Why Do Dogs Howl?

Cocker spaniel dog howling

Dogs howl for many different reasons. They may be communicating with other dogs, announcing their location to other dogs or people, or attempting to scare off perceived intruders. Dogs may also howl when they’re feeling sad, lonely, or anxious.

When your dog howls and for how long can tell you a lot about what they’re trying to say. In some cases, the howling may become a problem for you or your neighbors, and could also signal something is wrong with your dog. Understanding what your pup is trying to say by observing their body language and reading their moods can help you figure out how to fix this behavior. It may be as simple as adding some natural remedies for dog anxiety to their routine. In other cases, more significant intervention might be necessary. Keep reading to learn more!

vet and dog

Yearly vet visits for a complete physical check-up are recommended to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Medical Issues

Dogs can’t communicate as simply as humans, and sometimes they use their howl to let us know they’re in pain or not feeling well. If howling is new behavior for your dog, do a quick physical exam of your pup and check for any foreign bodies in their paws, sore joints, or signs of illness such as pale gums. You may need to consult your vet if you can’t find an apparent cause for the behavior change. Your vet will be able to help you figure out what’s wrong and recommend the proper treatment for any issues your dog is having.

Communicating With Other Dogs

Dogs are social creatures and howl to communicate with other dogs or animals they may have heard nearby. Sometimes your dog might do this while in the yard or on a walk, or even when there’s no one around. Wild wolves howl to rally and gather their pack mates; similarly, your dog may howl because they don’t want to be alone. If you walk near a park or another public space that animals might frequent, for example, your dog may howl to share their presence with any nearby dogs.

To stop your dog from performing this sort of howling behavior, you should bring them inside (if they’re in your yard) or leash them (if you’re out on a walk). You can distract them with a treat or toy or by using their name in a happy tone. If you’re unable to stop your pup’s howling with just the use of their name, this might be an indicator that they are being aggressive instead of social. You could also keep their behavior in mind while walking so that you can figure out the best route to take and avoid trigger areas.

loving family and dog

Playing provides much-needed mental stimulation and companionship.

Loneliness

Sometimes dogs howl when they feel lonely or sad. This behavior can start off as a way for puppies to get attention from their mothers, but it may continue into adulthood. For example, dogs sometimes howl when they’re left alone for long periods or when they don’t have enough social interaction.

If this is the case, think about your day and schedule and how much attention, playtime, and exercise you’re giving your pup. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog! You might also want to consider hiring a dog walker to come by during the day or bringing your pup to doggy daycare. This can help them get the attention they need and help to prevent howling from becoming a problem.

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Anxiety

Dogs can howl when they’re feeling anxious for a variety of reasons. If your dog is howling because of anxiety, try our calming supplements for dogs. Of the several different types of anxiety in dogs, the most common include noise anxiety, separation anxiety, and car anxiety.

Noise Anxiety

Dogs who suffer from noise anxiety howl when they hear loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks. If your dog is scared of these noises, you can do a few things to help. Try crating them in a quiet room with a few toys and some long-lasting natural dog treats, playing music to mask the noise, or using tight-fitting dog clothing like a Thundershirt to help calm them down. A research study showed that using these types of vests and coats lowered heart rates by 8% and overall mean anxiety scores by 34%.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety howl when their owners leave them alone. This can be because they’re scared of being alone or because they’re worried about what might happen to them while their owners are gone. To tackle this issue, try leaving them with a favorite toy or treat, hiring a pet sitter to come by during the day, or using natural supplements to help calm them down.

Car Anxiety

Dogs who deal with car anxiety may because they’re scared of being in a moving car or don’t like being confined to small spaces for long periods. A dog howling in your ear does not make for safe driving! Try giving your pup a more enjoyable car-riding experience by taking them on short trips and frequently stopping throughout the drive for attention and positive rewards like play or sniffing. Car rides should not only represent vet visits and grooming appointments, so make drives to fun adventures like walks or hikes in new locations a priority.

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Two cute husky dogs howl raising their muzzles up.

Some breeds, like huskies, communicate through howling more than others.

Signs of Aggression

Dogs sometimes howl when they feel threatened or frightened. This might happen if there are other animals in the area, if they’re being approached by strangers human or canine, or if their perceived territory is invaded. If your dog is growling and barking while they’re howling, they may be trying to scare someone or something off.

If this sounds like your situation, increase supervision when your dog is outdoors, to ensure that they’re not approached by people or other animals. You should also make certain that your dog is securely contained in the yard with no chance for escape. When they start this howling behavior, use distraction methods such as treats and toys to discourage howling behavior. If you feel ill-equipped to deal with this sort of behavior, consult your vet or a qualified dog trainer.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Finally, if your dog just howls occasionally for no reason you can discern, try not to get too worried. Some dogs are more vocal than others, and they might use howling to communicate with the other members of the household. While this behavior isn’t always easy to deal with or understand, it usually isn’t complicated either. It’s essential to keep your own anxiety level down and not let the noise get to you. If you feel concerned about howling behavior in your pup, contact a vet or trainer for advice on properly dealing with the issue.