Whether in your own home, or on the internet, we’ve all seen a 4-legged friend throw back its head to let out a long howl. This behavior can bring joy and laughter to the humans around the dogs. Sometimes, it can also result in aggravation if the howling carries on for too long.
The causes and prevention of howling depend on a wide variety of factors. Keep reading this article to learn everything you need to know about howling, including:
- The meaning of howling
- Various causes of howling
- Common howling breeds
- How to stop howling
In order to understand the meaning behind your dog’s howling, it’s best to take a look at every dog’s common ancestor: the wolf. Studies have shown that wolves can identify individual and group identities by the howling sounds they make. Wolves in the wild can mark their territory, keep up with their pack, and keep up with their neighbors through howling.
It’s basically a form of doggo telephone. When your dog belts out a big howl, they’re saying, "I’m right here. Where are you?"
Most of the time, your dog is simply stating its presence when its prompted to howl by a passing siren, a soulful song, or another howling dog. However, there are other factors to consider when your dog’s howling doesn’t fit these categories.
We can look to wolves to understand the basics. Sometimes, there are underlying issues that could be at play. Your dog might be howling because of issues like:
Learned attention behavior
Are you worried your dog suffers from anxiety when you leave home? Howling is a very common symptom of separation anxiety in dogs. It’s usually accompanied by other anxiety symptoms such as:
- Destruction of furniture or property
Another possibility you should rule out that might be behind your dog howling is injury or illness. If your dog has sustained some sort of internal or external injury, their response might be to howl for long stretches of time. Take your dog to the vet to have them thoroughly examined if you suspect a medical issue.
On the other hand, it’s also possible that your dog is howling because they learned it’s a good way to get attention. A quick Google search reveals thousands of videos of dog owners prompting their canines to howl for the camera.
This might be fun at first, but for many people, howling can become a nuisance to both the owner and their neighbors. Keep reading to find tips on how to stop your dog from howling.
While all dogs are direct descendants of wolves, certain breeds are more prone to howling. It’s important to be aware of this when choosing which breed to take home, as some dogs just naturally want to “sing” more than others.
Huskies are famous for their howling tendencies. Huskie owners can tell you they love to sing it loud and proud to the moon, music, or a passing siren through the neighborhood. Get a pack of huskies together, and they will howl in unison to create a beautiful yet haunting canine song.
Hound breeds are also known for their loud and soulful howling. Humans have bred hounds for their ability to detect and alert hunters to prey. So, they are naturally inclined to howl to let their owners know when they detect something.
Labradors are also known to belt out a tune every now and then. While howling isn’t as much of a thing in labs as it is for huskies, your lab puppy might grow up to be a frequent howler.
Puppy howling in all breeds is a common trait to expect. When alone or insecure, tiny puppies have been known to let out some howls to alert their family of their location. This allows their parents to quickly locate and carry them back to safety.
While some breeds are more likely to howl, there are some ways to minimize the behavior.
How to Stop a Dog From Howling
It’s normal for your dog to howl at the occasional siren or distant neighbor dog. When it starts to happen too frequently or lasts too long, it might be time to make a change.
Do you suspect your dog has learned that they get heaps of attention for belting it out? There’s a simple method you can try to reverse this learned behavior.
Silence reward training - start by prompting your dog to speak. This is usually an easy task for your dog, and they will likely bark or howl on command. Once they get going, introduce a silence command like “be quiet”.
As soon as your dog remains quiet for a few moments after you give the command, reward them with lots of praise and/or a juicy treat. Repeat this practice, and soon you’ll be able to silence your dog in any situation.
If nothing helps, be sure to read our comprehensive guide on how to calm a dog down like a dog whisperer. There, you will also learn about the causes of hyperactivity. Who knows, maybe your doggo howls because of it?
There are lots of reasons why your dedicated doggo howls. It depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Breed behavior
- Learned behavior
- Separation anxiety
- Medical issues
Sometimes dogs just want to communicate when they hear a siren or another dog howling. If they belong to a certain breed like huskies or hounds, they are genetically predisposed to this behavior.
Check out our expert article on separation anxiety if you suspect your pet is suffering when you leave. If your dog’s howling seems wrong or out of place, take it to the vet to rule out any medical causes.