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Why Do Dogs Howl?

Plenty of kids’ movies portray talking dogs howling to communicate with each other or because they’re sad, but what is the real reason that dogs howl? Is it simply a genetic remnant of their wolf ancestry? Are they sending signals to other dogs or trying to communicate with their human owners? While we can’t answer for certain all the reasons dogs howl, here are a few guesses from researchers.

1. Attracting Attention

Domesticated dogs like having the attention of their owners, and sometimes they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. They may jump up in your lap or lay down at your feet — or maybe even howl. If you pay attention to your dog when they howl, chances are they’ll learn to do it for exactly that purpose.

2. Warning of Danger

If your dog starts howling when the mailman approaches or when they see another dog, they’re probably using it to signal the potential threat of new circumstances. It’s a way for them to both mark out their territory and warn others of danger. This has its roots in genetic ancestry, hearkening back to the time when most dogs lived in packs and used howling as a defense mechanism.

3. Responding to Triggers

There seem to be certain noises that are likely to set dogs howling, such as police sirens or specific songs. While we don’t know for sure why specific sounds may trigger your dog howling, there’s no doubt that they are in fact responding to those sounds. Maybe they’re trying to imitate siren noises, or maybe they enjoy these sounds and want to express themselves.

As interesting as it may be to theorize about why dogs howl, some people just don’t enjoy the noise. If you’re traveling somewhere and can’t take your howling dog along with you, offers day care or overnight boarding for your pet. That way, even if you’re not together, you can both enjoy a vacation.