Does your dog howl? If so, he’s not alone. Many of our canine friends do this, especially certain breeds like Beagles, Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, Alaskan Malamutes, Dachshunds, and snow dogs, like Huskies. What’s behind this unique doggy behavior? Read on to learn more about howling and whether or not it’s a cause for concern.
Your dog’s ancient ancestor, as you may know, is the wolf. Wolves use howling as a way of communicating with other pack members, marking their territory, and warning other animals to stay away from their territory. So, most of the time, howling is an instinctual behavior related to communication. Fido is a pack animal, after all! (Yes, your pet thinks of you as his pack leader.)
When do dogs howl? Sometimes it’s because they’re responding to stimuli in their environment, such as an ambulance siren, another dog howling, or the mailman approaching your front door.
Or, Fido might howl when he’s lonely, or to let you know he found something exciting, like that bone he buried in the flowerbeds last summer. Your pup may also howl to “warn” other people or animals away from their territory, just as wolves do.
Although howling is a normal dog behavior, there are reasons why it might be a bad thing. Sometimes dogs howl because of stress and anxiety, such as separation anxiety. If your dog has separation anxiety, he or she will probably exhibit other signs when he’s left home alone, like eliminating in the house and destroying furniture or other property.
It’s also possible that your canine pal is howling as a response to pain from a physical injury or a medical problem. This is especially likely if you see other signs of pain accompanying, like sensitivity to touch, withdrawal, unusually aggressive behavior, or excessive panting. And if Fido never howled before, but has suddenly started, pain could very well be the cause.
If you can’t get Fido to stop yelling, schedule a veterinary appointment. First, you’ll want to have any medical concerns dealt with. If the howling is purely behavioral issue, your pet might need training or even anxiety medication. Your vet can help.
Set up an appointment at our office if you’re concerned about your dog’s health or behavior. We’re always happy to help!