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Why do the dogs howl? Principal reasons

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Although we associate howling with wolves, the truth is that dogs can also howl, especially in some breeds or in certain situations. Many hypotheses circulate about the reasons for the emission of this sound. But do you know why dogs howl? We explain the main reasons below.

Canine sounds: barking and howling

It is normal to associate barking with dogs and howling with wolves, but the truth is that both animals are capable of making both sounds. Whether they mostly emit one or the other depends on their vital circumstances. That is why dogs bark more than wolves and vice versa. The two species are social and sociable.

Their vocalizations are an important part of their communication, both with each other and with other species. Wolves need to howl to rally their pack. That is why they do it especially at specific times, such as before going out to hunt. Logically, the dogs that live in our houses will not need to howl to unite their pack or prepare it for the hunt.

Howling is wolves’ way of bringing their family together and is such a powerful reunion signal that howls can be used as a decoy to attract cubs. So if dogs no longer need it, living in our homes, what explains why dogs howl?

My dog howls when he is alone

We can explain why dogs howl by looking at the example of wolves. If they howl as a call to their peers, the dogs can repeat this behavior. They will not do it at home, since it is a small space in which they do not lose sight of any member of their family. But, if we are absent, our dog can howl.

Thus, dogs resort to howling to claim our presence. They could also howl if we take them out of their home and leave them alone in a place unknown to them. If we translate it into words, the dog would come to say “I am here, where are you / are you, come back with me”. In addition, each howl is unique and distinctive of each specimen.

Thus, adult wolves not only know which member of their pack is howling, but which one. Of course, a pack of wolves, upon hearing the call, would respond by howling, bringing the group together again, even though they were separated. But it will not be what we will do, an attitude that will be disconcerting for the dog.

The howl of the lone wolf

Loneliness not only explains why dogs howl nor is it their exclusive behavior. It is a behavior that also appears in lone wolves. With this denomination, we refer to those specimens that lack a herd. They do not respond to the howls of their group or try to rejoin it.

But they do howl occasionally when their old pack is silent, and they may form a new group, in the empty territory, if other distant lone wolves answer their howls.

Why do dogs in heat howl

Another situation that can explain why dogs howl is the period of heat. While males can howl even if they have never done it before if we are trying to keep them away from a bitch in heat. This howl can be very long and sad.

Howling itself has nothing to do with jealousy nor is it one of its signs. The dog in this case emits it with the same intention as the dog that howls because it feels lonely. In other words, he comes to tell the female “I’m here, come with me.”

The marking of the territory

In wolves, it has been found that howls are more frequent in the areas where the territory ends. That is why it has been interpreted that, in addition to the communication that we have explained, the howl can act as one more element of the marking of the territory.

That is to say when the wolves howl they warn those of other packs of where their territorial borders are so that they know who that area belongs to. This may be another explanation for why dogs howl, especially if they live in packs, in which case they will have a communicative behavior more similar to that of the wolf. Howling will be habitual again.

Howling dog breeds

All dogs have the ability to howl, but it is not a very ingrained habit in them simply because they do not need it for their daily lives. Given the right circumstances, the dog will howl and will do so more easily if it lives with other dogs or belongs to breeds, such as Nordics, that have traditionally lived in packs and, let’s say, are closer to wolfish behaviors.

These circumstances are what explain why domestic dogs howl. Recapitulating, factors such as loneliness, separation from bitches in heat, or abandonment influence. That is why it is rare that we hear our dog howling in the warmth of the home and with his family.

An exception is the dogs that we could consider music lovers, who respond with howls to the songs of their human family, understanding that they intend to unite the pack. The same can be done by some dogs when hearing a siren from an ambulance, fire department, patrol car, etc.

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