Why Do Dogs Howl? | Pupford
March 29th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
Dog parents - does your doggo have an “a-woo” habit?
It might leave you puzzled as to why they howl so much. Understanding why your pup is howling will help you respond appropriately.
Simply put, howling is one of the numerous ways of canine communication. It is generally instinctual and can either be natural or sometimes triggered by some known external factors.
In this article, we will talk about different reasons why dogs howl, from separation anxiety to pain, attention seeking, and more.
WHY DOGS HOWL
Different reasons dogs howl include:
- To get your attention, announce their presence, and communicate with you, other dogs, and generally anyone in the nearby vicinity
- They might be responding to unusual and uncomfortable situations
- High-pitched noises, such as loud musical instruments or ambulance sirens
- While dog howling is normal for the furry fellows, it is sometimes a sign that they are scared or hurt by something sudden. When it's a long, sorrowful cry, this can be a sign of mourning or crying.
Here’s what your dog might be telling you when they howl.
"I AM ALERT" – DOGS HOWL TO RESPOND TO HIGH-PITCHED NOISES
Your dog might howl when stimulated by unusual, high-pitched noises such as alarms, sirens and trumpets, and other pups' vocalizations. While, we aren't sure of the true reason dogs howl at high-pitched sounds, it could be your dog's way of saying that they are alert enough to hear the noises and are ready to respond.
This type of howling should not be a cause of concern as they typically start when the noises begin and end once they are over.
"ALL IS NOT WELL" – HOWLING TO SIGNAL WARNING OR DANGER
Sometimes, your dog will howl to alert you of something they feel might be a danger to you. For example, they might howl when neighbors, strangers, or other dogs are in your area or passing close to your home. By doing so, they are marking their territory and telling the intruders that they are not welcome there.
"HEY, I NEED YOU” – ATTENTION SEEKING
Even the silliest pups are wise beyond their goofiness. They know that a bit of howling is enough for them to draw your attention. However, persistent howling can annoy you and your neighbors.
Reward-based training is often a successful way to counteract their howling habit if it is becoming a bit of a nuisance.
The general idea is to give them no response when they howl and reward them when they remain calm, relaxed, and quiet. You might need to avoid offering dog treats, touching, patting, or holding them when they act howl, as this might encourage the behavior.
"I'M UNWELL" - HEALTH PROBLEMS
Sometimes, your four-legged furry friend will howl when they are unwell or hurt. If they howl more than usual with a more urgent tone and whimpering noises accompanying it, it is time to monitor them closely and call your local vet for advice.
In this case, it’s wise to play it safe and work with your veterinarian to rule out injury and illness before anything else.
“I MISS MY HUMAN" - SEPARATION ANXIETY
If you are hearing secondhand that your dog is howling while you’re away–maybe your family or neighbors might tell you that your pooch has been howling when you are out of the house– this is an indicator that they could have separation anxiety.
Like humans, dogs are social animals, and their howling might be a way of saying, "I miss you already, please come home."
Generally, separation anxiety howling happens when a dog is separated from its parent, or its favorite family member, or left home all by itself. Usually, this howling will be combined with one or more symptoms of separation and loneliness, such as the destruction of furniture or household items or pacing back and forth. Of course, no pet parent loves the idea of leaving their fluffy friends alone, but there are many instances where they can’t accompany us to wherever you are going.
Separation anxiety in dogs can be hard to overcome, but we have some tools to help your dog overcome separation anxiety.
In our Separation Anxiety course in Pupford Academy Plus, we share steps to take to avoid new or more anxiety in your pup, help you understand how separation anxiety affects dogs, and help you record and track your dog's progress with effective and humane steps to overcome separation anxiety.
“I’M GUIDING YOU HOME” – RECONNECTING WITH THEIR ROOTS
Sure, your dog might not howl to the sky. However, they still have some traits similar to their wolf ancestors. Wolves and other wild members of the dog family, such as coyotes, howl as a type of long-range communication signal.
Some wild dogs stay with the pack and others head out to scout around for food. Howling is a key communication tool for them to make it easy to find each other and regroup.
Some of our domesticated friends do this same thing to facilitate cohesion and communicate their territories. Sometimes, your pup might howl when they hear you drive back home in a bid to guide you and lead you back home safely.
There are numerous reasons why your furry friend may be howling. However, if your dog’s howl is getting more frequent and you cannot seem to pinpoint the cause, reach out to your vet to ensure that your dog is not injured or unwell. You might also want to spend more quality time walking and playing mind-stimulating games with your dog to eliminate cases of loneliness and anxiety disorders.
At Pupford, we provide resources to help make your relationship with your dog happy and healthy. Read more guides, tips, and ideas for becoming a better pup parent on our blog.