10 Reasons Why Dogs Howl

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Aradhya loves sharing information about wildlife, animals and pets—especially dogs.

Are you curious to know why dogs howl and why they howl mostly at night? The most accepted explanation is that dogs, as descendants of wolves, still carry some wolf characteristics, and howling is one of them. But there are many reasons why dogs howl—let's take a look at them.

10 Reasons Dogs Howl

  1. Vocal Communication
  2. Territorial Presence
  3. Pack Separation Anxiety
  4. Owner Separation Anxiety
  5. Attention Seeking
  6. Isolation Distress
  7. Success and Excitement
  8. Medical Issues
  9. Upset or Irritation
  10. High-Pitched Noises or Sounds

1. Vocal Communication

A wolf's howl is its natural way of vocally communicating in the wild. Wolves howl to send a message to their separated pack members, informing them about their presence and current location—this method helps them find each other. Dogs have inherited this behaviour from their ancestors.

2. Territorial Presence

Territorial conduct is another characteristic that dogs inherited from wolves. Like wolves, dogs live in a pack and defend their boundaries. When they observe or suspect a dog from another pack encroaching their boundaries, they trigger a howl to warn that dog and to inform their own pack members.

3. Pack Separation Anxiety

Dogs are naturally pack animals, and they have a strong sense of separation anxiety. When they feel separated from their pack, or when any member from their pack is missing, they trigger a howl as if to say, "I am here—where are you?" Similar behaviour is observed in stray dogs. When they find themselves separated from their packs, or when they observe that any pack members are missing, they certainly do howl. You may have also noticed that stray pups start howling when they are waiting for their mother.

4. Owner Separation Anxiety

Dogs are loyal, affectionate and emotional companions. They are deeply attached to their owners and families. When they feel a sense of separation, they howl. Normally, when you take your dog to a new place, he or she will enjoy the new abode as long as you are around. But once you leave your dog alone, he or she will feel separation anxiety and may start howling.

5. Attention Seeking

Dogs are always keen to get your attention. When they lack physical exercise or feel nervous, they may need even more of your attention, and sometimes they may do different tricks to get you to notice them. If their needs are not being fulfilled, they can develop behavioural problems. Such behaviours may include a repetitious mild howl, which is your dog's natural way of requesting your attention.

6. Isolation Distress

If a dog is left alone for a long time, he or she may feel isolated and can develop unusual habits. Have you ever left your dog home alone and then returned to find that he or she had destroyed furniture and soiled the carpet? Your neighbour probably complained about your dog howling and making noises, too. Isolation anxiety is a common issue for all dogs, and they will start howling and behaving in an unanticipated manner if they are left alone.

7. Success and Excitement

When your dog achieves something or feels excited, he or she might like to show off and receive praise. But if you aren't noticing, he or she might howl, because howling is a dog's natural mode of vocal communication. You may have observed that hunting dogs usually howl when they've detected some game or succeeded in their hunt. They feel excited and like to communicate their success—they just want a little appreciation, which means they'll start howling to call their owner.

8. Medical Issues

You might have observed that stray dogs howl when they have accidental injuries. Sometimes your dog might howl due to illness: something could be physically wrong and he or she could be suffering from internal pain. So if your dog is howling consistently, then you need to make sure he or she is not sick and check for any physical injuries. If the dog does have any visible injuries, then you need to visit your veterinarian.

9. Feeling Upset or Irritated

If your dog is feeling annoyed or sad, he or she may howl. For some dogs, music (especially instruments like the mouth organ) is an irritating noise, and if they've been hearing it consistently, it may trigger a howl. There are some other sounds that can annoy them like alarm clocks, electronic beeps and sirens.

10. Responding to High-Pitched Noises or Sounds

If you make a howling sound, then it’s possible that your dog will also start howling, or when one dog starts howling, then other dogs will also start howling. It may be a natural pattern for dogs to respond. Some specific high-pitch sounds can trigger howls: some examples include ambulance or fire truck sirens and some musical instruments.

Why Do Dogs Howl at Night?

Dogs do not howl only at night, but nighttime is usually when they do howl. There are many possible reasons to consider:

  • The most convincing reason why dogs howl at night is that they have more relevant reasons and needs at this time. This may be why mostly stray dogs howl at night.
  • Dogs hear lots of other noises like traffic, horns, shouting humans, music, etc., so during the day they may feel more comfortable resting, sleeping and staying less active. But at night—maybe after 11:00 pm—they may want to find different and more suitable places to dwell where they can hear each other and ramble freely. They may seek a more appropriate environment full of social interaction and vocalization.
  • Dogs may actually howl just as often during the day, but the sound of their howls is lost among all the other noises. At night, their high-pitched voices are clearly audible.
  • You may have observed stray dogs playing together at night after 11:00 pm or in the early morning around 5:00 am. It's difficult to find them playing together in the daytime (between 10:00 am to 7:00 pm). They are typically active at night and rest during the day, so they have less reason to howl in the daytime; they may also avoid howling in public.

© 2016 ARADHYA

ARADHYA (author) on July 31, 2020:

If the dog is doing a hawl, then there is nothing to worry about it and unless it is very necessary, then let it be natural.

If this change has come suddenly then also there is nothing to worry about.

One of my dogs suddenly started frequent howling that continued for a month, which happened in the mating season whenever he see other dogs outside he He used to howl, but after a month he started behaving normal.

ARADHYA (author) on July 13, 2020:

Dear Margie,

Its difficult to predict but for sure he didn't saw any ghost :).

margie on July 03, 2020:

for the first time my dog howl yesterday. He loves to be kiss a lot. he likes lot of attention. but I have to go to work. but last night he howl while he was asleep in my bed and I was with him, that I got scare. i waited until he finish. I just hug him. what you think this is about?

Shier mae C on April 29, 2020:

Well when i was sleeping my dog suddenly started to dream about something...well i dont know but it seems that its sad so i come to check her up, then when she was awake she suddenly howled along with the stray dogs, it sounded like a sad howl...

Nadeem on April 14, 2020:

My pitbull howls like a wolf... What must I do

Lucinda H on February 11, 2019:

I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT... So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!

Betty Steele on January 29, 2019:

I have been charged for the dress I ordered on my mastercard but have not received my dress.

Imelda on October 27, 2018:

My dog started howling when I blocked up all of his holes at the fence line. He was continually digging out of the yard under the fence. And I just kept blocking up all the holes with concrete blocks. Finally when there are no more places for him to dig out, he has started howling during the day. When I walk over to the fence with him, he begins to whimper for a little bit and tries to peek over the concrete blocks. I know he's howling because he is sad that he cannot get out of the yard.

Amanda on August 20, 2018:

I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks A LOT... My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Judy P on August 15, 2018:

Good thoughts, but someone needs to proofread! Pleas!

ARADHYA (author) on May 26, 2018:

Dear Dhoy,

As I mentioned no one can tell the exact reason to howl.

YES. many people believe - they sense nearly death and howl. but have no scientific proof and believe.

Dhoy on May 17, 2018:

Is this sign that it's sense nearly death when it's howling so long?

ARADHYA (author) on March 28, 2018:

Dear ?,

Many people believe that. But no one can confirm.

The most common believe about this believe is -

Dog has very high senses and can predict early about, earth quake etc ..

And @old days some incidences happen - dog started howling before natural disasters (Because they sense such things), And some people believe dog howl predict death.

ARADHYA (author) on March 28, 2018:


Dog howl need attention but no need to be scared. Because most of the time they have some valid reason. You may like to hear one of the example,

One of my friends dogs - suddenly started howling daily,at night ~10:00 pm. And after 2-3 months he stopped. He was wondering about his behavior change but was clueless. Again in next summer, dog started the same ..

and incidentally he crack the reason, ..

Actually, they were staying in an apartment and dog was making howl- "When he was listening the exhaust fan sound and vibration. And that was the reason he was making howl only in summer and at nights ..

? on March 16, 2018:

Is it true that dogs sometimes howl cuz the dead are comming??

Roaa on February 20, 2018:

My dog keeps howling all night and there is something wrong with the howl it seems a little bit like wolf's voice and this scares me a lot ,I always make take the dog for a walk And also play with,so the dog isn't suffering from anxiety or even injured.. I don't know what to do!!

Billie Raucci from Illinois on February 01, 2018:

Very informative article.

ARADHYA (author) on September 10, 2017:

That must be a rare dog

on August 14, 2017:

I found a stray dog and he howls at night. Now I know that he is looking for his pack.

ARADHYA (author) on August 09, 2017:


It's not only in Phillipience.

In Many other countries, people have the same belief.

Including Nepal, India, Pakistan and some of the European countries :)

ARADHYA (author) on June 03, 2017:

Judy delaune,

That's real strange :(

Was he sick or had any stomach issue?

Judy delaune on June 02, 2017:

My dog at 9:20 tonight he howled twice and that was the end of it. Strange

Niki on December 08, 2016:

Dogs howl at night sometimes when they sense a loss of a loved one - owner. Interestingly, they howl before the owner is departed. They a have powerful 6th sense.

ARADHYA (author) on October 16, 2016:

Thanks SirBraddles!

SirBraddles on October 15, 2016:


Thank you so very much for writing this article. I found it helpful in so many ways. I can't wait to read your other articles!



What to do about your dog howling when you leave

Below are some things you can do in order to get your dog to stop howling when you leave.

Deal with its separation anxiety

As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has been doing it due to having some separation anxiety. It would help to take measures to reduce how anxious it becomes when you leave by doing things such as exercising it, letting it pee and feeding it before leaving. It would also help ensure that it has a comfortable area to stay.

You can also watch the video below to see how you can train it to be less anxious when you are leaving.

Feed it before leaving instead of after

If you normally feed it when you arrive back home, it might be worth feeding it before leaving instead since it might be howling due to hunger.

Let it pee

It would also help to make sure to let it out to pee before leaving so that it does not have to wait too long before getting fed.

Exercise it sooner

It could also help to give it exercise before you leave home instead of when you get back. By doing so, you should help to get your dog to sleep while you are away.

Ensure that it is comfortable when you’re gone

It would also help to make sure that the room it stays in is not too hot, loud and that there is an area that it can lay down comfortably.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged it to howl when you leave by giving it things it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not do it and to avoid rewarding it when it does start howling unless it might be due to something such as needing to pee.

Try to leave it for shorter time periods

If you have been leaving it for a long time, it would likely help to try quickly come back home in order to let it out to pee, give it food and maybe to give it some quick exercise so that it does not have to wait so long.

Crate training

Another thing you could try would be to give it crate training which is meant to give it an area where it can feel secure. Giving it crate training properly should help to make it feel less anxious when you are leaving since it will be able to stay in its crate when you’re gone.

You can watch the video below for more tips on how to crate train your dog.


You could also try giving it things to be distracted with while you are away in order to keep it occupied. Things you could give it would include toys, puzzle games and bones.

Get help

If you can’t get your dog to stop doing it or it becomes very anxious when you are leaving, consider getting help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing your dog to do it and how you can get it to stop effectively.

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Howling in Dogs

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Howling is your dog’s way of communicating with you and the world. They howl to get attention, make contact with other dogs, and announce their presence. Howling is instinctual and can be natural or triggered by an underlying problem. Some dogs respond to high-pitched sounds like emergency sirens or musical instruments by howling. Excessive howling can be a sign that your dog is in trouble.

While it’s the Huskies, Bloodhounds, and Beagles that lead the proverbial pack, almost any dog breed can toss back his head and utter a bone-chilling howl if the mood strikes him. Even my Schnoodles have been known to extend a yappy bark into a long-winded, howl-ish sound when the mail is delivered. So, what causes dogs to howl? Well, it’s instinctive. It’s a primal reaction they’ve carried forward from thousands of years ago, when our pooches were wolves. It’s how they communicated with one another when their pack had split up and they needed to locate one another. In fact, the howl of a wolf has been known to carry up to 5 kilometres from point of origin. So, a good howl has served him well over the years.

But why, you may wonder, does Rover feel the need to break into a howl when he’s in the comfort of his own home with friends and family just a few feet away? There are a number of reasons he could be spouting off, including:

  1. Low Musical Notes. Long, low tones such as those produced by a bass fiddle, cello, or bass guitar, can make your dog think he hears another dog calling out. This causes him to respond in kind. Similarly, with long, drawn-out sirens. Dogs will instantly break into a howling chorus that stops the moment the provoking sound stops.
  2. Separation Anxiety. Some breeds are much more sensitive to being left on their own, than others. If your pooch becomes anxious or even just bored, when you leave him for long periods of time, you may find he can pick up destructive habits include chewing, digging, urinating and yes, howling.
  3. Medical Distress. If your pooch has suddenly started howling with no visible or audible cause in sight, he may be sick or injured. If its unusual behavior, don’t let it continue get him checked out by your veterinarian. It’s his way of letting you know something is wrong and while it could be minor, it could be something that needs immediate attention.
  4. Pure Excitement. He’s just seen you remove his favorite treats from the grocery bag, he’s just caught and returned a frisbee and is ready to go again, he’s arrived at the leash-free park. Sometimes a howl is the only way he can express his pure, in the moment, joy.
  5. Stranger Danger. Studies have shown that wolves are inclined to howl in a bid to protect their territories from other animals. By howling, they forewarn interlopers and ultimately protect their home turf. Similarly, a dog howling at a door or window may be expressing the same proprietary urges as his wolf kin.
  6. Attention Seeking. All dogs love attention from their human pack and once upon a time, he achieved attention from his wolf pack by howling. Yes, a good howl announced that the top dog had arrived. Today, it gives him an attention-grabbing way to get you to respond to him and meet his needs whether that be a walk, a treat, food or just a cuddle.

A Medical Concern

Since a dog may howl if they are sick or hurt, howling can be an indication of pain from a sudden injury, abdominal discomfort, or another type of ailment. Canine cognitive dysfunction sometimes referred to as dog dementia, is a medical issue that affects a dog's brain and can also cause a dog to howl. This issue is seen in older dogs and is similar to Alzheimer's in people. Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction are often disorientated, confused, and act as though they don't know to go outside to do their business, which side of the door opens, or get around furniture in the house. This dysfunction is a neurological issue and since a dog may be confused, it may start howling just to hear itself or because it is confused or scared. If you are concerned that your dog may be howling because of a medical concern, it is important to get it checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Just like a dog who is howling out of a confused state of fear due to canine cognitive dysfunction, dogs who are in other fearful situations may howl. Extremely scared puppies may let out a howl if they fear for their lives or a stray dog who is scared may howl as it is trying to be caught by some good Samaritans. But regardless of the cause of the fear, if a dog is howling and in a situation that could be interpreted as scary, it is sadly a good indication that they are terrified. Happy, excited, or relaxed dogs do not typically howl.

Watch the video: Why Dogs Cry at Night - Why Dogs Howl at Night - Why Dogs Bark at Night - Why Dogs Weep at Night

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