The canine growl can be a pretty scary sound -- and quite often, it is. You're probably never happy to hear it, whether it's from your own beloved pet or the big, intimidating guard dog next door. However, growling can mean something quite a bit different than anger.
If you notice your dog growling, it may actually mean he's in the middle of one of the things he loves most -- and that's playtime. When a dog is "mock growling," he's actually trying to put on a show of being a fierce creature -- all in good fun, of course. You may notice that your pet's teeth are visible in an attempt to appear scary, too. This is one situation in which a dog's growl is really nothing to lose sleep over.
It's important to pay attention to the pitch of the growl, too. When a dog is happy, spirited and feeling jovial, the growl will probably not only be higher, but will also probably be a lot shorter in duration, too. A low-pitched, extended growl may actually indicate something quite different than contentment -- yikes.
When your dog is growling at a low pitch, it may actually be a warning rather than a sign of happiness. Unlike the feline species, dogs certainly don't purr, so there really is no confusion there. Perhaps your dog is trying to say to someone, "Go away. If you get any closer, I will not hesitate to attack you, so don't even try." If a dog is in this kind of hostile mood, for safety purposes your best bet is to stay away and allow him some much-needed time to cool off and calm down.
In the case of a low-pitched growling and barking combination, you may just be dealing with a belligerent dog who is on the verge of attack. This type of low growl probably isn't a warning, but rather a furious declaration -- uh oh. Aggression is likely on the horizon, and the dog is probably fully prepared to bring the sharp teeth out. Stay far, far away from a dog in this mood, and do not do anything to provoke him further. Play it smart.
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