The Happy Puppers participates in advertising and affiliate marketing as a means of generating revenue. Thank you for your continued understanding and support.
04 September 2021

What does dog howling mean? Why do dogs howl? 8 reasons

One of the most common questions in a dog guardian’s mind is ‘what does dog howling mean?’ and ‘why do my dogs howl?’ 

In this blog post, I will discuss the meaning and significance behind dog howling and how to stop excessive howling in dogs as well. However, as usual, we must start with, what does dog howling mean?


What does dog howling mean?


Dogs howl for a variety of reasons. Howling is a form of communication that has been used by dogs for the longest possible time. They have evolved from wolves after all and wolves are known to howl. Dog howling can mean a variety of things like announcing their presence to others, asking for attention or to contact other dogs. 

Some guardians have noticed that their dogs howl in response to the sirens of emergency vehicles or other high pitched musical instruments. However, if your dog is howling excessively, it should be perceived as a sign of the dog being in problem. Read on all the way to understand what does dog howling mean and what can you do to curb this behavior when it is too much.


Why do dogs howl?
Why do dogs howl?


Why do dogs howl?


As per researchers, the behavior of howling in dogs is rooted in the genetics of the dog. As I previously mentioned, dogs have wolves as their ancestors. Their is a very close match between the DNA of wolves and dogs. Therefore, it could be that dogs howl as a result of their shared ancestry with the wolves. Wolves use howling as a manner of communication amongst pack members. Maybe dogs howl to communicate as well? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out


Dogs howl as a homing beacon


Dogs howl travels longer distances than their bark. Therefore, in the wild, dogs and wolves howl as a means to bring the dog or wolf scout  to the park after a hunt is over. It is also a means to call upon the dogs who have been left behind. The howl acts as an auditory signal to guide the dogs and signal them to the location of the pack. The dogs who were left behind follow the auditory beacon and come back to the pack.


Dogs may be exhibiting similar behavior when at home. One common reason behind domestic dogs howl is that they are calling their people back. If you have been out and your dog misses you, he or she may howl to call you to come back to him or her. 


Related post: How to stop excessive barking in dogs? 6 amazing tips


Dogs howl as a part of their defense mechanism


Just like dogs pee on trees and lamp posts to mark their territory, similarly dogs howl to indicate to  other animals that the territory has already been claimed. This is done so that the dogs of other territory do not enter the space. The dogs howl acts as a warning to other dogs and animals that if they encroach the region, violence may prevail. 


Dogs also howl to beware their pack members of any approaching threat. The howl acts as a warning cry in this case to prepare the members for the incoming onslaught. 


In case of domesticated dogs, dogs howl to warn their humans or guardians to the presence of a stranger near the house or when an unknown car pulls up in the driveway. In such situations they are trying to warn the family members of the approaching threat.


Dogs howl to express their anxiety and seek attention


Someone’s dogs howl to simply ask for your attention. Dogs are quick learners and most of them learn that howling is a good way to get the attention of their guardian. Maybe the dog howled once and you rushed to see what was wrong only to find a dog what wants to indulge in playtime. A couple of such instances and the dog learns that this is a possibility that this is the best way to gain the attention of the guardian. Thus the behavior becomes a habit.


However, this might not be the only reason why dogs howl at home even in presence of their guardian. This behavior might be more pronounced if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. In case the dog has separation anxiety problems and does not get enough mental stimulation to keep him or her engaged even if you are in a different room, he or she might howl to express the anxiety that’s going inside. 


If such dogs are left alone, in a few mins they might start to feel anxious because the guardian is absent. This would lead to constant howling along with other behaviors till the guardian comes back. Just imagine, if you were out in an enclosed area without your phone, iPad, TV or anything to keep you occupied, you would start to howl too.


Related posts:

9 treatment strategies for dogs suffering from separation anxiety

Dogs howl to respond to environmental triggers.

Dogs have ears which are much sharper than ours. Therefore, sounds which don’t bother us can actually trigger howling in dogs like ambulance or police sirens etc. The reason as to why dogs howl to the sound of sirens has not yet been understood. Some possible reasons behind this behavior could be:


Dogs perceive sirens as other creatures howling and they go in to respond and feel a sense of bonding with the other animals out there 

The high siren pitch may wake up some generic memory in dogs which triggers their howling

The guardians of the dogs encouraged the howling when the dog did so the first time. Thus, the dog learned that he or she must howl when the sirens are heard. 

Some guardians even join in with the dogs to promote howling. Thus encourages the dogs to howl further and it develops into a habit. 

This is probably the reason behind why dogs howl when the pitch of the music or musical instruments is high.


Pin it! 


What does dog howling mean?
What does dog howling mean?


Dogs howl when they are injured


Another answer to what does dog howling mean could be that the dog is in pain. Dogs howl to express pain or injury. Just like humans weep, scream or cry loudly when they are in pain, dogs howl to vocalize the pain they are going through to other dogs as well as to humans so that they can get help.


Some dogs have also been trained to vocalize their findings on hunts or when they make any kind of discovery on a trail. Dogs who have been trained to hunt will  howl when they capture the prey. This is done to inform the guardian of the location of the prize which the dog has acquired.


Related posts:

Arnica for dog injury: 16 amazing benefits

Herbal remedies for pain management in dogs: Part I

Herbal remedies for pain management in dogs: Part II

Effects of administering pain killers to dogs


Personal experience

Delta is a Basenji mix. Basenjis are barkless dogs. Delta does not prefer to bark or howl unless absolutely necessary. However, when he was around 4 months old he started to howl in response to I LOVE YOU. He is over two years old now but he will only howl when he wants to say I LOVE YOU. Otherwise, you will never see him howl. So I’d say Delta prefers to howl when he is happy.


Does your dog like to sing or howl?


Some dog breeds have been observed to howl more than others. The specific breeds which have been known to indulge in howling are Beagles, Coonhounds, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, American Eskimo Dogs, Dachshunds, Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds etc. 

Related posts you might be interested in:

Do dogs have nightmares?

The different types of dog collars and their uses


Conclusion


Now that you know what dog howling mean, one thing to remember about dogs howl is that the howling can have many meanings. It can signify loneliness, separation anxiety, pain, injury or just asking for attention. Sometimes dogs also howl out of joy.

What about your dogs? Do your dogs howl or sing?  What are the reasons behind your dogs howling? Share your experiences with everyone in the comment section. In case you have any queries pertaining to this article or any others, feel free to leave your queries in the comment section or contact me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to help


See you in my next blog post

Shruti


Frequently asked questions


Does a dog howling mean death is coming?
There have been many different forms of superstitions regarding howling in dogs. However dogs howl as a means of communicating with the other dogs. They howl to let other dogs know of their territory, to alert against strangers or to notify the finding of a prize or discovery.

Do dogs howl when they are sad?
Dogs may howl when they are injured. They also howl when they are sad or dissatisfied.

Is dog howling a good or bad behavior?

Howling is a normal communication mode for dogs. Dogs howl has multiple causes behind it. To call other dogs, to notify the pack regarding strangers, to notify the pack regarding a pet capture etc. It is a mode of communication for dogs.

What does it mean if a dog is howling at night?
Dogs also howl when they feel lonely or sad. Throughout the day during the hustle bustle of people, dogs are busy. But it’s the night time when they feel lonely. They howl to express their loneliness.

Would you like to comment?