Why Do Dogs Howl?

Do you have a dog who howls? Have you ever stopped to wonder why they might be doing this? Many dogs howl, but most dog owners aren’t quite sure why. Howling may have a variety of different causes depending on the situation, and it’s important to learn how to recognize these causes in your dog.

In the article below, we’ll show you six reasons why dogs might howl. These aren’t the only reasons, of course, but they can give you a good idea of what’s going on with your pet. From there, you may be able to narrow down the cause even further. If you have any questions, call Antioch Veterinary Hospital at (925) 7572800.

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Communication with Other Dogs

Communication is one of the most common causes of howling in dogs. If your dog can hear other dogs nearby, they may howl to talk to them. This howling lets other dogs know that your dog is there, that they’re paying attention to their surroundings, and that they’re in charge of their territory.

Dogs who don’t spend time outdoors very often may not howl as much as those who do, simply because they can’t hear other dogs nearby as easily. This isn’t always the case, however.


Dogs who deal with anxiety are more prone to howling than those who don’t. Howling can be a signal that a dog is scared or nervous, and they may be trying to get you to look at or spend time with them by howling as well.

Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety associated with howling in dogs. If you walk away from your dog, step outside, or leave home for a while, your dog may become anxious and start howling until you return. Other dogs may howl when placed in a crate or put in the car, depending on their anxiety sources.

Attention Seeking

Sometimes, dogs just want attention. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to bad behaviors such as frequent howling and making lots of noise to try to get a response from their owners. Even a negative response is still attention, and dogs may quickly associate a stern word with the attention they crave.

Howling for attention seeking can be difficult to pinpoint, because it may sound a lot like howling from anxiety or pain. Be sure to rule out other problems before you assume your dog’s howling is related to simply looking for attention.


Many times, dogs who are in pain will howl. This type of howling is usually audibly distinct from the howling related to other causes on this list, and your dog will likely sound like they are in obvious distress. The howling may be associated with certain movements or with having certain parts of their body touched, and this can help you figure out when pain is the problem.

If you think there’s any chance your dog is howling from pain, or if you can clearly see the cause of the pain, take them to the emergency vet, as the problem may be more severe than you realize.


Sometimes, dogs may be become so excited that they can’t stop themselves from howling. This type of howling usually doesn’t last very long, and it may be combined with excited barking, happy wiggling, and other signs that your dog is clearly excited and feeling joy about something.

If you notice the howling happening most often when you get home from work, when you’re getting ready to take your dog on a walk, or when it’s time for them to eat, then you can probably assume they are howling out of excitement. You can probably train this habit away if you work on it as well.

Response to Noise

Finally, dogs may simply howl in response to noise. Noise triggers are common causes of howling in dogs, and if you’ve ever seen a dog howl along with music, this is an example of noise response howling.

Some dog owners like finding their dogs’ noise triggers for howling, but others do everything they can to avoid them. It’s up to you to choose whether or not to engage with your dog’s howling behavior when you find what causes them to howl. You may also choose to work on training them to stop howling when these triggers occur if you prefer.

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about why your dog is howling, you may be able to pinpoint the cause in your pet. If not, however—or if you think your dog is howling because they’re sick or in pain—it’s time to take a trip to the veterinarian.

Some dogs may howl simply because this is their preferred form of communication. Otherwise, however, it’s helpful to work with your vet to figure out what’s causing your dog’s howling and to determine whether or not there’s anything you should be doing about it. Call us today at (925) 7572800.