Is your dog a howler? Our canine companions have different ways of vocalising their feelings and needs, and dog howling is one of them. What does it mean when a dog howls? This article will help you to work out the reasons behind your dog’s howling.
What causes dogs to howl?
Different factors trigger howling in dogs. Here are the 6 most common reasons for a dog howling:
1. Dog Howling Because of Medical Issues
It is important first to rule out the possibility that the dog howling may be caused by an illness or injury. So, check his body for signs of wounds or injuries. In some cases, dogs may be suffering from internal damage, which makes it hard to pinpoint why they howl. If your furry companion is howling more frequently than usual, it is best if you get him checked by the vet.
2. Dog Howling Because of Protecting Their Territory
Dogs inherited from their ancestors, the wolves, the instinct of protecting and defending their pack members. Whilst some pooches are more prone to be territorial than others, they are ready to put themselves in harm’s way for their family.
You might have noticed that your dog started howling when he sensed a threat. This is his way to warn you of an intruder’s presence.
3. Dog Howling Because of Separation Anxiety
As pack animals, dogs naturally want to be with their pack – his human family. If they are separated from their pack, separation anxiety may occur.
Dogs suffering from this condition often bark, howl, pace, or try to escape the house. We will tackle more on how to handle this problem later in the article.
4. Dog Howling Because of Loneliness and Lack of Attention
Our furry companions are social animals. They don’t do well when ignored or left alone for long periods of time. Not giving them the daily interaction that they need can lead to them developing behavioural problems such as frequent howling, digging, and destroying furniture. To prevent this from happening, make sure to meet his daily exercise need.
5. Expressing Happiness and Excitement
Some dogs howl in happiness as they greet their loved ones by the door. Others do it as a way to communicate their excitement, especially when they have successfully done a task. For instance, hunting dogs tend to howl when they accomplished taking down their prey.
6. Dog Howling Triggered By Certain Sounds
You may have heard dogs howling to certain sounds, especially high pitch sounds such as sirens. How long your pooch howls often depend on when the sounds start and stop.
Experts have no exact answer for this peculiar behaviour. However, they do have a few speculations, which you will find out as you read on.
What dog breeds are prone to howling?
Every dog can howl, but some dog breeds are more vocal compared to others. The breeds that are more prone to howling usually belong to the traditional hunting groups such as:
Why do dogs howl to music?
According to dog behaviour experts, dogs howling to music is related to the primitive bonding behaviour of their ancestors, the wolves. To assemble the pack, wolves howl as a form of communication, and the rest join in.
It is observed that music feels and sounds the same as the wolves howling. This may be the reason why dogs howl when the music is on.
Experts also note that dogs tend to respond to particular kinds of music. Wind instruments, specifically reed ones including saxophones and clarinets, bring out dog howling.
Why do dogs howl at certain sounds?
The reason why dogs howl when they hear certain sounds remains unknown. However, some experts speculate that pooches may have mistaken the sounds for howls.
The sounds are often mild and tolerable to dog owners. But if this behaviour regularly occurs, which may be unbearable to some owners, consider having your dog undergo systematic desensitisation and counter-conditioning.
This method exposes your dog to the sounds that he fears or dislikes. Then it correlates these noises to a positive experience, such as rewarding him with treats. This will reduce his tendency to howl every time he hears the sounds.
Here is the basic process of systematic desensitisation and counter-conditioning:
- Find an audio clip online of the sounds that trigger dog howling.
- Play the sound at a low level. This is to avoid startling your dog as dogs typically have a sensitive hearing.
- Start creating positive associations with the noise. Give your pooch a treat or play a fun game.
- Slowly increase the noise level. Keep in mind that desensitising takes time. You may need to do it for days, weeks, or even months, depending on how your dog reacts to the sounds.
If your dog shows signs of stress, halt the session, and lower the noise level next time.
- Once he gets used to the sounds, practise playing the sounds in different areas of the house. This will make him calm and get him used to the noise in any area of your home.
Why do dogs howl at night?
There are many possible reasons why your furry companion howls during nighttime:
- He needs to urinate
- He lacks proper exercise during the day
- He is hungry
- He hears other dogs howling
- His room is uncomfortable (e.g., too hot or too noisy)
- His daily routine suddenly changed
To determine the cause of his howling, address them one by one. Do not feed him right before bedtime as it causes him to be awake at night. Take him outside for toilet session an hour before his bedtime.
Make sure your dog is walked daily to meet his exercise need.
Check his sleeping environment. Ensure that his room is not too loud, bright, or hot. Consider crate-training your dog as well. This will give him space where he feels safe and secure.
If your furry friend is still settling into a new sleeping schedule, his dog howling may be unavoidable until he is well-adjusted. When this happens, it is best to ignore his howls. Reacting every time he does the behaviour would only encourage him to do it more since he gets your attention.
Teaching him the ‘quiet ‘command also helps in keeping him from howling at night. As an added training, you can teach him to howl on command.
Why do dogs howl when left alone?
Have you observed that your dog starts howling and barking right after you leave him? This may be a sign of separation anxiety. Our furry friends share a close bond with us, and some dogs just can’t take being away from their owners.
In mild cases of dogs with separation anxiety, the dogs may be given special treats or activities such as a puzzle toy. It will help keep his mind busy and away from the thought of your absence. Leaving a used shirt with your scent also helps him cope with your absence.
Avoid cuddling your dog as you leave or arrive home. Be low-key when going away or coming home to prevent him from feeling distressed.
It takes more than the solutions above to stop severe canine separation anxiety. Your dog will need to get used to your absence, and this can be quite a long process. Here are some of the things that can be done:
- Do things that he associates with you leaving, but do not go out of the house. For example, pick up your keys or put on your shoes. After that, watch TV or play with him. Repeat this several times a day until his anxiety associated with these behaviours slowly diminishes.
- Get your dog accustomed to you, disappearing for a short while. Practise this in a room. Command him to stay and leave him alone in the room. Reappear after at least a minute.
Do this over and over until he gets used to your absence. Make sure to give him a treat every time he is calm when you are gone.
- Continue the exercise outside your home. Exit the house and wait for a few minutes. Then gradually increase the time you are away when your dog doesn’t react negatively.
Do not forget to reward him with treats each time he does well. Repeat this several times until he is no longer agitated by your absence.