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Why do dogs howl and what does it mean?

Most of the time, we know our dogs well enough to know what they need through their body language, but sometimes howls are a little harder to interpret. Why do the dogs howl?

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VCA Animal Hospitals told Newsweek that, like “many canine behaviors, howling has ancient roots. In the wild, security-conscious wolves in the woods bellowed to announce their location to other members of their pack family.

“The brave wolves howled to warn other wild animals to stay away from their territory. Your dog may not howl to signal his whereabouts or keep intruders at bay, but now, as in generations past, dogs howl as a form of communication.”

But what is your dog trying to tell you when he howls?

Experts say that domesticated dogs can use howling to try to communicate a wide range of messages. They may be telling you to come get them. In the wild, canine packs stay home while others scout areas for food. VCA veterinarians believe the howl developed to call out to other pack members and help them find each other. Veterinarians said the canines that stayed home would signal the location of the home base to the other canines through howling.

“After being left home alone, a dog may howl when they hear you driving home or when they see you running up the steps in an attempt to guide you safely back to them.” However, howling can also mean that he wants you to leave. The VCA said:

“Howling signals to arriving dogs that a particular area is already reclaimed and visitors are not welcome. The howl is a good defense mechanism that protects from possible predators. Because dogs protect their homes, they can howl when a visitor approaches their territory.”

Maybe they just want to tell you they’re there. An approaching dog may howl to let other dogs know that it is coming. “The howls alert dogs around them that their environment is about to change,” the VCA said.

But your furry friend may just want a little attention. Maybe they haven’t been able to get your attention any other way, so they start howling.

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According to the VCA, “This verbal canine manipulation can become annoying, so humans must learn not to reward vocal demands. Try to avoid eye contact and resist the urge to approach a howling dog. Don’t pet or talk to him, but don’t scold him either.

But be careful because sometimes they may be trying to tell you something more urgent, like they are hurt. They could also be calling you to tell you that they found something.

Some dog breeds are much more vocal than other dogs, and it also depends on your dog’s personality type. Pack dogs are usually much more vocal due to their roots, while smaller dogs can be more vocal due to their size.

What happens when your dog is howling at passing sirens? Howling can occur in response to an environmental trigger.

Adem Fehmi, a dog behavior specialist, told Newsweek: “This is similar to dogs howling to music. One school of thought is that the siren or music reproduces howling-like tones and sounds, and therefore when heard, some dogs seek to howl in response.

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Dogs can also howl when they are lonely, stressed, anxious or agitated. Many puppy parents have trouble leaving their dogs at home because they will howl all day until their final return.

Adem Fehmi said: “We often refer to this as a dog experiencing ‘separation anxiety’ and sometimes there are other signs present that indicate they are feeling anxious about being left alone.”

“If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a licensed behaviorist so that training can be tailored to your individual dog and household routines.”

However, Fehmi did share three tips with Newsweek to help dogs overcome separation anxiety. He says to exercise them before he leaves, give them something to do and try to create a calm environment for the dog.

NEVER ‘land’ your dog. This is a cruel practice that is robbing them of their instincts. Whatever the reason for your pup’s howling, don’t get mad at him. It’s just his instinct. However, you can train him to let you know what he wants in ways other than a loud howl, which can be irritating at times. Talk to your vet or a canine behavior specialist to try to find some solutions.

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