Why Do Dogs Howl?

What Does It Mean?

Every evening all three of my Chis sit on my lap or lay beside me to watch TV.  It had become a game with us (well, me actually) to pause the TV and I would start howling and Remedy would copy me and then Chico & Pebbles would get in the act. We’d have a good ol’ howl fest. It’s fun, you should try it, but warn others in the house to cover their ears, it can get pretty ear piercing.

I began to wonder, are Remedy and her entourage really enjoying it or am I encouraging a behavior that means something altogether different to them than I think it does. So, then I started to wonder why dogs howl. Does it mean they are happy? Sad? Scared? Hurting?

two-chis-howlingSo, I did the research and what I found out really surprised me. Actually, it could be any of those things. You didn’t really think this was going to be an easy answer, did you?

Wild dogs use howling as a way of communicating with each other. Scientists have noted when studying wolves that they will howl upon waking up first thing in the morning. They are saying “hey, I’m here, where are you?” Or “help, I’m lost. Where are you?”

Domesticated dogs are really a long way from wolves, however. They no longer need to convey their whereabouts with each other.

But, they may be trying to communicate with or locate us — one of their pack. If your dog is home alone for a long period of time he/she may start howling in hopes that you will answer and come home. In that case it can be a sign or separation anxiety. Dogs may howl or bark excessively out of boredom.

It may be that they are alerting you to injury that they are in pain. Humans cry when we hurt. Dogs howl for similar reasons.

There are also dogs that are trained to howl to signal that they have found something. Prey or drugs, etc.

It may be in response to outside triggers. Does your dog howl when he/she hears a siren or loud music from outside (or the apartment above or below you)? Scientists say they are just joining in to be part of the action.

So, what do our little howling sessions in the evening mean to them? Well, since they are not home alone or hurting, I believe it is because they just want to join me in the fun.


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