Why Your Dog Growls At Some People And Not Others

dog growling, dog growls at some people and not others, Dog Training, why does my dog growl

Dogs are interesting creatures.

They are so simple in some contexts and so complicated in others, or so we think.

Honestly, I think the problem is that we humans don’t take the time to try and understand our dogs.

We are quick to judge.

And, we don’t put ourselves in their shoes, or their “paws.”

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I think I have been so successful in my career working with animals because I have learned to think like them.

Over the years, I think I understand dog behavior more than I understand human behavior.

If you want to learn more from an even better perspective, read Temple Grandin’s books, because she has autism, and her mind is wired differently; I think she gets an even more in-depth understanding. I think her books are amazing and revealing!

Why Your Dog Growls at Some People and Not Others

People have such a hard time imagining why their dog would growl at some people and not others.

It makes him look like a complete psychopath, right?

He may even growl at people you like, or your family.

You simply can’t understand it!!

Let Me Ask You a Question

Have you immediately liked every human being you have met?

The answer is, NO.

No one who is not mentally challenged has ever liked everyone.

Heck, many of us don’t even like “most” people.

Sure, some people are more extroverted and have an easier time liking people.

But, we still tend to judge people within a few seconds of meeting them.

Perhaps we don’t like them because they are arrogant, or distant, or there is just something about them that we can sense and don’t like.

Your dog can have similar feelings.

Sure, some dogs like everyone! This is why I love dogs!!

But, some dogs don’t like a small handful of people.

And, other dogs dislike most people.

What is Critical About All of This

Don’t write off your dog’s feelings as nothing!!!

So many people say things like “He would growl, but he would never bite,” but he is giving you clear communication.

And, remember although dogs have some similarities to us humans (more like toddlers) they don’t have the self-control, knowledge, and rationalization that we have as humans.

For Instance

Even if I don’t like someone, the chances are that I am not going to punch them or stab them; even if they push me or my buttons.

dog growling, dog growls at some people and not others, Dog Training, why does my dog growlThe same can’t be said of your dog.

If he is giving you clear communication that he is uncomfortable (growling, hackling, or barking), if the person pushes, he is likely to use the only thing in his arsenal to defend himself: his teeth.

He can’t rationalize anything else.

Don’t Sugarcoat It

Aggression is aggression.

Dog aggression isn’t a terrible thing; it is merely a behavior.

Don’t sugarcoat it, and don’t pretend that it doesn’t exist!!! You aren’t doing anyone any favors if you do, and you are risking your dog’s life.


In some cases, you can make some positive change; in others, you can only attain control of your dog.

I used to have a dog that basically hated everyone.

He had fear and aggression issues.

And, he taught me a great deal about dogs like him.

First, I couldn’t change his personality. He was never going to be that “Golden Retriever” temperament that loved everyone.

So, I accepted him for who he was and early on in his life; I stopped trying to push him.

Pushing a dog to do something that makes him feel severe fear or aggression ruins his trust in you!

Trust between dog and owner is critical in dog training.

Sure, I did all the right things. I had people toss him treats so that he would have a positive association with people we just met, and still, I didn’t allow them to touch or push him.

And, I gave him coping mechanisms by teaching him control through training.

Eventually, with most good people, if I didn’t push him or force him and I had him under control, he would learn to drop his guard and accept them.

He even eventually became friendly with some of my close friends.

But, I always evaluated his behavior and the information he was trying to tell me.

The Truth Is

The truth is that some dogs growl at some people.

Take the growl as information; sometimes a growl is a good thing.

Give your dog some coping mechanisms through obedience, and keep him on a leash with you to help him control this impulsive behavior.

Don’t force him to interact if he doesn’t want to interact.

Dogs are simple creatures if you understand them on their level.

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  1. J says:

    My dog growls at us and sometimes bites us during the night. We don’t know why she has become aggressive in bed with us. She dies suffer from severe storm and rain anxiety and we tend to get storms in the middle of the night.


    Minette Reply:

    Crate him! No excuses!


  2. Regina Higgs says:

    My dog is a lab. She is obedient until she sees another dog. I want her to play with other dogs. But don’t know where to start. She is 7 yrs old


  3. Kim says:

    My pup (GSD) can walk down a busy street happily nosing peoples hands as we pass, isn’t overly friendly – but not aggressive either. Loves children so I have to take care his enthusiasm doe not knock them down.

    He also takes random dislikes to people. I mainly contribute this to the way they smell. If they smell of alcohol he does not like them and I think the other trigger is if they are on certain types of drugs. Not just because they look like they are high, but because he has taken a dislike to two known drug users.

    I got him at 12 wks old so not sure if down to a bad experience or because they simply do not smell right. I feel managing the situation is the solution as I am not keen on such individuals trying to befriend my pup.

    Can’t take him to a barbecue where everyone is drinking and my adult son and I never drink.


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