Skip to Content

11 Odd Reasons Why My Dogs Growl At Nothing + 7 Tips

Why Does My Dog Growl At Nothing

You notice your dog growling.

It may seem like they’re growling at nothing at all.

But you know there’s something.

You just don’t know what it is.

Keep reading to know:

  • 7 tips on what to do to help calm your dog.
  • 11 reasons why your dog growls at nothing.
  • How to know what your dog wants based on behavior signs.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog growl at nothing?

Your dog growls at nothing because they have an extraordinary sense of hearing and smell. Due to this, they can smell and hear something strange that you don’t. It could also be that they have medical issues or are in pain. Or they could be doing this because they want your attention.

11 reasons why your dog growls at nothing

#1: Your dog has a bad eyesight

Having poor eyesight can annoy us because we can’t see clearly what’s in our surroundings. 

What more can our dogs feel when they have this kind of problem?

Bad eyesight can cause our furry pals to see shadowy or cloudy objects. 

If they can’t determine what that is, that makes them feel threatened.

As they grow older, it can’t be helped that they’ll experience poor eyesight.

They’ll consider everything they see as dangerous. 

They start to growl at it to protect themselves.

Our canines won’t tell us they can’t see clearly, but the signs of bad eyesight are pretty obvious.

Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Hyperactive.
  • Being clingy.
  • Afraid to jump.
  • Stop making eye contact.
  • Bumping into walls and furniture.

When your dog is so used to your surroundings, you may not notice their poor vision.

Rearranging furniture can be a way to check if they can still see well.

#2: Your dog has canine dementia

Aging has often been equated with forgetfulness.

It’s the same with our dogs.

A related medical condition that affects our dogs as they grow older is dementia.

Dog dementia is also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD).

It’s the same as Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

This condition primarily affects those dogs who are older. 

It’s said to affect 60% of older dogs.

It can deteriorate their comprehension, learning, and memory.

Study says that canine dementia has almost the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Signs and symptoms of dog dementia are:

  • Shaking.
  • Lethargy.
  • Extreme irritability.
  • Aimless wandering.
  • Antisocial behavior.
  • Unresponsive when called.
  • Changes in the sleep cycle at night.
  • Staring blankly at walls or nothing.
  • Failed to remember their daily routines and training.

As they have dementia, they hear and see things that aren’t there to begin with. They start growling at it.

If they’re staring at the wall growling, this may indicate an early sign of dog dementia.

Consult your veterinarian if this often happens.

To better understand this condition, here’s a video all about Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:

#3: Your dog senses someone else

Have you experienced your dog growling, and then suddenly a guest comes knocking at your door?

Dogs are known to have better senses than humans.

They have an area in their nose and brain dedicated to detecting and interpreting scents.

That’s how they can sense someone nearby. Such as other animals or people roaming around.

As a result, doggo will start growling at the trespassers.

You’ve been wondering why they suddenly behave like that. 

They can sense other creatures and are very good at noticing visible motions.

If our dog growls at nothing at night, it’s more likely that they see something we can’t see, such as:

  • Bugs.
  • Other animals.
  • People or intruders.
  • Something confusing.

Dogs can see better in the dark than humans.

Our canine friends can see far objects but they sometimes can’t identify what they see.

They struggle to identify what exactly it is that they’re sensing. It confuses them, so they growl.

Even as humans, if we think there’s someone, we tend to shout at them to come out and ask who they are. 

Dogs do it by growling, barking, or pacing.

It could also be the reason why they bark or growl on your window at night.

#4: Your dog smells something strange

Did you know that your dog’s strongest sense is their sense of smell?

Dogs have about 300 million olfactory receptors than us humans, who only have 6 million.

Their sense of smell is somewhat extraordinary compared to us.

It allows them to have greater sensitivity to odors around their environment.

They can identify which side of their nose the smell came from.

Consider checking your surroundings if they start to growl. Is your neighbor having a bbq party?

Your canine might have smelled the grilled meat.

Did you do some house cleaning? Our dogs can smell the strong house cleaners we use.

These are some scents that may attract your dog:

  • Fertilizer. 
  • Chemicals.
  • Grilled food.
  • Toxic gases.
  • New objects at home.
  • Other animals or insects.

When your furry pal reacts to the aromas, they may start to growl at it out of their curiosity.

Changes in atmospheric pressure send different scents to dogs.

Dogs are then able to sense that there are changes in the environment through their smell.

They can smell what we can’t. It keeps us wondering what they’re growling at.

Dogs can even smell if you have an illness. They can detect a slight change in our body odor.

Illnesses can alter our body’s chemistry, exposing a certain scent that only dogs can smell.

They may growl to let you know that they’re aware that something is off. 

#5: Your dog hears something unfamiliar

Your Dog Growls at Nothing When He Hears Something Unfamiliar

Dogs also have more sensitive hearing than us humans. It’s their second strongest sense.

There may be some noises from a distance that we’re not aware of that triggered them to growl.

They can hear things up to 4 times farther away from them. Our furry friends can even move their ears to hear something better from a distance.

Their ears have 15 muscles. Your doggo can move one ear at a time to listen closely to sounds we can’t even hear.

It’s normal for them to respond to it. And as we all know that they can only do it by barking or growling.

Their ears have strong muscles that enable them to hear a much wider variety of control on their ears.

They can identify precisely where the sound came from.

Everyday sounds that may cause them to growl are the following:

  • Babies crying.
  • Constructions.
  • Electrical buzzing.
  • Vehicles passing.
  • Water dripping from faucets.
  • Other animals making a sound.
  • Someone coming into the house.

#6: Your dog feels something strange

Do you notice that in movies, most dogs survive disasters?

It’s true to life as well. Dogs can sense that something is to come that isn’t normal.

Even in the olden days, there has been evidence of canines acting strangely before disaster strikes.

However, they can’t figure out if it’s an earthquake, tornado, storm, hurricane, etc.

Our dogs tend to growl at nothing in the air as a response to what they feel about it.

Canines get into protection mode when they sense that something dangerous is coming.

Experts say it’s because dogs can feel the land moving or hear how the ground grumbles.

Possible body language that your fur pal may exhibit includes:

  • Tail up.
  • Barking.
  • Sniffing.
  • Panting.
  • Howling.
  • Growling.
  • Guarding.
  • Being alert.
  • Running away.
  • Being more protective.
  • Imminent sniffing or licking.
  • Becoming restless or aggressive.

Our furry friends can sense these events:

  • Earthquakes.
  • Climate change.
  • Incoming storms.
  • Stress or negativity.

#7: Your dog is in pain

You can hear your dog growling every night but there are no trigger factors.

Consider internal reasons for their growls. They may be in pain that’s why they growl.

They don’t want to be touched because they fear that it may cause them more harm.

Their growl will be different from the usual when they’re not feeling well.

As a fur parent, try to observe other symptoms that indicate your dog is in pain.

Other signs that they’re in pain may include:

  • Fever.
  • Yelping.
  • Stiffness.
  • Trembling.
  • Lots of licking.
  • Changes in their diet.
  • Dry or wet eyes and nose.

They may growl if they’re in pain when you touch or try to cuddle them.

Ask your veterinarian to check your dog to provide appropriate care.

It’s necessary to identify the growling without any external sources to determine the actual cause.

Dogs don’t really growl at nothing. 

Their growling always has a meaning behind it.

#8: Your dog is fearful

Sometimes dogs growl at nothing when they’re fearful.

Rescued dogs tend to growl at nothing because they’re anxious and, or not familiar with the place.

This behavior arises when they feel threatened or not safe in their surroundings.

Dogs often growl when they’re fearful or trying to display themselves in a particular situation.

What are the most common things that dogs fear?

  • Car rides.
  • Gunshots.
  • Fireworks.
  • Strangers.
  • New location.
  • Other animals.
  • Blood injection.
  • Thunderstorms.
  • Separation with dog parents.

There can be a variety of reasons for dogs being fearful. The ones mentioned above are the most common causes.

Now that we know probable causes, what are the signs of a fearful dog?

  • Hiding.
  • Pacing.
  • Barking.
  • Panting.
  • Shaking.
  • Whining.
  • Drooling.
  • Growling.
  • Cowering.
  • Snapping.
  • Lip licking.
  • Flattened ears.
  • Destructiveness.
  • Loss of bladder control.

A fearful dog may sense that they’re in danger and need to defend themselves.

That’s why they growl at nothing to remind or communicate with us what they’re going through.

#9: Your dog is being protective

Growling is a sign that they might bite. It can happen especially if they want to protect their food, space, or toy.

If the dog is upset, they may growl at nothing to tell those around them to back off.

But why do dogs react this way? There are 5 potential causes why your dogs suddenly become hyperactive.

Here are the possible reasons:

  • Fear.
  • Illness.
  • Frustration.
  • Hyperactive.
  • Being possessive.

Dogs may be at their protective state while they growl when they exhibit:

  • Snarling.
  • Bared teeth.
  • Body posture is stiff.
  • Ears are pinned back.

They wanted to have an alone doggie time when they show these behaviors. They don’t want anyone or something to come near them.

#10: Your dog wants your attention

Your Dog Wants Attention

Dogs can have a conversation with their human pal only through barking or growling.

When they learn that their fur parents have their attention every time they growl, there’s a tendency that they’ll do it more.

Dogs seek attention when they’re left alone often or due to a lack of activities.

Demanding your attention motivates them to growl or bark.

If you observe that they do it when you don’t give them the time of day, allot a few minutes to play with your furry buddy,

Our canine pals are naturally sociable, and they love to bond with us.

Of course, we’d love to bond with them too. At times, adulthood responsibilities can get in the way.

It won’t hurt to make sure that you spend time with your doggo each day. It will be beneficial for both of you.

Research says that when dog parents identify themselves as guardians, your bonding with your furry friend grows stronger.

#11: Your dog has medical issues

We have to consider the possibility of neurological diseases in observing the reason why dogs growl at nothing.

These are illnesses that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.

Sensory losses such as the loss of their smell, blindness and, or deafness may cause them to growl at nothing.

Older dogs are the most likely to experience medical problems.

They sometimes wander, roam around the house puzzled, and randomly growl at nothing.

They can’t discern what’s in their surroundings.

It’s highly recommended to take a trip to your veterinarian and have a neurological test.

Specific health issues may lead your dog to growl and gaze at a wall or other things. 

Examine whether your dog exhibits the following signs:

  • Shaking.
  • Limping.
  • Drooling.
  • Weakness.
  • Behavior change.
  • Antisocial behavior.
  • Difficulty navigating.

If your dog is older, it may develop illnesses or medical concerns due to its age. 

But don’t be complacent as well if you have a younger canine. 

If they growl at nothing habitually and you see the symptoms mentioned, don’t hesitate to bring them to the vet.

7 tips on what to do if your dog growls at nothing

#1: Recognize the growling

The first step is to recognize why your dog is growling.

This can help you choose the appropriate training and exercises to stop the growling.

Observe your dog for the timing of their growling.

There are many reasons why they growl at nothing.

Be patient in exploring what those are.

A growling dog may indicate hostility or that may bite.

That’s why you shouldn’t try to muzzle or silence your dog when they growl.

To determine what causes the growling, ask yourself these questions:

Once the growl, observe for triggers in the environment. 

  • Are there loud noises? 
  • What other behavioral signs can you see?
  • Do you think they’re being protective of their space?

Asking yourself these questions can help you determine the cause of their growling.

#2: Socialize your canine

Help your dog adapt to different environments, situations, and people, to lessen their anxious thoughts as they grow older.

Train them to relax when you’re not around. Let them understand and feel that they’re still safe so that they don’t develop separation anxiety.

Walk and play with them in the park or outside. Allow them to explore the world outside your home.

Taking your dog out regularly to a public place will help them adapt and be comfortable with anything around them.

Expose them to different kinds of animals and interact with other people.

Socializing your dog may help them become comfortable with the things that cause them edgy that make them growl.

But remember not to force them. You may start observing other people and dogs from afar.

If your canine responds well, get nearer or extend the time daily. Slowly but surely, your canine pal will learn to socialize.

It will make them more secure and confident.

#3: Reward your dog’s obedience

Rewarding obedient dogs is an effective training method.

Punishing them is never really effective, and it may cause your dog to be aggressive.

Instead of yelling at your canine for growling, ask them calmly to stop.

When they do, reward them with praises and a treat.

After they exhibit a positive training outcome in their growling issue, rewarding your pups helps them behave well afterward.

Dogs may find things rewarding, such as:

  • Treats.
  • Cuddling.
  • Toys for dogs.
  • Praising them.
  • Trip to the park.
  • Playing with other people and their pets.

These may also be the benefits of rewarding your dog:

  • Explore their talents.
  • Look into their characters.
  • Address what they need.
  • Trust building between the dog and you.

#4: Remove the trigger

Some causes of their growling are very much visible to you such as insects, other animals, or machines at home.

After you successfully identify the trigger, remove it.

Continue to observe them when they growl again and get rid of the cause.

Teach and let your dog understand the reason for getting rid of the things that cause their behavior.

Positive reinforcement, such as giving them treats, will help them accept and understand your actions.

We can’t possibly remove the trigger at times because it’s not within our reach. 

For example…

Construction going on outside or vehicles passing the streets are beyond our control.

Put your dog in a different room where they can’t hear those kinds of noises.

You can close the window curtain and divert their attention to something else.

Your dog may also growl at other animals or people passing.

Consider putting them in a room that’s away from the front area of your home.

#5: Mask the noise

If your dog is growling because of a noise they’re hearing, try turning on the radio or television to drown out the noise.

The simplest method to cope with your dog’s nighttime barking is to use white noise. 

Turn on a low-speed fan to drown out these noises and let everyone sleep well.

Your dog’s sudden growl may be related to their high hearing frequency. 

You certainly wouldn’t want to hear it in the middle of the night.

Did you know that classical music can help our furry friends relax?

Try to play some music and check their response. Your dog will enjoy it.

We need a quiet environment to have a good night’s rest. The same is true for our furry buddies.

#6: Comfort your dog

Physical intervention such as touch is an excellent start to comfort your dog.

They’re probably afraid of something, and they want you to comfort them.

Dogs sometimes act tough, but actually, they’re feeling anxious or fearful.

They want you as their fur parents to reassure them that they’re safe and secured.

Give your dog a hug or strokes to help them lessen their anxious thoughts.

Play with them with their favorite toy and food.

Petting and touching your dog regularly may stimulate the part of their brain that causes emotion. 

It can also improve the symptoms of those dogs who have dementia.

Let your dog feel your calming presence.

Maintain a calm and positive attitude towards your dog.

Provide them with a good and comfy bed to sleep in.

#7: Ask for professional help

If your interventions are still not working to calm your dog, then you should seek professional help.

They can give you additional advice and guidelines on how to treat your dog.

Taking them to a veterinarian may help you figure out what causes their growling.

The vet can conduct lab tests to identify if your dog has medical issues.

You can ask for tips as well on how to manage the growling.

Nowadays, natural calming treats are pretty popular. You can ask your vet what’s the best option for your pooch.

It’s a big help to prevent future problems because you have already ruled out the causes and possible treatment for your furry pal.

We don’t only bring our doggies to the vet when we notice that they’re not feeling well.

Regular checkups can prevent illnesses from arising. 

People also ask:

Why does my dog bark and growl at nothing?

Dogs bark and growl at nothing because it’s their way of communicating with us. They have a good sense of smell and excellent hearing. As a result, they can detect things that our human feelings cannot see. We may not be able to hear or sense anything but they can.

Why does my dog randomly growl at nothing?

Dogs randomly growl at nothing because they see, hear, or smell something that humans can’t. They can detect even the slightest movement and sense something farther away from them. They also growl to communicate with you and tell you that they don’t feel well and you need to attend to them.