If your dog has been growling at your partner a lot, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog growl at my wife? Likely reasons why your dog growls at your wife are that she has encouraged the behavior, your dog is playing or that your dog does not like how she interacts with it.
There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog growls at your partner and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things that can be done about it and there are some things that can be considered to help figure out the main cause.
Why does my dog growl at my wife or husband?
Below are likely reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.
Encouraging the behavior
It could be the case that your partner has inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving your dog things it wants when it growls. If your partner gives your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it growls, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Another possible cause is that your dog gets intimidated. This would be more likely if your dog growls at your partner when they show intimidating body language towards it or when they are shouting.
It could also be the case that your dog growls because it is playing with them. This would be more likely if your dog does things such as wag its tail, jump and lick as well.
It might also be the case that your dog thinks that it is protecting you from your partner. This would be more likely if your dog tends to spend most of its time around you and your partner does not interact with your dog very often.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.
If your dog has always growled at your partner
If your dog has not always growled at your partner, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it might be the case that your dog learned that the behavior is rewarded or that your partner started interacting with your dog differently.
The timing of when your dog growls at your partner
It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog starts growling. If there is a certain time that your dog does it, it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if your dog does it when they are shouting, your dog is likely being protective. Whereas, if your dog does it when they are petting it, it might be due to having learned that the behavior is rewarded or because your dog does not like how they pet it.
What to do about your dog growling at your wife or husband
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not. Additionally, it could help to give your dog a “time out” when it does start growling.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of displaying them and not rewarding it when it does not behave the way you want. To use it to get your dog to stop growling you would get your dog in a situation where it normally growls and reward it whenever it shows signs of not growling.
Avoid intimidating it
It could be the case that your partner’s body language has been causing your dog to get intimidated. Instead, it would help if they were to be calm around your dog and to encourage it to behave the way they want via training.
Why does my dog growl at my girlfriend or boyfriend?
If your dog growls at your girlfriend or boyfriend, the cause could be that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded, your dog sees them as a threat because it is not used to having them around or that your dog is jealous of the attention you are giving them.
It would help to consider the body language your dog shows when it is growling. If your dog does things such as show its teeth, it would be more likely that your dog is doing it due to thinking they are a threat. Whereas, if it does things such as wag its tail, it would be more likely that it is doing it because it has learned that the behavior is rewarded.