How to Stop a Dog from Growling at Strangers?

Dogs are man’s best friend. However, their aggression toward strangers may make you question this adage!

Some dogs growl at strangers because they are being territorial or protective. Meanwhile, others growl because they are scared or anxious.

You can’t solve a behavioral issue in dogs without knowing the root cause.

We explore why your dog may have a growling issue and how to stop a dog from growling at strangers.

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stop Dog from Growling at Strangers

Why Your Dog Growls at Strangers

Growling is a form of communication for dogs. 

Often, a stranger’s first instinct is to run away from your dog because they are being aggressive. However, your dog may be growling for other reasons.

Fear and Anxiety

One of the reasons a dog growls is because they are scared. They may also be growling in scary situations like thunderstorms.

Sometimes, they are too scared that they develop an anxiety disorder. This can cause them to be fearful of strangers.

Playing or Greeting You

Dogs may be growling at strangers because they want to play or simply greet them. 

While they mean well, you need to teach your dog how to properly greet people. You also have to monitor them because this friendliness may lead to aggression.


Your dog may be growling at a stranger because they think the person doesn’t belong on their property. 

This person may be your neighbor, a delivery person, or any other person. In fact, they can even growl at you if they see you encroaching on their territory.

This is why it’s important to teach your dog to obey you as their pack leader.

Resource guarding is a term for possession aggression, like when your dog is growling while they are eating, playing with certain toys, or chewing a bone.  

This video shows how to stop resource guarding in dogs.

How to Stop a Dog from Growling at Strangers

Socialization at a young age is the best way to prevent your dog from being aggressive toward strangers.

But how do you deal with this problem it if it’s too late?

Here’s a guide to helping your dog stop growling.

Establish Your Authority

Conduct training exercises that will help you assert your leadership over your furry friends. 

When a threatening situation occurs, your dog has to follow what you command instead of growling immediately.

The first step here is to leash-train them. 

You also want to teach them to sit calmly whenever you stop walking. When you are talking to someone, they should just sit and wait for their leader.

Let a Stranger Approach

Once you have established yourself as the pack leader, have a stranger approach your dog while they are on the leash.

If they react aggressively, jerk quickly to the side of the leash or in an upward motion. Do not hit or punish them. 

Keep doing this until they react positively to the stranger. Praise them for good behavior. 

Give Your Puppy Good Experience

Never punish your dog as it won’t teach them what is right and wrong. Instead, simply give rewards for good behavior.

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It could be through treats like True Chews Dog Treats. It’s made with chicken and other natural ingredients to reward your dog in a healthy and yummy way!

A training session will also distract them from anxiety, giving them something good to focus on.

As mentioned, anxiety can be one of the reasons why your dog growls.

When you give your puppy good experiences, you are making them confident, less anxious, and happy. 

Once your dog’s mental and emotional issues are alleviated, they will start being friendly to strangers, puppies, and even you!

Stay Calm

Remember that dogs pick up good energy. Always be calm when walking them outside.

If they feel like you are all tensed up, they will feel the same way and start growling. Lower your vibe and just relax. 

FAQ Correcting Dog Behaviors

What Should I Do If My Dog Barks at Strangers?

Like growling, barking at strangers may mean over excitement, fear, anxiety, or being possessive. 

The procedure is almost the same. Try to distract them with positive experiences, train them, and reward good behavior.

We have a guide on what to do when your dog barks at strangers!

Why Does My Dog Get Aggressive When Tired?

They say a tired dog is a good dog, but an overtired dog isn’t!

If your dog gets aggressive when tired, it could be because they lack sleep or because they are overexcited. Sometimes, it can be an underlying medical condition.

Check out what you should with your dog’s aggression when they are tired.

How Do I Train My Dog to Sit?

The sit command is important when you are trying to pause your walk to talk to people.

Your dog has to learn to quietly sit instead of growling at the stranger so as not to cause a nuisance. 

Just show your dog a treat and move it to naturally encourage sitting,

Keep doing this until they learn how to sit with just the verbal command.

Check out our step-by-step guide on training your dog to sit.

What Should I Do When My Dog Growls While Sleeping?

Your dog may be growling in your sleep because they are dreaming. 

If this happens, don’t wake them up. They may try to unintentionally attack you because their instincts will tell that you are a predator or enemy.

Just call their name calmly and comfort them when they wake up.

Find out what you can do when your dog growls in their sleep

Stop Your Dog from Growling!

Dogs are friendly, loyal, and adorable. However, they may also feel so uncomfortable around strangers that they tend to growl. 

Growling can be a form of aggression, greeting, or fear in dogs. The best way to prevent this is by socializing them at a young age.

But if it’s happening now, you can stop your dog from growling at strangers by establishing leadership over your dog.

Start asserting yourself as the leader of the pack and good behavior will follow!