Many dog owners have heard their dog howl and, wondered why their domesticated pooch is displaying wild animal behavior. So, why do dogs howl? Though we don’t quite know for certain, outside of shrieking and barking, howling is a communicative behavior. There could be many reasons why your dog is howling and, some of the reasons are quite harmless and simple:
- Alerts to Danger
- Gain Attention
- Acknowledge Other Dogs
All of your dog’s howling might not be so harmless. In fact, howling could be your dog’s signal that they are in distress. These are the troublesome reasons for why dogs howl:
Separation Anxiety: This is triggered when a dog is left home alone or isolated from the pack for a long period of time. This howling often pairs with behaviors like digging, scratching, and pacing.
Medical Issues: Your dog might be in pain. Check for signs of visible injuries if your dog howls frequently or in a shrieking manner. If the howling seems to correlate with physical pain in your dog, talk to your veterinarian.
Sounds: Sounds like that of sirens can cause your dog to howl. This reason for your dog howling is usually triggered upon the onset of the noise. Thus, the diagnosis is quite simple. However, if the sound doesn’t show any indication of stopping, it’s best to muffle the sound as much as possible. You can do this by moving to a quieter room in the house or perhaps taking a drive.
Howling is an innate reaction in dogs. If your dog is howling, he’s simply communicating to you and other dogs around him. Unless any of the troublesome reasons listed above are present, your dog is just keeping you up to date on what’s going on.
Communication in Dogs
Domestic dogs’ origins date back 15,000 years ago in a single wolf. With this notion in mind, it’s no wonder why dogs howl. One theory why your dog may be howling is because he’s bored or lonely. Another theory suggests that dogs howl as a means to search for another dog or provide a beacon to a distant family member. A dog’s howl is like a long-distance phone call. The drawn-out sound can travel miles and alert other canines of their needs or location.
Most commonly today dogs howl because they hear sounds resembling other dogs. For example, firehouse sirens are a notorious trigger. Your dog’s howling, like barking, is just another form of doggy communication used for specific needs.
Types of Dog Howling
In addition to the howl and the bark, we can’t forget the bay. Beagles are known to bay when trouble is near or visible. The following three definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s which sum up the types of howling nicely:
- Bark: of a dog: to emit or utter its characteristic short loud explosive cry
- Howl: to utter or emit a loud sustained doleful sound or outcry characteristic of dogs and wolves
- Bay: of a dog: to bark (as at a thief or at the game that is pursued) especially with deep prolonged tones
In conclusion, if your dog is barking for the fun of it, baying on the hunt, or howling for fellow dogs, be sure to listen to what your dog is trying to say.