavior might be rooted in the fact that she was simply not treated well by her former owner or other people before you adopted her. To re-establish your husband as a non-threat, you should first give her something of equal or better value than what she thinks he wants.

Whether it’s actual possession, such as a toy or food item, or a behavior that makes her feel good, like going for a walk — give it to your dog before he gets to her.

If your husband is the one pressuring your dog, you should work with a professional to teach your husband how to approach and interact with your dog. If she’s never had to defend anything before, she may not understand why he wants it and will respond as if he were trying to take something from her.

This can be fixed with counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques: first your husband should be taught to ignore the dog completely and avoid eye contact with her, and then he should be taught how to politely ask for things like food or attention.

Dog Growls Due To Fear-Based Aggression

Fear-based aggression is common in dogs who feel overwhelmed or threatened by something new. The easiest way to put your dog at ease is to desensitize her to whatever is causing her fear.

You can do this with counter-conditioning : first, make sure that she’s calm and comfortable with the person before exposing her to something of concern. Then, after a few minutes of relaxed interaction, give your dog a tasty treat while the other person is nearby.

Do this a few times a day, and slowly move closer each time until your dog can handle being near the person while she’s not eating.

Once your dog is comfortable with the person, try gently petting her while she has a tasty treat in her mouth – eventually, she’ll associate good things with the presence of a person.

Dog Growls Due To Defensive Aggression

Defensive aggression is common if a dog feels trapped and must fight her way out of a situation. Think about what makes your dog feel this way, and try to change the situation so your dog doesn’t have to defend herself, at least not in terms of actual physical violence.

If she sees the window open, for example, and feels like it’s her only way out of the room, she may growl or bark to make sure no one approaches her. As with fear-based aggression, desensitization is key — you’ll need to first teach your dog that people who come into her space are worth paying attention to and that they come with good things like treats.

Next, associate the presence of people with rewarding her – especially if she can’t see them through a window or door – and try having your husband approach as well. Then you can start teaching your dog that even when someone is in her space, it’s safe.

Dog Growls Due To Status-Related Aggression

Status-related aggression is common if your dog feels like you or anyone else in your home is challenging her position as an alpha. You can resolve this by learning more about pack leadership and how to become the leader of your dog’s pack — this will clarify who she should look to for protection and food, and who she can look to for comfort and affection.

If necessary, you should also ask your husband to start taking a more hands-off approach with your dog – if your dog is aware that he’s treating her differently than the rest of the family, it will be difficult for her to understand where she stands in terms of pack leadership.

When your dog knows you’re in charge and that she doesn’t need to worry about protecting her food, toys, or space from people in the house, then she’ll stop feeling like a threat is coming into play when someone approaches.

Dog Growls Due To Pointer Aggression

If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs, the cause may be what’s known as pointer aggression . This can happen when a dog feels threatened by another but doesn’t know how to deal with the situation.

For example, if you have a young puppy and an older and more experienced dog and they’re playing, but your older dog is accidentally too rough with the pup, it may escalate into a fight. The older dog may be trying to alleviate his frustration that your puppy isn’t respecting him as an adult, but he’s going about it the wrong way.

You can resolve this by keeping a close eye on how your dogs play with each other and making sure they’re not too rambunctious. As soon as you see signs that the older dog is becoming frustrated with your puppy, immediately call for your puppy to come to you and give him a tasty treat – this way, he’ll learn that playing with the older dog brings good things.

Dog Growls Due To Role Reversal Aggression

When your dog is aggressive toward you, it may be because of what’s known as role reversal aggression. This happens when a dog believes she’s protecting herself from her owner because she believes he’s the one who wants to hurt her.

For example, if your husband yells at the dog or has had some negative experiences with her in the past, she may feel threatened by him and try to protect herself. This aggressive behavior is her way of saying she’s getting hurt, but it makes it okay for you to use positive training methods when approaching your dog.

Using a leash attached to the harness allows you to keep control over your dog while still being gentle with her. You can then give her treats as a reward when she is calm and obeys commands.

In order to prevent further role reversal aggression from occurring, your husband needs to keep his distance from your dog – this way, she’s not going to feel as though he’s a threat because she knows that he won’t harm her. If the two of you have had some negative experiences.

Dog Growls Due To Possessive Aggression

If your dog growls at you or anyone else in the house, it may be because of what’s known as possessive aggression. This happens when a dog feels threatened by someone coming near her food, toys, or space.

To resolve this issue, all members of the family need to start being more hands off with your dog’s things. If your dog is in possession of a toy and another family member wants it, the other person should only take it when your dog is not looking.

If you’re trying to get your dog out from under the table, for example, you need to be patient with her — give her time to come toward you on her own. If she won’t come toward you, use a treat to lure her out and then give it to her as a reward.

However, your dog also needs to learn that other family members can take things from her whenever they want – this way, she’s aware that sharing is caring and that other people in the house should be respected as well.

Dog Growls Due To Fear

If your dog is growling at people because she’s afraid of them, it can be difficult to get her to calm down. This typically happens if one family member is much bigger than the other and your dog feels threatened by his stature.

To resolve this problem, all members of the house need to show a little bit of patience and understanding toward your dog – she needs to learn that it’s okay for people to be around her and touch her. When this is first implemented, you’ll need someone who your dog isn’t afraid of (preferably a young child) to do the touching.

At feeding time, put something she doesn’t like on your hands and then approach her bowl. Once she starts eating, slowly move your hand closer to the food and keep it there until she’s finished.

If she leaves the food untouched, you can give her a treat for not being afraid and then try again in 15 minutes when you’re sure that your dog isn’t hungry anymore.

As with all things, your dog needs to learn that not everyone around her is a threat. To accomplish this, you need to give your dog time and training to get used to people — don’t push it or she may become even more frightened than before.

Dog Growls Due To Dominance Aggression

If your dog growls at you whenever he wants something, it can be a sign of what’s known as dominance aggression. This typically happens if the dog gets food from you whenever he wants, for example, or demands attention from you when he feels like it.

In an attempt to resolve this problem, all members of the house need to establish rules and start being consistent with them – don’t allow your dog to get things from you whenever he wants, only if it’s a good time for a treat or a belly rub.

To transition to this new way of doing things, your dog needs to be fed at the exact same times every day – even if she doesn’t eat her dinner right away, she should be hungry enough by dinnertime to eat.

When she wants attention, don’t give it to her right away – if she barks or whines at you, ignore her until she calms down. Once she does, petting is an acceptable way of thanking her for being calm and well-mannered.

Just remember not to ever reward dominant behavior by giving in and allowing your dog to do whatever she wants. She needs to understand that you are the leader of the house, not her, so she’ll need you to be firm at all times.

If you are a dog owner, you must understand that dog growling is a valuable means of communication and it’s something that you must appreciate instead of punishing the dog.

Of course we are not promoting a dog growling at you, but we also wouldn’t want the to fail to communicate through growling if something makes him uncomfortable because communication is key to a successful canine-human relationship.

Most dog owners usually punish their dogs for growling which is bad as this makes the dog to stop growling when he’s about to warn us of something or that he’s about to snap, literally and figuratively. In other instances, when you punish a growling and uncomfortable dog, it might lead to full on aggression.

So I believe the question might be if you are not supposed to punish your growling dog, what’s needed of you to do? Well here’s a few things you can try

1) Don’t push your dog over his tolerance threshold. Stop whatever you are doing

The husband should avoid pushing the dog to his limits. If the dog’s growl threshold is almost at his bite threshold, and if the husband doesn’t have much time between the dog’s growl and safety, he must get to safety.

If the dog’s growl towards the husband does not mean he is about to bite, the husband should stop doing whatever he is doing but he should remain wherever he is. He should wait until the dog relaxes and then move away which means you are encouraging the relaxed behavior rather than the growl.

2) Analyze the reason for the dog growling

Why is the dog growling? Why towards your husband? Does she growl when you touch her or groom her? Does it growl when restrained? How about when you take something away from the dog? Or what’s making him do something?

If your dog growls at your husband, think about what has changed in your shared environment. Is the husband being given more time than the dog? Have you started giving the dog less care because of your husband?

3) Find means to get your dog to do something which does not elicit aggressive communication

Try to make your dog behave or do something without eliciting a growl. Convince him to do so other than physically pushing him or pulling him. Have someone who is to feed him treats while in the process touch, groom or restrain him. Until you convince the dog to do whatever made him growl, don’t do it until he realizes that the activity is question is a good thing rather than a bad thing.b

4) Do an evaluation on the stressors in the dog’s world and reduce many of them as possible

If the dog is unaccustomed to strangers, or your husband, this would definitely stress your dog. If the dog is noise phobic and your husband makes a lot of noise, he will surely growl at your husband or city crews are digging up a nearby street with heavy equipment, or there are thunderstorms, your dog will be definitely stressed.

Or if your husband likes to use the vacuum cleaner in the presence of the noise phobic dog, this might cause your dog to growl at your husband. A loud argument between you and your husband might also stress your dog.

Harsh verbal or physical punishment, an outburst of aroused barking at the mail Carrier, fence fighting with the other dog, the list goes on.

You must also know that stress causes aggression and stressors are cumulative. It is not the immediate stimulus that caused the growl, but a combination of these.

This might explain why he might growl at your husband for something he didn’t growl last week. The more stressors you and the husband especially can remove overall, the less likely he is to growl at your husband.

5) Institute a behavior modification program for your dog to change his opinion that makes him growl at your husband

You can do this by counter-conditioning and desensitization which will convince him that the bad thing, your husband in this case, is a good thing. You can also use careful means of negative reinforcement as in a constructional Aggression Treatment (CAT), a program which will teach him a new behavior strategy when presented with discomfort causing stimulus.

All in all, the best way to stop your dog from growling is to get rid of the things that makes him growl at your husband, it might be either pain, fear, possession aggression or territoriality. If you deal with these, maybe the dog will no longer growl at your husband or you in some instances.

Why do dogs growl?

To understand better how better how you can stop your dog from growling at your husband, there’s need to know why dogs growl in order to know exactly why your dog growls at husband and how you can solve this.

Growling is one of the ways your dog uses to communicate with you. A dog might growl to show you that it is in fear, pain or needs to back away from it’s possessions or territory. People first reaction to a growling dog is usually run or scold it or punish it for growling.

This is the case mostly as growling is usually the first sign of more and serious aggression, hence it’s important to handle a growling dog with care.

When a dog is growling, just know that it’s trying to tell you something. Growling is a sign of an underlying problem. Instead of forcing your dog to stop growling, know the reason why your dog is growling and make sure you sort out this issue. Once the problem has been eliminated, be sure to see the growling disappearing or eliminated altogether.

1) Pain

When your dog growls due to illness or pain, you may notice that it only growls when it’s certain parts are touched. Your dog may also show signs and symptoms of illness or injury like decreased appetite, lethargy, weight loss, biting or licking specific areas of it’s body or hair loss.

The solution of this problem of a dog growling due to pain or illness is to immediately refer the matter to your veteran. If the dog is given proper treatment, the pain will be taken away which will lessen the growling or stop the growling.

2) Fear

When a dog usually growls at strangers, specific people like children or your husband, when the dog is in a place it’s not familiar with, the likely cause might be fear.

A dog may growl in situations that trigger fear like during thunderstorms or fireworks displays. Other dogs which are aggressive may be suffering from a disorder related to anxiety.

3) Territoriality.

An example of this is the dog that growls at the mail carrier or delivery person or any other person that the dog thinks doesn’t belong on its property. If a dog growls as a consequence of territorial aggression, you may also notice it growling over other territories, like its place on the couch or its spot on the bed.

The dog may growl whenever it senses that someone is encroaching on its perceived territory. This “someone” could be a stranger or even a family member. This type of behavior can be modified and is best determined and helped by a specialist.

4) Possession Aggression

This is also referred to as resource guarding. A dog that displays possession aggression may growl when someone approaches it while it’s eating, playing with certain toys, or chewing on a bone or rawhide.

This reaction can be avoided with a training program that will help your dog understand appropriate reactions.

5) Having Fun

Some dogs naturally growl when they’re having a great time. This growling often occurs when two (or more) dogs are playing with one another or if the play is associated with tug toys.

This is usually a harmless expression of feelings. It should be monitored closely, though, especially with puppies, since the growling behavior can quickly move toward aggression.


Growling is one of the ways your dog uses to communicate with you. A dog might growl to show you that it is in fear, pain or needs to back away from it’s possessions or territory.

There are several ways you can stop your dog from growling at your husband and these are not pushing your dog over his tolerance threshold.

Stop whatever you are doing that makes the dog growl, analyze the reason for the dog growling, find means to get your dog to do something which does not elicit aggressive communication, do an evaluation on the stressors in the dog’s world and reduce many of them as possible, and Institute a behavior modification program for your dog to change his opinion that makes him growl at your husband.

When a dog is growling, just know that it’s trying to tell you something. Growling is a sign of an underlying problem. Instead of forcing your dog to stop growling, know the reason why your dog is growling and make sure you sort out this issue.

Eddie Mcfarren

Eddie Mc Farren has been proudly advocating for pets and animal welfare for countless years and he's been doing so with passion and commitment to excellence. Because of that commitment, he helps Pet maintain a completely friendly support team who help you navigate the complex choices you have to make for your pet food, best dog travel beds, skincare products for your pet and many more. Being on the constant hunt for 100% best pet supplies and service satisfaction for your pet is a task we approach with unprecedented intensity. Eddie also helps with the selection of our partners of choice and are carefully vetted to make sure that you get the best results possible for your pet.

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