You look at your dog and howl. They respond in kind. Are you having a conversation? Unless they’re mute, almost all canines howl, at least occasionally. However, some dogs will howl along with you. What’s going on in your pets’ heads when this happens? I wanted to know more about why dogs howl with us, so I did a deep dive into doggy howling behaviors. What I learned was interesting, to say the least.
Why does my dog howl with me? When your dog howls with you, they are responding to your request to unite your voices. Social interactions are fundamental to dogs, and howling is one of the ways they communicate with the pack. You are the leader of their group, and howling with you makes your dog happy.
Howling Together Feels Good
When you howl to your dog, you are telling them that you are together, part of the same family. In nature, when dogs do this, they are uniquely stimulating each other. Higher pitched howls stimulate your dog’s brain. Specifically, it causes a release of dopamine and oxytocin, also known as ‘happy chemicals.’
Your dog is getting a joy-buzz out of howling with you. According to , Kennel Master & Instructor, dog harmonizing is part of their bonding ritual. It helps to unite the group with shared enjoyment. The chemical release likely helps quell any urges the dogs might have to fight and compete.
Dog trainers and dog owners can use high tones similarly to help the canine enjoy themselves while training. The neighbors may not like it, but it helps. Likewise, he advises that you shouldn’t try to stop your dog from howling. Join them and have a singing party, so your dog knows that you understand that they’re trying to make you feel good.
Howling isn’t the only way to bond with your dog. Spending time together shows your pup how much you love them. In addition to cuddles and playtime, consider adding agility training to your dogs’ routine with the Cheering Pet Dog Agility Set. You can check prices and availability when you click here.
Howling Comes From Wolves
When it comes to understanding why your dog howls with you, it helps to understand what howling is in the first place. Dogs use howling the way we use signal flares or megaphones. They are a throwback to when all dogs came from their common ancestor, the wolf.
Different types of howling serve very different purposes. Just as a human can scream in pain, fear, joy, or anger, dogs howl out their feelings. Although howls aren’t as complicated as human speech, the limited language is something all dogs ‘speak,’ and understand. From the time they are puppies, they know how to howl for help, and they build their vocabulary up from there like a human child.
First, for wolves, howling is a form of identification. Each member of the pack has a unique voice and a specific ‘call sign’ that tells the rest of the group who they are. Also, wolf howls show rank from highest to lowest.
The ability to identify more than merely a dog, but a member of your group is vital for packs because they hunt and fight off intruders together. When you’re too far away to see if the wolf or dog on another hill is there to help or attack, you can ask who they are.
It’s one thing to sniff a friend up close, but you don’t want a stranger getting that near. Since dogs’ eyes aren’t as accurate as ours, and they don’t distinguish color as well, learning identity at a distance is a safety measure.
Howl to for Unity
When dogs in the wild howl together, it helps them synchronize their movements. You don’t need to see or smell your friends to work together. Since dogs can’t always read each other’s body language when there are barriers between them, like bushes, they howl.
The sound is a way to figure out where everyone is located. It keeps dogs from getting too lost, even in a strange place. Moreover, it allows them to tell one another if there’s prey. They can close in together and make sure everyone eats, while still covering more ground to find sustenance.
Additionally, a dog can howl for help or signal danger. The sound lets members of their group know what they need and what they see. Working together in this way allows pack hunters to keep a cohesive unit. When a member is under attack, the rest can rush in to help. Plus, this means they know there’s something dangerous enough to harm a dog in the area.
Communication & Bonding With Howls
Dog language isn’t hard when you put in the effort to learn what their howls mean. Some things are obvious, like hurting-dog sounds. Having regular howl sessions together can help you bond and keep your dog happy. As a subordinate in the pack, a content dog will be more inclined to please you rather than challenging you.
For those pet owners who live close to neighbors, like apartment dwellers, it can be a little harder to have a good howl. Always be respectful of noise curfews. Choose a time of day when most people are awake and away from home for your sessions. Failing that, get out of the house. Have a howl together at the park, or enjoy some weekend camping with your dog.
If you want to bond with your dog better, take them everywhere with you. The Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Pet Playpen makes it easier to bring your dog along on your adventures. The pack that plays together and travels together has a stronger bond. You can pick up this superb set from Amazon when you click here.
Other Howling Behavior
Your dog may howl when you leave home. That’s a sign of sorrow. They are trying to keep track of where you are as long as they can because they don’t understand where you go. Sadly, you don’t howl back, so they lose you before you’re out of range.
Many dog owners teach their dogs to howl for video cameras or laugh when the dog starts up. Treating it like good behavior sometimes and bad behavior when you tire of it is confusing to your dog. It’s a mixed message.
All dogs howl for attention. They know from the moment they’re old enough to howl for mommy that this is a great way to get a response. Dog owners who yell back are giving the dog a reaction they understand. In essence, you are howling back, but you’re doing it wrong.
When a dog attention howls, and it works, you are teaching the wrong lesson. Instead, you should discourage the behavior and spend time with your dog in other ways. However, before you do that, you should always check for other problems.
Stress & Anxiety Howling
If your pup is suffering from separation anxiety, you need to help them find a solution that makes them feel safer. Teaching your dog to associate your leaving with something pleasant works for mild separation anxiety. For severe cases, you may need a professional trainer or vet to help.
Start by identifying the problem. Once you’re confident that the issue is the separation anxiety and not incomplete training, illness, or some other howl-inducing issue, you can work to fix the stressor. When you leave, give your dog some extra stimulation. Turn on a tv, or get them a new toy to play with.
It helps to leave an anxious dog something to do. Treats that are part of a puzzle game can distract your dog while showing them that you care. I prefer the Wallfire Pet Snuffle Mat because it helps my dog eat more slowly and provides lots of entertainment. They have to work and forage for their treats. You can get one for your howler when you click right here.
Giving your dog a mental challenge forces them to do something other than focus on repetitive howling. The addition of treat rewards makes the experience more satisfying than a regular toy.
Alternately, when your pet is perpetually howling in response to outside sounds, they may need some desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) therapy. Repeated exposure to noise, with treats and controlled behavior changes, can help stop your dog from freaking out every time a train or car goes by.
Sometimes howling is the last thing you want your dog to do. For pet owners who need their dogs to stop bad behavior howling, I suggest a humane anti-bark/howl collar. Don’t shock your dog. A gentle buzz or tone will have the same effect without hurting your dog. I suggest the STOPWOOFER Humane Dog Bark Collar from Amazon. To learn more about this safe stopper, click here.
Dogs howl for many reasons. Sometimes they need help, but other times it seems like they’re just singing because they enjoy it. Your pet may howl in pain, or because they’re sad. However, when they howl along with you, it’s special.
Canines use their voices to communicate many things Bonding with your dog through howling isn’t something everyone does, but it can be enjoyable for you and your pet. However, if you don’t like the sound of doggy howling, then you probably shouldn’t encourage them.
Whatever the reason your dog is howling, to sing with you, or to say hello, you should listen. Now that you know more about howling, you can understand your pet better if you only take the time.