German Shepherds Owner is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Having a German Shepherd that growls can be a very concerning thing and is something that you’ll be wanting to stop. This post will help you to figure out why your German Shepherd is growling and how to stop it.

So, why is your German Shepherd growling? There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be growing. These include protecting food/possessions, fear and uncertainty, enjoyment, pain and a dominating nature.

How to stop your German Shepherd from growling? The best way to stop your GermanShepher from growling will depend on why it is growling. But, things that you can do include, training it from an early age, taking it to a vet, removing things that it doesn’t like and getting an animal behaviorist to look at it. 

There are actually a number of possible causes of the growling. Before stopping the growling it’s important to take the time to figure out why it’s doing it.

Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Is Growling

There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be growling that I will mention below.

Protecting food/possessions

The most common cause of growling is that they are protecting their food or possessions from being taken away from them. If your German Shepherd is growling when you go near it when it is eating or when it’s playing with a toy then this is probably the cause of its growling.

This is not something that you should be overly alarmed about but it is something that you will need to correct as quickly as possible especially when it is young.

To correct this behavior you can try training it not to growl using the method in the next section below or you can get help from a certified animal behaviorist. If you’re concerned about your German Shepherd being aggressive in these situations then getting help from an animal behaviorist is what you should do.


It could be that, in certain situations, your German Shepherd remembers being mistreated in the past and this has caused it to become apprehensive. This could be the case if it growls when you try to pet it or when you go near it.

In this case, you can try the training method below but you’re best bet would be to get help from a dog behaviorist who can give you more relevant guidance in this situation.

Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid of everything?


It could be that your German Shepherd is injured. When dogs are in pain it is common for them to growl. If your German Shepherd has been growling recently in situations when it normally wouldn’t then this could be the case. If pain is the cause then you’ll probably notice other symptoms such as limping or a change in behavior.

It’s unsure of what’s about to happen

It could also be that your German Shepherd is scared. If your German Shepherd is unsure of what is about to happen and it thinks that something bad will happen then it could start to growl. This could happen when trying to take it to new locations or if someone it doesn’t know is trying to interact with it.

It’s important to take measures to prevent this while they’re still young by doing things such as taking it out for lots of walks and introducing it to new people and other dogs. If it’s older and still doing it then you’ll need to get the help of an animal behaviorist.

It’s having fun (other dogs, tug toys)

German Shepherds can often growl when they are having fun. When playing with other dogs they will often growl if they’re excited. Another common growling scenario here is when playing tug of war.

Dominating nature

It could also be that it’s in your German Shepherd’s nature to be more dominating. These types of dogs seek to control other dogs and people that live in their environment.  They will often be more difficult to train since they will be less compliant to their owner’s commands. It’s very important to train these types of dogs from an early age.

How To Stop Your Germans Shepherd’s Growling

Once you have a good idea of why your German Shepherd is growling it will be easier to figure out the appropriate steps to take to get it to stop.

You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get even more tips on how you can train your GSD.

Fix any pain

If you think that the cause of your German Shepherd’s growling is due to pain then the first thing that you should do is to take it to the vet. After the vet has taken care of it and the pain has gone away then the growling should hopefully go away as well.

Remove anything it doesn’t like

If the growling is being caused by its environment then you should take measures to make it more comfortable with its environment. This means that you should move any objects that it doesn’t like such as Christmas trees or whatever else it might be.

The other option for you would be to remove your German Shepherd from the environment. This is hard to do if it’s your home but if your German Shepherd growls on walks at specific locations then you can try avoiding those areas when you can.

Train it to not growl

One option that you have is to train it not to growl. The sooner you do this the better and ideally, you would start it from an early age.

To do this you’ll need to get some treats that it really loves, and then give it the toy or bone that causes it to growl when you try to remove it. What you’ll want to do is to place the treats that it likes on the floor away from where it is chewing the bone so that you can pick the bone up when it’s getting the treats. The idea here is that you will get your German Shepherd to associate taking its bone/toy away with getting the treats that it loves causing it to be more comfortable when you are near it when it’s eating.

You can watch the video below to see what I mean by this.

Make sure to stop it when it’s still a puppy

People will often say that is normal for a puppy to growl and not to worry about it. However, this is actually the best time for you to teach it to stop growling. You’ll need to be quite patient but it is necessary that you do it so that it doesn’t continue to growl when it is an adult.

Get the help from an animal behaviorist

If you’re still unsure of why your German Shepherd is growling or you haven’t been able to get it to stop then you should get help from a qualified animal behaviorist who will be able to rectify the problem more effectively.

Things to consider

Keep your distance

If your dog is growling then you shouldn’t approach it since you’ll be risking it seeing you as a threat. Instead, wait for it to calm down an then try to rectify it.

Alternatively, if you’re concerned, try and get help from a professional trainer who will be able to deal with it using a lot more experience.

Don’t punish the aggression

When your German Shepherd growls it’s best not to punish it. There are a number of problems with doing so but the two main ones are that you’ll be risking the dog reacting badly and biting.

The other problem is that you’ll lose trust and respect from the dog and it doesn’t work well to reduce bad behavior. Instead, it’s better to reward good behavior so that they will associate good behavior with good things.

Related Questions

Why does my German Shepherd growl when I discipline him? It’s probably that it sees your disciplining as an act of aggression and it’s growling to warn you to stop. Instead of punishing, reward good behavior and don’t give it attention when it’s bad. Alternatively, get help from a professional trainer.

Best German Shepherd Training Program

Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient German Shepherd, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now. You can get the first month free using This link


Pin It