Why Do Dogs Howl? That’s one of many common questions I get asked about dog behaviors, and as a vet, I will break it down for you.
The most common answer to this question is instinct. Let me explain.
Even though dogs have been domesticated from wolves more than 12 000 years ago, they still carry wolf instincts and behaviors, and howling is one of them.
However, there are other reasons why dogs howl, most of these reasons don’t cause concern, but others are.
That’s why I listed the 7 most common reasons why do dogs howl.
Let’s get into it.
Why Do Dogs Howl?
There are multiple reasons why dogs howl, the following are the most common ones:
1. Let You Know Where He Is
Wolves howl to members of the pack, and considering the fact that howling can travel up to 10 miles – 16 km, makes it a great communication tool to let others know where they are.
Dogs howl too to let their owners know where they are, and trained hunting dogs are masters at that as they usually need to alert their owners who might be miles away that they found or catch.
Dogs can also howl when you are on a hike or camping to let you know where they are, and often times they howl when they get the feeling that they are going to get lost.
2. Because of Separation Anxiety
In the wild, wolves and other canine puppies would howl when their parents go hunting, which may express that they are feeling anxious about separation from their parents.
Similarly, dogs may have separation anxiety, and they may howl when you are gone for too long, they may howl when you spend too much time at work when you go to the gym, and puppies can also howl when they get separated from their parents.
3. To Express Excitement
You might not see your dog for quite a time, and after you two meet he starts jumping, barking, licking, and howling. That’s just a form of expressing excitement and telling you how much he missed you.
Your dog might also howl when he finds something that makes him excited, maybe a treat you’ve been hiding, a toy that he used to play with or chew on, or he found a mouse or a lizard.
4. To Respond To Loud Noises
Your dog might howl if he heard another dog howling, that’s basically how members of the pack communicate with each, so usually, when your dog hears other dogs howling, he might howl back.
Oftentimes, dogs howl at high-pitched noises which may include sirens, cars, and other loud noises.
5. To Express Pain
If your dog never howled before or howled on rare occasions, and now he howls frequently, he might be telling you that there is something physically wrong with him and he’s suffering pain.
In this case, just out of caution, I’d recommend that you check him for physical injuries, and it’s always a good idea if you take him to a specialist.
Sometimes, dogs howl when they feel nervous, maybe they are scared of something or there is danger nearby.
Your dog may also howl as an expression of loneliness especially if you constantly leave him alone for a long period of time, dogs are our best friends for a reason, they are just as social as us, so it’s always best that you spend some time with your dog.
7. To Get Your Attention
Nothing can get the attention of a dog owner better than a howl, and for some reason, dogs seem to know that.
Howling for no reason is pure manipulation for dogs, what I usually recommend that you do is NOTHING. Don’t make eye contact, don’t caress, don’t even yell at him, dogs are like little kids, they only want attention even if it’s negative. So don’t give it and don’t approach a howling dog, keep ignoring this behavior and you’ll see that it will gradually stop.
What to Do About Excessive Howling
The first step to stopping your dog from excessive howling is understanding the motive behind it.
The reasons I listed above are the most common ones and you’ll definitely identify with one of them.
So, if your dog howls when he hears other dogs howling, then there is no need to do anything as, oftentimes, he will stop when the other dog stops.
However, if your dog howls for attention or just howls for no reason, I would recommend some form of training and a specialist is going to be the best solution.
However, if you prefer a DIY way, you can use a bark collar, they are a very effective training solution that works for stopping dogs from barking, and they can also stop dogs from howling.
No matter the breed, size, or age, all dogs howl. Some howls more than others and some howl less.
Usually, howling doesn’t cause concern but there are some occasions where it does, in that situation I highly recommend that you consult a vet.