Free shipping on orders over €15

Why do the dogs howl?

¿Por qué aúllan los perros?

Lobo Azul |

Dogs have their own quirks and those who have one at home will surely be able to highlight at least a single characteristic that can say “my dog ​​does this” and the other doesn't. However, there is one thing that all dogs do and that is howl . This is one of the most common behaviors of our four-legged friends, since howling is a form of distance communication that dogs use.

It is common to believe that if a dog's howl resembles crying, it is because he is suffering from something, although there is an exception which we will talk about later. Another theory is that the dog howls when it sees the full moon, harking back to its ancient relatives, the wolves. None of that is true, since the dog's howl has a function and here we will tell you what.

dogs and wolves

Dogs howl less frequently than wolves. Wolves use howling to communicate with other wolves that are far away, sometimes to locate or call them, before and after leaving home, when they are sad, or when a new litter has been born.

The high-pitched and prolonged timbre of the wolf's howl spreads and ends up reaching a greater distance than the bark, and can reach many kilometers. The wolf responds by howling or several do so at the same time.

howling Wolf

The wolf is a social animal that lives in small family groups that occupy the same territory, being able to recognize the howl of the other members of the group. But if it hears a different howl, it will know that it is in the presence of possible enemies and will prepare to defend itself from any attack.

It should be noted that wolves and wild and domestic dogs are not the only animals that howl , as hyenas, jackals and coyotes also do.

In the case of dogs, howling serves to attract attention. Why do the dogs howl? If there is a female in heat in the neighborhood, those howls will be a way to get her attention. Spaying and neutering is very important so that dogs and bitches do not become frustrated by their own basic instincts, in addition to the health benefits this has.

Howling is a canine behavior that can be considered normal, but it should not be frequent. If this were the case, we are probably facing separation anxiety disorder (SAD) . Dogs that spend a lot of time alone at home can suffer from this syndrome. If the dog is going to be left alone at home for a long time or if you do not have enough time to care for it, a good option is to hire a pet sitting service. This can also occur with newly adopted dogs that are not puppies.

Pain or poor nutrition

Although it is not very common, some dogs howl when they are in pain or poorly fed. This is a way to alert their owners about their discomfort. If the dog has never had this type of behavior and there was no alteration in its routine, take it to the vet for a checkup. This way you will clear any type of pain you may have.

Howling in response to sounds

If you hear another dog howling or a siren, the dog will probably respond to that sound by howling. The piano, alarm clock, and electronic beeps may also annoy or sadden you. However, as soon as that sound stops, so will he. Don't forget that dogs have much sharper hearing than us, which means they can detect sounds that we can't.

Howling puppies

These howls are usually not excessive unless the triggers occur frequently. If it does, you can apply desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to teach your pet new tasks that help it face those types of circumstances that make it fearful or cause it to engage in undesirable behavior.

Excitement and success

When a dog feels excited because he has achieved something, he will show it to get praise. But, if he cannot convince his owners, then he will begin to howl and scream to get their attention, because this is his natural way of communicating vocally.

Have you observed that hunting dogs howl when they are successful in hunting or detect an object ? They simply get excited and love to reveal their success by “screaming” to call their owners and thus gain recognition.

Desensitization and counterconditioning

Training should be carried out only by the adult who has the most authority over the pet. To begin training, present the dog with the situation that causes this reaction (howling) and, simultaneously, present a positive stimulus, such as food or toys.

The result is that the pet builds a new association in which the previously negative trigger now becomes a predecessor of something positive. To carry out the desensitization and counterconditioning process it is important to consider three keys that coincidentally begin with the letter D.

The first “D” is distraction, since in this process, the most important thing is to distract the dog. To do this, it will be necessary to have the presence of the “problem”, but maintaining the distance so that the positive stimulus is more interesting. As you may have read, I said distance and this is the second “D”.

To continue moving forward, you have to keep your distance. Now, the third “D” is the duration of the sessions, which must increase as progress is made. If there is no progress, it is because something has failed and is probably due to the distance at which we work. These three “Ds” would be included in a fourth “D”: desensitization. As the dog associates positive stimuli with the objects or situations to which it previously reacted by howling, desensitization also occurs.

To congratulate the dog on his achievements , establish rewards (games, treats, or praise) for training sessions, and do not use the same ones at any other time. Do one session every day, 10 minutes each. Reward him for remaining calm and obedient during the session.

As the training becomes successful, increase the intensity of the stimulus until it can be used at full intensity without causing that unwanted reaction. If the pet manifests fear, anxiety or any other behavior, it is because the stimulus is very intense. In this case, you will not have to scold or reward him, but rather reduce the intensity of the trigger until the pet calms down.

There are many elements that can hinder progress, so you should avoid them, such as situations that cause the undesirable response, unless it is training.

Keep in mind that the pet learns best when it is calm. If you want your dog to achieve his goal, end each session with a positive response.

What are the breeds that howl the most?

Some dog breeds do not bark , but rather howl. They are the so-called primitive ones, like the Nordic breeds: Siberian Husky , Samoyed and Alaskan Malamute . These can make many noises, but barking is not among them.

Dog breeds that howl the most

Why do they howl at night?

First of all, dogs do not howl only at night, but generally, they do so during the night. This is because during the day they hear traffic noises, music, voices, etc., so during the day they tend to rest, sleep and remain much less active. So, during the night, they feel more active and are more territorial and the only way to communicate this to other dogs is by howling.

They rarely do so during the day, as their howl is lost among many other noises, but at night their voice is high-pitched and clearly audible. Dogs are night owls , so they cry and howl at night to attract your attention, even if it is not the most appropriate thing to do. You'll probably get up to shut them up, but for them, having caught your attention is already good.

Is it true that they sense death?

There are many reasons why dogs howl and these have been scientifically proven. However, the belief persists that dogs sense death and have a sixth sense. Since ancient times, thousands of people have reported connections between their animal's behavior and certain events such as earthquakes or the death of people. To this day, there is a great debate in the scientific world regarding this topic, because despite the many testimonies and stories of people throughout the world, there is still much to investigate.

In the 70s and 90s, various studies were carried out on the relationship between animal behavior and earthquakes and the results were not very conclusive, which is why the stories of those who claim that their dogs behave differently when faced with an earthquake are just anecdotes.

However, some scientists and psychologists specialized in dog behavior believe that it could be more than just "anecdotes", as they believe that there are some factors that make dogs perceive death or a change in the vibrations of the earth, Since when someone is sick, the person's or dog's family members may be sad and the family dynamic changes. They perceive this change and, therefore, howl.

Types of howls

  • Sudden howl: indicates fright, fear or pain. This can happen when it escapes from a fight with a dog or when it suffers from human aggression.
  • Howl that stops short: indicates excitement and what you probably want to communicate is something like “come on, come on”, “hurry up, I want to eat”.
  • Intense howling: they express the need or desire for something and tend to do it insistently, one after the other.
  • Prolonged howling: it is a way to warn of their presence and mark their territory.
  • Short howl with a longer one at the end: sadness, loneliness, separation anxiety disorder.

How to resolve this permanent howling situation?

As we mentioned previously, dogs, in addition to barking, also howl, but if this situation becomes permanent, this behavior will have to be inhibited in some way. But first, it will be necessary to identify the cause of the howling .

Cause of dog howling

If it were a situation in which the dog was howling because of a bitch in heat, there will be nothing to do, just wait for the heat period to end or leave it in a more closed place, given that the female's smell in heat it spreads through the wind.

If the neighbors complain about the dog howling during the day when you are not there, it is most likely separation anxiety disorder (SAD). Some alternatives to help the dog so that it does not suffer in your absence are the following:

  • The dog needs physical activity . Walk with your pet. This way you will not only be taking care of their physical health, but also keeping them company every day.
  • Dedicate time to it . If your routine does not allow you to dedicate this time daily, a good alternative is to hire a pet sitting service or a walker who can take you for walks and spend time with them. Another good alternative is to buy or adopt a new canine companion to have fun with your dog.
  • Keep him entertained . So that the animal does not feel your absence so much, it will have to be kept busy. Buy him toys that are suitable for him and that amuse and entertain him. This is an excellent option for you to use up all the accumulated energy.
  • Check if they have been fed and hydrated normally .
  • Observe if he has any wounds and if when you touch any part of his body he howls in pain. If you have any doubts, take him to the vet for a checkup.

As you will see, dogs communicate with us in various ways: panting, barking and howling. Each one is determined to communicate something to us and, depending on their mood, they use one or the other. If none of this manages to reduce your dog's excessive howling, you will have to ask a dog behaviorist for help.

Other curiosities that may interest you:

Previous Next