Why Does My Dog Growl at Nothing? 8 Reasons

In most cases, it is normal for a dog to growl at nothing since it can be triggered by extra sensitive senses like smelling, seeing, or hearing. You might not see what it sees, but the dog can feel it from a distance.

Other times, the growling could signify a serious issue like sickness, pain from an injury, poor diet, or aggression. Read on to know why your dog growl at nothing and how to handle it.

Reasons Why Your Dog Growls at Nothing

1. They might be hearing something

Dogs have strong hearing senses as they can hear things from a distance where we can’t. Therefore, your dog could be growling for nothing since it can hear something you don’t. They do not just hear softer noises but can tell even the slightest noises coming from one kilometer away.

Naturally, your dog growls to respond protectively. It might be that they can hear another dog from a distance or some high-pitched frequency.

2. It spotted something you did not

Many people assume and believe their dogs growl because they see a ghost. Contrary to this perception, dogs can see real things that our eyes skip. Even in dimmer lighting, they will see every tiny detail.

Their sharp visions are from having a high flicker fusion and better field of view. Meaning, Dogs’ retina responds very quickly to different images.

One greatest superpower in dogs is their night vision. May it be at dusk or dawn, your dog will always see something, even if the image is not much clear. So next time you take your dog for night walks and notice it growling at nothing, chances are, something or someone is lurking near.

Be very cautious of this behavior, and trust your dog. It could be a danger alert. You can respond by moving to a different spot.

3. Fear

The same way humans respond by letting out a shriek when scared, dogs will growl in the same situation. It could be scared of something you cannot see or hear, making you think the growl is from nothing.

On top of growling, your dog will sit near you, portraying obedience to its owner. They naturally behave that way since they believe the noise will go away if they behave.

Before you reprimand your dog for growling at the air, they could alert you of an existing danger they are afraid of. The growl is out

of need to protect you as its owner.

 4. Illness

Unfortunately, your dog could be growling since it is not feeling well. If it is an injury, you may notice it growl for nothing each time you try hugging it. Instead of growling at you for hurting its injury, it will do it to the air instead.

However, it does not necessarily mean it is an injury only. For example, if the growl is accompanied by diarrhea, blood in the stool, panting excessively, a hot nose, or refusal to eat or drink water, take a trip to the vet immediately.

5. Dog dementia

Dementia, or canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), is a disease that causes a lot of distress to the dog. When your dog is suffering from dementia, it will growl at nothing. At that time, they may even growl at you since dementia alters your dog’s memory.

6. Frustration and being aggressive

It is natural for dogs to whine when frustrated. However, the whining can transfer to growling over time if the frustration persists. More so if an object is stuck in their nose or they want some yummy food under the fridge and are struggling to reach it.

If you just adopted a dog and it keeps on growling for nothing, it could be an aggressive dog. The aggression may grow as the dog gets older. If you realize the growling is from being aggressive, visit your vet and talk to them for your safety.

7. An attention grabber

If you do not spend much time with your dog, they tend to sense it, and they will try every means to catch your attention. After several docile attempts and no change, they will result in a stronger strategy, like growling at nothing. This will surely capture your full attention.

8. Their diet

Sometimes, if a dog is subjected to change, like changing its diet, it may cause them to growl. So always keep your dog happy by feeding it a healthy balanced diet.

What to Do When Your Dog Growl At Nothing

 The solution to a problem lies under its cause. So, before looking for a solution to your dog’s growling, you have to find out what is making them growl in the first place.

You can do various things about the growling, but you should choose one that addresses the cause. Find the heart of the problem and work from that point for effective results.

Remove the issue: If your dog is afraid of something, which can be a sound from a machine or a toy, it is best to remove the issue. You can keep the frightening thing away or take your dog far from there.

Distract your dog: Sometimes, getting rid of the entire issue like a thunderstorm can be impossible. In this case, find something that will distract it for a while, like treats and cuddles.

Do not reward the behavior: Do not praise your dog each time it growls. Otherwise, it will encourage it to continue growling, and the behavior may worsen.

Talk to the veterinarian: If a dog is growling due to sickness, the chance of other symptoms will be visible. So be on the lookout for these signs and consult with the vet.

They need something from you: Do not be too quick to give your dog what it wants each time it growls. This can develop into a bad habit. Instead, train it to ask in other ways to prevent it from growling at nothing each time it needs something, attention, or going out.


To determine why your dog is growling at nothing, you need to know when the behavior began. Is it an overnight issue or a frequent one? If the growling is periodical, it could be due to sensing something you cannot see or hear. This is normal, especially if directed to another animal or person.

If this is a continuous norm, it could be your dog is aggressive, or you rewarded the behavior inadvertently, and now they are used to it. On the other hand, if it is an underlying problem like sickness, injury, or diet changes, the growling will be sudden and can start overnight, or your dog will feel discomfort at that moment.