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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there such a thing? Or should I be worried? Jack did this once when we were wrestling, and once when I was rubbing his back leg, a growl of sorts followed by a lowered stance and a wagging tail...seemed playful, but he growled.

I figure it's like growling during tug (no big deal) but I thought I'd double check.
 

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Koa does that when we play - he also has a different growl/moan/something weird that he does only when he gets a new toy. It's hilarious. I still don't think at 15 months that of all of the noises I've heard come out of him that I have actually heard him "growl."
 

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Dude, if you heard me and Dakota playing from a different room, seriously, you would jump out the window so the demon dog didn't get you lol. The sounds that come out of my little girl when we rumble, damn... You would think she was 3 times her size.

By a lowered stance, do you mean a play bow? Butt up in the air, head down, resting on front legs? If so, that's just a play behavior. Some people find it to be "rude", but as long as it's not escalating past a play bow I don't see the problem.

I don't mind growling at all when we're playing, especially if we're playing rough, as long as it doesn't carry over into everything else. I typically hear it when we play tug, or do bitework, or when we wrestle. If it happend outside of play, directed towards me, or someone else, would not be tolerated. But during rough play, use common sense. If your dog otherwise seems happy, and is just vocalizing, shouldn't be a big deal. I allow it, but I also expect alot of control... We could be in the middle of a crazy round of tug, where she is going ape shxt, but if I tell her to be quiet, or drop, I expect her to calm down, drop the toy, and sit calmly.
 

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One of the reasons it is SO important to really know and understand dogs, dog behavior and language is because their vocalizations ARE so complex and nuanced. There are a lot of people who believe any rumblings from a dog's throat/mouth are sinister, and that really couldn't be further from the truth. Particularly for highly intelligent and social dogs who spend lots of time with humans, I firmly believe that they believe they are 'talking' to us and that we should understand them. We can understand many of our dogs' sounds, postures and expressions, and it is like having a conversation of sorts.

I think that just like a toddler giggles and shouts and squeals when playing, so dogs make sounds of fun, delight and playfulness. The only thing I don't think is a good idea is to wrestle with your dog. This kind of rough play can easily get out of hand, and if your dog decides to do something you as a human feel is inappropriate, you are going to then scold him for doing what you invited him to do in the first place. Wrestling on the floor is a bad idea - you want to get physical, go outside and jump around with him with a frisbee or a tug rope - there you can get kind of wild and "rough", and if it gets over-the-top, you just let go of the toy and take a step back. It's body language they understand. My guys know if I put my hands up, palms facing them, that it's time to settle down.

(BTW, fwiw... I always have my hands in my dogs' mouths from the day I get them. I want them to know that I don't fear their teeth, and feel comfortable in and around their mouths. I feel it gives them a softer mouth around us, since we yelp when they bite us as puppies, and learn to control their impulses.)
 

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I think with out video/pic of "lowered stance" with "tail wagging" is most likely a play bow.

The happy, exuberant posture of a dobe who wants to PLAY. This is NOT a threatening gesture, if there could be an antithesis of aggressive or threatening, play bowing is it. In dog speak, if I can be so presumptuous to translate, to my dogs it's saying "YOU ARE THE GREATEST, MOST AWESOME THING EVER. I AM BEGGING YOU TO PLAY WITH ME. SERIOUSLY, I WANT NOTHING MORE THAN THIS PLAY!".
 

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Ya my sisters frenchie/sharpie sounds like she's about to kill you when she plays. Harmless but others sometimes worry because they don't know what she's doing.
 

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I try to growl back at my boy when we're playing, but he just looks at me confused for a few seconds, then it's right back to where he left off. :p

I started doing this thing where if he is getting rougher, I'll make a squeal and pretend to keel over and be dead or hurt. He will instantly start nudging my face and start licking me to 'wake' me up so to speak.

I don't know if it means he shows any concern, but after my ear, if left exposed, gets filled with 14 lbs of licking drool...I'd just like to think he can turn off the rough play mode and instantly flip back to normal mode, which lets me know he is just playing after all.
 

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From your description it sounds very much like play. Dogs are vocal to varying degrees while playing. As long as all of his signals are saying "friendly play" I wouldn't be worried at all.
 

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There's definitely such thing as a play growl. A growl is not just a growl, IMO.

Fiona and Tali both growl some during play with each other and me. Fiona more so than Tali but Fiona's noisy like that. Tali's noisy in that she's a whiner. And that makes me want to jump out a window. LOL I'd rather be growled at than whined at! Seriously! Whining in humans or dogs drives me crazy!

It's important to be able to read the situation properly to know if the growl is play or serious. I will caution you not to mistake the wagging nub as being an unwavering sign of a friendly or happy dog. I have seen dogs wag their tails before starting a fight. So a wagging tail by itself isn't a black and white indicator of dog mood. You have to consider it with other signals they're giving.
 

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Elka play growls all the time, most often when we're playing tug. If she vocalizes other times in play, it tends to be barky, mumbling kind of sounds. Butt in the air, head on paws is standard fare for those situations as well.

When she serious-growls, she's head up, nub up and stiff, hair between her shoulder blades (or all the way down her back) up. There is no wiggling; it is very clear.
 

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Elka play growls all the time, most often when we're playing tug. If she vocalizes other times in play, it tends to be barky, mumbling kind of sounds. Butt in the air, head on paws is standard fare for those situations as well.

When she serious-growls, she's head up, nub up and stiff, hair between her shoulder blades (or all the way down her back) up. There is no wiggling; it is very clear.
I've heard the "different" growl twice... Once was when we walked out the back door and there was a black bear and 3 cubs on our patio... When I tell you the hair stood up on my neck after hearing that growl, no exaggeration. There was no mistaking the serious growl vs. the play growl after that.
 

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I've heard the "different" growl twice... Once was when we walked out the back door and there was a black bear and 3 cubs on our patio... When I tell you the hair stood up on my neck after hearing that growl, no exaggeration. There was no mistaking the serious growl vs. the play growl after that.
So. True.

A "real" growl doesn't require any interpretation. It just IS, and there is no mistaking it for anything but what it is. No way it can be mistaken for play. You will know it when you hear it.

for descriptive imagery... A play bow usually involves a lowered front end, a$$ in the air, tail wagging, any and all vocalizations for attention. Can also involve "pouncing" and "creeping".
 

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I've heard the "different" growl twice... Once was when we walked out the back door and there was a black bear and 3 cubs on our patio... When I tell you the hair stood up on my neck after hearing that growl, no exaggeration. There was no mistaking the serious growl vs. the play growl after that.
Ditto.

The first time I heard my guys big boy growl/bark...I was like wtf is that!?

I think the rabbit trying to invade my back yard thought the same thing...haven't seen him since. :p
 

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LOL I'd rather be growled at than whined at! Seriously! Whining in humans or dogs drives me crazy!
Urgh Elliot our cat whines! Walks around the house whining...

So new puppy play growls a lot, which is fine, but now she has started err... humping, while playing! She'll get realllyyy excited while playing tug, then starts humping the tug toy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks alot, guys. It was definitely nothing to worry about. By "lowered stance" I didn't really mean a true play bow, but it was close enough.

Thanks to lolonurse for pointing out how "complex and nuanced" their vocalizations can be. I'm new to dogs so I'm still feeling all of this out...he makes me laugh all the time with the sounds he makes (he's very vocal), I just wish I knew what he was saying more often!
 

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Is there such a thing? Or should I be worried? Jack did this once when we were wrestling, and once when I was rubbing his back leg, a growl of sorts followed by a lowered stance and a wagging tail...seemed playful, but he growled.

I figure it's like growling during tug (no big deal) but I thought I'd double check.
One thing to remember - wagging tail doesn't always mean happy and friendly. When my bosses Akita mix was thinking about eating me, her tail was "wagging" 90 mph and my boss asked why she looked 'friendly and mean (growling).

If the growl happens WHILE playing and body language seems to indicaet that's what itw as, I wouldn't worry.

If the growl happened just from rubbing a back leg, I'd look into it more. It may very well be nothing, but if you weren't playing, would it be a play growl? that's what I'd ask myself.

Flirt "growls" when you pet her and she's completely relaxed. It's a moaning type of growl. Freaked me out the first time she did it. Turns out it's common in her line.

Also while most growling during tug is probably ok, NOT all growling is. Again read the body language.
 
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