Why do dogs howl?
If you own a puppy or puppies, chances are you have heard them howl. This eerie yet enchanting melody that sounds like a sad song is one that may thrill or make you worry about your pup. But the fact is while all dogs can, not all do. Some dogs don’t howl at all, and those that do may do so sparsely or very frequently at any sound that gets them going.
However, it runs in their blood. Howling is a primal instinct to dogs and is one inherited from their ancestor the wolf, but many other canines like jackals, coyotes, and dingoes howl too. Your dog howling can mean different things, but it’s usually their way of communicating or expressing emotions.
In the wild, these wild canines howl to assert their dominance, attract mates, communicate with other pack members, warn other animals of their presence, mourn a dead member, or as a call to assemble for a hunt.
These canines, especially wolves, and certainly not your dog, don’t howl at the moon as the popular myth says.
Which Dogs Howl the Most?
Dogs howl to communicate with other dogs or with you as the owner. Some breeds are more prone to howling than others. Shepherd dogs, guard dogs, tracking and hunting dogs, and sled dogs, are considered the most vocal dogs and the most likely to howl often.
These dogs usually worked in packs and as the high-pitched sound of a howl traveled farther, it helped them locate and track each other’s movements on the go. Examples of such breeds include the Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute, Bloodhound, American Eskimo, and other shepherd dogs.
In a way, one can say that the closer the dog looks to its ancestor, the wolf, the more likely it is to howl. Huskies, malamutes, and many shepherds score well as wolf-lookalikes and are usually very vocal too.
What are the Triggers for Howling?
Most howling dogs are triggered by high-pitched sounds like sirens and alarms, other dogs howling, howls in the wind, or very commonly, their owners howling. It’s like joining in a song and many people are fascinated by their puppies howling.
If you don’t have a siren around and don’t want to strain your throat, you can find tons of audio and videos online that play howl-triggering sounds to get your puppy going.
Why Does my Dog Howl?
If you have a dog that howls a lot, some other dog owners with puppies that don’t may even consider you lucky. Dogs may howl:
To Express Emotion
Most dogs these days are no longer in the wild chasing prey in huge packs that hunt over long distances but are in real human families. This, in turn, means that dogs howl for even other reasons than why their ancestors did or still do.
Your dog may howl to express emotion when he or she is feeling sad, anxious, restless, and even excited. Some studies even show that dogs may tend to howl more with particular members in a large dog family, reinforcing the idea of it being a means of communication.
To Alert or Warn You
Dogs are very loyal and are naturally protective of other dogs or humans they consider members of their family. A dog may howl to alert or warn you if it senses or thinks another dog or an intruder is close by.
Your dog may also howl to establish your home as its territory and in turn, howl if it senses a rival nearby. It definitely doesn’t want an intruder that may take its place in your life!
When They are Lonely
Your pup may also howl when it is lonely. Many dogs in the modern home suffer from separation anxiety as their owners leave them unattended to for long periods when they go off to work.
Your dog may express its loneliness as a squeal, cry, or howl. Your dog may also howl to get your attention even when you are not far away. While this is mild, separation anxiety in a dog can make it develop bad habits like chewing and destroying things in your home.
Your puppy may also howl to try and attract a partner. There’s no particular mating season for domesticated dogs but their ancestors do have them. And during mating season, many wolves do howl to attract mates. Your dog howling may be its way of saying ‘I want a boyfriend or girlfriend’… who knows.
When in Distress
Your dog may also howl when it is in distress. It is very important as a dog owner to pay attention whenever your dog is howling so you can spot early signs of a problem. Dogs may howl when they are in pain, feel sick, or are injured.
When They Have Made a Discovery
This trigger for howling also traces back to ancestral roots. Wolves usually howl to alert other pack members when they have discovered or cornered prey, and your dog may do this too, only it may not be prey this time but an exciting find.
It may simply be a rodent, an insect, a toy, or who knows, buried treasure. Whenever your dog howls, do well to investigate.
Because They Like To
This may not be obvious, but some animal experts believe that dogs may howl simply because they like to. Just like we yawn when we wake up, sing sometimes, or just let out a scream, dogs may like to howl to. And the way other dogs are very enthusiastic to join in the howl may support this.
An exact reason as to why your puppy may be howling doesn’t exist. Your dog can howl for a number of reasons and as far as it isn’t in distress or is uncomfortable, a howling puppy can be such fun to watch, and even more, fun to howl along with – a bonding symphony between man and his best friend.