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Why does my Labrador howl?

Why does my Labrador howl?

If your Labrador has been howling you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my Labrador howl? The main reasons are ancestry with wolves, communication, sickness or injury, separation anxiety and defense.

There actually are a number of different reasons why a Labrador might howl a lot and it may or may not be a cause for concern. If you want to get your Labrador to reduce its howling then you should first figure out what the root cause is and then take measures to correct it after.

What Causes Labradors To Howl?

Below are some reasons why your Labrador might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.


Wolves are known to howl to identify each other in the wild and this is a trait that present-day dogs could have kept from their ancestors. This means that if your Labrador is howling it’s not necessarily a bad thing since Labradors are known to howl often.

Separation Anxiety

The cause could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it becomes anxious when it is about to be left alone.

This would be more likely to be the case if it starts howling at around the same time that you normally leave home. This type of howling will often be accompanied by other things such as destruction, pacing or other signs of distress.


Wolves, in the wild, will howl to tell other members of the pack where it is or to scare off other predators that are entering their territories. In the case of your Labrador, the howling could be to alert others of its location such as when it hears sirens. It could also be to warn others not to enter its territory. 


The reason why your Labrador howls could be that it is in response to something in its environment. If it hears things such as other dogs howling, sirens or other high pitched noises then it will likely cause it to start howling in response.


It could be that the Labrador is howling due to boredom. Labradors were bred to be a very active breed and it takes a lot to properly stimulate them.

If your Labrador isn’t getting enough stimuli from its environment then it could be howling to get you to give it more attention and to give it something to do.

How To Stop Your Labrador From Howling

Below are some things you can do in order to get it to stop howling.

Rule Out Separation Anxiety

Figuring out whether or not your Labrador is howling due to separation anxiety can be a little bit more tricky since the howling could be taking place when you are away and can’t hear it. 

If your Labrador becomes overly anxious when you leave or at the sight of you preparing to leave then it could be a case of separation anxiety. Other cues could be that it becomes destructive when you are away, it could be depressed or it might pace up and down when it thinks that you could be leaving.

Reward it when they don’t misbehave when you’re not with it. Give it toys to play with when you’re away it’s not a cure but it does help to alleviate the issues. Lots of exercise with the dog. If you’re away for a while then consider dog daycare. 

You can also watch the video below for more tips on dealing with dog separation anxiety.

Solve Howling Due To Sounds

Figuring out whether or not sounds are causing the howling should be a bit easier since your Labrador will begin to howl at the start of the sound and then stop howling when it stops.

If the sound doesn’t occur frequently then the howling shouldn’t be too much of an issue since it will likely not last long and not happen regularly enough to be a problem.

If it is a frequent sound then getting it to stop could be a bit more tricky. The first thing that you could do is to try to stop the sound from happening in the first place if it’s possible.

If not then teaching your Labrador a different behavior when the sound happens such as fetching a toy won’t necessarily help to reduce its distress.

Instead, you should consider a systematic desensitization and counterconditioning program that is designed to solve emotional related issues.

Desensitization is where the Labrador is guided to become less sensitive to the sounds and to reduce its physical and emotional response.

Counterconditioning is designed to make the Labrador change the way that it feels about the sound and to improve its feelings towards it.

You can read more about these programs at pets.webmd here. If you’re considering doing the program then look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in your area.

Solve Howling For Attention

It could be the case that your Labrador does it because it knows that it will get more attention from you when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by training it, walking it and playing with it. But, it would help to stop rewarding it with attention when it starts howling.

Reduce its Boredom

Since Labradors can be active dogs it is important to make sure that yours is able to get the recommended amount of daily exercise. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

Rule Out Medical Causes

If you can’t figure out why it has been howling, it has been doing it excessively or it has been showing signs of illness or injury, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to rule out medical causes.

Get Help From A Professional

Another option would be to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is doing it and how to get it to stop effectively.