How to Deal with A Dog Growling or Showing Teeth

Dogs can be very loving and affectionate, but they also use aggression to communicate with the people around them. Sometimes your dog may growl or show his teeth when you reach for him or when he wants something that is not food. Most dogs will give warning signs before making contact like barking, growling, baring their teeth, snarling, snapping, etc.

It is important to understand what these behaviors mean because it could save your dog’s life. Not knowing what your dog is thinking during an aggressive situation can lead to tragic consequences for both of you.


A growl can be a dog’s first attempt to warn you that he is uncomfortable with the current situation. If you ignore this warning, your dog may eventually try to bite as his next course of action if he feels threatened enough.

If your dog starts growling at you, stop what you are doing and give him plenty of space. Do not look directly into his eyes or approach him. Be sure to stay calm no matter how scared you feel because showing fear will only make matters worse.

When a dog growls and shows their teeth, they are usually protecting themselves. Most of the time, your dog doesn’t even realize that they are growling or showing their teeth. The dog usually just shows that they don’t want something to do with them. Some dogs growl when they are not happy about something, and some dogs only growl when something annoys them or scares them.

Why Do Dogs Growl?


Painful medical conditions, food aggression, punishment-motivated aggression, resource guarding and protective behavior are just a few of the reasons that dogs growl or show their teeth.

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If your dog is in pain or has an injury, he may use aggressive behavior to communicate with you. If your dog is hungry but someone tries to take his food away, he may also act aggressively toward them due to hunger or protection of his meal.

You should never punish your dog for showing warning signs like growling because it could make him more nervous and increase the chances that he will eventually bite you. It is important to stay calm when dealing with situations like this because tension will only make matters worse.

Fear or nervousness can also cause your dog to use aggressive behavior. If your dog is startled, scared or feels threatened by something, he may show his teeth and growl at you to express that he doesn’t like what is going on.

Territoriality and protection of their property are also very common reasons why dogs growl. Dogs will often show warning signs like barking before they make contact to tell the person to stay away. Your dog may save you from an intruder by acting defensively, but he could also use aggressive behavior if he feels that something is threatening his home or family members.

What do you do if your dog starts growling?


You should always try to avoid getting into an argument with your dog when they are being aggressive. It can cause them to feel even more agitated and increase their desire to attack you.

Do not use physical force on your dog, instead show him that you are in charge by trying one of these techniques:

  • make loud noises like shouting “NO” in a firm voice
  • spray water from a spray bottle at your dog’s nose
  • use a shake can filled with coins, and shake it near to your dog’s face
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Your goal is to show your dog that you are in charge and make him uncomfortable about growling or showing his teeth. He should start listening instead of acting aggressively toward you as soon as possible.

If your dog is showing aggression towards strangers or other dogs, he may need professional help from a trainer who knows how to deal with these types of issues.

Make sure that you stay as calm as possible during the entire situation. Only give your dog enough time to stop growling or showing his teeth if you are trying to teach him new behaviors.

If all else fails, you should put him in his kennel until he calms down or call a professional trainer for help. A professional trainer will be able to help you train your dog so they know what is acceptable behavior.