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August 23, 2012 at 3:29 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Why Do Dogs Howl? Five Reasons

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Oh the loud, long song of a dog's howl. It's a hard thing to miss - especially if it's your dog doing the howling!

When some dogs hear a loud sound like a siren from a police car or fire engine, they'll call out as if they're trying to communicate with the source. Of course, this isn't actually possible, so you might wonder why they bother. The fact is, this behavior is deeply engrained. The urge to howl can be found as far back in their evolution as the wolf!

1. Expressing Their Identity

The howl is purely instinctual. Wolves use a variety of tones to communicate with the other members of their pack. Each member has a unique howl, which makes it easier for their fellow canines to recognize who said what. This makes is easy to know if there is an intruder within their ranks. If they hear a howl they don't recognize, they know that it belongs to an outsider. Howling also helps to keep everyone in the pack accounted for. One will sound off, and the others will follow. They want to make sure they haven't left any members behind.

2. Long Distance Communication

Dogs will howl to communicate across a vast distance. Howls tend to carry over a larger area than a normal bark. So, if one dog wants to say hello to the other, but they are far away, a howl is a better way for their message to travel.

3. Checking With Their Leader

Since dogs have become domesticated, they usually view their owner as their pack leader. If a dog begins to howl when their owner leaves the home, they are trying to tell you to come back. They don't want you to leave the pack! My friend's dog, Bailey, does this a lot. If Bailey's daddy steps outside, even if it's just for a few moments, she is at the door howling until his pack leader returns.

4. Feeling Lonely

As social animals, dogs dislike being alone for any extended period of time. To signal their dismay, they howl. It's also a good way for them to find a playmate! If they make a loud howl, lots of other dogs will likely respond.

Also, as I touched on, dogs may howl if their owners are gone for a long time, and they've been left with nothing to do. Make sure to leave toys within the dogs reach, so that he/she can get a little stimulation until you return. And don't forget to walk your dog daily! If your dog is howling in your absence, a strict walking regimen will cut down on this habit.

5. Ancient Instincts

Ever wonder why dogs join in when a siren begins to blare? Canines interpret the sound as another dog howling. Therefore, they howl in response. Dogs often respond to other loud, high-pitched sounds from television programs or musical instruments.

Sources:

Candiae: Why Do Dogs Howl?

PetPlace: Why Do Dogs Howl?

Photo Credit:

tudor@flickr

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1 Comment

  • so I'm curious, would you also consider howling a friendly gesture?

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