Dogs bond with their humans in much the same way as children bond with their parents. But, there is one defining difference, your dog will always believe you’re right no matter how old it gets.
Hence, the bond you see between man and dog knows no bounds. You’ll see doggie lovers kiss their dogs, share their meals with them, and happily give up their bed space to let their beloved pets be comfortable. So, if you encounter a pet parent howling at the moon with their dog, you shouldn’t be too surprised.
Why does your dog howl with you? Many renowned animal experts claim that most dogs join the howling party when their humans howl because they just want to be part of the fun and the howl excites them. And, pet parents howl not because they’ve found a new way to communicate with their pets, but simply to bond with their dog.
No one seems to understand either party. But it is universally acknowledged to be fun for both man and dog. It’s more like your dog is saying, “I don’t know why you’re acting so weird but don’t worry, I’m there to weird it out with you all the way.”
But, there can be more than one reason why your dog howls when you howl. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons.
Why Your Dog Howls With You
Dogs have a whole repertoire of strange behaviors, from floor-licking, to ear-nibbling, to random howling. That’s because the faithful friend that you have in your home today, no matter whether you’ve got a massive malamute or a tiny chihuahua, is a descendant of wild wolves.
And, it’s common knowledge that wolves howl for communication. Now, your dog doesn’t need to howl all the time or quite as frighteningly as wolves, but you can be sure that dogs also communicate through all kinds of sounds – yelps, whines, barks, muffled snorts, or howling.
But, every sound doesn’t signify a specific need. Hence, when your dog howls, it can mean several things.
Now, the following are merely educated guesses as to why your dog may howl. But, given that there are not a lot of real studies or much research that can prove these reasons to be the actual purpose behind howling, we’ve provided what we can.
1. Dogs Howl for Help
If your dog is in pain or injured, it’ll either whine or howl. Howling can also be a distress signal or a call for attention. So, whenever your dog is howling, be sure that you listen and look closely to understand what your dog is trying to tell you.
Sad howling in dogs signifies separation anxiety and fear. For most pet parents, it is very easy to tell whether your dog is howling out of pain or sadness vs excitement.
2. Dogs Howl for Fun
Most pup parents who howl only to have their dogs howl with them claim that it is their dog’s way to bond with them.
Howling is pack behavior. As soon as the pack starts howling, it releases a large amount of dopamine and oxytocin in the entire pack. Dopamine and oxytocin is a pleasure hormone that harmonizes the whole pack.
Now, your fur baby may not belong to a pack. But, when it joins in a howling session in progress in the neighborhood, it feels the high that the hormones release.
Your dog loves that feeling of being happy and excited just as much as you do, which is why it’s okay to let your pup indulge in a howl every once in a while, provided the neighbors won’t start throwing shoes at your house.
3. Dogs Howl for Pack Bonding
The hormones released in your dog’s body indeed give it a happiness rush. But, dogs also howl because they are prompted by their genetic memory to indulge in such behavior whenever they hear howling from other dogs, sirens, or even music.
As mentioned earlier, wolves are the predecessors of dogs. Now, your dog doesn’t confuse the siren of an ambulance with being another family member. But, the sound of that siren does trigger a deep-rooted instinct in your dog to respond by howling.
4. Dogs Howl to Claim Territory
You may have noticed that your dog pees on tree trunks, fire hydrants, or even post boxes whenever you go out for a walk. The idea is to put its mark on these things to claim its territory.
The same rule is applied by dogs when howling. When your doggie hears another canine howling away in the distance, they howl too. It’s to let the other dogs know that this territory has already been taken.
5. Dogs Howl to Signal
A howl from your dog is far louder than the ordinary bark. So, if your dog feels the need to signal other dogs to signal urgent information, it will revert to a howl rather than a bark.
6. Separation Anxiety
Anxiety can manifest in strange ways when it comes to other species. Many a dog owner has dealt with howling and whining and barking as soon as they close the door to leave for work.
If your dog is also showing destructive behavior like tearing up the couch, trash, or toilet paper rolls and peeing around the house, you’ve got a nervous puppy on your hands.
Talk to your vet about ways to calm your dog’s nerves. They may suggest anything from specialized training, to changing up your routine, to medication. We’ve included a helpful video at the bottom of this article as well.
Can You Stop a Dog From Howling?
It isn’t every pup that goes on a howling streak when they hear sirens or other dogs howling. Many ignore the siren’s call (no pun intended). In most cases, primarily breeds such as the Siberian husky, German shepherds, or the Alaskan malamute find the temptation to howl irresistible.
Now, many canine guardians do not find their beloved pet’s howling to be a nuisance. But, some think that their howling, while endearing to them, is a disturbance that their friends and neighbors should not have to endure. So, let’s look at some ways you can resolve the howling issue with your dogs.
1. Ignore the Howling
Most parents find that the more they try to control their fur baby, the more they tend to howl. In fact, calling to your dog, running to them, or generally adding to the chaos just excites your dog more.
So, the issue of howling is often quickly resolved when pet parents ignore the terrible habit and reward their fluff balls when they don’t howl.
2. Pinpoint and Resolve the Underlying Issue
Many dogs howl when they feel fear, are suffering through separation anxiety, or are in pain. If you think that your dog has any such problem, the surest way to find out what’s causing it is to visit a veterinarian.
A visit to the vet will ensure that your dog is not suffering from some undetectable medical condition. And, if your dog howls whenever you leave home, then you need to come up with ways to reassure your pup that you’ll be back soon.
Many vets recommend interactive toys. We’ve included a helpful video at the bottom of this article as well.
3. Avoid Encouraging It
It may be cute when puppies howl it up at first, but if you continue to howl as a way to bond with your hairy buddy, your dog will think that it is good behavior. You can’t turn around and suddenly claim your dog’s howling as unacceptable behavior when they’ve been trained to think the opposite.
So, it’s essential to keep your attitude and behavior consistent. If it is an action that you dislike in your dog, do not encourage it in any way. And, if your dog howls but stops when you say no, never forget to reward the behavior.
4. Revert to Training
There are some cases where the howling issue gets out of hand, and no matter what you do, your dog doesn’t understand that its excessive howling habit is terrible.
Under such circumstances, it’s best to get a professional trainer to help you out. It might sound like a lot of work, but professional animal trainers only take little over a month to help your canine get over its howling tendencies.
Many new pet parents do tend to worry excessively about every minor issue related to their best buddies. So, here are a few answers to some frequently asked questions to alleviate your concerns.
Does Howling Mean a Dog Is Happy?
As mentioned earlier, dogs howl when they howl. But, they don’t only howl when they are happy. It’s a way for them to communicate. So, they’ll even howl when they want to let you know about other things such as fear or anxiety.
Is a Dog Howling an Omen of Death?
There isn’t a doubt in the minds of many renowned animal experts that dogs can sense when their humans are unwell.
Many pet parents have also credited their dogs for saving their lives, as they say that their dogs’ unusual attitudes towards them prompted them to head to the doctor to get an early diagnosis of an underlying health problem.
But, there isn’t any objective evidence supported by actual studies that would make it conclusive to say that a dog howling outside a sick person’s house is a sign of death. No, that can be boiled down to superstition until proven otherwise.
Does Getting Another Dog Help With Separation Anxiety?
There are plenty of times when your dog’s separation anxiety will get better with introducing the family to another dog. But, you have to realize that this is not necessarily going to work all the time.
Your dog gets anxious when you leave, and that is going to remain unless your dog bonds immediately with the other dog that is adopted.
Even when there is a level of considerable bonding between two dogs, separation anxiety will still prevail. The most effective method to resolve the issue is to deal with it immediately, as the issue of fear does not resolve itself with time.
It helps to get in touch with a trainer or animal behavior expert to help you understand the problems your doggo is facing and learn of the best way to resolve the issue that is troubling your faithful friend.
Here are some other helpful ways to handle an anxious dog from Dr. Mike on the Bow Tie Vet Guy channel on YouTube.