Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl?

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Why do dogs howl?

Just like human beings have ways of communicating, so do dogs. When dogs howl, they are trying to pass a message either to fellow dogs or human beings. For instance, in the forest, you will hear wolves howling to let the other pack members know where they are. Some wolves will howl to warn other animals to stay away from their space. Since we live with dogs, we need to know the messages they are conveying when they howl.

Some of the messages that dogs are trying to communicate when howling include:

Dog howling, Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl - I Love Veterinary

“I’m nervous!”

You may find a dog howling when it’s nervous or anxious. Dogs are social beings, just like people are. After a lot of interaction with people, they get so attached that they suffer from separation anxiety when we leave. You will find dogs howling when they are left alone, but they stop howling when you arrive.

The anxiety could also lead to the dog destroying things like furniture, pacing up and down, or even self-mutilation. Others could even chew toys. All these will stop when you come back.

“I need some attention”

A howling dog may need attention, just like a baby cries when in need of something.  You should not always be responding to a howl of a dog that is constant. Dogs need to understand that they can be attended to even if they do not howl. Try to keep your eye contact away from a howling dog. Reward a dog when he or she is quiet. If your dog howls, do not give him anything.

“I am alert”

Dogs will also howl to high pitched sounds like music and sirens to show that they are alert. They howl to admit that they heard the sound and are ready to respond or join in the action. In this case, your dog will probably stop howling when the sound stops.

Yorkie listening to music, Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl - I Love Veterinary

“I am here”

In the wild, you will find wolves howling to announce where they are. For instance, a part of the pack will go hunting while others remain at home. They will howl as a form of communicating with each other to find out where each group is. At home, your dog will wail when it sees you drive in or walking back home.

“Stay away from here”

When a dog doesn’t want you near its territory, it will howl. They howl to keep intruders away, for instance, when a visitor visits your home.

“I am hurt”

You cannot ignore all the howls by your dog. If your dog is always quiet, it may howl when it is in pain. When a human being is hurt or injured, they cry. A dog will vocalize their pain by howling. Check whether your dog is injured or ill through a veterinarian. It could be a medical condition like arthritis, abdominal pain, or any other illness.

Howling dog, Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl - I Love Veterinary

“I found something”

When a dog howls, it could be communicating that it found something. Wild dogs howl when they corner prey. On the other hand, a domesticated dog may howl when it finds something in the backyard or home compound.

As long as you have dogs around, there will always be howling. You only need to be keen to listen and interpret what they are communicating.

What can I do to stop excessive howling?

Spend time with your dog

One reason why dogs howl is because they are lonely. If you keep dogs outside for long hours or leave them for a long time, they howl because of loneliness. To avoid this kind of howling, spend time with them. You can even bring them inside the house and play games with them. If you have to leave them for long hours, keep them busy with toys.

Woman playing with dog, Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl - I Love Veterinary

Seek help

Howling issues can be challenging to deal with. Seek the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). Many CPTDs give classes that can provide you and your dog with a lot of help with attention-seeking howling.

Reward your dog for being quiet

Unfortunately, we pay attention to the wrong things and do not reward positive things enough. Give your dog treats like hugs, food, and toys when it is not making any noise. Also, train your dog to access things like food and toys when they are quiet. No rewards to a noisy dog! Ignore your dog until he keeps quiet.

Other reasons your dog might howl


Your dog may be howling because it is stressed. If, for instance, you are in a training class and they start panting, licking their lips, and begins pacing, they are telling you that they are under stress. This might mean that you need to change your training place or method.

Age-related dementia

Dogs develop cognitive problems like human beings during old age. When a dog feels lost or afraid, it will start howling. In this case, a veterinary doctor can help with medication.

Old dog, Talk Doggy to me- Why do Dogs Howl - I Love Veterinary


Dogs will also howl when they are happy. This usually happens when they see someone new. You will see them howling while wagging their tail.

The types of Prevalent dog howling

There are a variety of breeds that are known to be prone to howling. Some dogs just like howling; it’s good to know the kind of breeds before bringing them home: 

  • Huskies– they are famous for howling, especially when they hear music or a siren.
  • Hound-there howling is loud and soulful. They can detect any danger and alert the owners.
  • Labradors– howling is not very common in them, but they will belt out a tune every now and then.

Howling in puppies is common in all breeds. Puppies’ howling happens when they are trying to alert the family of their location.


From the reasons above on why dogs howl, you will be able to give your dog the attention it deserves. Just watch out in case of any problem. You can also get the breeds you want since some breeds are likely to howl while others do it less often.

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