Some dogs like to howl a lot and it leaves us wondering why do dogs howl, or better yet why does my dog howl? Dogs tend to do a number of things that make us scratch our heads, from eating grass to chasing their tail.
Studies about howling show that this is a genetic trait and manifests differently for every breed. Let’s be frank, we all know that huskies are far more vocal than we thought, digging into that wolf-like aesthetic of theirs.
Why do dogs howl?
Genetically, yes all dogs are predisposed to howling, but what is the core reason for why do dogs howl? We can judge it as just another form of communication that our dogs exhibit.
Why do dogs howl – in the wild?
In the wild, wolves do indeed howl, which is not directed at the moon as we say. Wolves howl as a way of communicating with the pack. A howl is a rallying cry to gather for or return from a hunt.
Domesticated dogs still have this instinct and when replying to a dog or a fire truck siren the reasoning is the same.
- Territorial behaviour for why do dogs howl
Some dogs are territorial and they like to announce it from the hills, or the couch in most cases. Maybe they spot a dog in the street and howl a warning not to step on their territory.
Many dogs exhibit territorial traits, even if they are usually friendly out on walks. Once in the garden of the house, the guard dog default mode switches on.
- A dog howls because it’s bored
A need for attention is another reason why a dog might want to start howling. Boredom factors into this howling tendency, and you running up to them provides the attention they wanted.
We don’t want to get our dog used to us always responding to them howling but we also don’t want them to howl for no reason. It’s a tricky situation and not one easy to handle.
- Separation anxiety and howling
Having your dog be anxious about leaving left alone is a hard issue to deal with. Sometimes your dog has to stay at home while you work or go grocery shopping.
It’s hard to see your dog so stressed just because they are left alone at home, and howling to show it. It’s a little form of protest, this howling when left alone.
- Sympathetic behaviour
I remember this funny scene in Zootopia where the bunny character starts howling to get the wolves to start howling, and they do. They start a howl session. As funny as that was it’s something that happens with our pet dogs as well.
Certain sounds outside can get dogs to howl in response. My own terrier only starts howling when he hears an ambulance siren as if joining in the howl session. There isn’t a clear explanation for why this happens, but it might have to do with their genetic inheritance.
Like with wolves, a dog might see the firefighter siren as a rallying call, and join in. It’s quite funny and cute to see it happen although I imagine husky owners might not see it that way.
- Your dog might be in pain
The most extreme case for why do dogs howl is injury. If this howling persists there might be a serious injury that causes your dog to express like this. Not all dogs do this. Some even hide their pain, so don’t wait for your dog to howl to figure out if they’re in pain.
What to do about why do dogs howl?
Providing comfort and entertainment is about the only thing you do to tackle howling. If it’s anxiety, then provide your dog with some chewing toys or fluffy teddy bear toys to keep them entertained.
If it’s because of sounds they hear from outside, there isn’t much you can do, maybe have some music playing to soothe them.
In trying to further understand your pet and its howling tendencies, you might just consider it a form of expression. The definitive answer to “why do dogs howl?” is a mixed bag. It’s a way to communicate, yes, but what type of message you get is also important.
Pay attention to your dog and make sure it’s not just attention-seeking behaviour. It could be more or it could be less, you’ll see differences depending on your dog’s breed and personality.