Why Do Dogs Howl? Canine Communication Behavior

Why Do Dogs Howl? Canine Communication Behavior

There are many reasons that may lead your dog to howl. However, these reasons are not always noticeable to us. We have all heard our dogs howl and have wondered what has caused them to suddenly let out a loud howl. In many cases, howling is a way that your dog communicates with people around him.

Below we will discuss some of the reasons that your dog may be howling as well as some of the breeds that are more likely to engage in excessive howling behavior.

Reasons Why Dogs Howl

There are many different reasons why your dog may be howling. Many of the causes of howling in dogs is just a part of their natural ancestry; however, there are some instances where howling within dogs indicates that they are suffering from some sort of health issues and are in pain or need treatment. It is important that you are able to differentiate between the reasons why your dog is howling, so you are able to provide your dog with the appropriate care.

Even though you may find this behavior very annoying, dog howling is a way that your dog communicates. Dogs are not able to communicate with us through verbal language, and howling is one tool that they have to express themselves. Your dog may howl due to excitement, boredom, happiness, or even injury. It is important that you are able to accurately answer the question, “Why is my dog howling?” so you are able to determine if your furry friend needs medical treatment.

Dog Ancestry

Have you ever wondered why dogs and wolves both howl in a very similar fashion? That is because dogs and wolves are distantly related to each other. So, the reason why dogs howl in the first place is due to their ancestry.

Oftentimes, dogs tend to howl for specific reasons; however, there are times when dogs howl because they are bored or excited. No matter what the reason is, howling is a natural behavior within dogs due to their ancestry. You only need to be concerned if your dog is howling due to pain or an underlying health condition.

A Form Of Communication

Dogs do not have a way to verbally communicate with us. So, another reason why your dog may be howling is to communicate with you. This is due to the ancestry of dogs and how they communicate with each other in the wild. In the wild, wolves howl to tell members of their pack where they are and to scare off other animals that may be within their territory.

This behavior can be observed within domestic dogs if they are howling to ward off a certain object or other dogs. You may also notice that your dog howls at a certain noise or at sirens or a musical instrument. There are several causes for your dog to howl at high-pitched sounds, one of the reasons why dogs may howl at these types of noises is that they think that there is another dog in the distance trying to get their attention. Your dog may also believe that the siren poses a threat to him, and he is howling to ward off that threat. This form of howling is a way that the dog communicates and lets you know that there is danger in the area.

This form of howling is not anything that you need to worry about. It is a common behavioral instinct within dogs. You only need to worry if your dog accompanies this howling instinct with aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people. Any loud sound that mimics a howl, such as chimes, sirens, and other lengthy noises, can trigger your dog’s ingrained behavior.

Separation Anxiety 

Dogs with separation anxiety tend to howl. If your dog tends to howl every time that you leave the house or leave them alone, it is likely that your dog is suffering from a form of separation anxiety. This type of howling is much different from joyful howling or excited howling. Dogs that howl due to separation anxiety will likely howl as soon as they know that you are leaving the house. Oftentimes, howling is only present in dogs that are suffering from a more severe form of separation anxiety.

So, how do you know when your dog is howling due to separation anxiety? Most of the time, howling caused by separation anxiety will be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, unlike other forms of howling. You may also notice that your dog begins to destroy things within its environment (or other destructive behaviors), pace around the floor, try to escape from its crate or the house, and urinate within its environment. If your dog is howling due to separation anxiety, it will likely take some time to train your dog and help him to overcome this form of anxiety.

In addition, your dog may be howling due to not having sufficient entertainment or things to do when you leave him home alone. Dogs that do not have enough toys to play with or other mental stimulation while you are away will likely develop depression, loneliness, and sadness; these can all lead to excessive howling within your canine companion.

Do Some Dog Breeds Howl More Than Others?

There are some dog breeds that howl more than others. While all dogs can howl, some dog breeds are just more prone to participating in howling behavior. These breeds include the Husky, Beagle, Alaskan Malamute, Redbone, Coonhound, and the Bloodhound. However, there are some dogs that will go their whole lives without ever howling.

Most of the time, the dogs that howl are the dogs that are engaged in working or sporting activities. Dogs within these positions use howling to hunt, herd, and race. If your dog does not howl, it is likely a result of evolution. Domesticated dogs no longer need to depend on each other to keep danger away, so they no longer have a need to howl.

Why Do Puppies Howl? 

Have you noticed that your puppy is also howling? Puppies tend to howl when they are seeking attention either from other dogs or from their owners. Some of the common reasons why your puppy may be howling are:

  • Hunger
  • Thirst
  • Need to use the bathroom
  • Loneliness

If your puppy starts howling, you likely need to address whatever its needs may be. Oftentimes, there is a legitimate cause for their howling; they are not doing it to annoy you.

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