Why does my dog growl at my wife and not me?

why my dog growl

The majority of people never know why their dog growls when they pet them because we primarily associate aggressive behaviors with growling in dogs.

So it’s important to note that a dog growling because he is uncomfortable while being petted is usually no different than a person with social anxiety going into public and feeling anxious–no matter how much they want to interact socially. This will usually manifest as discomfort and sometimes aggression from either side.

Now, if there was pain or fear present the dog would have exhibited guarding behaviors (ie trying to get away, cowering) instead of aggression, which in many cases pets may exhibit withdrawal if they are scared from seeing something out the window that scares them or other environmental factors like thunderstorms

  • This article provides reasons why your dog might growl at your wife
  • Helps you find a solution to the problem in the form of understanding, patience, and trust.
  • A helpful guide on how to communicate with your dog when he or she is making such noises.

When a dog growls, he is either trying to communicate something back to you. Dog’s growl can either mean your dog is uncomfortable with you petting her or she appreciates the gesture and wants more. Defensive dog growling can mean your dog is choosing an aggressive stance because they are scared, fear for their life or undergoing a certain condition/situation. Now, in this case, the dog might growl at your wife only due to several reasons.

Generally, dogs growl because of resource guarding, seeking attention, fear-based aggression, wife behavior-related and attitude towards the dog, lack of exercise & mutual trust. This situation of the dog growling at your wife might not be pretty at all and requires patience and understanding to deal with it.

1) Dog Growling Caused By Resource guarding Tendencies.

Low dog growls are a solid sign of your dog’s affection or contentment with how you treat her. However, when your dog begins to emit low growls that escalate to louder growls while showing her conine teeth, your puppy dog might be displaying possession aggressive behavior commonly associated with resource guarding.

Dogs that have never shown any sign of aggression can sometimes experience a fear-based triggering moment that suddenly makes them growl, snap, or bite anyone who dares come near their most prized asset. Growling, Snapping, and biting can also be due to a disease or illness that may cause the dog to growl.

Pain is a widespread cause of aggression in dogs. An aggressive dog may have an injury or an illness that’s causing significant discomfort and stress, which make them lose interest in social interaction with their owner or other pets.

Generally, resource guarding dogs refers to any dog that suddenly begins to display defensive behaviors like growling, snapping, or biting. The growls with their teeth showing are intended to warn you or other dogs to stay away from a particular toy, person, or space.

For dogs, resources can range from food, treats, toys, a favorite sleeping place (a bed or favorite chair), or sometimes could be the dog’s favorite individual in a family. Though it may sound uncommon for dogs to guard resources, dogs’ behavior is normal for dogs to turn to resource guarding as safe preservation.

It is in the DNA of most dogs to guard something which they consider a valuable resource. For instance, they tend to guard food, toys, persons, chairs, space, etc. In this case, you may be the only valuable resource in his little world hence when your lovely wife tries to get intimate with you either by kissing, hugging, or cuddling with you, your dog will see this as a threat to his most valued possession. Therefore, the dog will take any steps like growling in order to distract your wife from cuddling with you.

2) Dog Growls As An Attention Seeking Tendency.

When dogs see that someone who normally gives them attention is not giving them attention, they tend to growl at the person, in this case, the wife. Or it might be that your wife is not giving the dog attention like you do even though she engages in feeding or the other day-to-day routines of the pet.

3) Dog Growls As Lack Of Involvement Of Your Wife.

It might be that the wife is not interested in things like bathing the dog, feeding the dog, playing with the dog and going walks with him. These are the little things that mean a lot to the dog and are the things that can make the wife bond with the dog like you did. This might also be the cause of your dog growling at your wife but not you.
This Lack of involvement is clearly a hindrance to building a healthy relationship between the pet and the wife. So, if there is no mutual bond, there will be no trust at all in his mind about your wife.

4) Dog Growls Due To Emotional Jealousy.

On this reason, some people do not agree that it can be cause too. You have to know that jealousy can also be the reason the dog growls at your wife. The dog sees you as his/her parent due to the bond that is between you two. So when the dog sees you giving your attention and love towards your wife, he will try to distract you from her.

There are some instances that your dog interprets you as her mate. So, when your wife hugs, kisses, or cuddles with you, your pet tends to bark or growl to show her protest against your interaction with the wife.

5) Dog Growling Due To Lack Of Exercise.

This behavior of your dog growling at your wife can also result from Lack of both physical and mental exercise. So, this can make him anxious and feeling annoyed, which can result in the arising of this barking problem.

6) Defensive Dog Growling Due To Fear

Defensive Dog growls can be caused due to a number of reasons, and the most prevalent causes are:

  • To prevent an attacker from coming too close. 
  • To establish superiority in relation to other dogs. 
  • As a warning before they attack. 
  • When they are fearful and want to be left alone, or when something startles them. 

In fact, dogs may also demonstrate this behavior out of jealousy if particular people show more attention towards one another than the dog is being given due to its negative affective state of feeling neglected. 

This might result when you’re paying more attention to your computer instead of them, and without realizing it, you’re depriving him of getting all that love he deserves! Dogs usually have no sense of personal space

This dog of yours might have bad memories with women like your wife before you adopted him or may not have been associated with women much before. So,when he remembers such bad memories and abuses, he becomes aggressive out of fear to protect himself.

7) Body language of your wife.

The behavioral pattern or body language of your wife might not suit your pet. For example, if she is greeting or talking to him in a way that startles him, it will be a problem.

So when she really conducts herself in a way that makes your dog feel threatened, they tend to show their aggressiveness out of fear.

8) Dog Growling Because He’s Interpreting hugging, kissing as a threat.

One has to know that hugging is not taken as normal in the canine world. So when they see you hugging, kissing, and cuddling your wife, they take your wife as a threat to their owner(you) and showing their aggressiveness to protect you from your wife.

Keep in mind that the reasons mentioned above can singly or in combination can cause the problem.

How to prevent your dog from growling or barking at your wife

Growling is another method dogs can use to communicate with us, hence instead of punishing the dog, you ought to know why your dog is doing this in order to find means of preventing this.

At first, try to figure out the exact reason for your dog’s aggressive behavior towards your wife. Then take necessary measures to prevent it. So, let’s dive in to find what you can do to prevent your dog from barking at your wife. Here is what you can do prevent this problem.

1) Proper training.

Take your dog since it is young, teach it the right behaviors until it grows up in such a way. You need to properly train your dog from his puppyhood will help to prevent these kinds of misbehaviors. So, giving proper training to your dog is a must you should do as a responsible dog parent.

2) Adequate exercise. (both mental and physical)

As described in one of the above paragraphs, lack of physical and mental exercise make your dog anxious. He becomes nervous and tense. Attention seeking and destructive behavior can arise as anxiety-based conditions. Hence give your dog enough exercise both mentally and physically as to prevent this aggressive behavior.

3) Try to distract him.

Next time he tries to bark or growl at your wife, you can find means of distracting him using his favorite toy or you can commands also.

Make sure to train your dog in advance to listen and obey to your commands like quiet and lay in your bed. When he is growling, say “Quiet” in a calm tone. ( do not use a threatening or angry voice). If he obeys, give him a reward and praise him verbally and physically. When he is growling, say “Quiet” in a calm tone. ( do not use a threatening or angry voice).

4) Try to involve your wife in pet’s affairs more than before.

Although it’s mostly hard for most dog lovers and owners, make sure to create some space between your loving dog, and you meanwhile try to involve your wife in his day to day routine more than before.

Tell your wife to take him a walk. Taking a walk together will definitely help to build a trustworthy and mutual relationship between the two. During the walk, let him sniff the surroundings, and when he behaves well, offer some food for him. Encourage your wife to feed the dog whenever possible.

Make him see that your wife is preparing food for him and let your wife put the food in his bowl. Because one proven tactic to win the trust of a dog is approaching via his stomach!

5) Try to change the former behavioral pattern of your wife with the pet.

The best behavioral pattern with a dog is staying calm. Tell your wife not to do things that startle the dog. Tell your wife to stop approaching the dog from the back of she does so, more especially if the dog is a bit old as their hearing ability might not be as sharp as compared to the younger ones.

Your wife should refrain from talking to you in an excited or high pitched manner that may startle the dog. Dogs tend to feel threatened in such situations. Treat him with the same loving kindness and empathy you treat your little one as they expect nothing but a parent from you.

6) Change the way your wife reacts to those behaviors.

Instruct your wife to change methods in a way he handles the dog when he growls or barks at her. When the pet starts barking at your wife, do not let her approach him. Next, your wife should stop what she is doing at that time and stay away from the dog for a while until it ceases.

If her reaction is a yelling, threatening, or a punishment, the situation will be worst. Then your dog will definitely repeat his misbehavior. Worse still, the dog might even get more aggressive instead of changing in this misbehavior.

7) Give him the attention when needed.

The simple reason might be that your wife is not paying much attention to him as much as you do. So, It will result in a disruption of the relationship between the two. May the wife take her time and try to engage herself in training sessions with the pet more than before and ask her to give her full attention during the training. If he behaves well, praises him by providing a reward or a treat.

8) Encourage your wife to take basic obedience classes with the pet.

When you teach your dog to obey you, it becomes much easier to give out instructions. It will support them to build a bond, and much necessarily, your dog will understand his place in the family. Also, be careful to choose classes that use positive reinforcement rather than punishments. In such cases, the wife can command the dog to stop such a misbehavior nicely and the dog will obey.

9) Hire a professional trainer.

You can choose to take this next step if you feel like or think that your training is not helping him develop his behavior, you can hire a professional trainer who can do what he is good at and help you in solving this misbehavior.

10) Train him to sleep on his crate.

If you like to cuddle with your dog in the bed can also be the reason the dog is behaving this way. Make your dog know it’s place, train him to get used to sleeping in his crate to prevent the aggressive behavior toward your wife as the dog will consider your bedroom as one of his territories and your loving wife as an invader to it!

So, take the necessary steps to train him to sleep in his crate. You will not be able to do this instantly. Use techniques such as giving rewards when he sleeps in the crate and trains him gradually to the crate.

11) Get advice from a professional veterinarian.

This is a thing that most people ignore but it’s of Paramount importance. If there is no slightest improvement in your dog’s behavior even after following the above-proven tactics, you should seriously consider consulting a veterinarian. Aggressive behavior can arise due to some medical conditions too or illness and the vet can handle such problems well.


Your dog might growl at your wife due to several reasons like resource guarding, seeking attention, fear, wife behavior, lack of exercise & mutual trust. You can take the necessary steps to make your dog stop growling at your wife namely: proper training, adequate exercises, distract him when he is growling at your wife and many more.

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 Referred.com 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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