Every pet parent wants to know the meaning of dog howling. Now, we all know what howling sounds like - it’s a high-pitched sound that sounds like a doleful cry. However, many of us are still quite unaware of why do dogs howl. Well, here’s a fun fact: howling for dogs is genetic inheritance. It’s no news that dogs are closely related to wolves. Despite the difference in their sizes, wolves and dogs share around 99% DNA. However, heredity is not the only reason why dogs howl. So, what does it mean when a dog howls, and how can you handle your howling dog? You will find answers to such questions in this article.
Why do dogs howl?
To handle a howling dog, you first need to understand the reason why your pet is making this long, wailing noise. Here’s a look at some probable causes of dog howling.
Your dog is reacting to something they heard
Dogs feel stimulated by high-pitched sounds. Howling is their way of responding to fireworks, sirens, bells, and other noises. This type of howling starts as soon as they hear the shrill sound. As a pet owner, you don’t have to worry about this type of howling since it usually stops when the trigger sound does.
Your dog has separation anxiety
If a dog is excessively attached to you, they might experience separation anxiety. So, once your little companion learns that you won’t be around for a few days, they might start howling under stress and anxiety. If your dog howls every time you need to leave for a long period, it is a sign of hyper-attachment. You might have to treat their anxiety to manage this type of howling. And no, scolding them is not the right way of doing it.
Your dog wants your attention
A howling dog could also be seeking attention. And this type of dog howling can be bothersome. You might feel like scolding, questioning, or holding your furball, but you must do the exact opposite of it. Avoid giving your pet any type of attention. Don’t pamper or scold them.
Your dog suspects danger
Dogs can sense bad weather, earthquakes, diseases, and so much more. Hence, you cannot rule out the fact that a howling dog could also be trying to alert you of something. Maybe they feel a situation is not right for you or could cause you potential harm. Dogs can sense the intentions of a person through their facial expressions. That’s exactly why dogs howl at some people who try to get near you or your house.
Your dog wants to rejoin you
Dogs are still very social animals; it’s just that now we are their pack. When they miss us, they will howl in hopes we respond. Dr. James Serpell, BSc, Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, explains it this way: That [howling] is an attempt on the part of the dog to ask the owner, ‘Where are you so that I can rejoin you?’
Are certain breeds more likely to howl?
Dr. James Serpell doesn’t believe so. “My own research has shown that it is common across breeds. People think huskies may be more prone to group howling.”
How to handle excessive dog howling?
Dogs going through separation anxiety may howl excessively when left home alone. Dr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager for Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, says, “If you reinforce quiet behavior, they are less likely to continue howling.” You can do this by quieting your dog and then leaving for a very brief time before returning and rewarding them when they stay quiet. Gradually increase the time you’re gone to reassure them you’ll always be back.
But what if your pawsome pet is howling due to other reasons? Let’s understand how to handle such situations:
As a pet parent, you must avoid reacting to the howling. This could encourage your dog to howl even more. If you avoid reacting, your dog will understand that howling won’t get their demands met. This might possibly work towards reducing this behaviour in the future.
Offer positive reinforcement:
Pamper your little companion when they do not howl on hearing a siren or bell. Give them attention and love when they are calm to encourage quiet behaviour. Always keep your pet’s favourite treats ready so you can let them know they have been a good boy or good girl by not howling.
Get professional training:
If your pooch often reacts to high-pitched sounds, you can even get in touch with a dog trainer. They can work with your dog to change their response to triggering sounds like sirens and fireworks.
Note: Training your fur baby is a time-consuming process. Hence, stay consistent with the actions recommended above and your pet will learn to control their howling triggers.
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FAQs on Dog Howling
- What does a howling dog mean?
- Is it good to let a dog howl?
- Are dogs sad when they howl?
- How to stop the dog from howling?
To understand what a howling dog means to communicate, you need to first read the situation. When dogs howl, it could mean anything–a response to high-pitched sounds, an attempt to attract attention, a suspicion towards someone, etc.
Yes. Since dogs are genetically programmed to howl, it is okay to leave them alone when they do that. However, if it bothers your neighbours, you might want to learn to handle your fur baby or get professional help.
While howling sounds like a long cry, it doesn’t always mean that they are sad.
To stop your dog’s howling, you can reward their calm and quiet behaviour. If they are howling for attention, avoid reacting to it. If you need more help, you may want to reach out to a dog trainer.