Dog Care

WHY DOES MY DOG FREAK OUT WHEN I HOWL?

It seems like a lot of fun. Especially when we were kids. We howl whenever we pass a dog and they howl back. Sometimes, we notice the look of bewilderment on the dogs face. If we could hear their thoughts, it would be something in the line of “but you are not a dog. Why are you talking to me”. As time goes on, you realize that the look of bewilderment you see is not something to take for granted.

Especially when you have adopted a dog of your own. As you bond with him or her, you realize that they are actually freaking out when you start howling. They find themselves in a state of confusion and their erratic actions tells you that they are trying to figure out what is going on even as they howl back at you.

The simplest answer to why your dog is freaking out is because you are acting in a very strange way to your dog. Your dog knows that it is not natural for you to howl, so he or she is thinking. Its either something is very wrong with you or something is very wrong with him or her. Either way, there is a lot of confusion about the message being sent and hence our beloved dogs freak out.

By now you should understand that dogs are social animals. They come from a long line of wolf descendants who have been used to living in packs. They feed, hunt and breed together.

To make their social communication skills stronger, dogs use different types of sounds and signals. This varies from barking, to how they hold their ears and yes “howling”.

Dogs use howling to strengthen the bond in their pack, to warn themselves of dangers in their territory and to assemble the pack when necessary. Our dogs don’t think much about this because in a way it is just hereditary.

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To understand this more, let’s look at all the reasons why dogs howl. Dogs howl because of the following:

1.Dog Ancestry

2.To Communicate

3.Separation Anxiety

4.Injury or Sickness

5.To express happiness or joy.

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1.Dog Ancestry.

We don’t think about it much, but as we stated above, our beloved dogs come from a long line of wolf ancestors. DNA evidence shows clearly that there is a close match between our modern day dogs and the ancient wolf. Interesting right, obviously dues to centuries and decades of domestication, their roles and how they relate to humans have changed a lot. But certain wolf characteristics remain the same.

One of those characteristics is howling. Wolves have been howling since time immemorial as a way of life and to send different signals to each other. This has been so ingrained in there DNA so much so that it has become second nature. The same way that a human can begin to yawn and subconsciously every other person in the room start to do the same.

It is obvious that most of the times, our dogs howling action is involuntary. If our dogs could speak, we are sure they would say the same. They simply don’t know why they do it. Since it has aided them in survival for so long, why stop now?

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2.To communicate.

Going back to ancient times, wolves used howling as a way to tell a lost member their position or alert themselves when another animal is encroaching on their territory. Howling has also been used to indicate their current positions, a form of counting and making sure each member of the pack is ok.

Coming to modern times, the idea has not changed. Dogs use howling to indicate their position. They try to use it to tell themselves whether they are close or far from you That is one of the reasons why it seems strange to him or her that you can see them and still choose to howl when nothing seems wrong.

Howling can also be used to communicate some form of despair as you will see in the next reason.

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3.Separation Anxiety

This is a very common problem for most dogs, especially when they have not been well trained. Separation anxiety is a situation where a dog becomes very distressed when separated from their pet parents. They tend to exhibit a lot of bad behaviors. The list of these behaviors can be but not limited to destroying furniture at home, urinating and defecating in the wrong places, chewing your shoes, barking and yes you know it “howling”.

You can see here that all the other destructive acts can be done in silence but when he or she howls, the sadness, anxiety, and depression being felt by the dog at that moment is expressed. Velcro dogs are usually more prone to separation anxiety and howl a lot when left alone.

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4.Injury or Sickness.

In the olden days, times were really dangerous for both man and animal. As we stated earlier, wolves always moved in packs, but there were times when something could separate a wolf from its pack. One of them might be caught in a trap. Another could get wounded while hunting a bigger prey, another could fall sick due to an immune system that is not strong enough at that point. What does the wolf do at this stage? You got it, the wolf howls to express its restlessness and despair at that moment. Trying to tell other members of pack how they are feeling and possibly get required health back.

Fast forward to the modern day, our dogs still use howling to express themselves to us that something might be wrong with them. Basically, if you notice that your dog seems to talk to himself or herself more than usual it’s probably best to visit your veterinary doctor.

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5.To express happiness or joy.

Yeah, to express happiness or joy. It is not everything that is serious business when it comes to howling. Your dog may just be happy at that moment. You might have seen some funny videos of dogs howling while playing the piano, or howling along while a kid sings a song. As endearing and sweet as these moments are, it goes a long way to show how our dogs want to share joyful moments in our lives and how happy they are to engage with us on that level.

Howling by your dog should not be seen as something to worry about, as far as it is not accompanied by some form of aggression, every other thing that comes with it can be managed. Understanding your dog’s howling is a thing of perception. Trying to understand things from the perspective of your dog will go a long way in helping to manage his or her howling sessions.

As you can see, howling is an intricate part of your dog’s life, so when you try to use it for fun, you throw him or her into a state of confusion. (More like hearing an alarm but not having an escape route).

Lastly, siren sounds, whether from police cars, ambulances, etc. They all have the same effect on dogs. It is as if a howling campaign has been set off in the streets, depending on how strongly your dog feels about their territory, their response howl might be for the sirens to keep off the territory or for the siren to locate his or her position. Basically, this response is harmless.

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