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Why do dogs howl?

howling dogAroo!! Does your dog howl at sirens or passing trucks? Or other dogs in your neighborhood? Dogs have a language all their own. They bark, whimper, whine, howl and make other noises. All of these noises are communicating a message. So what is your four legged friend trying to tell you by howling?

Back to dogs’ wolf roots

Howling has its roots in your dog’s DNA. Wolves howl to let other members of the pack know where they are so they can meet in a single location. Each wolf joins in signaling they are present and accounted for, and everything is OK. They recognize each pack member’s howl and so if an unfamiliar voice joins in, the pack leader knows an intruder may be in his territory. So a howl is also a warning to outsiders to stay away or else. Howling helps the sound travel farther than barking.

Howling from stress

So why do modern day dogs howl? According to WebMd, first you should rule out howling caused by a medical issue as some dogs howl when they are hurt or sick.  Howling can also be caused by separation anxiety. In this case the howling is usually combined with pacing, destruction or other known symptoms of separation anxiety. If your dog suddenly starts howling,  howling more than usual or howls because of separation anxiety, please visit your vet.

howling puppy

Howling to communicate

The most common trigger is the sound of another dog howling or a something like a siren that mimics that sound. Your dog howls in response in order to communicate. If the howling becomes a problem, you can use desensitization techniques. These techniques are used to make your dog less sensitive to the trigger sound. This is best done under the advice of a professional trainer.

Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, howl to communicate. Much like a person may shout or yell, dogs howl to transmit a message over a long distance. While it can become a problem for their human companions, most of the time it is simply another tool in their canine communication toolbox.

Does your dog howl?

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