If your dog is snarling, it means they have a message they desperately want to pass to you. This can be that they feel angry and are giving a warning, or they feel happy and are appreciating you for it.
Here are the main reasons why your dog is snarling and other cues that accompany this vocalization to help you better understand your pooch’s needs.
They Feel Threatened
Your dog may be snarling because they feel scared or threatened. This usually happens with rescue doggies or new puppies that still haven’t settled into their new environment.
You may also notice your dog snarling when strangers pet them, whether it is in your home or outdoors. The best way to deal with this is early and adequate socialization training.
As A Hostile Warning
Snarling is often a sign of aggression and is a hostile warning to back off before the dog launches an attack. This will usually be associated with other physical cues, including bared teeth and pinned back ears.
This may happen if the dog is exposed to an unfamiliar dog that demonstrates hostility. It is also a common occurrence in guard dogs when they encounter a potential threat.
Contentment Or Pleasure
Snarling is not always a negative thing, with some dogs actually snarling when they are happy. This is comparable to purring in cats. The dog will let out a higher-pitched and less threatening snarl to show their contentment, whether it is during cuddling with you or receiving belly rubs.
Some dogs also snarl when they are being playful. The best way to tell when your dog is being playful and not aggressive is by observing for other positive physical cues. These include an excitedly wagging tail and gentle facial expressions.
Another common reason why dogs snarl is to protect their territory. This could be anything from their cage or dog bed to their food bowls.
For the most part, this happens with dogs that had a traumatic past where they constantly had to fight for their territory, as is the case with most adult rescue dogs.
They Are In Pain Or Physical Distress
Finally, some dogs snarl as a way to express pain or other physical discomforts when they are ill. Here, you may also notice the dog whining in between the snarls. Their mood and energy levels will also likely be uncharacteristically bad and low, respectively.