Reasons Why Your Dog Howls
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
The sound of a dog howling can seem mysterious, eerie and mournful. It can also be amusing, as when dogs howl along with their owners playing musical instruments or singing.
Howling is a sustained noise that carries a long way so it’s the perfect way for dogs to communicate over long distances with other dogs. Hence the image of a lone wolf on a hill, howling against the backdrop of a full moon. In the wild, it’s usually a night time activity. Maybe dogs feel lonely then and are trying to communicate to other dogs.
Some dogs, like hounds and sled dogs, seem more prone to howling than others. Hounds make a “baying” sound while in pursuit of game so the hunters can keep track of them. Sled dogs bark and howl to each other when they are pulling. This is usually caused by their excitement in performing their jobs.
“It’s the perfect way for dogs to communicate over long distances with other dogs.”
Barking, on the other hand, is a more varied form of dog communication that dogs usually engage in when they are certain someone is there to hear them. Barking can be demanding, protective, playful, glad or bored, among many other things.
If a dog has a habit of howling constantly while her owner is away, it might be a sign of separation anxiety. Just like incessant barking, it is not fun for neighbors to endure for hours on end. For tips on how to help your dog with separation anxiety, read this article: http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/articles/separation-anxiety-in-dogs/
When howling sounds distressed and there isn’t an obvious trigger, the dog might be in pain. Dogs can be stoic about pain so if they are vocalizing, it may be serious so a visit to the vet is necessary.
Humans don’t always realize it, but dogs are amazing communicators. Howling is just another way for them to speak out.
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For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.