A dog howl – a sound that always gets us dog owner’s attention. Our Blue Heeler, Taz, loves to howl. His favorite time to howl is feeding time. I ask him if he’s hungry and he will let out a small howl. I always say he sings for his food. He will also howl when it is time to go for a ride. My in-law’s dogs, on the other hand, will always howl at emergency sirens. Obviously, Taz is howling for different reasons than my in-law’s dogs, so why do dogs howl?
Howling is a part of a dog’s DNA, coming from before dogs were domesticated by man. If you live in a rural area, you may have been lucky enough to listen to coyotes or wolves howling at night. In fact, dogs love to howl at night too, you can read more about that here.
There are a few different reasons for a dog to howl, all revolving around communication and response…
Many dogs will howl to attract attention to themselves. Just like in the wild, a wolf will howl to attract other wolves to their location. Have you ever crate trained a puppy? Until they get used to being in a crate, chances are they will hound a time or two. It is their way of saying, “I’m in here! Please come see me!” The puppy is trying to make contact with anyone to let them know where they are. Most likely, the howling will go on until the puppy has realized that none is coming and will eventually be quiet.
Some dogs will howl to announce how excited they are about something – like Taz does. It is their way of communicating excitement since they cannot express it in words. Again, it is all about how a dog is trying to communicate. Taz’s singing for breakfast is him telling me, “I’m hungry! I’m ready to eat!”
Response to Sounds
There are tons of videos across the internet of dogs “singing” to a piano or certain songs. Unfortunately, these dogs aren’t actually trying to sing (but how cool would that be?!). The howling is a response to high pitch sounds. This is what is happening when my in-law’s dogs howl at sirens. Those two German Shepherds can be in the basement and howl to a siren on the highway that we can’t even hear upstairs. There is research about a dog’s ability to hear pitches that we cannot, like in this article.
A dog will also howl to protect their environment. It is their way of telling other dogs that they are in the area and not to come into their environment. Just as a dog will bark in warning, they may also howl too. Once again, it is all about how they are communicating with other dogs in the surrounding area.
There are many reasons why a dog howls. In my household, multiple dogs are howling for different reasons. Does your dog howl? If so, why do you think they are howling?