Why do dogs howl? Dogs may vocalize for a number of different reasons. Dog owners know from experience that dogs howl, whine, yelp, whimper, and growl. Each sound can be made in different situations.
Dogs may bark because they see or hear something that excites or scares them. They may howl or bark because they hear other dogs howling or barking.
A University of California, Davis study found that the disparity in bark frequency and context between dogs and wolves has led some researchers to conclude that barking in the domestic dog is nonfunctional. The reason for this conclusion is that, whereas wolves rarely bark, only 2.3% of all vocalizations, dogs bark relatively frequently, some of them for hours on end. And the fact that wolves bark primarily in two contexts which are to alert other wolves and to protect their territory. Dogs, on the other hand, bark in “virtually every behavioral context.”
Howling is ancestral. Today dogs may not howl to let us know where they are or announce their territory, but dogs certainly do howl as a form of communication. But those forms are different now that dogs are domesticated and part of our pack.
A few reasons dogs may howl:
- Certain high pitched sounds like sirens and music or another dog’s howl may trigger a dog to howl. The reason: The dog is acknowledging that they heard the sound and are ready to respond to any necessary action. The way to stop this is to remove the trigger.
- Howling can be your dog telling you where they are, especially if they are left home alone.
- Some dogs howl to keep intruders outside their territory.
- Some dogs howl to communicate the need for attention.
- If a normally quiet dog begins howling, he may be injured.