Why Is My Dog Howling?

February 21, 2022

Sometimes, all it takes is the backfire of a car to make your dog start howling. And while all dogs bark, some are consistent howlers, and others howl in response to stimuli. Howling is an ancestral trait used in the wild to warn of approaching danger or letting the pack know where they are. 

And while there is no danger of approaching wildlife in your home, your dog’s howls are a form of communication. Your furry companion may be howling because they hear high-pitched noises, or they may be trying to attract attention or show their distress. Scolding them when they start howling will not help as it will confuse your pet. Instead, try to find out the reason why they are howling.

So, why do dogs howl? Let’s find out.

They may be trying to seek a connection

Whining, barking or howling are ways pets use to seek connection. If your furry friend is in your presence when they start polishing their communication skills, you can be sure they want connection, food, or a favourite toy. Here’s how you can respond to the howling: 

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Don’t pet or touch them
  • A scolding will not help either, as they may thrive on negative attention.
  • Turn your back on them, letting them know that you don’t appreciate such behaviour.
  • Praise them with a treat when they calm down and meet their need for connection.

Beagles howling

When sounds like sirens trigger them

Well, the answer may be the arrival of the vegetable vendor in the vicinity. Or it can be the backfiring of a car, a siren or fireworks. Even loud voices are enough to set them off. Unless these triggers are frequent, your furry companion’s howling won’t be excessive. In case of frequent triggers, desensitisation and counter-conditioning can help keep your dog quiet. Desensitisation and counter-conditioning are methods to treat anxiety, aggression, fear and phobias in pets. A certified dog trainer or a behaviour consultant such as Shirin Merchant may help treat the problem. 

Separation anxiety 

If your dog howls when you are at work, your neighbours will be the first ones to tell you about it! Barking or howling when you are away could indicate separation anxiety. Pacing around the house, chewing slippers or destroying property are other indicators that your dog suffers from separation anxiety. 

Dog howling

Medical issues cause howling too

Dogs tend to howl when they are in pain or sick. If the barking or howling is more than usual, maybe you need to take them to the vet to rule out injury.

A form of communication

Your dog may howl to provide their location to other dogs. The howl is often long and drawn out. This sound can travel to the dogs in the vicinity. 

Once a dog in the neighbouring area starts howling, other dogs in the area join in. Consider it as a kind of doggie network!

Territorial instincts

Dogs, by nature, are territorial. When a dog enters their territory, it sets them off, letting the intruder know they are in their territory. It is a warning sign that lets the intruder know that they have to back off. 

Loneliness can be an issue

Loneliness in Dog

Dogs are social beings and need company, same as you. And if they feel neglected or are left alone too long, they respond by barking or howling. Here’s what you can do to deal with loneliness in dogs.

  • Take them for walks.
  • Play games such as fetch with them.
  • Leave behind plenty of dog toys and chews when you are away.

Dogs are selfless beings, loving and forgiving. All they need is a bit of understanding and care. And remember, your pet is the first one at the door when you come back home.

Check out this video on why do dogs howl

 

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