With your Belgian Malinois growling, you need to know why they’re growling, which usually involves what they’re showing aggression toward. This can be another dog, someone new, or even you, with many reasons for each, from territoriality to hormones.
Knowing the cause, you can implement ways to stop the behavior while avoiding things that would worsen a situation. For all of those answers and more information on your Belgian Malinois’ temperament, you’ve come to the right place!
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Why is Your Belgian Malinois Growling?
Also known as a Belgian Shepherd, if your Malinois is growling, you first need to figure out what they’re growling at. There are a number of reasons that they might growl at another dog, you, or someone else, whether they know them or not, so let’s dive in.
Growling at Dogs
If your Belgian Malinois is growling at another dog, the main possibilities are territoriality, protective instinct, or gender. It’s important to understand, though, that growling is a method of communication between dogs and not necessarily an act of aggression.
Whether it’s the home, food bowl, or even a chew toy, your Malinois can be very territorial. If it’s growling at a dog that’s inside the house or anywhere near something that your Malinois typically plays with or eats in, that can be a big reason.
Likewise, Malinois are naturally protective and loyal. If they feel that another dog is a threat for whatever reason, they can become defensive and start growling. This doesn’t mean a fight will ensue, but it’s a signal to the other dog to back down or go away.
While both genders of Malinois can be territorial and protective, the female of the breed might growl at the male if she wants her space. This can especially happen if your dog is pregnant because hormones can play a role in behavioral attitude.
Growling at You or Another Person
The Malinois can also be prone to growling at people, but don’t always assume this means an attack is coming. Sometimes, they’ll growl out of pain or fear, as well as being protective. However, it can be an act of predatory nature that you need to be aware of.
Like any animal, when they’re hurt, a Malinois can be aggressively defensive. If you notice your dog growling when you go to touch a certain spot, you should consider taking it to the veterinarian.
Be mindful of the timing, too. If the growling is sudden or seemingly unprovoked, this can be an indicator that your dog got hurt or, if you’re breeding your Malinois, could be pregnant and is protective of her puppies.
The pain could also be due to emotional or mental trauma if your dog is adopted, so pay close attention if your dog begins growling when you hold a certain object. This would require professional help to train your dog to trust again.
Similar to trauma-induced pain, fear is a powerful motivator of fear. While it could be from a past event, your Malinois may growl at someone new, or if a known person wears something, it doesn’t recognize. This could be a hat, loud shoes, or something along those lines.
The last cause of growling is one to watch for because it can be dangerous. The Belgian Malinois has been known to view small children as prey, so predatory growling is an indicator that training is necessary because they could act on instinct.
They might also sense fear as prey, like an adult that’s scared of dogs or someone that reacts to your dog’s size. Once again, this can be dangerous given the Malinois’ size and power, so be sure to socialize your dog early.
Like a child throwing a tantrum, it should be noted that the Malinois can have growing pains of temper and aggression for the first year of its life. While this shouldn’t be rewarded or accepted, it should be met with patience and understanding.
The periods of aggression can come and go quickly, so sometimes, a “timeout” can be effective to overcome the moment completely. However, after a year, the behavior should no longer be viewed as such and needs to be corrected.
How to Stop Your Belgian Malinois Growling
As the owner of a Belgian Malinois, it’s your responsibility to adjust their behavior. Luckily, there are a lot of ways for you to do so. When your Malinois starts growling, and you’ve figured out the reason, here are some things you can do:
- Remain calm and keep your tone level. Because the Malinois is so loyal, it will notice that its owner isn’t affected by whatever is setting off the behavior. Basically, the best method is to be calm so that your dog will do the same.
- As mentioned earlier, pain can cause sudden growling. If you suspect that your dog is hurt, take it to the vet instead of trying to see for yourself.
- If the growling is constant, hormones may be involved. Unless you plan to breed your Belgian Malinois, one of the most-effective ways to reduce hormonal reactions and the likelihood of growling is to have your dog spayed or neutered. This can also help with territorial aggression.
- Like most people, your Malinois could be growling from being cooped up too long. This breed needs a lot of activity, so be sure to give it enough daily exercise mentally and physically. Thought-provoking challenges or obstacles, long walks, or playing in the park can all help to improve your dog’s mood.
- Due to instinct, Belgian Malinois growling can be attributed to plans changing. This breed is used to routine, so consistency is key to maintaining your dog’s temperament.
- If nothing else, try removing your dog from the situation. A lot of the reasons for growling are related to being in a new environment or around something that discomforts your Malinois. Either taking your dog to another area or removing the cause from your dog could improve the scenario.
- You can help growling and aggression by socializing your dog from an early age. Take your Malinois to a dog park as a puppy, bring them around people, and get them accustomed to social settings. Many of the causes of growling are due to unusual situations so getting them used to outside animals and people can be a huge factor.
If you feel like you aren’t able to dedicate consistent time or simply feel overwhelmed by your dog’s size and energy, seek the help of a professional dog trainer. A trainer will know how to work with your breed and gradually improve their behavior.
Socialization is one of the best ways to overcome growling and aggressive behavior in a Belgian Malinois, especially from a young age. An adult Malinois is extremely difficult to correct, so it’s best done with puppies.
For this reason, a good trainer will put your Belgian puppy into a class with other dogs and owners. Not only will this get them accustomed to other animals, but it will give their competitive instincts something to focus on instead of aggression.
If you’re wondering what some of the other training tactics are for the Malinois, here are a few:
- Exercise. As mentioned above, they have a lot of energy and strength so it’s important to give them an opportunity to release it. This is especially true for their mental acuity, because this breed is known for their intelligence. Puzzles have to be incorporated into their routine in order for them to be happy.
- If they growl, the trainer will tell them not to do it and possibly give them a short “timeout.” You can do this at home, too, but make sure to limit the “timeout” to no more than 5 minutes.
- A great way to deter growling is to redirect the aggression, usually toward a chew toy or something hard. This will teach your dog how to cope with the feeling whenever they’re uncomfortable or angry.
- Above all, positivity is important. Verbal and emotional encouragement will go a long way in training your dog to not growl or react in that way, especially if it comes from the owner. You can verbally tell your dog that growling is bad and possibly use a spray bottle, but make sure to celebrate when your dog doesn’t growl.
- With that said, some Malinois will view positivity as weakness and need a more firm approach. Establishing dominance isn’t the same as negativity, but simple things like hand-feeding can be effective.
When it comes to training your Malinois, it’s important to understand that every dog has a unique personality and might respond differently to different methods. For example, the sixth point above will require the “Alpha” approach to training.
This can be difficult for some owners, so a trainer can be necessary to enact the kind of firm leadership needed to be respected as the “alpha” dog. On the other hand, some dogs only need to see how happy you are when they don’t growl to alter their behavior.
How To Train Your Belgian Malinois With Peace Of Mind:
If you haven’t trained your Belgian Malinois properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.
The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.
With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.
So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!
And in most cases, it’s still going to be:
- Cheaper than hiring a professional.
- Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
- And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.
Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Belgian Malinois completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.
And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!
So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!
(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)
What Should You Avoid Doing?
Training your dog not to growl and understanding the causes is great, but it’s just as important for your safety to know what not to do in these situations. The Belgian Malinois is a powerful breed, so knowing how to defuse things calmly is essential.
First and foremost, never physically intervene when your dog is growling or acting aggressively. This might cause your dog to think you’re acting against it or cause an accidental reaction, but either way, misdirected aggression can be dangerous when dealing with a Malinois.
If positivity is paramount to changing behavior, negativity and chastisement will have the opposite outcome. Once again, this can make your dog aggressive toward you from a feeling of betrayal or defensiveness.
Never force your dog to let you touch somewhere that it’s protecting; just take it to the vet if it’s acting in pain. Also, never panic. Your dog may sense fear or anxiety and act out in some way, so keep a level tone and stay calm.
Lastly, bringing an authoritative or forceful approach toward Malinois is a mistake. They respond best to calm and care, so telling or yelling at them to do something can provoke them. Be patient as the owner of a Belgian Malinois because they love their owners.
Hints of Aggression
Growling isn’t the only way that a Malinois will tell you it’s upset, so here are a few other physical indicators of aggression to watch out for:
- Fur will be raised along its back.
- It’s body becomes stiff or tense.
- Most dogs will bare their teeth when feeling threatened or territorial.
- If it’s scared, your Malinois will become defensive and tuck its tail down or roll its eyes back. Since fear can also lead to aggression, treat this as any other situation.
Are Belgian Malinois Naturally Aggressive?
Belgian Malinois are frequently used as police or guard dogs for their natural instincts and powerful strength. While they are fiercely loyal and loving dogs, these feelings are earned as their temperament is aggressive.
However, they’re not prone to attacking without cause. Due to their size and dominance, their growling is often enough to deter a situation from needing further aggression. That’s why, historically, they were protectors of the homestead or farm.
Despite their origins, with the right training and socialization, a Malinois won’t be aggressive unless needed. Malinois can be anything from herders to show dogs, so they’re clearly not always aggressive.
By this point, you know the causes of your Belgian Malinois growling and the possible reasons. You should also know what not to do in those situations and how to calmly defuse them with a number of tactics.
Training and socialization from a young age are extremely important in changing your dog’s behavior, whether you do it yourself or you hire a professional trainer. You should also know other forms of aggressive behavior and the origins of your Malinois’ temperament.
With all of that knowledge, you should be able to understand and effectively minimize your Belgian Malinois growling.