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9 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Growls At Nothing + 7 Tips

Why Does My Dog Growl At Nothing

It can be confusing when your dog starts growling and barking at nothing. Your normally quiet dog is now becoming a vocalization mess.

The sudden change in your furry friend’s behavior can be nerve-racking. It may lead to severe medical conditions. The worst thing is the mental stress that could forever affect your dog.

To help you deal with it, this article will let you know:

  • Why dogs shake when growling.
  • 9 reasons why your dog growls at nothing.
  • 7 efficient things to do when your dog growls at nothing.
  •  And a lot more…

Why does my dog growl at nothing?

Your dog growls at nothing because they have sensed something. It could be a scent, sightings, sounds, or things that alerted them. Dogs are highly sensitive animals. Dogs respond to what they can sense. Growling is one of their responses.

People also ask:

9 reasons why your dog growls at nothing

#1: They see something you can’t

No, I don’t mean ghosts.

Dogs have sensitive senses. And while this is highly beneficial to them, it may come off as terrifying to their dog parents. Especially when their fur baby growls for no apparent reason…

To explain this strange behavior, this study sheds light on dogs’ vision. It explains that when your dog is surrounded by darkness, they become more alert.

The researchers call it ‘night vision’. It also makes dogs notice slight motions clearer. When this happens, they become more attentive to their environment.

A dog’s night vision enables them to see things from a distance. Their eyes can see movements from afar that no human can detect.

Seeing something that isn’t visible to the human eyes doesn’t mean it’s a paranormal thing. The slight movement of the curtain due to the air can alert them, too.

#2: They hear noises

They’re not only vision-sensitive but also noise-sensitive. That’s because their hearing reach is much more advanced than humans’.

This research proved that dogs can sense noises from far places. Not only can they detect animals, but people and objects too.

This is why it appears as if your dog suddenly growls at nothing. When in fact, they hear something. They may also familiarize themselves with the sounds of inanimate objects.

For instance, your neighbor’s frequent car noises. This is why when your neighbor arrives, your dog might start growling and barking.

#3: Something or someone frustrates them

Frustrated Dog Growls Meme

Dogs don’t just whine at things that frustrate them. When it comes too overbearing, they’ll soon start growling.

Most of the time, the growls are quiet and short. For example, if they’re reaching for something under the table.

They will growl as a sign of frustration because they can’t have what’s underneath.

But it’s not always directed to objects. Sometimes, your actions can annoy them too. These are other behaviors they’ll do when you’re the reason for their frustration:

  • Avoid you.
  • Stare excessively.
  • Urinate on your stuff.
  • Hide under your bed.
  • Scratch their paws at you.
  • Act less affectionate towards you.
  • Chew your favorite things like shoes and slippers.

Though it’s not alarming enough, you should still keep yourself aware. Sometimes, urinating on stuff is an indication of developing trauma.

Peeing on things means something is threatening them. They cannot hold their fear that they release it through urination.

This is could be a sign you’re unknowingly causing them emotional distress.

#4: Something makes them fearful

A dog’s first instinct, when in danger, is loud growls. It’s a warning sign that they’ll attack soon. Something scares your dog when they suddenly growl at nothing.

Usually, fearful dogs sit and growl at nothing. According to research, sitting is what dogs do when they obey orders. To them, the scary thing should go away if they sit still.

This commonly occurs when a loud thunder or flashy and noisy sirens appear. When dogs are new to these sounds, they could start panicking.

Their response is to alert their owner by growling. While sitting to indicate that they want it gone.

#5: They are sick

Sick dogs also growl suddenly when owners unknowingly hold them close. Usually, dogs with injuries show this type of behavior.

If your dog hasn’t been injured, look for these other symptoms:

  • Vomiting.
  • Lethargy.
  • Restlessness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Reduced interactions.
  • Defecating with blood.
  • Decreased water intake.

What’s more, according to this study, restlessness can be a sign of anxiety. 

On the other hand, dogs with dementia can suddenly growl at nothing.

When this happens, dogs negatively anticipate their surroundings and the people around them. To protect themselves, they will growl and shake.

These findings concluded that the usual cause of body tremor is dread. Dementia temporarily affects a dog’s memory until they can no longer remember.

This is why dogs with dementia abruptly growl at nothing. They fear that their owners – now strangers to them – might hurt them.

#6: They saw a speeding animal

Dogs are social animals. 

And growling is one way for them to communicate with other animals or people.

So if your dog suddenly growled and barked at something, it means they’re communicating. Perhaps, the speeding animal is going after something.

This takes place when quick-natured animals catch their attention. By growling your dog alerts you of their presence.

This occurrence is common when squirrels and cats are around. Dogs perceive chasing such animals as a challenge. And it’s also part of their hunting instinct.

#7: They want your attention

Growling Dog Meme

Maybe you’ve been spending too much time at work. Or, you’re probably always out of the house.

Take note that some dogs are attention-seekers, in a good way. When they sense negligence, they might start growling at you.

This study shows that dog-human companionship is incomplete without affection. From a dog’s point of view, you no longer care for them.

This is because they are emotionally-sensitive as well.

Growling at nothing can also mean pointing your attention to something. If your dog growled at the door, they probably sensed another presence.

A dog owner on another forum shared his dog’s unusual growls towards the door. It turned out, there was a mischievous trespasser outside.

So growling can also be a way to get your attention in times of emergency.

#8: They are aging

Senior dogs don’t have much energy to wag their tails and jump at something. Instead, they use their voice.

Owners often misunderstand their senior dogs. Their hasty growls are possible indicators that they’re hungry or need help with something.

A study provided an explanation of why dogs rely on vocalization. Being a long-term companion, dogs are already expecting you to understand them.

Therefore, it is why senior dogs growl at things rather than using bodily actions.

Also, aging goes hand-in-hand with health declination. Sometimes, one single jerk is already too much for them.

Moreover, watch out for possible signs of health conditions. As I previously mentioned, it can also be the leading cause of unexpected growling and barking.

 #9: They can sense another dog from a distance

You already know that dogs communicate with each other through body language and sounds.

The reason why your dog suddenly growls at nothing is due to other dogs. They became aware of their presence, even from afar. You won’t hear it but they do.

Notice that when your neighbor’s dog growls or barks, your dog will do the same too.

This study concluded that your dog knows if someone/something calls to them. So your dog and your neighbor’s dog are communicating through growls and howls.

In this case, there’s nothing too alarming for you to worry about. It’s just dogs being dogs. A.k.a social beings.

7 tips on what to do if your dog growls at nothing

#1: Cover up the noise with another faint noise

Have you ever heard about white lies? Well, the same principle goes for white noise. It is an act of covering up possible triggering noises.

Your dog’s sudden growl may be due to their extensive hearing frequency. Surely, you wouldn’t want to hear it during your nighttime sleep.

To avoid abrupt growls, you can make use of an electric fan. But make sure it’s not bothering your dog’s sleep.

Note: If the sounds your dog makes don’t bother you that much, just let your dog be. Your furry friend will eventually stop growling.

Also, if you’re in a less-secure environment, allow your dog to do this. Dogs growl at strangers. This will help you notice if there’s an unknown human presence.

#2: Remove / Avoid triggering objects

Let’s say a certain object has been bothering your dog since day one. If the growling continues, maybe it’s time to eliminate the object.

A dog owner on a forum shared how her dog was growling at home. At first, there seemed to be no reason for the growls. 

Then, one day after coming home, the lady found the broom on the floor. The lady had installed a camera to keep an eye on her dog.

When she played the recording, she found out her dog tried to attack the broom. After she changed its place, the growls stopped.

#3: Move your dog to another room, preferably with you

If dogs suddenly growl from another room, it may be due to various reasons. They could be under separation anxiety or they’re afraid to be alone.

Fear from isolation is due to a traumatic past. It often takes time to cure. But separation anxiety has a solution. 

Keep your dog with you at all times and train them using distance-related games. An example would be hide and seek. Since it involves your absence for a short time.

It may also help to praise your dog every now and then. That way, they’ll know they’re doing good.

#4: Pay attention to them

Previously, we learned that dogs suddenly growl when they long for affection. One of the signs is excessive staring.

Take note if your dog maintains eye-contact when growling. It means they yearn for your attention. 

Don’t scold or punish your furry friend. Instead, give them physical intimacy like cuddling and belly rubbing.

Note: Do not always react to your dog’s request for attention. Otherwise, you’ll teach them that they will get attention whenever they request it. It’s best to schedule some time during the day when you cuddle, pet them and play games.

#5: Exercise your dog’s mind

Frustration makes dogs growl all of a sudden. To avoid slight triggers, help your dog with getting used to nearby sounds and surroundings. A good idea is to do this through outdoor activities and dog sports.

In this way, confusion from unfamiliar sounds and objects will no longer annoy dogs.

Note: Use positive reinforcement when you go out with your dog. Scientists came to the conclusion that dogs who receive negative reinforcement only become more frustrated.

#6: Turn to a dog behaviorist

It’s beyond understandable if you really can’t decode why your dog growls. To find the reason behind your dog’s unexpected behavior, seek a professional’s help immediately.

Look for dog behaviorists in your area and ask for recommendations.

#7: Raise the concern to your vet

Your furry dog’s behavior can be due to medical conditions. Previously, I’ve said that growling could be health-related.

If you think sudden growls and other symptoms are recurring, seek medical care instantly. This is also applicable for senior dogs as they are more prone to ailments.