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Why do Dogs Howl?

Howling is one of the many forms of vocal communication in dogs. Whether it has been in person or on TV, it's likely you've heard the howl of a wolf or dog. Sometimes the sound is mesmerizing, and other times it can be downright annoying, but why do dogs do it? What makes them resort to howling instead of other forms of communication, like barking, whining, and body language?

1. Attract attention

Dogs love getting attention, especially from their owners. That's one of the reasons dog lovers adore these furry balls of joy so much. Dog owners also know that when their dog wants attention, it will do what it thinks will get him or her attention. Some dogs learn that howling will get them attention. So if your dog wants attention, food, or toys, they might start howling until they get what they want.

This behavior can be curbed if you teach your dog that being quiet will get them what they want. Ignore your dog's attention-seeking howling, and reward your dog for being quiet. It might require you to let them "howl it out", but your dog will eventually realize that howling is not the way to get what it wants.

2. In response to high-pitched sounds

Has your pup ever started howling as an ambulance drove by? They might also howl along with crying babies or music. Stimuli like these are one of the main reasons dogs will howl. They might just like mimicking the sound or they might enjoy the bonding experience of a "community howl".

3. Separation Anxiety

Dogs are pack animals and very social creatures. If your dog is howling when you leave the house, it's likely to express their anxiety caused by being "left behind". This is more likely to happen if they are left alone or kept outside for several hours at a time. Because they're social animals, they need to spend some quality time with their human families. If your dog is howling because of separation anxiety, it's usually accompanied by other separation anxiety symptoms, such as pacing, destructive chewing, inappropriate elimination, and depression.

4. Injury/Illness

Howling can also be used as an expression of injury or illness. Just like humans cry or wail when injured, dogs might howl in a similar situation to vocalize their pain. If your dog is sick or is injured, they might be trying to tell you through howling.