Dog Growling At Nothing – What Are The Reasons?

Dog Growling At Nothing

Why is my dog growling at nothing all the time?

Well, maybe he sees, hears, or smells something you cannot.

In other cases, it could be an underlying health issue.


Read on to find out why your dog growls at nothing.


When you think your dog growls at nothing, they could be seeing something you are not. Dogs have stronger eyesight and sense of smell and can detect the slightest of movements; even a rat in the wall. Your dog growling could also be a sign of an underlying health condition.


Waking up to your dog growling at nothing at night can be frustrating.

You just need a good sleep but your pup won’t just pipe it down.

Here are some reasons why you believe your dog growls at nothing.


Acute senses

Dog held by owner

Your dog might be growling at something you are not aware of.

A dog’s eye has more light-sensitive cells and a wider pupil to let in more light.

This allows them to see better at night and will detect animals lurking in your backyard or a vagabond trying to make away with your kid’s bike.



In addition to the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing), dogs also possess a sixth sense-that gut feeling that something does not feel right

-Alexandra Anastasio, akc,com



What a dog cannot see, he will smell.

They can detect a new or strange scent in your home and are prompted to go investigate.


If your pup cannot get to the smell and it still irks him, he might start growling.

If your dog is born a guard dog, then his senses will be heightened.

He will always alert you of any intruder that tries to break into your home.

Including that raccoon that’s been stealing your veggies while you are away.


Not seeing things clearly

Dog with reading glasses

Dogs rely on their sharp eyesight to navigate in the day and at night.

As a dog gets older, his eyesight may get weaker and ruin his vision.

This means he cannot see the world as he used to and this can create fear in him.


Your dog will growl at any moving blurry shadow they detect.

Even if it is his good owner bringing him his food.

He just does not trust the world anymore without his eyesight.


Always check your dog’s eyes for any signs of infections or abnormalities.


Six main eye conditions affect dogs;


1. Dry eyes

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or “Dry Eyes” is a condition where the tear ducts produce fewer tears to lubricate the eye.

The eyes dry up and cannot get rid of dirt or debris.

This causes eye irritation and discomfort in your dog.


Symptoms to look out for include;

  • Squinting
  • Excessive blinking
  • Redness
  • Excessive pawing of the eyes

If left untreated, dry eyes can cause scratching in the cornea.

A ruined cornea results in canine blindness.


2. Pink eye

Conjunctivitis is an eye disease that affects both humans and dogs.

In canines, a bacterial infection is the leading cause of the “Pink Eye“.


Watch out for the following symptoms;

  • Sticky discharge on the side of the eyes
  • Inflammation or red eyes
  • Teary eyes

Pink eye in dogs may also result from allergic reactions.

If your dog is allergic to mold, pollen, or toxic smoke, he can get pink eye.



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3. Damaged cornea

Excessive scratching is the main cause of corneal damage.

Your dog may scratch the eye too much to try to get rid of dirt or debris.

This can cause injury to the cornea in the process of scratching.


Symptoms to watch out for include;

  • Eye reddening (inflammation)
  • Pawing the eye
  • Tearing


4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease where the eye does not tear and the fluid is trapped inside the tear duct.

This exerts a lot of pressure on the eyes.

Common symptoms include;

  • Redness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bulgy eyes


5. Cataracts

Cataracts are common in aging dogs.

Fortunately, most dogs get tiny amounts of cataracts which do not affect their eyesight much.

If the condition escalates, it can cause partial or total blindness.

Common symptoms of cataracts are eye cloudiness and irritation.


Mental illness

Canine cognitive dysfunction or dog dementia is a disease that has Alzheimer-like effects on your dog.

Early symptoms of canine dementia are excessive staring at walls or excessive sleeping in the day.


Other symptoms to watch out for include;

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Body shakes
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Navigation problems

Also if your dog is pacing around a lot, it could be a symptom of a psychological issue.

VIDEO: Dog Dementia


Your dog is upset

upset dog

Dog growling at nothing at night or during the day could be a sign he is upset.

Though dogs are man’s best friend, they can easily hold a grudge.

Especially if there is a person or an animal that keeps irritating the pup.


A dog will growl if the person or animal annoying it approaches.

They will growl without maintaining eye contact but will snap if further irritated.

At this point, back off or you get a nip.



scared dog

A dog growls at nothing at times when it is afraid.

This will happen when it feels threatened or unsafe in its immediate environment.


You might have rescued a shelter dog and taken it home only for it to start growling at you.

The best thing to do here is to allow the dog time to adjust to this new space.


If you have another pet at home, you might want to keep the two separated.



It is always good to get to the bottom of why your dog growls at nothing.

Take your dog for a checkup if you suspect the growling is out of an underlying condition.

Otherwise, training your dog to help stop the growling habit.


See Also

Frequently Asked Questions

If your dog is growling and barking a lot without anything wrong, you can train the dog to stop. Reward-based training is the best way to teach a dog to stop growling or barking for no reason. Growling could also be separation anxiety which means you should spend more time with the dog.

A dog will growl at nothing but it is telling you to back off. If a dog is upset, guarding a possession, or is in pain (disease or injury) it might want to keep to itself. Approaching the dog aggravates it more leading to growling.

While we don’t know if dogs can see apparitions, we do know that they have a sixth sense. Dogs trust their gut feeling more than humans do and what we see as growling at nothing could be a sign of something.  Dogs also stay attached to the possessions of a beloved deceased. If your dog stands at the door and growls at the console, he is probably thinking that his deceased owner will show up to leash walk him.

This is possessive aggressive behavior in dogs. Your pup is only protecting his valuables-which are his toys, feeding bowls, and beddings. It is nothing personal, he may growl at other pets to keep them away from his stuff too.


A pet owner who loves to share useful facts and information about a variety of animals.