Everything to Know About the Howling Phenomenon

April 9, 2018
Howling is not a typical behavior, and however, it is consubstantial to the species. They have done it ever since they were wolves, who were their ancestors; its purpose is communicating with fellow dogs and even with humans
Dogs, just like wolves, howl instead of barking on some occasions; it is a sound that leaves all of us stunned. Since it is not a normal behavior, we are certain that you wonder why they do it. So, we are going to tell you everything about this howling phenomenon in this article.

Howling in the canis family

First of all, you should not be worried, howling both in wolves and dogs is not a sign of something bad; it is a form of communication for these species that happens quite often. They use howling to communicate with other individuals from far away for different reasons.

However, howling is not a form of communication all the time; sometimes it is just their natural reflex because they hear a sound that reminds them of howling. Ambulance and police car sirens, some bugles and even certain tones in the human voice can set off this behavior.

This is the simple response to the question. Below, we are going to dive deeper into the topic to explain the reasons and myths that exist about howling.

Why does a dog howl?

Dogs have distinct ways of communicating with members of their species and with humans in general. These ways are very varied, from gestures and faces to barking. Howling also enters into this category of communication.

We should keep in mind that dogs’ hearing, just like their sense of smell, is much more developed than humans’. So howling is a very typical way to communicate with other dogs from a distance.

And it is not always with members of the same breed; there are cases where hunting breeds, when they are very far away from their owner, howl to signal their location or that of their prey.

Howling is also a way to express the emotional state of an animal at a certain time. It is very common to hear pets howling with all their might during the day to emphasize the loneliness that they feel when they don’t have someone with them.

So, how can I differentiate between them?

For that, you must do a self-evaluation as pet owners and ask yourselves questions such as: did I leave the window open? Did I leave something for him to play with? Was I gone a long time?

This class of questions is vital for recognizing the reasons why a dog howls. In this sense, you should not worry yourselves about a bad omen or something of the sort.

In fact, studies from the University of California confirm another theory about howling in dogs: sometimes they cannot resist themselves. A dog does not know when another dog is actually howling, so whatever similar sound will make him behave that way. Another reason why a dog howls is because of the presence of an intruder in the perimeter. In this case, howling is used for alerting the clan or human that there are intruders invading the territory. So, be on guard if this is the case.

Can this behavior be avoided?

The truth is, no. Howling is an innate and natural behavior of dogs, and as we have told you, a form of communication with other members. The best that we can do is make sure that it does not happen a lot. 

For that, we must prevent our dog from feeling anxious when we are not there: leave him a toy or two so that he is entertained. At night, try to close the window to keep out external noises. But, you should make sure that the animal sleeps in a fresh environment.

Some myths about howling

  • Some believe that a dog’s howling is a sign that something bad is going to happen to the family. Most likely, it came from the howling of dogs in pain because of the death of their owner from the Black Death during the Middle Ages.
  • Wolves do not howl at the moon in elevated places. In any case, it is a mere coincidence, and elevated places help to spread the sound waves further.
  • In the same vein, it is not a sign of werewolves either, whether in Paris or Transylvania. They are just popular legends that became universally-known with the diversification of the mass media.
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