Why do dogs howl?
A dog’s howl is the main source of communication for man’s best friend.
Although it’s not very common behaviour the truth is that a dog’s howls are an important source of information about the emotional, mood and even health of our dogs. After all, it’s one of their ways of communicating and expressing, as far as possible, what happens to them.
The howl has always been present in dogs; in fact, it is one of the clearest features they have inherited from their ancestors, the wolf. Normally, it doesn’t have to mean anything negative, because most of the time it is just a way of calling each other and communicating. However, on other occasions it may be indicative that something is not right: stress, some ailment, fears or lack of any specific care may cause the dog to suddenly start howling.
Howl tones can give some indication as to what is happening. For example, a more pitiful, low-pitched howl may be caused by some pain or discomfort in the dog. On the contrary, a sharp, loud howl can be caused by him spending too much time alone, in the absence of stimuli or simply in the imitation of some external sound that is similar to a howl, like the wind or the sounds of the sirens in the city.
Obviously, howls cannot be avoided, as they are part of the dog’s communication. What we can do is prevent the causes of it, making sure the dog gets the attention and care it needs, that it doesn’t get hot, cold or hungry, that it has enough toys when it’s home alone, that it always has fresh and clean water.
Above all, howling is so the dog can indicate his emotions and emotional state. It is therefore a fairly reliable indicator of how our dog is doing.
Communicating with other dogs is one of the most important functions of howling.
Sometimes the dog howls when he sees all the family members together. It can be a dinner, a celebration... The dog’s howls can be an expression of joy and excitement.
Another very common reason for a dog howling is to call others, either humans or other dogs or animals. Let us not forget that it is their way of communicating.
Loneliness can be a good reason for your dog to howl non-stop for a while. Many dogs can’t stand being alone. If this becomes a problem, it might be advisable to seek professional help from a dog trainer.
Another very common cause of continuous howling is: pain, discomfort, or itches experienced by our dog. It is easily identified because the tone of the howl is more plaintive than on other occasions.
One example is dogs that live in large cities, are very prone to stress. As a result, they howl more often than other dogs. It may also be due to a sudden shock or traumatic period associated with something in particular.
Imagine: you’re all gathered at home, someone plays music or makes a loud noise... and your dog starts howling. It is because the howl can also be an imitation of a sound that calls his attention, such as an ambulance siren.
When we are sad, angry or crying, many dogs howl. It seems to be a form of emotional identification, empathy for our emotions.
Although it is less frequent, sometimes howling can be a way of establishing a territorial mark, that is, to point out that the space in which it is located is his, or at least he considers it as such.
If there are visitors you don’t know at home, if some technician comes to fix something... Anything the dog deems intrusive can be identified by its howls.
It can happen if the dog lacks hours of activity, walks or exercise, if it feels lonely (which is not the same as being alone), or if, of course, it is hungry.
Relating to the previous point, howling can also be a way to get your attention. But, beware, it can become a way to manipulate you emotionally to get what the dog wants.
It’s linked to stress, and it’s more common than we thought. A lot of dogs that constantly howl and although we don’t know why, do it out of anxiety.
Within anxiety, one of the most common is separation anxiety, especially that which takes place over an extended period of time (for example, during vacations).