Yes, it is perfectly normal, and you are a lucky dog owner if your pet does this. Many dogs will not howl with you, but will howl to other dogs when left alone. What does it mean when dogs howl with you? The answer to this part of the question is a bit more complicated and interesting. Let us try to respond as best we can.
The Origins of Howling in Dogs
From the vast open plains to dense, mysterious forests, the eerie yet enchanting sound of a howl has resonated for millennia. But long before our domesticated companions curled up beside us on the sofa, their wild ancestors, the wolves, used howling as their primary means of communication.
Wolves are highly social animals that live and thrive in packs. Each member of the pack plays a crucial role, and communication among them is vital for survival. Howling serves multiple purposes in this wild setting:
- Territorial Claims: A wolf’s howl can travel significant distances, sometimes up to several miles, depending on the environment. This far-reaching call is a clear message to other packs: “This is our territory. Keep away.” By howling, wolves establish boundaries and reduce the chances of physical confrontations with rival packs.
- Uniting the Pack: Whether it’s a hunting party returning from a successful hunt or members getting scattered in thick forests, howling acts as a beacon, helping wolves find their way back to the pack. The chorus of howls from multiple members further strengthens this signal.
- Social Bonding: Howling is not just about utility; it’s also an emotional expression. Packs often engage in group howls, reinforcing their bond, asserting pack unity, and expressing collective moods, whether that’s excitement, agitation, or contentment.
As domestication began thousands of years ago, dogs branched away from their wild counterparts. However, many of the instincts and behaviors, including howling, remained ingrained in their DNA. While the modern dog doesn’t need to stake out territory or call back wandering pack members, the impulse to howl at certain triggers or emotions still persists. Understanding this deep-rooted behavior provides valuable insight into our furry friends and reminds us of the wild ancestry that still lurks beneath their domesticated exterior.
Reasons Dogs Howl With Their Owners
He Wants To Unite The Voices
What does it mean when dogs howl with you? In its simplest form, it means that your pet wants to unite voices with you and to support your howling. It is a nice thing to see and experience. Always remember that if you are the owner of your dog, he considers you the leader, and he will always howl with you. This makes him happy, even thrilled. When howling, the dog’s brain releases oxytocin and dopamine, which are known as “happy chemicals.” This creates a powerful feeling and makes your dog realise he is a part of the pack. You can usually see a happy dog after they’ve howled together.
Many dog trainers will actually use high-pitched sounds that are similar to howling. This makes dogs feel better and is even great during training. Sadly, neighbours don’t like this, but dogs love it.
The last thing to mention here is that howling with your dog, even if it sounds weird to some, is the best way to bond. Remember that there are numerous other ways to bond, such as playing together and many others. Nevertheless, howling together can be the most appealing of them all.
Your Dog Howls Because His Wolf Genes
Well, dogs come from wolves and all wolves howl. This is the best possible method for communication in the wild. Howling can be heard for miles and it is a simple yet effective method to reveal something to other members of the pack. Believe it or not, howling can mean a lot of things. It is usually used to reveal the location of a dog or wolf but it can mean that others should come to that location or that he will come to the secondary location.
If we take a deep look into this matter, we can see that dogs can reveal different feelings when howling.For instance, he may reveal pain, anger, joy, or something else. In this scenario, howling is more effective than speaking. It can be heard over long distances, and it only needs a few seconds to reveal a lot. Of course, howling is not as complex as talking, but it is very effective, for lack of a better word.
Howling is extremely important for wolves and dogs. There are a few main reasons why they use this and we would like to mention all of them. Keep in mind that your dog may howl due to the same reasons. Despite the fact he lived his entire life in a city, he still has powerful instincts.
To Identify Himself
Howling is most often used as a way of identification. When a pack is hunting or running in the wild, their howling can tell others who and where they are at the same time. Although to us all howling sounds sound the same, every single dog has a different sound, and others know it. In the wild, the alpha wolf will usually howl first, followed by the second-ranked wolf. This goes to the lowest-ranking individuals.
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Your Pet Is Sad
This happens when you are not at home or when you just leave. Your dog is sad, and he will try to reveal it. As you should remember, we did mention that dogs express their feelings by howling. Sorrow and sadness are just some of them. You need to spend more time with your pet if he does this for this very reason. He misses you.
He Wants Attention
Dogs are smarter than you may believe. They will usually try and do something new and if they see that this works, they will do it all over again. The best example is howling. If he needs attention and he howls. You give him attention, your pet will start howling more often. More intelligent dog breeds will do this more often and they will realize the power of howling in less time.
You should not give him attention when your pet howls. This is not acceptable behavior for most dog owners and it is something that many neighbors hate. As such, you may want to discourage it.
Anxiety and stress can be huge issues for dogs. As a matter of fact, separation anxiety is a huge problem for most dogs and it is something that needs to be solved and prevented as possible. See, dogs don’t like changes. That’s why they like and need just one owner and they don’t want to change him ever. If there is a massive change in life, like moving, separation anxiety may appear. Howling is the way your dog will use to tell you that. Stress can do the same thing. You need to find the cause of that problem and solve it as soon as you can.
They Need To Unite
In the wild, dogs hunt together. They fight enemies together. Howling is the best way to reveal his position and to call for help when needed. This is especially important when hunting. Howling will call others and tell them where the prey is. Then other dogs can come and attack the prey. The situation is the same when it comes to defending the territory.
How to Respond to Your Dog’s Howling
When your dog suddenly throws back its head and lets out a soulful howl, you might be a mix of amused, bewildered, and even concerned. It’s important to know that howling, in most cases, is a completely natural canine behavior. However, the way you respond to it can influence its frequency and the context in which it happens.
Determine the Trigger:
Before you decide how to respond, identify what’s causing the howl. Is it in reaction to a siren, another dog howling, or is it an expression of anxiety or pain? Recognizing the trigger will help you address the root cause.
If you’re training your dog to howl on cue (like during a fun trick session), always reward them with treats or affection when they howl correctly. This positive reinforcement encourages the behavior.
If your dog howls excessively or at inappropriate times (like in the middle of the night), try to distract them with a toy or a command they recognize. Over time, they’ll associate the trigger with the distraction, reducing the likelihood of howling.
Some dogs howl due to anxiety, especially when left alone (separation anxiety). Make sure their environment is comfortable, perhaps leaving on some soft music or providing a piece of your clothing for comfort. If anxiety persists, consider consulting a vet or a canine behaviorist.
Never punish your dog for howling, as it’s a natural behavior. Negative reinforcement can lead to increased anxiety or fear, which might exacerbate the howling or lead to other behavioral issues.
Sometimes, howling can be an indicator of pain or discomfort. If the howling is sudden, frequent, and doesn’t seem to have a clear external trigger, it might be worth visiting the veterinarian to rule out potential health issues.
What does it mean when dogs howl with you? Now you know all the facts and all about howling. All we can add is that if your pet does this with you, you are a lucky dog owner. It looks amazing and it is the ultimate way to create and make a bond between you two stronger.