The short answer: because they can! As we all know, dogs are intelligent creatures. They inherently understand that they have teeth, which can be used to bite and hurt people.
Unfortunately, many owners teach their dogs it’s okay to use these teeth on people, and for this reason, we see many attacks every day.
6 reasons why my Schnauzer is growling
When we think of dogs and their behavior, we tend to associate growling with aggression. A dog growling or barking is often a sign that they are aggressive and will attack if given the opportunity.
This is not always true, however, as sometimes dogs growl to express dominance, and other times, it’s simply an attempt to release tension. The next time your Schnauzer starts growling at you, look for these common triggers:
#1 You touch his bowl when he is eating
Schnauzers do not like people near them while they eat, so if you go up to him while he’s having a snack, there’s no telling what might happen. Your pup may start snarling or even snap at you, so never approach him while he’s chowing down.
#2 You try to take away his toys or treats
Dogs are very possessive of their belongings, so if you come near him while he has a toy or treats, he might growl at you in an attempt to scare you away from them.
It might be cute the first few times it happens, but when your pup gets older, there’s no telling how many people will get hurt when he guards his things aggressively.
Dogs sometimes don’t give up things they love easily, which is why they tend to chew on things even when they’re already giving them to someone else.
This explains why your Schnauzer barks even if another dog has taken his favorite squeaky toy away or why he growls even if you take his food bowl away.
Note: If you believe that your schnauzer has a behavioral issue, then we strongly recommend that you take a look at our 7-part series on how to correct every problematic behavior in 10 minutes.
#3 You hold him when he doesn’t want to be held
Schnauzers are not known for being touchy-feely dogs, so they don’t really like being held against their will. If you decide to pick up a pup without asking permission, there’s no telling what he might do. This might be why Schnauzers are the worst dogs for touchy owners.
Some Schnauzers will whine, while others might start growling in an attempt to tell you that they don’t like it. Don’t force your pup into anything, or you might end up with a nipped hand or scratched face.
#4 You try to take his food away
Dogs are very possessive of their food and toys, which is why they get protective even after they’re already done playing or eating.
Your pup may have his toy taken from him by another dog, for example, but when you come along and try to do the same thing, he’ll get angry again, just as if the other dog did it himself.
#5 You pull at his ears or tail
Schnauzers are not known for liking their ears and tails to be pulled on. They might start growling if you ask them to do something that involves touching these sensitive areas, like giving kisses, getting their nails clipped, or playing certain games that include touching their paws.
However, if you must handle his paws, make sure he’s wearing a pair of protective mitts, so no one gets hurt.
#6 You try to give him a bath
Schnauzers are very clean dogs who love taking long baths, but they don’t like being forced into them at all. So, if you try to do this, you might get an earful of snarls and teeth-baring.
Bath time may never be your pup’s favorite time of day, so it would be best not to force him into something he dislikes the most unless there is no other option. Here’s some more information on where my schnauzer is biting me.
7 ways to stop Schnauzers from growling
Schnauzers are a wonderful breed of dog, but their natural tendency to be protective can get in the way of a happy life for you and your pet.
Whether it’s from strangers approaching your house or from other dogs who want to play with them, Schnauzers have been bred to protect their family, property, and territory. To help control this good trait, there are several training methods you can use, each with its benefits and drawbacks.
#1 Use positive reinforcement
If your Schnauzer is going through any obedience training, make sure he receives praise when he does something right instead of negative attention when he does something wrong. This will reinforce the positive behavior and teach him that there is a good outcome for obeying you.
#2 Avoid giving him attention
While it might be cute when your dog is barking or protecting you, do not give him too much attention. Doing so will encourage the behavior and make it difficult to get him to stop.
Instead of petting your dog during this time, try offering food as a distraction instead of affection. Though you don’t want to punish your dog, make sure he knows he isn’t going to gain anything from acting in such a manner. This can help avoid future incidents.
#3 Enroll in classes at an early age if possible
If your dog exhibits more aggressive behavior, enrolling him in a class with other dogs can help him learn how to get along.
Usually, he will be around eight weeks old and interacting with others for the first time at this age. Having multiple trainers on hand will make sure each puppy is getting individualized attention.
#4 Keep your Schnauzer busy during downtime
Much like children, when dogs are bored, they begin looking for ways to amuse themselves. This means that when you’re gone or if you’ve run out of ideas on what to do with him, he might resort to whatever behaviors he knows best to entertain himself.
Making sure the pet gets enough exercise or spends time with you as a family can help avoid such situations.
#5 Hire a trainer that uses positive reinforcement methods
These trainers will often use food and praise to let the dog know when he’s done something right. The goal is to teach them what you want them to do and how to behave around other dogs and people without resorting to aggressive behavior.
If the trainer doesn’t work out for some reason, there are always professionals who can help control this type of energy from your dog.
#6 Avoid punishment
Though it might be difficult not to respond when your Schnauzer growls or barks, punishing him afterward is likely not the answer.
Punishment results in your dog learning that he can’t do anything without getting into trouble. It also doesn’t teach him what behavior you’re looking for, and only that bad behavior is not acceptable.
#7 Give him plenty of exercise
Just like hyperactive children, dogs who don’t get enough energy out during the day might become destructive or more prone to acting aggressively. Taking him for walks and playing with him multiple times each day makes it easier to avoid such situations before they begin.
Why you should not punish a dog for growling
As soon as the growl comes out, many people become judgmental and feel they must punish their dog. Growling can be a sign of stress or anxiety, which is often caused by the owner’s punishment or harsh training techniques.
The dog’s natural response to being startled, uncomfortable or afraid is to growl. This does not mean that dogs want to start fights; it simply means they are trying to communicate that something makes them feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we don’t understand what our dogs are saying because we cannot comprehend how another species might perceive things differently than we humans.
Managing the cause of fearfulness in dogs helps them relax around strange things, making growling decrease significantly (or disappear entirely). But instead of addressing these underlying fears, some people try to get rid of the growl by punishing this natural behavior.
This makes the problem worse because now, not only does your dog have fear or anxiety, you have added one more thing to be anxious about: pleasing you. This is an impossible task for your dog and can cause him to become even more upset.
The best way to deal with growling is to understand why it’s happening in the first place so that we may change our behavior towards our dogs and stop seeing them as a source of displeasure.
Schnauzers growl when they are happy. They growl when they are excited. They growl when they are alert.
And, yes, sometimes they also growl when they are angry or afraid. The main reason Schnauzers growl is that they were bred to be guard dogs.