Why Does My Springer Spaniel Growl At Me?

A growling dog can be a fearful sight, especially if you are new to the game of pet parenting. While growling is often associated with negative emotions and an unhappy dog, several types of growl are associated with happy emotions. It’s important to understand the different types of growls while watching the dog’s body language for signs of distress.

springer spaniel speaking
English springer spaniel ‘speaking’

While Springer Spaniels are not inherently aggressive, they can growl for various reasons. During play, your Springer Spaniel might growl as part of the game. The dog might also growl as resource protection for items like food bowls or to indicate they are in pain or injured.

Whatever your spaniel’s reason for growling, it’s important to remove the root cause of the issue to help the dog feel safe and secure. While happy growls are naturally nothing to worry about, negative growling can quickly escalate into an unpleasant experience for dogs and humans if nothing is done to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Why Does My Springer Spaniel Growl At Me?

springer spaniel barking with bunny ears on
Barking English Springer Spaniel with easter rabbit ears.

There are several reasons that your Springer Spaniel might be growling at you. Not all of these reasons are necessarily indicative of a negative reaction by the spaniel. To establish if the growling has negative associations, you must consider the dog’s body language.

If you are playing a game of tug of war with your Springer Spaniel, chances are high that they will growl while playing with you. This is by no means a negative growl. This is simply part of the game and is often an expression of joy while playing with their favorite person. Naturally, this type of growl will have no negative connotations.

If your dog is growling at you when you approach their food bowl, this is a different story altogether. You will need to watch the dog’s body language to identify whether their growling has negative associations.

Happy Growling

springer spaniel growing
English Springer Spaniel performing “speak”

Your beagle may engage in playful growling when playing a game with you or another dog. This type of growling is actually an expression of excitement and happiness. It is a sign that the dog is having a good time, and there is no cause for concern.

Sometimes, a dog may become overexcited, and their playful growling may turn into aggressive growling. This is more common when they are playing with another dog. If this occurs, simply stop the game and give the dog (or dogs) sufficient time to calm down before you allow them to continue the game at a more relaxed pace.

Some dogs may also growl affectionately when being petted. This is similar to the purring of a cat and is seen as completely harmless.

Unhappy Growling

A dog may growl aggressively for several reasons. Some dogs are simply born with more aggression or have been trained to attack. While it is unsettling and somewhat scary to hear a dog growling, it is actually a blessing. A dog that attacks without growling is far more dangerous than one that gives a warning.

The warning growl gives you sufficient time to intervene to prevent a disaster before it occurs.

Your dog may be growling as a means of resource protection. This could mean they are attempting to protect their food or other personal belongings from anybody else who enters their territory.

Your dog may also growl at you if they are in pain from an injury or another health issue. This is a sign that the dog needs medical attention. They will usually growl when you touch a certain part of their body to warn you that they are in pain and to protect themselves from further injury. It’s important to heed their warnings in this instance to prevent them from being further injured and to ensure you do not get bitten.

Dos & Don’ts Of Growling Dogs

When dealing with a growling dog, there are several things you should do and several things that you simply shouldn’t do. You should never react angrily to your dog’s growling, as this could further aggravate them.

A growl is a warning to be heeded; if you do not heed their warning, the dog will continue to react negatively toward you. If you provoke the dog to get them to stop growling, it will also cause them to become aggressive. The dog will see that you are not taking their growling seriously.

If you force the dog to stop growling, they will see that you do not understand their signal, and they will become further irritated.

Observing the dog and trying to understand what is causing them to growl is important. Once you have established the cause of the growling, you can stop the situation that is causing the growling. This could be a person that is approaching them. It could also be a result of an object or toy you might have taken away, or they are protecting their territory.

Whatever the cause, you should quickly remove it from the dog’s vicinity before it becomes a further problem. Once you have removed the cause of the problem, you can start calming the dog down by giving him the attention and reassurance he requires.

You can also distract him by dividing his attention with another entertaining item such as a toy or treat. Once he stops growling and calms down, you can reinforce his good behavior positively by rewarding him. This positive reinforcement is far more effective and helpful for the dog than reprimanding him for the bad behavior.

Once you have identified the cause of the growling, treating the underlying issue is far easier. It may require only a simple lifestyle change for yourself or the dog. It could also require that you remove a certain object or person from the dog’s vicinity to prevent them from becoming further aggravated.


While the Springer Spaniel is not an inherently aggressive dog breed, there are several reasons the dog might growl. It’s extremely important to pay attention to the dog’s body language to understand whether they are happy or in distress. This will help you to determine if the growling is good or bad. You will then be able to remove the cause of the growling if it is deemed necessary.



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