Lemon the dog howling Lemon the dog howling

Why Do Dogs Howl?

Read time: 4 mins

15 Aug 2023

A dog's howl can evoke a mix of emotions, from curiosity to amusement, but have you ever wondered why dogs howl? In this article, we will explore the various reasons behind a dog's howling behaviour and provide insights into managing and understanding this vocal communication.

Why Is My Dog Howling All of a Sudden?

If your dog suddenly starts howling, it's natural to be concerned about the change in behaviour. There are several reasons why sudden howling might occur:

  • Discomfort

  • Anxiety

  • Illness

It's essential to rule out any medical issues by consulting your vet. Additionally, environmental changes, such as a new home or a new member of the household, can trigger howling as your dog adjusts to these changes.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Howls?

Dogs communicate through a variety of vocalisations, body language, and behaviours, and howling is just one form of expression. Howling is a natural way for dogs to communicate with each other and with their human companions. In the wild, it serves several purposes, such as marking territory, alerting the pack to danger, and communicating over long distances. When your pet dog howls, they might be trying to establish their presence or seeking your attention.

Why Does My Dog Howl When I Leave?

Separation anxiety is a common reason why dogs howl when their owners leave. 

Dogs are social animals that form strong bonds with their human companions. When you leave, your dog may feel a sense of abandonment, leading to anxious behaviours like howling. This behaviour is often accompanied by other signs of distress, such as pacing, destructive chewing, and excessive barking.

To help alleviate separation anxiety, gradually desensitise your dog to your departures, provide engaging toys, and consider crate training.

Why Do Dogs Howl at Night?

Have you ever been woken up by the haunting sound of your dog's howl in the middle of the night? While it might seem eerie, there are logical explanations for this behaviour. 

Dogs are descendants of wolves, which are nocturnal animals. Howling at night could be an instinctual response to the nighttime environment. 

Additionally, dogs have keen senses of hearing and may react to distant sounds that are otherwise imperceptible to us. 

If your dog's nighttime howling becomes disruptive, ensure they have adequate physical and mental stimulation during the day, and consider adjusting their sleep environment.

Why Do Dogs Howl to Music?

You may have witnessed your dog tilting their head and emitting a howl when you play certain musical notes.

This peculiar behaviour can be traced back to a dog's acute hearing and their connection to the primal instincts of their wild ancestors. Dogs perceive sounds differently from humans, and certain frequencies in music might mimic sounds found in nature or trigger their curiosity. 

While it might seem like your dog is trying to sing along, it's more likely that they are responding to the auditory stimulation in their environment.

How to Stop a Dog From Howling

While howling is a natural behaviour, excessive and persistent howling can be problematic, especially if it's disturbing to you or your neighbours. 

Here are some strategies to manage and minimise excessive howling:

Identify the cause

Understand the underlying reason for your dog's howling. Is it due to anxiety, loneliness, or seeking attention? Addressing the root cause is essential for effective management.

Provide enrichment

Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom-related howling. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and regular exercise can help keep your dog engaged and content.

Training and socialisation

Proper training and socialisation from an early age can help your dog feel more secure and confident. A well-trained dog is less likely to exhibit anxious behaviours, including excessive howling.


Gradually expose your dog to triggers that cause howling, such as the doorbell or other dogs howling. Reward calm behaviour and gradually increase exposure to help your dog become desensitised.

Positive reinforcement

Reward your dog when they exhibit calm behaviour. Positive reinforcement for quiet behaviour can help them understand what is expected of them.

Seek professional help

If your dog's howling persists despite your efforts, consider seeking guidance from a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian with expertise in behaviour.