Why Is My Cockapoo Growling?

Cockapoo growling is beneficial information; it’s a way your dog can communicate with humans. We should appreciate this for what it is and not try to shout at or punish them. 

I’m not saying we should relish the thought of our dog growling, especially if it’s aiming at us; a dog growl can be scary, and it isn’t any fun dealing with it. But we need to understand why he might growl and what he is trying to say.

All dogs growl, so from that point of view, a Cockapoo is no different. Growls are like an advanced warning system to alert us that the dog is in a state of stress, afraid of something, unhappy, or is simply annoyed.  A growl might be the opening act of something more aggressive; your Cockapoo might be winding herself up to snap or possibly even bite.

Growling from a dog doesn’t signify aggressive behaviour every time you happen to hear it. I think as dog owners, we know if our dog is fearful or unsure. Growling comes with a particular body posture or body language. If we play with our dogs, they often growl because they are enjoying the interaction. And when they are playing with other dogs, they growl, nip and bark at each other.

This article will discuss and identify different growls and examine the body language that dogs adopt when growling.

Key Takeaways: Dog Growls

  • A dog growling means conveying an emotional response to some trigger event; from their owner, other animals, or something that the dog sees as a threat to him.
  • A growl is a growl, and it can be challenging to separate the sound of one growl from another. But a dog will growl for many reasons, including fear or stress, playing, and guarding food, toys, or treats. 
  • Other factors come into play, such as the dog’s body posture and the circumstances the dog is in; some will be obvious while others do not.

What Is a Growl, and Why Do Cockapoos Do It?

A dog growl means they wish to communicate with you or other animals.

Everyone, dog owners or not, has heard growing. Growls can be short and sharp, or they can be long and protracted. Dogs can’t vary the type of growl so much; they can’t alter the pitch or tone; let’s say.

We have to determine the purpose of the growl. Many times it’s pretty obvious why a dog is growling. If you happen to walk past someone’s yard and the dog inside starts snarling and growling, then you know he’s warning you to go away. He doesn’t want you near the property.

Identifying a dog’s body posture helps us determine what’s going on inside a dog’s head. In the same manner, we can translate what different barks mean.

Cockapoos make a big deal out of physical and demonstrative body posturing to get their message across to other dogs, and they use the same signals to us.

For example:

  • How dogs position their ears.
  • When they have long tails, how they position the tail.
  • The dog’s general demeanour, body posture, and how they distribute their weight.
  • Eye movement.
  • How heavily they are panting.
  • Licking their lips and swallowing.
  • They are raising their hackles.

It can be easy to miss some of these signs because they are too subtle to notice. But matters can get worse, and they will become more pronounced. For instance, a low guttural growl can turn into a snarl where the lips’ drawback and the dog bares his teeth. There’s no mistaking what that means, and if the dog balances his weight and tenses his muscles, you know what’s coming.

Different Types of Cockapoo Growls

Trying to establish why your Cockapoo is growling is going to help you understand what she’s feeling.

Breaking down some of the reasons why Cockapoos growl:

1. Your Cockapoo Feels Threatened

Dogs can react strangely to many things. A bag of rubbish on the pavement can leave some dogs shaking and growling in fear. She will growl and try a give the object a wide berth. If she’s on the leash, she’ll pull away; one thing you mustn’t do is drag her closer to whatever is scaring her. Who knows what’s going through the dog’s mind.

It can be walking near another dog that suddenly growls and barks, you might see your Cockapoo’s tail drooped, and she seems to sink lower to the ground, desperate to get away, always looking behind her as though she’s fearful the other dog will come after her. It can also be growling at the thunder she hears or another dog barking in the next street.

Cockapoos who growl because they sense a threat may give you physical clues such as:

  • Barking
  • She was attempting to escape the area as fast as possible. 
  • Putting the brakes on and refusing to go any further.
  • Still nervous of the potential threat even when okay and moving on past whatever it was.

2. Your Cockapoo Is Anxious

Anxiety is very similar to feeling threatened. 

Whatever is triggering this anxiety, the dog will growl as a warning to back off. Lack of socialization is a common issue here. If a dog is not adequately socialized, meeting strangers or other dogs can cause this kind of reaction. Skittish dogs are often anxious. For example, a stranger meets you in the street and tries to stroke or put a hand near your dog; the dog is curious but anxious, so he plants his back legs and stretches his body to sniff the hand. His body posture tells you he’s afraid and is ready to leap backward out of the way. If the stranger darts, your dog will growl and retreat quickly.

Visiting the vet will elicit this type of behaviour; sometimes, the anxiety is so acute the dog urinates inside the vets.

Anxiety growls can accompany other signs:

  • Signs of stress can include the dog licking her lips and swallowing. 
  • She is refusing to look at what is causing the stress.
  • She is attempting to escape or refusing to move forwards.
  • The Cockapoo moves exceptionally slowly.
  • The dog refuses to move at all.

Sometimes when a dog is exceptionally anxious, the best option is to turn to a professional dog behaviourist. They can help, and it will take some of the strain from you. There are ways they can help a dog overcome the triggers that cause anxiety.

Socialisation from a very young age is crucial to stopping these behaviours before they even have time to start. The later you leave it, the harder it becomes. Adopting an older dog can be more difficult because a great deal of what he’s now experiencing will be new to him.

3. Cockapoo Play Time

It can seem overly aggressive to a casual observer when a Cockapoo is in a rough and tumble with another dog. Both of them will be growling, snapping, biting, and rolling around on the ground and having fun. But playing like this is normal for a dog, especially when they are youngsters. If one dog or puppy gets a little too intense, the other animal will give a warning growl and walk away.

From a human perspective, it’s all in the body posture that differentiates play from real aggression.

Play growling is only an expression of happy emotions, and body posture ensures it’s not hard to recognise playing as the source of growling. But playtime shouldn’t be left unattended because, like all small children, puppies can and do get very rowdy. If one of the puppies gets hurt or injured because of rambunctious play, there could well be an aggressive response. If you see this happening, you should separate them.

4. Your Cockapoo Might Be Frustrated

Growling could be a release of frustration; your Cockapoo may be experiencing some kind of barrier frustration. Some Cockapoos can become more aggressive to another dog or strangers when walking on a leash, even though it’s not their usual behaviour.

As well as growling in frustration, they may exhibit other behaviours.

  • They may bark or whine as well as growling.
  • She is showing aggression to strangers and other animals when on the leash.
  • The dog may become hyperactive. 

5. Cockapoo In Pain

A dog can be so impassive it’s hard to tell if they are ill or not unless there’s a  behaviour change, but sometimes the difference is so subtle the owner might be unaware. Generally, they don’t growl when they feel ill, but it’s a different story with an injury. 

A dog with an injury might give a warning growl if you go near because they understand you’re going to touch them, and they don’t want to feel pain. But more often than not, they growl when you feel the injury.

A dog growling because of illness or pain might be the first indication the owner has something is wrong with their dog.

While being a good pet parent means identifying when your pup is in pain, if he’s growling because of it, you need to take him to the vet.

If pain or illness is the problem, there could be other indicators, such as:

  • A subtle behaviour change. Or the behavioural changes are instantly noticeable.
  • Snapping, snarling, or growling if anyone comes too close.
  • If you touch your Cockapoo, she might growl, snap, or snarl, or if your touch is too heavy, yelp.

6. Territorial Cockapoos

A Cockapoo can be territorial, as can any dog if the need arises to protect their area or family.

People or other animals walking past the house can invoke this need to feel protective. Of course, the growl is a warning not to come any closer, usually starting as a grumble in the throat, then rising in pitch if whatever or whoever has her hackles up continues to come closer.

If the transgressors ignore her warnings, barking will ensue.

You will know your Cockapoo is protecting her territory because you’ll probably see the signs before you noticing anything happening. For example:

  • Your dog will move to a window or door and start growling.
  • The growling will quickly turn to a bark and a rush to the door; if the dog is not already there.
  • Pacing, growling, and even whining is another sign that something is agitating your dog.

7. A Cockapoo Or Cockapoo Puppy Exhibiting Possession Aggression

Possession aggression is not something a pet parent should tolerate. We include a Cockapoo puppy in this section because it always starts when the dog is very young. But in some ways, that’s a good thing. Because the more youthful the dog is, the easier it is to avert this behaviour.

If the behaviour is left alone, it will get worse. It doesn’t go away on its own, and more often than not, the dog owner needs a specialist trainer or dog behaviourist to coax it out of the dog. 

Rescue dogs are often placed in cages together, so they quickly become aware if they don’t protect what’s theirs, they will lose it. It’s prevalent for them to bring that behaviour into their new home. Likewise, if they have a history of neglect, guarding aggression is something that’s now become part of their personality. If you adopt a dog with this kind of history, then you should engage a certified dog specialist to help you as soon as you recognise the behavior.

Growls relating to possession aggression often accompany specific body language and other signs, such as:

  • A dog might go still when you approach, and they have an item they don’t want to give up or share.
  • If you subsequently look as though you want to take the item, the dog will give a warning growl at you.
  • If the situation is out of control and you touch the item, the dog may snarl, bare his teeth, and even bite your hand.
  • The items in question can be food, of course, or food treats, a toy, a bone, or even a human the dog is incredibly close to. 

Growling FAQs

Dog owners have many questions about this topic, so we have put together this faq section to answer the most pressing problems.

Q. Is There Any Point In Punishing My Dog?

  1. No. Punishment is not the answer. Do you know why your dog is growling? If your dog barks, something is not how it should be, and you have a responsibility to determine what the problem is. This is communication and is vital in your relationship with your dog.

Q. I Have Heard The Spaying Or Neutering Will Stop A Dog From Growling.

  1. There’s no evidence to suggest this will stop a dog from growling. Growls are a way for a dog to communicate, so that isn’t going to be affected.

There are many considerations why pet owners might want to spay or neuter their pet, but doing it to stop growling isn’t one of them.

Q. What If My Dog Wants To Dominate Me?

  1. Pet owners worry about this a lot, but dominance doesn’t happen like this. Pets are not thinking in this way; that’s a human trait.

Q. What Is The Difference Between A Growl And A Snarl?

  1. Snarling is the drawing back of the lips and baring the teeth. Pet owners should look at this as a more severe sign there is a problem.

Q. What If I’m Playing Tug And My Dog Growls At Me?

  1. This kind of growl is not something to take seriously. As long as the dog’s body posture is relaxed, it’s nothing to be concerned about.


Remember growling suggests there’s something in the dog’s vicinity that he finds unpleasant. Don’t attempt to stop the behaviour because it’s an emotional response that sends you, the pet parent, a message.

Think carefully about the situation and what might be responsible for your dog’s behaviour, and then remove him from those issues. Slowly conditioning your pet to accept what has unnerved him is the best way of dealing with it.

The emphasis here is slow and if he is accepting, then give him a food treat. Your role is to teach the animal how to deal with uncomfortable situations. But identifying the source of the fear is super important.

You must give your Cockapoo a choice. If your pet is happy to continue in the situation, then ensure there are plenty of treats. Suppose your attempts at conditioning are not showing any positive results. The reason for growling is that another pet or human living in the house or your pet is incredibly aggressive; it might be out of your hands to deal successfully with this behaviour. Now would be the best time to talk to a vet or a professional trainer or behaviourist.

If you’re going to be a pet parent, then you might need to learn a new language – dog. It’s going to make your life a lot easier if you try to understand and interpret just what your pet is trying to convey.

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