If your dog has been growling and licking you at the same time, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog growl and lick me at the same time? Likely reasons why your dog growls and licks you at the same time are that it is playing, it is fearful, it is telling you not to touch it, it is being submissive or that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded.
There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why does my dog growl and lick at the same time?
Below are likely reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.
Your dog is playing
Sometimes dogs will growl when they are playing, and the cause could be that your dog is just playing. This would be more likely if it does it when it is showing signs of excitement such as by wagging its tail and jumping. It would also be more likely if it does it when you are playing with it or when it is likely to be excited such as before taking it for a walk.
Your dog is fearful
It might also be the case that your dog is fearful. This would be more likely if your dog has been doing it more at around the same time that it is likely to be more fearful such as when certain people are around or when there are loud noises inside. It would also be more likely if your dog shows other signs of being fearful such as by hiding or making itself be smaller.
Your dog is being submissive
Dogs will grin and show their teeth when they are being submissive. They will also lick when they are being submissive. The reason why your dog has been doing it might also be that it is being submissive. This would be more likely if your dog also does things such as roll onto its back or tuck its tail between its legs. In this case, it might be the case that your own behavior or body language is causing it to feel intimidated which would be more likely if your dog does it more when you have been shouting or have more aggressive looking body language.
Your dog does not want you to touch it
If your dog growls and licks you when you pet it or touch it in a certain way, the cause might also be that it does not like how you are touching it. This would be more likely if your dog stops growling and licking as soon as you stop touching it or petting it in that manner.
Your dog is trying to tell you something
If your dog comes to you and growls and licks, it could be the case that your dog is trying to tell you something. This would be more likely if your dog does it more at a certain time such as before you have fed it in the morning or before getting exercise.
Learning that the behavior is rewarded
It might also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it growls and licks you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.
If your dog has always growled and licked you
If your dog has not always growled and licked you, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as a change in its daily routine causing it to try to remind you to give it things such as food or exercise.
If your dog always growls and licks you
If your dog tends to growl and lick you more at a certain time, it would also help to consider what is different about the timing. For example, if it does it when you are petting it, the cause could be that it is telling you that it does not like how you are petting it.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language your dog shows when it does it. If it does things such as wag its tail and have a lot of energy, it would be more likely that it is excited and playing. Whereas, if it does things such as hide, smile, or hide its tail, it would be more likely that it is being submissive or fearful.
What to do about my dog growling and licking me?
Here are options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Avoid rewarding it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would likely help to stop giving it attention as soon as it starts growling and to avoid giving it attention until it stops.
If your dog has been behaving very unusually, it would help to get help from a vet since it could be due to neurological issues. By getting help you will also be able to get expert advice tailored towards your specific dog.
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