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Dog Growling In Sleep At Night: Why And What To Do

chow chow sleeping

Most often, my two years old dog make a little guttural sound of hostility in the throat about five times in his sleep. The growling is usually loud enough to awaken other family members. And as if nothing happens, my little Spot just keeps on growling.

Spot has always been very demanding; pleading for attention, to be walked around and begging for food. With this kind of demands, I expect to get some peace in the night when he takes a nap.

However, this is not the situation in many occasions! If your dog has a similar behavior of twitching or barking in his sleep, should you be worried?

Why Dogs Growl In Their Sleep?

Growling while the dog is sleeping is totally normal, and the reasons behind the whimpering are more interesting.

Dogs exhibit similar dream behaviors to humans. Just like us, the dogs will also go through a dream stage in their sleeping cycle every time they go to bed.

Their inability to tell us about how they dug a hole or chased some rabbits in the day does not necessarily mean we can’t have a clue about what they dream about.

You can make a prediction that dog’s dream of their enjoyable activities based on the body movements and actions when they sleep.

If you keenly pay attention to him during sleep, his feet and legs movement can be the indication of his day run and face movements in a circular motion as he inhales sharply may relate to the sniffing during the day.

Many people will associate growling with aggressive dogs. We can also ignore the fact that a bark happens when they are defensive or frightened.

My experience with Spot just taught me that he often engage in play-growling. Therefore if Spot has to dream about his favorite events of the day, growling will dominate a dream.

A growl when your dog is playing is not an indication of aggressiveness. You will always have signals such as a play-bow moment, an alert expression and tail waggling. The mouth should be relaxed.

All this body language in your dog is an indication that the dog has no intentions to intimidate or threaten. He just needs to play.

Therefore my guess can clearly be explained by relating the long day play growling and play fighting with the growling Spot undergoes in the night as he tries to relieve those good moments of the day in his dreams.

Should I Wake My Dog Up When He Is Growling In His Sleep?

Most animal behaviorists say no. Your dog could be barking or growling only because of the excitement of playing with a favorite toy or chasing a rabbit. There is no guarantee that she had a nightmare.

Waking your dog in the middle of the dream can be more frightening and may lead to disorientation. In fact, some dogs don’t like to be interrupted while they are sleeping especially if they have read the proverb “let sleeping dogs lie.”

Another reason not to wake your dog when he growls at night is to ensure he stays mentally and physically healthy. After a very busy day, the dog needs enough sleep to recharge his batteries.


Growling while sleeping is not an indication of unhappy dog. It’s just a normal dog behavior. No need to panic or wake him.

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