Why Do Dogs Growl When Playing Tug Of War

Have you ever played tug of war with your dog and heard them growl? It might have made you wonder if they were having fun or feeling angry. Don’t worry! This article will explain why dogs growl during tug of war and what it means.

It’s All About Instinct

First, let’s talk about instincts. Dogs have natural behaviors that come from their wild ancestors, like wolves. One of these instincts is to “hunt” for their food. When dogs play tug of war, they’re acting on this hunting instinct. The toy acts like prey that they’re trying to capture. Growling is a part of this pretend hunting game. It doesn’t mean your dog is aggressive; it’s just them getting into the game.

Communication Through Growls

Growling is also a way for dogs to talk. When playing, a growl can mean different things. Sometimes it’s like your dog saying, “I’m enjoying this!” Other times, it might be a way to say, “This is mine, but I’m happy to play with you.” It’s important to listen to the sound of the growl. Playful growls usually sound less scary than a serious, warning growl.

Excitement and Energy

Playing games like Tug of War can make dogs very excited. Their energy levels go up, and they might growl just because they’re having a great time. It’s like when people shout or cheer during a fun game. The growling is part of their way of showing excitement.

Learning From Others

Sometimes, dogs growl because they’ve learned it from playing with other dogs. If they’ve played tug of war with a friend who growled, they might think, “Oh, that’s what we do when we play this game.” It becomes a part of how they play.

Understanding Your Dog

Each dog is different. Some might growl a lot, while others might not growl at all. It’s important to understand your dog’s personality and body language. If they’re wagging their tail, have a relaxed body, and take breaks now and then, they’re probably just playing. But if they show signs of stress, like stiffening up or scarily showing their teeth, it’s time to stop the game.

Training and Boundaries

Training your dog is key in any game. Teaching them commands like “drop it” can help you control the game and make sure it stays fun. Setting boundaries, like not playing too rough or stopping if the growling gets too intense, is also important.

Safety First

Always play safely. Use a sturdy toy and keep your hands away from your dog’s mouth. If you have kids, supervise them when they play with the dog. Make sure everyone knows how to play tug of war in a way that’s fun and safe for your dog.

When to Worry

If your dog’s growling changes or if they start to act differently during the game, like getting too rough or showing aggression, it’s a good idea to talk to a vet or a dog trainer. They can help you figure out if there’s a problem and how to fix it.


In conclusion, dogs growl when playing tug of war for many reasons. It can be because of instinct, excitement, or just part of how they communicate. Understanding your dog’s growls and body language will help you make sure that playtime is always fun and safe.

By knowing why dogs growl during tug of war, you can enjoy this game with your furry friend without worrying. Remember, growling isn’t always a bad thing. It’s just one of the ways dogs express themselves when they’re having a good time!



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