Why does my dog growl at me at night?

Dogs communicate in different ways with their owners and even with other dogs. But what about the growl? Why does my dog growl at me at night? What will be the reason? How to proceed in these situations? This post will talk about the dog’s act of growling at its owners or even other acquaintances and strangers at night.

Why does my dog growl at me at night?

Dogs can growl at night for a variety of reasons. Dog growls can indicate that the animal is dissatisfied with something. Dogs always growl at things that frighten them, annoy them, or make them afraid. 

Dogs use the growl as a first warning before being aggressive, or even running away from danger. Some dogs may growl at night to defend their puppies and even to defend their food.

For some dogs the growl may indicate that the animals want the owner to move away or even that the owner does not take the animal itself, the food, or touch some part of the dog’s body. 

Some dogs that don’t have a good view can confuse the owner at night due to lack of light. Believing the owner to be a stranger, these animals may growl at their own owners.

The growling can signal to the owner that something is not right and that the house is at risk, main characteristics of dogs bred to be used as guard dogs. However, some dogs can use the growl to indicate changes in the animal’s body that generate pain, for example.

Health problems of dogs that growl at night

Some animals can growl at their owners or at night, and this behavior can be a sign of pain and illness. The veterinarian should be consulted with any changes in the behavior of dogs.

Some diseases that can make dogs growl on their own:

  • Infectious diseases;
  • Trauma;
  • Joint diseases;
  • Neurological diseases.

Infectious diseases

Infectious diseases such as that caused by the rabies virus can affect dogs.The rabies virus can affect several animals, including possum, dogs, and humans. 

Rabies is a contagious and lethal disease. This virus acts on the nerve system of dogs leading to behavioral changes and neurological disorders.

Transmission occurs through contact with the saliva of a sick animal, mainly through the bite of animals. For transmission to occur, the attacked animal must carry the virus in its saliva. So not all possums will transmit the rabies virus to dogs.

In rural areas, bats that feed on blood are the main source of transmission of rabies by animals, mainly cows and horses.

The main symptoms presented by dogs are:

  • Behavior change;
  • Aggressiveness;
  • Salivation;
  • Prostration;
  • Lack of appetite;
  • Paralysis.

Many dogs tend to hide, run away from owners and even growl at people in the house. Excessive salivation can favor choking. Dogs can become very aggressive and try to bite everyone around them. In more serious cases, animals can prostrate themselves and even have paralysis.

Rabies has no cure for dogs and within 10 days of the onset of symptoms, dogs tend to die. Therefore, prevention through rabies vaccination is essential to maintain the animal’s quality of life and prevent the tutor from getting sick with this type of zoonoses.

Neurological diseases

Neurological diseases can have many causes. But some injuries can cause dogs to change their behavior. So, these animals can growl, or even find their own tutors as strange.

One of the diseases that can affect elderly dogs is canine cognitive disorders. Dogs with this type of disorder can forget about their owners thus identifying them as strangers. Many of these dogs can growl and even be aggressive towards people who love them.

Many diseases can be treated, while others must maintain palliative care to avoid damage to health and even worsening the disease. As several neurological diseases can affect the dog, it is important that the animals are consulted by a neurologist veterinarian.


Animals that suffer some trauma or injury can feel severe pain, reacting with growls and even bites. Dogs that suffer from being run over or that have been beaten by some other animal can present pain as well as growling to defend themselves.

Some dogs can grow up in harsh environments suffering minor daily traumas. This type of breeding is intended to make the dog more aggressive. However, it is not the best way, as it involves pain and dog suffering. These dogs treated in this way tend to be more suspicious and very aggressive, even with their owners.

To train a dog for work and guard, it is important to train with qualified professionals such as veterinarians specializing in canine behavior. That way the dog can become angrier without suffering aggression.

Joint diseases

Joint diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis can affect the elderly dog. These diseases lead to acute pain, and when you touch the limbs of these animals, you can see the dog growling. Dogs growl because when they touch the affected limb, they feel pain and often end up being aggressive to push away everything that makes them feel pain.

Arthritis and artroses are degenerative, so the treatment must be done for the entire life of the animal. In times of crisis, dogs can be treated with more potent anti-inflammatory drugs.

What to do when a dog is growling?

When a dog starts growling at nothing, try to observe what the growling is for. If you realize that it’s just the dog trying to protect itself, or even a form of play with the owner, you should give the dog time, and soon he’ll be back to normal.

If other symptoms are observed, mainly related to lameness, behavioral change and groans of pain, you should seek a veterinary doctor for the correct diagnosis and even treatment to bring comfort and quality of life to the animals.


Growling is a dog form of communication. It is the way the dog tells the owner that something is not right and that the animal is feeling pain, discomfort, scared and feeling in danger. Some diseases can lead to aggression in some dogs resulting in night growls and other changes in behavior. For this, a veterinarian should be consulted to avoid harm to the health of the dog and even the tutor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why does my dog growl at me at night?

How to fix a growling dog?

Training can show the dog that there is no risk for the owner to get close to the animal. Activities can be done according to the routine of the tutor and the dogs and therefore must be done by a specialist veterinarian.

Is it normal for the dog to growl at the owner?

The dog growling at the owner can mean many things, pay attention to the other symptoms. Therefore, it is important to know the dog well to be able to identify what he is trying to demonstrate.

Do dogs really need to be vaccinated?

Yes, Dogs should receive core vaccines (Parvovirus, Distemper, Canine adenovirus and Rabies) and may need others depending on their lifestyle.


Rossi, A. (2008). Comportamento canino: como entender, interpretar e influenciar o comportamento dos cães. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 37(SPE), 49-50.

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