Why Beet Pulp is Good for Dogs
Why Beet Pulp is Good for Dogs

Why Do Dogs Howl? Reasons and Tips for Pet Parents

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Every pet parent wants to know the meaning of dog howling. Now, we all know what howling sounds like - it’s a high-pitched sound that sounds like a doleful cry. However, many of us are still quite unaware of why do dogs howl. Well, here’s a fun fact: howling for dogs is genetic inheritance. It’s no news that dogs are closely related to wolves. Despite the difference in their sizes, wolves and dogs share around 99% DNA. However, heredity is not the only reason why dogs howl. So, what does it mean when a dog howls, and how can you handle your howling dog? You will find answers to such questions in this article.

Why do dogs howl?

To handle a howling dog, you first need to understand the reason why your pet is making this long, wailing noise. Here’s a look at some probable causes of dog howling. 

  • Your dog is reacting to something they heard

Dogs feel stimulated by high-pitched sounds. Howling is their way of responding to fireworks, sirens, bells, and other noises. This type of howling starts as soon as they hear the shrill sound. As a pet owner, you don’t have to worry about this type of howling since it usually stops when the trigger sound does.

  • Your dog has separation anxiety

If a dog is excessively attached to you, they might experience separation anxiety. So, once your little companion learns that you won’t be around for a few days, they might start howling under stress and anxiety. If your dog howls every time you need to leave for a long period, it is a sign of hyper-attachment. You might have to treat their anxiety to manage this type of howling. And no, scolding them is not the right way of doing it.

  • Your dog wants your attention

A howling dog could also be seeking attention. And this type of dog howling can be bothersome. You might feel like scolding, questioning, or holding your furball, but you must do the exact opposite of it. Avoid giving your pet any type of attention. Don’t pamper or scold them.

  • Your dog suspects danger

Dogs can sense bad weather, earthquakes, diseases, and so much more. Hence, you cannot rule out the fact that a howling dog could also be trying to alert you of something. Maybe they feel a situation is not right for you or could cause you potential harm. Dogs can sense the intentions of a person through their facial expressions. That’s exactly why dogs howl at some people who try to get near you or your house.

  • Your dog wants to rejoin you

Dogs are still very social animals; it’s just that now we are their pack. When they miss us, they will howl in hopes we respond. Dr. James Serpell, BSc, Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, explains it this way: That [howling] is an attempt on the part of the dog to ask the owner, ‘Where are you so that I can rejoin you?’

Are certain breeds more likely to howl?

Dr. James Serpell doesn’t believe so. “My own research has shown that it is common across breeds. People think huskies may be more prone to group howling.”

How to handle excessive dog howling?

Dogs going through separation anxiety may howl excessively when left home alone. Dr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager for Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, says, “If you reinforce quiet behavior, they are less likely to continue howling.” You can do this by quieting your dog and then leaving for a very brief time before returning and rewarding them when they stay quiet. Gradually increase the time you’re gone to reassure them you’ll always be back.

But what if your pawsome pet is howling due to other reasons? Let’s understand how to handle such situations:

  • Avoid reacting: As a pet parent, you must avoid reacting to the howling. This could encourage your dog to howl even more. If you avoid reacting, your dog will understand that howling won’t get their demands met. This might possibly work towards reducing this behaviour in the future.
  • Offer positive reinforcement: Pamper your little companion when they do not howl on hearing a siren or bell. Give them attention and love when they are calm to encourage quiet behaviour. Always keep your pet’s favourite treats ready so you can let them know they have been a good boy or good girl by not howling.
  • Get professional training: If your pooch often reacts to high-pitched sounds, you can even get in touch with a dog trainer. They can work with your dog to change their response to triggering sounds like sirens and fireworks.

Note: Training your fur baby is a time-consuming process. Hence, stay consistent with the actions recommended above and your pet will learn to control their howling triggers

FAQs on What Does It Mean When A Dog Howls

  1. What does a howling dog mean?
  2. To understand what a howling dog means to communicate, you need to first read the situation. When dogs howl, it could mean anything–a response to high-pitched sounds, an attempt to attract attention, a suspicion towards someone, etc.

  3. Is it good to let a dog howl?
  4. Yes. Since dogs are genetically programmed to howl, it is okay to leave them alone when they do that. However, if it bothers your neighbours, you might want to learn to handle your fur baby or get professional help.

  5. Are dogs sad when they howl?
  6. While howling sounds like a long cry, it doesn’t always mean that they are sad.

  7. How to stop the dog from howling?
  8. To stop your dog’s howling, you can reward their calm and quiet behaviour. If they are howling for attention, avoid reacting to it. If you need more help, you may want to reach out to a dog trainer.

Why Do Dogs Howl?
Why Do Dogs Howl?
Why Do Dogs Howl?
  • Your Senior Dog’s Special Nutritional Needs
    Your Senior Dog’s Special Nutritional Needs

    Your Senior Dog’s Special Nutritional Needs

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    One of the most important things you can do is to feed your senior dog a diet formulated for his age featuring nutritional breakthroughs developed by the geriatric research team at The IAMS™ Company. As the years take their toll, a complete, well-balanced diet can help older dogs maintain health and ideal body weight, maximize their ability to stay healthy, and promote and maintain muscle tone and digestive health.



    How Old Is Old?

    To call a dog 'old,' one mustn't consider chronological age, but rather physiological condition. Aging begins when the body's systems start to slow down when cells deteriorate faster than the body can repair them. Though the process is different for every animal (large and giant breeds tend to age faster than smaller breeds), dogs are generally considered seniors beginning at around 7 years (5 years for large and giant breeds). If you feed your dog a diet designed to address the nutritional needs of his age, you can best maintain your dog's overall health and well-being. As your dog ages, detecting and addressing signs of wear and tear or disease early might help your dog adjust more readily to his condition.

    How your dog ages has much to do with genetics and environment, but nutrition plays an equally important role. The quality of the food and its ability to maintain and nourish your dog's cells can slow or delay the effects of aging and help promote a long, healthy life. As your dog ages and his systems become less efficient, he relies increasingly on the food you provide to make up for his body's shortfalls. According to Michael Hayek, PhD, a research nutritionist at The IAMS Company who specializes in geriatric nutrition, 'Aging dogs need the same nutrients as younger dogs; however, the quantity or the way the nutrients are provided may change.'

    Dr. Hayek advises not waiting until you see signs of aging in your dog to consider the proper diet. Feeding a high-quality, premium diet throughout your dog's life is the best way to help him age gracefully. When your dog reaches the golden years, choose IAMS for nutrition suited to this stage of life. 'Good nutrition starts early,' says Dr. Hayek. 'It should be viewed as proactive health care because it may be a deterrent to aging later on.'

    If your dog already exhibits signs of aging, look for a high-quality, balanced maintenance food that caters to his changing metabolism. When you're shopping for a formula that's right for your older dog, look for and compare these important features:

    High-quality animal protein. Just like us, as dogs grow older, they naturally tend to lose lean body mass (muscle). High-quality protein becomes increasingly significant by providing the essential amino acids your dog needs to minimize the loss of lean body tissue. By nature, dogs are carnivores, and they do best on high-quality, animal-based proteins from sources such as chicken or lamb. Some people believe that aging dogs should be fed less protein to prevent or minimize kidney disease. However, the evidence is just not there. Reduced protein has a significant effect only after a certain level of renal dysfunction occurs. Signs of renal dysfunction include an increase in water consumption and increased urination. If you're concerned about your dog's renal health, your veterinarian can run tests to assess the level of renal function and recommend appropriate treatments if they are needed.

    'If your dog is generally in a state of good health,' explains Dr. Hayek, 'protein should not be restricted. Rather, it should be available for building those all-important muscle reserves.' Some studies have shown that a diet of high-quality protein might actually help improve kidney function, and no research has indicated that low-protein diets slow the progression of renal damage in dogs.

    Lower fat. Less-active, older dogs need fewer calories. Look for a food that's low in fat compared to our other adult formulas, but don't eliminate fat completely or feed a food that doesn't have enough fat. Pick a formula with at least 10% fat. Older dogs still need essential fatty acids. The inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids helps a senior dog maintain a proper fatty-acid balance as the body's fatty-acid synthesis naturally decreases.

    Moderately fermentable fiber. The goal of fiber is to help maintain optimal intestinal health. 'You want to aim for consistent stools,' explains Dr. Hayek. The goal is to promote digestibility and the ability to process food and absorb nutrients. At the same time, fiber levels should promote and maintain a healthy intestinal tract, which often can be problematic for older dogs. A fiber level of no more than 5% is appropriate for seniors to maintain an optimal intestinal environment for a healthy gut, which helps result in excellent nutrient absorption and small, firm stools. IAMS includes dried beet pulp, a patented fiber source, in all of its foods to make elimination easier and regular. According to Dr. Hayek, if you've been feeding your dog properly all along, fiber requirements shouldn't change.

    Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are a unique fiber source. FOS is a moderately fermentable fiber which can help maintain a healthy intestinal environment.

    Antioxidants. These help maintain balance within the body by ridding it of harmful compounds called free radicals, which increase as a dog ages. Antioxidants fend off free radicals and help protect cell membranes and DNA. To maintain your older dog's immune-system response, feed a formula with important antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E and beta-carotene.

    Vitamins and minerals. A high-quality, nutritionally balanced dog food should include all of the essential nutrients in the proper proportions. Some say that vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary as a dog's systems age. The fact is that, unless your veterinarian specifically identifies a deficiency, vitamin and mineral supplements are unnecessary and, in some cases, might do more harm than good by creating an unhealthy imbalance.



    The Golden Years

    Balanced feeding is vital as a dog ages, but it's just as essential throughout his life. The longer and more consistently you feed him a healthy diet for his life stage, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Senior Plus, the greater his chances of living a long, healthy life. As your dog reaches the senior years for his breed or size, remember these tips:

    • Minimize stress and change. Avoid big moves or changes in your dog's schedule. If you must disturb a routine, give him some added attention to ease the adjustment.
    • Provide regular exercise. Two 15-minute walks each day will help maintain muscle tone, enhance circulation, promote digestion, and prevent weight gain.
    • Feed smaller, more frequent meals. Instead of one large portion a day, try two or three smaller meals, which will also help increase your dog's metabolism, burn calories, and provide all of the needed nourishment.
    • Schedule routine veterinary checkups and immunizations. Regular dental care and thorough physicals will help you identify subtle changes in your dog's health. At home, take a few minutes each month to closely examine your dog for odd-shaped bumps or lumps. If you discover something unusual on the body, and it seems to be growing rapidly, call your veterinarian. Early detection and preventive treatment can go a long way toward extending life expectancy.
    • Buy palatable, high-quality premium pet food. As your dog ages, he might become less interested in eating. Offer palatable, nutrient-dense food to encourage productive, efficient digestion and to maintain essential bodily functions.

    Finally, Dr. Hayek points out that there's still much to learn about canine geriatric nutrition. For now, realize that every animal ages at a different rate and in different ways. Monitor your dog and especially watch for changes after 7 years of age (5 years for large and giant breeds). With the help of your veterinarian and responsible pet food manufacturers, your pet can live to a comfortable, healthy old age.