We already know that dogs howl as a form of communication. Howling is an inherent behavior passed down from their ancestors for long-distance communication. When wolves howl, the sound can travel as far as ten kilometers in open spaces. As you may have noticed, not all dogs are keen on howling. There are some that howl constantly, while others rarely do so. Wild canines are prone to this behavior than domesticated ones.
Experts in dog behavior have narrowed down why wild dogs and wolves howl. One of the main reasons is to inform other dogs of their presence. The sound travels over great distances and is a declaration of territory, numbers, location, and each individual’s feelings. Domesticated dogs instinctively howl for various reasons as well. Some of the reasons are rooted in their ancestors’ behavior.
Anxiety is one of the most common answers to the question, why do dogs howl? Most of our furry buddies like to be with us, whether playing, training, or just lounging around. When our dogs are left alone at home, they might feel some separation anxiety, which is normal, especially for puppies or younger dogs. They might also feel scared if there is a storm or disturbance. Neighbors may be disturbed when your dog howls due to separation anxiety.
In connection to separation anxiety, your dog might give out a cry when he hears you at the door. Based on his primordial instinct of alerting pack members to his location, your dog is telling you that he is just behind the door. Happiness at being reunited with their owners spur some dogs to howl their happy little hearts out when they see or hear you.
Similarly, hunting dogs bay or howl to alert handlers of their location. They are trained to track prey and to alert their handlers when they catch the scent of their prey. They also cry out when they have actually located it. Some working dogs are also trained to howl when they find what they are required to find. This behavior is similar to ancient wild dogs alerting their pack mates that they have found something.
Another reason for howling is to guide other members of their pack back to base. Wild dogs will always leave one or more members at home. This is not only to guard their base but also to serve as a guide to those who went out. Hunting and scouting can mix up directions or lead pack members far from their home. Those left behind will howl once in a while as a reminder of their distance and their location. This may be related to howling when they smell, hear or feel their owners coming home.
Warning off outsiders may be the reason for your dog’s instinctive cry. If your pet hears strange dogs or people near his territory, he could be warning them off. Just like his forebears, he may be protective of his home and family. For some dogs, a sense of danger or being threatened may trigger howling.
Trigger sounds can bring out a round of bays and howls from dogs. Hearing other dogs howling can cause your pet to respond in the same way. Some specific sounds cause this reaction, aside from howls from other dogs. Sirens, musical instruments, singing, and whistles can be the trigger. Each dog may have a different reaction to sounds and yours might react to it by howling.
Why do dogs howl? One serious reason behind this behavior is an illness or feeling of discomfort. The forlorn cry could actually be due to your dog feeling some pain or having a sickness. A lot of dogs like to communicate and howling is one of the best ways to let their pain and sadness reach their owners. Bring your dog to your vet if you notice a sudden change in his behavior or if he is listless. Some illnesses are not as easy to notice and you may need the help of a vet to diagnose it.
Overall, our canine buddies have their reasons for howling. Some may cause a disturbance where you live. You may have to correct this behavior if it always happens. Before anything else, it is better to find out why he is doing this so you can address the issue properly.