Why Does my Dog Growl when I Sniff Him?

Why Does my Dog Growl when I Sniff Him

Dogs, unlike humans, are incapable of speech, so they use other means to communicate.


One of their methods of communication is growling.


We often dismiss this as a way for dogs to show aggression or displeasure.


But it is more than just that.


You will notice that dogs growl differently depending on the scenario.


It indicates that different messages convey different types of growls.


What Does a Dog’s Growl Mean?

Growling is apparent amongst dogs in different situations.


However, to the average human ears, the differences among them may be challenging to decipher.


Below are some of the times you will hear dogs growl and their general characteristics.


Play Growl 

this is high-pitched and shorter in lengths


Excitement Growl 

usually happens when you arrive home from work, accompanied by skipping legs


Irritation Growl

happens when dogs are frustrated, no sign of aggression but dissatisfaction


Warning Growl

low-pitched coupled with dilated eyes and exposed teeth.


It happens when dogs are uncomfortable in a situation


Aggressive Growl

intense growls with barks, raised hackles, and dogs may be in a ready-to-pounce position



Learn More:

Can Dogs Sense When You Don’t Like Them



What Does a Growl for Sniffing Mean?

dog growling


Though the above are normally expressed growls, why do dogs growl when others sniff them?


Well, when you sniff your dog, it warrants proximity to your dog with your nose near them.


So, when you do that to a dog, it is imperative that you will move closer to it.


The problem with sniffing is that it violates the concept of personal space.


For example, you would not like it if someone came up to you and sniffs you suddenly, even if it is your best friend or siblings.


Like us, dogs like their personal space, too, and appreciate it if we respect it.


You might also notice a similar reaction when you pick up your dog.


As pet owners, we might mistakenly assume that dogs will be in full submission to our authority.


Yes, they love us. Yes, they are our pets.


But dogs are still dogs.


And there are dog rules that we simply cannot reason out with them unless they have the training to be okay with it.


Now some dogs can be clingy and playful, but others may be quiet and reserved.


If we are talking about the former, then perhaps it would be okay if you properly asked for permission from the dogs before sniffing them.


And you do it slowly and gently not to startle them.


On the other hand, if it is the latter, then you just leave it be not to escalate the situation and make their irritation growl to an aggressive one.



If you are fond of sniffing your dog or just being chummy and cozy with them, but your dog does not like it, there is a way around it.


A treat will always work with dogs.


Begin by letting them smell you for familiarization purposes.


You start petting them for a few seconds and give them a treat afterward.


Repeat this until they become used to being held with or without treats.


Furthermore, until they are used to you being incredibly close to them, do not get too close.


When everything is ready, sniff all you want.


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