What Does It Mean When A Dog Howls?

Howling is a form of social activity to communicate between the members of a wolves pack, expressed through the voice. Wolf packs are arranged by hierarchy, and they are known for their vocal communication among the members.

Howling can indicate territorial signals, allowing pack members to understand that they are on their territory.

The howling of a wolf 

Howling in wild wolves can be for 2 main reasons:

  1. To signal its geographical position. This is the case when a member of the pack is lost or too far from the others. 
  2. As a territorial signal: It is used by all members of the pack to inform that they are present at home (in their territory). Non-pack members are then notified that they are coming close to a territory that belongs to another pack.  

Howls in domestic dogs

This vocal activity is also present, but to a much lesser extent, in domestic dogs. It is mostly observed in breeds like Husky, Saarloos Wolfdog, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog and Greenland Dog. But why a dog howls?

Howling in dogs might seem funny at the beginning and especially if a puppy did it. However when it becomes something constant, it can be annoying to the whole surrounding.

Even if dogs are adapting this behaviour, howling in wolfs is used for different reasons because of the different environments. And living conditions that domestic dogs live in compared to wolves.

What does it mean when a dog howls

  1. Some dogs start to howl in response to sounds like the siren of an ambulance or a police car. They can identify them as social calls made by their ancestors. Also, if the dog owner sings a high note or plays a musical instrument, the dog can respond to this by howling, as social interaction with him. 
  2. In other cases, dog howls can indicate emotional discomforts, such as anxiousness, loneliness or if he was abandoned. 
  3. Sudden pain may also cause howling, and so can seizures.  It’s best to check with your vet if you cannot find a possible explanation.
  4. Boredom can be another reason for howling in dogs, but it is less common. There are other ways more commonly used by dogs such as barking, destruction etc. 
  5. A dog howls in sleep and can have some other dramatic vocalizations just because of a bad dream.
  6. If a female dog in the heat was close to a male dog, then he might start howling as well. 

What to do if your dog is howling

  1. Make sure you are walking your dog regularly, and he has enough activities to stay occupied. He should have toys and getting enough physical activity. 
  2.  If your dog seems too anxious, talk to your veterinarian. Certain products, such as the Adaptil diffuser, can help in some cases to relax your dog and limit some behavioural problems.
  3. In case the reason is a female in heat, castration can be a solution. 
  4. If it is occasional, let it be and do not overthink it.

If everything mentioned above is not working, make sure to consult your veterinarian. On another note, loving and educating your dog also means protecting him from medical issues. A dog health insurance is very important and can save you a lot of money in the long term. Read more about pet health insurance here.

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