Your dog is howling again. Do you know why? There are many reasons why a dog engages in this behavior. The reasons change based on the breed that is howling, where the dog is, and their circumstances.

No matter what is causing the howl, know that this is a very primitive and instinctual behavior. If you investigate and find out that your dog isn’t hurt or doesn’t need anything, if you’re feeling brave, try joining in on the fun. Let’s see if we can discover why your dog is howling.

Do dogs howl when they are sad?

Yes. Sometimes, dogs howl when they are sad. Howling can happen if another family member or pet has recently passed. Or it could be because the dog was left alone for long periods by its owner. Sometimes, terrible and unfortunate things happen to the owners, and the dog may feel anxiety over their owner coming back. Dogs get sad just like humans do.

Are dogs happy or sad when they howl?

Yes, it can be both. While some dogs do howl out of sadness, they can also howl when they are pleased. The main differences you’ll note will be in the rest of their body language. When happy and howling, their body language will be wiggly, their eyes bright, and their tail wagging.

When the dog is sad and howling, you’ll notice it might be lying down and moving very little. They may close their eyes to howl when they are feeling especially sad. Don’t be afraid to hug your furry companion if this is the case. They could probably use some comfort.

Do dogs howl when they are lonely?

Yes. Some dog breeds howl when they are lonely. Certain breeds are prone to it.

Dachshunds

These dogs were initially bred to pursue badgers down their holes and bark loudly while doing so. Today, these small dogs still tend to bark at anything out of the ordinary. They also vocalize when they feel lonely or sad because that’s what their ancestors did for centuries; it’s in their genes!

Beagles 

The breed has long been trained to howl to call out to its owner or other animals when it’s lost. Beagles are also known for their keen sense of smell, making them prone to sad behavior when they are alone. 

Basset Hounds 

Basset hounds were trained to hunt in packs like their ancestor, the wolf. They howl to communicate with their pack while on the move, in pursuit of something, or get attention. Unless you have a bunch of basset hounds at your home, your basset hound will be howling at you since you’re part of his pack.

Bloodhounds

Bloodhounds use their voice to communicate with people and other dogs alike; they may even yip or growl if someone intrudes on their territory without permission. So, the next time your bloodhound starts up with his signature howls, don’t worry – he’s just trying to communicate with you!

Wolf-like Breeds

Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and American Eskimo dogs are all very close descendants of their wolf ancestors. Even though all dogs are descendants of the wolf, these breeds carry a particularly close connection. While living alone with many humans, they will still howl to get your attention and express their displeasure or happiness when elated. They particularly enjoy being part of a pack. 

When they live in an actual pack of dogs of the same breed and are used to pull sleighs and sleds, such as in the upper Yukon territories of Canada or Alaska in the United States, you will not be able to stop them from howling.

They do this to communicate danger and as a way of bonding with one another. If you listen closely, you’ll notice the tone of the howl changes, indicating they are sharing different things at different times.

Are dogs crying when they howl?

No. Not in the sense we understand as humans. As humans, we often attribute human-like emotions, expressions, and social behaviors to dogs, even though they are not human. This tendency can cause us to think the dogs are crying when they are howling.

Now, that is not to say the dog may not be sad, sick, or in distress. If their howl is more high-pitched and or accompanied by lethargy, pacing, excessive panting, destroying your furniture, or marking in the house, then your dog may be sick or very upset.

You’ll want to investigate further to see if you can find the cause. If your furry companion is in pain, it may begin to howl involuntarily. Usually, you can tell a dog is in pain when they stop acting like themselves and refuse food or treats when they typically do not.

Why is my dog howling?

Dogs howl to express themselves, to draw attention, and to display sadness, alarm, or anxiety. Dogs howl because they are scared or threatened in some way (loud noises). They also can find specific tones particularly irritating.

When one nearby dog begins to howl at neighborhood police or fire sirens, the other dogs may join in until the emergency vehicle has passed from their hearing. Some owners who are learning a new musical instrument such as the violin or harmonica have found their dogs do not take kindly to the pitch and tone of the mistakes made and will begin to howl. In these cases, their ears will be pulled back, and they will seem to be glaring at you. These facial expressions are your dog begging you to please stop.

What to do about my dog howling and how to stop it?

You have to investigate to find out the cause before you can get it to stop. Does it only happen at the sound of the local fire engines or police vehicles? Does it occur at twilight when other dogs in the neighborhood begin to howl?

Are your neighbors citing that this happens when you leave your dog alone each day at a particular time? Are they in pain? Are they unhappy? Are they joining in with any musical festivities with your family?

If your dog howls for the first time and you cannot place a reason behind it, which is uncharacteristic for your dog, do not immediately assume your dog is misbehaving. Listen to the other dogs near you.

If you live remotely, look out the windows and see if you can spot flocks of birds suddenly taking flight or other animals jumping out of the woods. Look at the sky for indications of a bad storm that might be coming. Some dogs can sense earthquakes or other natural disasters. Your dog could be feeling and alerting you to danger.

Try Scolding Them or Catching Them in the Act

Once you determine the cause, you can help them stop howling. If no medical issue or sadness presents itself, sometimes scolding the dog in the middle of the act is compelling enough. One owner described the dog as being shocked when caught in the act, as they thought no one was watching or paying attention. The minute the dog realized the owner could see them howling, the dog stopped.

Reward Them for Silence

If howling is usual for your dog, and you want them to stop, only reward them with loving attention, treats, or playthings (whatever motivates them the most) when they are silent for several seconds in a row. Do this consistently, and they will get the hint that you don’t need them to howl for the situation to be resolved.

Leave Comfort Behind for the Dog During the Day

If you suspect your dog is howling due to boredom or separation anxiety, make sure you leave plenty of toys and chew things out for them while you’re gone. If you don’t let your dog in your bedroom, then consider leaving some of your smellier shirts or clothes in a pile in the living room for them. Some dogs appreciate having soft music, or the pet channel left streaming on during the day while you’re at work.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.