Our lovely dog growled at DH

(26 Posts)
cheeseandbiscuitsplease Sun 29-Sep-19 08:13:31

We have a beautiful springer spaniel, he's 3 years old and a wonderful dog. He sleeps in our room on his bed. He is a very good dog, quick to learn and much loved.
Last night my husband and son had been out. I was on bed when they got in,our dog was in bed. My husband came in the room and then remembered he'd left garage door open so went to lock the door.
When he came back into the room he was shocked that our dog sat up and really growled at him when he came in the room.
He also barked which is highly unusual, he is a very quiet dog.
I am torn between being very reassurrd that my boy was protecting me but we are both upset that he growled at my husband. Surely our boy would know it was his "dad".
He often comes in off night shift and this has never happened before.
Any ideas please?

OP’s posts: |
Xraydog Sun 29-Sep-19 08:18:43

My loving, calm, gentle and sweet 3 year old growls a lot. It’s her communication for fear, guarding and even displeasure. But usually it’s just when she has been caught by surprise. It’s a perfectly normal canine communication method, I would reassure the dog that everything is fine, on this occasion there is no threat then forget about it.

Cocoismydog Sun 29-Sep-19 08:19:01

He’s a dog and he was scared. That’s his natural instinct the same as you might have shouted, ‘who’s there’ or similar.
Next time maybe your husband could start to talk before he comes into the room if it’s very late or gone back to the garage etc so your dog knows it’s him.

ChocolateRaisin Sun 29-Sep-19 08:20:39

Was it dark? Was he asleep? He may not have recognised your husband initially? This happened with our old GSD once, my dad disturbed him when he was asleep and it was dark, the dog went nuts until he realised it was my dad and he went from growling and snarling aggressively to happy and playful once he realised who it was.

I really wouldn’t worry too much.

eurochick Sun 29-Sep-19 08:23:29

It sounds like the dog was surprised. I wouldn't worry as a one off.

rottiemum88 Sun 29-Sep-19 08:23:47

You're "upset" that he growled? That seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. He's a dog and growling is one of the few methods of communication he has to let you know that something's made/making him uncomfortable. Maybe instantaneously he didn't recognise your husband for whatever reason, was it dark? Maybe him going out to the garage then coming back caught him off guard? His instincts are to protect both himself and his family, I couldn't possibly be upset with him for that...

Greyhound22 Sun 29-Sep-19 08:32:12

Growling is a warning - it isn't a bad thing. Dogs that growl give however they are growling at a chance to back off or stop what they are doing before the next step of snap or bite. You should never tell a dog off for growling - in fact when my son knelt (accidentally) on our dog and he growled I praised the dog and told DS off.

I think it was totally reasonable in the circumstances. I would just have said 'it's ok DDog it's Dad' or whatever and put the light on to show them. He must have been half asleep.


XXcstatic Sun 29-Sep-19 08:49:01

A friend (also a vet smile) got bitten by his dog when he broke into his own house, having lost his key. Dogs can be startled and frightened by shocks, just like humans. Your poor Ddog was scared and defending you. What did you expect him to do?

BiteyShark Sun 29-Sep-19 08:55:08

I came back home very late one night and woke up my DH and BiteyDog.

BiteyDog was really spooked and barked, growled and was in full on defend mode, so much he leaked anal gland fluid as he was really scared. It was only when I started talking did he realise it was me in the house and then went into full on lick/greet mode.

Not sure what the fuss is about tbh as clearly your DH spooked the dog thinking he was an intruder. In my situation I was more bothered that I had frightened our dog so I now speak as soon as I enter the house when I come home late at night.

666onmyhead Sun 29-Sep-19 09:12:10

Could be the dogs vision is impaired at night , this happened to our spaniel. It's not personal, it just him protecting himself and you.

Duvetdazed Sun 29-Sep-19 09:16:13

I wouldn't worry, the dog was probably in a deep sleep and it is their natural instinct. Hence the phrase let sleeping dogs lie. I assume he was fine when he realised it was just your husband?

NumbersStation Sun 29-Sep-19 09:20:27

Just echoing what others have said.
Your dog was either half asleep or just got spooked.

Don’t be upset. Your little security system is working just fine smile

Geronimo8 Sun 29-Sep-19 09:22:20

Growling is communication. Dogs get scared and feel defensive just like we do. Expecting a dog to never growl isn't realistic. Often the dogs that's don't growl are the ones that bite and people say there was no warning. Don't correct a growl. It's a measured response. The dog was just surprised and scared. Honestly it's fine. If he had walked up to an awake dog in the day and was growled at it would be very different.

FunkySnidge Sun 29-Sep-19 09:29:51

Good dog! A man surprised your dog in the night and he gave a warning.
This is a wake up call that your dog has protective instincts and is not a cuddly toy... Its always surprising when a placid dog reveals their inner lassie!
I was once changing washing over downstairs in the middle of the night and my dog was following me very sleepily. As we left the utility room she switched suddenly into a barking frenzie, and took a stand in front of me. I was so shocked and disorientated as we had been creeping around without the lights on and I couldn't see what was going on. A second later and my eyes adjusted so see one of the kids in the kitchen presumably for a drink. The dog was really barking and it was quite scary and aggressive. I called to my ds to tell him to speak and say something so she realised who it was, which he did and she immediately relaxed and started wagging.
We were both really surprised by her reactions but it just showed us that she had been confused and alarmed by the surprise appearance of my son and was doing her job.

cheeseandbiscuitsplease Sun 29-Sep-19 09:39:15

Thank you for all your responses. When I say we are upset I may have worded that a little dramatically, I guess I should have said we were taken aback as DH had already been in the room once and then on his return our dog growled. It is plausible our boy was asleep the first time he came in and then was surprised the second time.
Thank you for replying. I must also say our boy was not told off in any way and we simply reassured him everything was OK.

OP’s posts: |
Funghi Sun 29-Sep-19 09:47:02

Oh for goodness sake. He’s a dog. They growl. It was dark, he was sleepy, give him a hug and thank him for protecting you.

Wolfiefan Sun 29-Sep-19 09:49:18

If DH or DS come in the front door they have to call out or the dog reacts like we’re being burgled. That means scared barking but not actually going towards the scary thing. grin

missbattenburg Sun 29-Sep-19 11:28:18

Almost every dog I, or my wider family, have ever had has confused one of us for a stranger at some point.

I secretly like that "ooh, thank god it's just you" moment when they realise and make an extra fuss of you grin

madcatladyforever Sun 29-Sep-19 12:57:29

I've had dogs before and stamped on this behaviour right from the word go and the dogs knew their place was at the bottom of the pile. As a result they were very well behaved and safe big dogs.
Cats can be naughty too. My old boy who was a pedigree used to threaten my ex husband and try to get him into a corner. He was an alpha male cat but we could afford to laugh about that because cats can't kill you like dogs can.

Funghi Sun 29-Sep-19 13:03:37

the dogs knew their place was at the bottom of the pile

cats can’t kill you like dogs can

You sound hideous. Seriously, why get a dog?

WorldEndingFire Sun 29-Sep-19 13:04:28

Growling is a good thing - it means your dog is able to communicate its threshold. Read "In Defence of Dogs". A dog that is discouraged and reprimanded for growling is far more dangerous as there is no warning. A dog will issue many warnings before it growls or barks - read up on calming signals in dogs. Most dogs only resort to biting after their calming signals, such as licking lips, averting eye contact, yawning, walking away, or growling, are ignored.

Kikopup is also excellent at training advice:


WorldEndingFire Sun 29-Sep-19 13:07:45

Anyone who talks about "stamping out" behaviour or "pack" or dominance positions knows nothing about canine behaviour. Pack theory comes from a flawed study in the 1970s involving wolves who didn't know each other shoved in a captive environment who obviously showed extreme stress responses to their situation - not reflective of wolf behaviour let alone dog behaviour. Do read the John Bradshaw book, it's excellent.


JesusInTheCabbageVan Sun 29-Sep-19 20:45:57

madcatlady I hope you don't get any more dogs.

Ohmygod123 Sun 29-Sep-19 21:41:44

You're not pregnant are you? Our old dog got very defensive, barking and growling when people entered a room I was in when I was pregnant.

pigsDOfly Mon 30-Sep-19 00:51:07

My lovely small dog never barks at me, ever.

The other evening I'd been out for a while during which time it had got dark.

When I opened the front door she came tearing down the stairs barking furiously at what she thought was an intruder. As soon as I spoke and turned on the light she stopped barking and was clearly pleased to see it was only me.

Bless her, I think she was genuinely scared but she put on a good show. In future I'll make sure I leave the light on for her.

Dogs need to growl and bark, obviously not to excess, it's how they communicate and warn.

Every dog owner should make themselves aware of the signs that dogs give off when they're not happy with a situation: lip licking, yawning etc as well as growling. It's vital that we understand such signs because a dog has no other way of communicating.

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