If your dog growls when you hug it, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

The most likely reason why your dog growls when you hug it is that it feels threatened since research has shown that hugging dogs can raise their stress levels.

There are a number of possible reasons why your dog does it. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog growls when you hug it

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog growls when you hug it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

It feels threatened

It is common for dogs to become stressed when they are being hugged (source). The reason why your dog growls is likely to be that it feels threatened or intimidated when you hug it. This would be especially likely if it does not show any signs of excitement and it shows signs of discomfort such as trying to distance itself from you.

Confusion

Another possible reason why your dog growls, when you hug it, is that it is confused. This would be more likely if you don’t hug it often and it starts behaving unusually when you do it.

It wants you to stop

Another likely reason why it growls, when you hug it, is that it wants you to stop. As mentioned above, dogs become stressed while being hugged so the growling is likely its way of saying that it does not like it.

Excitement

It might also be the case that it is doing it due to being excited. This would be more likely if it shows other signs of excitement such as wagging its tail or licking you. However, even if it does show signs of excitement, it still could be the case that it is actually stressed. So, it would help to be cautious even if you think it is due to excitement.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out what has been causing your dog to do it.

What else happened when it first started growling when you hugged it

If your dog did not always growl when being hugged, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to things such as if you started hugging it more forcefully.

What is different when it doesn’t grumble when you hug it

If your dog does not always grumble, when you hug it, it would help to consider what is different when it does. For example, if it only does it when you hug it forcefully, it would be more likely that it does it because it feels intimidated.

Body language

It would also help to consider the body language of your dog. If it shows signs of stress such as backing away from you, hiding its lips, shaking or being stiff, it would be more likely that your dog does it due to being stressed.

What to do about your dog grumbling when you hug it

Below are some things you can do about it.

Don’t hug it

I know you may want to hug it and to show affection towards your dog. However, it is common for dogs to feel threatened when being hugged and it can cause them to be anxious or even sometimes aggressive (source). Instead, it would be better to pet it, rub its belly or to play with it in other ways.

Be calm with it

When interacting with your dog, it would also help to be calm with it since it might be the case that it is also growling because it is reacting to your own emotions when you are interacting with it.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.