Dog Tips

Why Do Dogs Howl?

You’re probably wondering why your dog starts auditioning for canine opera out of nowhere. We’ll tell you. Spoiler alert – It’s not to ruin your Zoom meetings! 


While we answer to your curiosity, try thinking why humans shout and you’ll more or less get your answer. Humans shout because, apparently, the louder you are, the more likely everyone around you is to understand that you’ve just stubbed your toe, lost your keys, or discovered your latest BMI report. It's also a great way to communicate with someone who's only three feet away but has to hear about the amazing sale on an unwanted kitchen item at the very moment.

Well, even dogs howl for a variety of reasons. In the olden times, their ancestors, wolves must be shouting things like, "Dinner’s ready!" or "Hey, get off my territory!". Fast forward to today and your dog is probably howling for the extra piece of bacon you’re holding. But let’s go deeper into this and answer all your questions.

Why is My Dog Howling All of a Sudden? 

Vocalization, body language and change in behaviors are how dogs communicate with you and the world around them. Howling is one of them. While in the wild howling serves the purpose of marking territory, alerting the pack of danger and communicating over long distances, when your city dog starts howling all of a sudden, it’s mostly because it’s establishing presence and seeking attention. However, there could be other reasons to this as well – 

  • Separation Anxiety – Lonely dogs often feel anxious and howl in an attempt to request company. A study showed that howling in dogs with separation anxiety is linked to fear. 

  • Pain – Howling can also be a response to a sudden pain or discomfort due to an injury or sickness. 

  • Noises – High-pitched noises like sirens and even some musical instruments played at a certain note can make your dog feel like another howl and hence they may also start howling. 

Why Does My Dog Howl When I Leave? (1)

While there is a chance that your dog is just asking for a goodbye kiss but jokes apart – some dogs get really nervous when their owner leaves them. This is often triggered in dogs with separation anxiety. To identify if this is what is making your dog howl when you leave, you can look for other behaviors such as. –

  • Inappropriate eliminations

  • Constant pacing 

  • Destruction of furniture 

  • Self-mutilation 

Once identified as the reason, you can try distracting your dog with chew toys, music or television when you leave. However, we recommend a vet’s appointment if the behavior continues. They may need medication and behavioral therapy. 

Why Do Dogs Howl at Night?

Again, there can be multiple reasons for your dog to howl at night. These include – (2)

  • Separation anxiety – Especially, if you have stopped allowing your pet to sleep with you recently. 

  • Attention – Howling for attention can occur at any time of the day and night may just happen to be the time your dog is seeking cuddles.

  • Hunger – Not enough food during the day or longer breaks between meals can also cause your dog to howl at night. It’s their way of telling you that they are hungry and hence can’t sleep. 

  • Pee – Just try taking your dog for a pee if you hear howling at night. 

  • Other dogs – Some dogs howl at night when they hear or see other dogs nearby to announce their presence and territory. Street dogs often howl at night for this reason. 

  • Sleeping environment – Your dog may end up howling even if the sleeping environment is not comfortable enough for them. Check their sleeping place as it could be too hot, too cold, too noisy, too bright, or too cramped. 

  • Age – Older dogs often feel uncomfortable and confused in the dark because of their dulled senses. This may also cause howling in them. 

  • Dream – Yes, you read it right. Even dogs dream. And some dogs howl in their sleep if they have an unpleasant dream.

Here’s what you can do to stop your dog from howling at night – 

  • Do not encourage the behavior if it’s for attention seeking.

  • Try crate training.

  • Let your dog out for a pee before bedtime. 

  • Play white music in the dog’s room to cover other noises that trigger the howling.

  • Ensure adequate exercise and a timely diet.

If the behavior yet continues, and the howling is prevalent even during the day, we recommend taking your dog to the vet. The underlying reason here may be something else. 

When You Howl, Why Do Dogs Howl?

If your dog howls back at your howl, it’s probably telling you that ‘I hear you and I’m here with you for anything you need!’ Such behavior also reinforces the bond between the owner and the dog according to a study. (3)

Research also shows that dog breeds that are closer relatives of their ancestors – wolves, howl more than the ones developed recently. These include breeds like Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows, and Basenjis. So, if you’re a parent to one, note that a little more howling than other dogs may be normal here. (4)

Apart from these questions, if you’re thinking that dogs howl when someone is about to die or before their own deaths, just know that there has been no conclusive evidence of this. These beliefs exist probably because canine behaviors can be difficult to understand at times and well, some humans cannot deal with an unanswered question. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

As we said above, howling could also be your dog’s attempt to indicate pain or discomfort caused by an injury or an underlying medical issue. If that is the case, pet health insurance can help you save 90% of the costs associated with it. Excessive howling can even be a behavioral issue in your dog which needs a specialist treatment. At Spot Pet Insurance, our plans cover the costs associated with behavioral problems as well. 

Dog Insurance can help provide financial assistance for eligible veterinary care in case of unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Our plans can help pet parents manage the eligible costs of covered veterinary care and help ensure that their pets can receive the best treatment possible. Here are some ways that Spot pet insurance plans can help:

  • Covers Unexpected Veterinary Costs: Spot pet insurance plans cover the eligible costs of unexpected veterinary treatments, such as emergency surgeries, X-rays, and prescription medications for covered conditions.

  • Customizable Plans: Choose your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible from a range of options, and create the plan that will fit the needs of your pet and your budget. 

  • Peace of Mind: With Spot pet insurance plans, pet parents can know that they can provide the best care for their pet with less worry about the cost.

To learn more about Spot Plans or to get a free quote, click here.

Sources

  1. Why do dogs howl? | VCA Canada Animal Hospitals. (n.d.). VcaCanada. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/why-do-dogs-howl

  2. Gangadi, S. (2023, August 12). Why do dogs howl at night? Sweetie. https://www.sweetiepetproducts.com/blogs/sweetie-blog/why-do-dogs-howl-at-night

  3. Today, U. (2023, July 14). What does it mean when a dog howls? What to know about your pup and loud music, sirens. USA TODAY. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/09/15/why-do-dogs-howl-how-to-prevent-it/8003289001/

  4. Cpdt, S. G. M. (2023, October 11). Why do dogs howl? American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/advice/why-do-dogs-howl/

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