What Does It Mean When Dogs Howl?

One way of loving and caring for your doggie is understanding their language. This includes understanding their different behaviors and vocalizations like howling, barking, and growling. Among the different vocalizations, howling seems the most disturbing to many dog parents.

Now, while it’s natural for most canines to howl due to their ancestral roots, there are many different reasons why dogs howl. It could be a sign of health issues such as separation anxiety or injury. Your four-legged furry friend also howls to communicate with other dogs or their owners.

In addition to understanding why your dog is howling, it’s also vital to understand when howling should be a concern and how to stop howling after leaving and at night. Before getting into that, let’s first understand what a dog’s howling symbolizes.

What Does A Dog Howling Symbolize? 

Image from Instagram:@frida_bordoodle

Howling is one of the natural ways of how dogs communicate. Unless if the dog is howling when asleep, which is most likely a dream, your canine friend howling is a way to communicate with you and other dogs. 

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it’s okay to ignore your dog howling if you realize it’s becoming a way of attracting your attention but train them another way of getting your attention.

Since dogs are part of your family, it is important to understand what the doggie is trying to communicate so that you can respond appropriately. Here are some common reasons why your furry friend howls:

  • Part of its wolf ancestry
  • Form of communication
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sickness or injury
  • Response to loud sirens or another dog howling
  • Horrible dream when sleeping

Howling should only be a concern if it’s because of an injury, sickness, or separation anxiety. The trick here is to observe other behaviors such as destruction, pacing, and the howling pattern, which could mean stress or anxiety.

For the other causes, the trick is to use desensitization and counterconditioning techniques.

Does Dog Howling Mean Death?

Despite the superstition surrounding dogs’ howling and death, you don’t have to worry when your doggie howls. If your dog howls and death follows afterward, it is purely incidental, and there is no direct relationship between the two events.

Your dog constantly howling during the night could be that there is an intruder and it’s howling for your attention, or your doggie is just lonely and is calling out for other dogs. Many folklore stories tend to lean into superstition, which is why many people believe it could be true.

In Irish folklore, they believe that dogs howl when they sense phantom hounds that are hunting for souls. Nordic culture also believes that dogs howl to acknowledge the approach of Frejya, who is the goddess of death. However, dog experts disagree with these beliefs.

Do Dogs Sense Death?

Dogs have a sharp sense of smell and are highly intelligent, which is why they can sense death. Under the right conditions, your furry friend is able to detect death through body language cues and smells that only them can sense and may respond by howling.

Dogs consider family members to be part of their pack and will notice any difference in their behavior. Whether it is the smell that changes, as in the case of lung cancer patients, or reduced movement, the dog will stay with the individual for hours or even days before they pass away.

With a nose 40 times stronger than that of humans, dogs have a super-powered cortex that allows them to pick up differences in an individual’s bodily chemistry.

Additionally, with around 220 million olfactory senses in their noses, dogs can pick up subtle changes in the human body composition. This is why most people believe that dogs can sense death.

Do Dogs Howl Before Death? 

When a dog is about to die, some will howl to try and attract another dog or your attention, especially if it is a pet dog. Dogs mostly howl before death if they are in a lot of pain or fear, and as an owner, you should take it to the vet immediately.

In such circumstances, if you cannot get the dog to a vet, it is recommended that you spend time with the dog even when unresponsive. Dogs will acknowledge your presence if you stay close to them during the final minutes.

What Emotions Do Dogs Feel When They Howl?

Your furry friend often uses howls to show different emotions. They can howl as an expression of 

  • Excitement and joy
  • Separation anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Upset or irritated
  • Pain or stress
  • Homeostatic emotion (hunger, thirst, etc.)

Additionally, if you are going through emotions such as sadness or crying, your doggie can howl to empathize with your emotions. The type of emotion your furry friend expresses will differ depending on the interpretation and the circumstances.

Are Dogs Happy When They Howl?

Not always, but a dog howling could be an expression of excitement and joy, especially when accompanied by a wagging tail. Your canine may be seeking your attention to receive some compliments and show off its achievement. Howling could be common if the dog realizes howling gets positive attention.

Are Dogs Sad When They Howl?

Now always, but your pooch may howl when sad and feeling lonely. The most common sad howl among dogs is associated with separation anxiety. Most of us would have heard a neighbor’s dog howling as soon as their owner had left their home. Dogs also howl when they are in pain or uncomfortable.

Why Do Dogs Howl When You Leave?

Image from Canna Pet

If your furry companion often howls whenever you leave the house or when they can’t find you, it is likely that it’s suffering from separation anxiety. Howling is triggered in both mild and severe separation anxiety and can persist for hours.

To understand if the howls are due to separation anxiety, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Defecating inside the house
  • Destruction
  • Pacing the floor
  • Shaking
  • Drooling
  • Elimination 
  • Escaping from their spot

Suppose you have a home camera to monitor how the dog behaves after leaving or asking your neighbors. Dogs may also howl more as they get older. This can be because of dementia or loss of vision or hearing.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Howling When I Leave?

The main reason for your pooch to howl when you leave is fear. The first thing to need is to train your canine how to feel safe when alone and that being left alone is not a bad thing. However, there is no guarantee that you will succeed.

Other solutions to separation anxiety howling include:

  • Medication
  • Training
  • Crate training to make the crate a safe place
  • Activities
  • Utilizing safety cues
  • Take the dog to a daycare facility
  • Bring them to work, if possible

Another aspect of dealing with separation anxiety is how you leave and enter your house. If you often pet your furry friend before you leave the house and when coming back, they are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.

Will My Dog Eventually Stop Howling When I Leave?

With proper separation anxiety training or medication, your furry friend will eventually stop howling. However, don’t ignore this behavior anticipating that the dog will get used to you leaving. It’s best to find a solution.

Before taking your dog to a vet, start by training them to be calm when you are leaving or entering your house. Other tricks to try include:

  • Adjust your morning routine.
  • Ignore your dog for a few minutes before leaving and after arriving so that arriving and leaving is not a big deal.
  • Create a fake schedule because dogs are creatures of habit.
  • Purchase puzzle toys with food inside for your canine to find something to do.
  • Lavenders and classical music have been proven to be very calming to dogs.
  • Ensure that you take your furry friend for regular exercise to release pent-up energy.

Is It Cruel To Make Your Dog Howl?

It’s not cruel to make your dog howl, and it’s something in them. However, it can be cruel to force the dog to howl if it naturally does not want to. The dog may also develop a habit of howling, and you may struggle later if it becomes habitual. 

There can be many reasons why your furry friend does not want to howl. Ranging from previous training to bad experiences with howling, don’t make your pooch howl if they never howl.

Why Do Dogs Howl At 3 AM?

If your canine sleeps outside and alone at night, the chances are that it howls a lot, especially between 3 to 4 AMThey howl because they are expressing concern for being alone or hearing sounds.

It is especially common in dogs that are new to the house and were used to sleeping with other dogs or humans in their previous setting. Another reason your four-legged companion is howling is that they are communicating with fellow friends or they are just hungry.

Image from Instagram:@bobbyabrahamson

How To Stop Dog Howling At Night

Before you start the process of getting your dog to stop howling at night, make a note of any other behavior that seems off. It is usually the key to stopping your furry friend from howling at night.

Additionally, your furry companion will function best when under a defined daily routine that gives them enough stimulation and exercise. Here are some ways you can stop your four-legged friend from howling at night.

  • If it’s not because of pain or injury, first ignore them.
  • If you are usually awake, reward silence.
  • Create a fixed time for daily play sessions, walks, meals and bedtime.
  • Provide your furry friend with their evening meal on time.
  • Slowly reduce the amount of petting your dog receives before bedtime.
  • Ensure that your pooch sleeps in a quiet, distraction-free space with low lighting.

Is Howling With Your Dog Good?

The majority of dog owners consider howling with their furry companions to be a happy experience for both of them. Dogs will often howl as a mode of communication and bond with their owner, whom they consider to be part of their pack. Be careful not to make it a habit.

The reason your pooch will howl with you is that it’s an instinctual behavior for them that dates back to their wolf ancestry. Your dog could also howl together with you to further communicate your message.

Image from Petmate

Do Dogs Like It When You Howl To Them?

It depends. If the dogs are howling because of excitement, they may enjoy howling with you since they consider you part of their family. Some dog owners have confessed to howling at their furry companions to try to get them going.

However, some dogs are not that receptive to people howling at them, especially those that don’t howl so often. How your pooch reacts when you howl at it totally depends on the dog itself. There are dog owners who even bark or show their teeth at their canines, and they claim their dogs usually like it.

What Dog Breed Howls The Most?

The majority of dog breeds can howl, but some tend to howl more than the rest. Hound breeds dogs similar to wolves, and any sled dog mix loves to howl than other breeds.

Hound Breeds

Hound breeds tend to howl more due to their hunting capabilities. Hounds usually howl to announce their location to their hunting owners, especially if they caught something.

On the other hand, bloodhounds are known for their melodious howls, which are different from most dogs. Here are some examples of hound breeds:

Breeds Similar To Wolves

Dogs share 98.8% of their DNA with wolves and are descendants of the gray wolf. The breeds closest to wolves include:

Any Sled Dog Mix

These hardworking sled dog mixes have an adventurous trait, and since they live in a group of like-minded canines, they tend to howl as a bonding activity and as a means of communication over the hills.

  • Eskimo dog
  • Samoyed
  • Mackenzie River Husky
  • Greyster
Image from Dog.com

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Pete Decker