What Makes Puppies Growl at Children?

by Amy Hunter
    It may take a little time for your new puppy to make friends with the children in his life.

    It may take a little time for your new puppy to make friends with the children in his life.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Puppies growl at children for a variety of reasons, and not all of them mean that your pup is thinking of biting. Puppies use growling as a form of communication, and they may have trouble expressing themselves in the complex world of living with humans. Combine that with often unpredictable behavior of children, and it is easy to see why your puppy may growl.

    Feels Threatened

    Your puppy may be growling at children because he feels threatened by them. Children act much different than adults, they are closer to the ground, move quicker and are louder. Even the most well adjusted puppy may have trouble interpreting what the child is going to do next, and it can make him nervous. He responds with his limited vocabulary, by growling. Whether this growing will escalate into a bite depends on a number of things, including the puppy's personality and how aggressive the child behaves.

    Guarding Belongings

    Children often have trouble recognizing boundaries. They may grab toys that belong to your puppy, plop down on his bed, or even stick their hand into his food dish to sample his dinner. If your puppy thinks that a child is getting ready to take something that belongs to him, he may crouch over the object and growl. If the child keeps moving toward whatever the puppy is guarding, the situation could escalate quickly.

    Frustration

    Even a puppy who enjoys playing with children may get frustrated and growl. Children don't have experience picking up on subtle cues that the puppy is getting frustrated and needs a break. Games that a child may think are fun, like keep away with a favorite toy or rough housing, can wear out your puppy's good nature relatively quickly. Close supervision by an adult, ready to intervene when they notice the puppy losing patience, is the best way to put a stop to frustration growling.

    Playful

    Not all growling is aggressive. Your puppy may growl as a way to communicate that he is having fun playing with the child, the same way they would growl at a littermate. This type of growling is not likely to escalate into aggressive behavior, but it may still frighten a child. It is important to supervise your puppy while he is playing with a child, even if they both seem to enjoy it, because your puppy, who is after all, immature, may switch from feeling playful to frustrated relatively quickly.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Amy Hunter has been a writer since 1998. She writes about health and lifestyle issues and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in "Sacramento Parent," ASPCA's "Animal Watch" and other print and online publications. She is the author of "The History of Mexico" and "Tony Gonzalez: Superstar of Pro Football," aimed at young-adult readers.

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