My Dog Growls At Me When I Move Him: Message Decoding

It might come as a surprise if your dog, who is usually amiable, starts growling when you push him off the sofa or bed.

Many pet parents assume the dog is getting predominant, which would become uncontrollable aggression over time.

However, this does not happen very often.

If you are one of those who are concerned about why my dog growls at me when I move him and uncertain about what you should do about their growling, you have landed in the right place.

My Dog Growls At Me When I Move Him: What Are Causes?

my dog growls at me when i move him

It’s possibly aggressive, but it is not true in all cases.

A dog growling on being moved might suggest some other meanings than aggression, for example, pain, disturbance, resource guarding, or mental issues.

It is common sense to interpret growling as a dog’s hostility or a matter of dominance.

It, against the myth, delivers a more complicated message, requiring dog owners’ patience and knowledge to decode.

It’s critical to understand that growling is a means of communication and not to neglect dog growls when I move him.

Now let’s explore what possibly triggers this canine behavior. 


I tend to think of pain or discomfort first when my puppy growls at me when I move him

We all must admit that dogs can’t speak. Like babies’ cries, a dog’s snarl is a call for rescue. He might try to tell you that he is not feeling good.

Consider some of the following questions before judging him to be dominant:

  • Is there any illness or ache that is bothering him?
  • Does he feel irritated or hurt by being touched?
  • Does it get any body parts injured? 

Sometimes, a dog growls simply because he does not enjoy being touched or moved. That you move your pet clumsily also possibly makes him feel physically uncomfortable.

Medical Conditions

In addition to mild pain or discomfort, as stated, some ailments can also result in little grumpiness in dogs.

Fatigue, giddiness, and unsteadiness may derive from some neurological disorders, seizures, or other medical issues.

These issues get worse if dogs’ sleep cycle is disrupted. For instance, a dog might growl unintentionally when it is suddenly woken up without an appropriate state of equilibrium.

Sometimes, there is a chance of such a minor seizure in dogs that you can’t realize.

This case seems more likely in specific breeds like Poodles, Beagles, and Golden Retrievers.

Resource Guarding

If you examine and identify your dog has none of the business with any physical issue, the chance of resource guarding can be considered.

It refers to dogs’ possession of comfortable spots where they prefer to stay, commonly a couch, bed, front yard, or any corner inside your house.

In my case, it is no longer a surprise if my dog gets mad when I try to move him from my armchair in the reading nook. He feels it is a quiet, cozy, and safe place to rest or nap.

So if you see your pet growling while persisting on the bed or sofa without wagging its tail, you should comprehend that they protect its enjoyable private space.

This behavioral tendency is also shown when dogs guard their food, bones, toys, or mate.

Feeling Disturbed

One of the most common reasons why my dog growled at me when I moved her was that she felt disturbed. This is especially true when it is falling asleep.

It is understandable for us to feel annoyed and grumble about interruptions during sleep or relaxation.

Dogs are just like us.

They get their way of expressing their status of sleepiness, exhaustion, and demand for well rest.

In this case, a growl should be interpreted as warning you about your disturbance and that “Do not attempt to touch me!”. 

Negative Consequences

Your puppy can also growl to express its discontent when you pick him up to stop him from misbehaving, for instance, chewing your shoes, fighting for food or toys, or punching their muzzles to your legs for any anticipation of needs, etc.

Similar to possession aggression, growling is how dogs say “No.”  


There is also a chance of your dog growling on being touched if it is suffering from stress.

It can be considered as a secondary reason because of many initial triggering factors such as pain, fear, intrusion, and threats to their resources or territories mentioned above.

To go more in-depth into why your dog snarls out of worry, you need to scan for one of the reasons I have listed.  

Should I Scold If My Dog Growls At Me When I Move Him?

dog growls when i move in bed

No, according to experts, because it seems too intuitive to punish growling. You should treasure their growls, by contrast.

Fighting fire to fire can lead to more negative behavioral problems and dangers beyond your anticipation.

As said, growling is a form of canine communication, so misunderstanding or neglect of dogs’ growls can make the situation worse.

There are different ways to interpret growls – happy growls, talk growls, play growls, and so on.

However, under the context herein, I am mentioning stress growl – the most concerning one.

Unfortunately, most pet owners, especially supporters of Alpha Dog Method, will see it as the first sign of aggression.

They choose to suppress their pets as a natural paradigm without knowing if it could cause the behavior problem to be exacerbated.

My dog snaps at me when I tell him no. It once happened in my personal case. So how? 

Dogs growl as an early warning signal, which aims to alert others about a chance of their worse responses.

From your pet’s point of view, your ignorance or discipline for its growl means you are not listening to his warnings.

To make it worse, if you insist on punishing your pet child for growling instead of removing the root of their stress, he might feel that warning is not enough anymore.

Consequently, your dog is pushed to become more aggressive over time to clarify his point accordingly.

At its most endurance, it determines you are violent and ends up biting you without any prior warning.

For now, you know it is the absolute wrong thing to suppress or punish a dog growling when picked up. 

Solutions By Reasons

my dog growls at me when i move him

Now, how do you respond if your dog growls at you?

I bet a patient insight into the underlying cause instead of punishment makes better sense.

Your dog will be touched if he gets a chance to speak and get understood. The more he feels secure, the more amiably he is encouraged to react.

Such a humane approach will ultimately yield a harmonious collaboration and deeper bond mutually.

Dogs tend to growl less on being moved if their physical and mental discomfort, fear, and possessive hostility are properly addressed.

Here are some suggestions about handling growling and dealing with the root of the issue in each case.


Resource guarding runs in dogs’ blood, which deeply relates to their natural need for survival.

However, this behavioral tendency can also be minimized with the aid of a training program with a reward that teaches your dog suitable reactions.

I did succeed by application of the same strategy in the case of my pooch taking over the reading armchair and bed.

First, I gently block her from accessing the areas first. (Remember to avoid negative responses to your dog, like shouting, dragging its collar, or kicking it if you don’t want to raise his blood).

At the same time, I introduce my pet child to an alternative choice of an equally comfortable spot: a new cushioned dog bed in the corner of my bedroom.

Repetition is the key to success for a new routine or habit setting in pets.

Hence, a reward of favorite toys, sometimes delectable snacks, whenever she stays in her own bed rather than on the couch, also gives her great encouragement.

Click here for more details of solutions for dogs’ possession of bed.

Another reminder is good things take time.

Wait for a few weeks before it becomes dogs’ second nature. During the process, they will get used to the idea of leaving if they nod off in a restricted area.

A dog trainer or animal behaviorist with an in-depth and professional training program can be a good option too.

Discomfort & Health Issues

To know whether a dog feels painful, scan for some body language that implies an uncomfortable state, such as stiff body, moaning, constant licking or scratching his privates, etc.

Additionally, pay attention to any issue related to health indicators like weight or hair loss and decreased appetite.

If you suspect your dog growls because of an underlying medical problem, for example, a seizure, consultation with your veterinarian is the best course of action.


When your disturbance triggers your dog’s growl, you should stop your action and calmly exit the situation.

Don’t be concerned that your withdrawal could reward his aggressive attitude.

It is vital to respect your pet’s privacy and its need to rest upon tiredness. Your dog is intelligent enough to figure it out.

In case you must move your dog, the best technique to not startle your sleeping dog is to approach him in a slow and comforting manner while calling his name with a gentle tone.

This will prevent him from getting frightened and allow him to absorb what is happening.

Mental Problems

Besides physical conditions, mental illnesses such as stress or anxiety disorder can contribute to aggressive reactions in dogs when being touched.

The ultimate remedy is to detect and eliminate the primary source of their stress or fear.

Contact a vet or behavior professional for more proper assistance if it is out of your reach.

If your dog simply does not like being touched, positive experiences of handling can also help dogs become more sociable.

Should you want to interrupt when your dog misbehaves, try to use positive consequences.


You surely know why my dog growls at me when I move him for now. Hopefully, what I deliver contributes to debunking the common myth of growling dogs as aggression.

Moreover, it is advisable not to punish growling but listen with patience and empathy to understand his messages.

Your furry partner will appreciate your effort and give you trust for the rest of his life.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

2 thoughts on “My Dog Growls At Me When I Move Him: Message Decoding”

  1. We have a 1 year old male pitbull. He growls at me and gives me a weird look. Not letting me take him when my boyfriend is at work. What does make a male pitbull do that to me on growling. Thanks Susie Smith


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