It is normal to associate the sound of a dog howling with that of a wolf howling at the full moon, linking the two moments with melancholy and sadness, but it is not necessarily so. Like their lupine ancestors and relatives, dogs often howl to communicate with other dogs that are far away from them. So they can know where the others are and join their companions by following the howl.
So it is common right after hearing a howling dog other dogs start to bark or howl in the neighborhood. This behavior is a characteristic that has been inherited since the times of wolves, who used howls to gather packs when hunting or to protect the flock's nest.
But that's not just why dogs howl. When a female enters heat, a characteristic odor spreads with the wind, in order to attract the males of the region to the crossing, which causes the neighborhood dogs to start howling when close to a female in that period.
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THE howling of dogs it also varies according to the breed of the dog - breeds that have a more recent connection with wolves, such as the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute among other breeds that were created from crossbreeding dogs and wolves - the tendency of these specimens howl more and more often is greater.
This means that older breeds, which have been crossed with other breeds and have been living with man for a longer time, have a lesser tendency to howl, but that this can still happen for several reasons.
Why howl and not bark?
When a dog barks, the sound produced is lower and no matter how loud it is, it does not reach as far as the howl, composed of higher notes that spread more easily through the air.
In this way, the dog guarantees that it will be heard by those who are farther away, managing to attract attention to itself - either from its owners, or from other dogs that are in the vicinity. THE dog howl when he is unable to make eye contact with the one with whom he wants to communicate, which usually occurs in cases where the dog barks to alert the owner that someone is approaching the house or even during moments of family play.
You mean my dog is not sad when he howls?
Not necessarily. A dog may howl to try to find where his fellow dogs are, to locate a female in heat and to know where the other competing males are, but those are not the only options.
One howling dog also when you are anguished, stressed, frustrated or simply out of sheer boredom or loneliness. A proof that dogs do not just howl in negative moments are the various videos on the internet where it is possible to see dogs howling with their owners or with the children, both to “answer” any questions and, for example, to sing a song.
How do I know why my dog is howling?
Unlike wolves, it is not common for dogs - other than those with a high degree of recent kinship with wolves - to spend a lot of time howling, or to do this very often. These can be signs that your dog has a problem and is trying to warn you about it (but not necessarily a health problem, let this be clear).
In many cases, dogs howl when they realize that their owners are going out - this is especially so when the owners spend long periods away from home - and it can be a symptom of what is known as separation anxiety syndrome. In such cases, dogs howl in the owner's absence as they would for some other pack mate, expecting a howl or some family response to know when the owner is back or approaching home.
The dog's howling can also be a sign that your dog is passing on to you that it is bored. This often happens when owners do not set aside daily time to play and walk with their dogs, especially those who live in the big city. Because they spend a lot of time alone and with nothing to do, dogs can start howling to try to reduce boredom or draw attention until they are taken for a walk and spend all the energy that is left.
In both cases it is important for the owner to be attentive to find out the reason for the dog's howling and try to solve the problem as soon as possible, as it can end up getting worse - dogs suffering from separation anxiety syndrome tend to develop problems with behavior, becoming skittish with other people or failing to obey the orders of their owners and bored dogs often end up becoming destructive dogs.
If you cannot be sure why the dog howl, always seek the help of a specialist in canine behavior to correctly assess what the problem is and suggest the best solution for you and your dog.
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