A dog howling can certainly be annoying but there is a reason why they do this there are also ways to make them stop. So to start with: Why does my dog howl?
There are several reasons why dogs are howling. Certain breeds of dogs howl a lot more than others and there are also individual differences between dogs. In order to make a dog stop howling, you need to know why it is doing it so that you can take the right measures.
Dog’s ancestors howled
As might know the domestic dogs we know today is derived from the wolf. Genetically Speaking there is not much difference between a wolf and a dog. Wolf’s use howling for a few different reasons. One is to call members of the pack back to the others. The howling will help them find the way home. Wolfs also use howling as a way to warn other wolfs and predators that they are going into the wolf’s territory and that they better leave immediately. So two Wolf’s howling can be a way to call loved ones and also be used as a warning to rivals/enemies. Howling does not have a specific meaning.
Certain breeds howl more than others
Blood hounds, Siberian huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Beagles and Dachshunds are a few of the breeds that tend to howl a lot. Hunting dogs howl when they have discovered something or have succeeded with their hunt. Howling is a way for them to communicate and call their owners. Some breeds of dogs howl less but bark a lot more. This common with shepherd dogs such as German Shepherds, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and other shepherds. These dogs bark to warn for predators and to get attention from their owners. They also bark to get attention from their herds. Barking is a more common problem than howling, when it comes to most dogs.
Separation anxiety is one cause of howling
Dogs are social animals and some dogs get distressed when they are being left alone by their owners. A dog suffering from separation anxiety will howl as a sign of distress and the howling is also a way to call its owners back home. Separation anxiety is often the cause of a number of other problems such as chewing and biting furniture and other belongings, excessive barking, eliminating inside etc. A dog who starts howling every time it is left alone at home is probably suffering from separation anxiety. Here is one post on dealing with separation anxiety.
Searching for attention
I have already mentioned how wolves are howling to call back members to pack and to tell rivals/enemies to back away from the wolves territory. For a domestic dog sometimes howling is used simply to get attention. When your dog is howling and you come running to her, just to find her with a toy in her mouth eager to play then this was just a trick on her part. Now if you always respond by coming to her and then playing, you can be sure that she will continue to use this strategy. Remember YOU are the packleader so you should decide when it is playtime. Below is a video I found on Youtube on why dogs are howling.
Pain and injuries
Just like we humans sometimes cry when we are injured and in pain, dogs might start howling when they get injured are experience something painful. When your dog is often howling and the howling is not caused by other reasons such as excitement or anxiety then you should check your dog for any external injuries and if you can not find anything you should have your dog checked by a veterinarian.
Boredom and lack of stimulation
A dog who is left alone for long periods of time, perhaps in a confined space such as a crate, might suffer from a lack of stimulation and the loneliness and boredom could cause the dog to howl. When a dog is left alone it is important that he/she has something to do. A few fun toys or a bone might very well do the trick. There is however a limit to how long a dog can stay on its own before boredom overtakes it. How long a dog can be comfortable on its own depends on its age, breed and how well he/she can adapt him/herself. When your dog spends many hours alone at home, you might consider coming home during your lunch hour if possible or hiring a dog walker to walk your dog.
Joy and/or excitement
A dog who is exited or happy might sometimes howl, others will bark. This could (like mentioned) be the case with successful hunting dog who is howling to get attention from its owner. The same goes for search and rescue dogs, they sometimes howl to get the attention from the owner/dog handler when they have found something. A dog who is playing, and finds the ball or Frisbee it is running after, might also howl , though most dogs will bark in this situation.
Other reasons for howling, does some dogs like to howl?
Loud sirens, for example those used by the police or rescue squad can sometimes cause a dog to howl. There are examples of dogs who never howls but who starts howling as soon as they hear a siren. Nobody knows exactly why they do this but it might be that the sound triggers an instinctive behavior of the dog. Like in the wild when wolfs are answering the call of other howling wolfs by howling back to them, nobody knows for sure.
It also seems like some dogs like to howl, just like people like to sing. This might seem far-fetched but sometimes you can see dogs howling and you get the impression they enjoy it because there does not seem to be any reason as to why they would howl.
What to do if a dog is howling
First of all you need to determine why your dog is howling. Like mentioned a bored, lonely dog might just need a little stimulation in the form toys or maybe an extra walk, a dog who howls because of separation anxiety needs to dealt with in another way. Check your dog for injuries if you suspect the reason for the dog’s howling is caused by pain. When your dog is howling simply because it wants attention then you better ignore it.
If you always come running to a dog who is howling simply because she wants to play, then she will continue to do this over and over again. When your dog is howling out of joy or excitement? Well, this is really not too bad, just like barking, howling is a natural behavior for dogs. If really this gets too annoying you have to teach your dog the command “stop it”, “enough” or “no howling”. When your dog stops, give it plenty of praise, caresses and maybe a treat.
Howling, just like barking is a natural behavior for dogs and as you can see there are many reasons for it. Howling can mean so many things. It is a behavior that can not be stopped altogether but it can be controlled and kept within limits. Just make sure you find out why your dog is howling so that you can take the right cause of action.
I hope you did get an answer to the question: Why does my dog howl? If you want to learn more about how dogs function and how to deal with various dog related situations I can recommend that you take a look at my review of Secrets to Dog Training by Kingdom of Pets. It is a very good and detailed guide which contains everything you need to know about dogs. Everything from choosing a puppy, different breeds of dogs, dog training, dog psychology, and how to deal with various problems you might encounter with your dog. I can highly recommend it.
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