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
- What does a howling dog mean?
- Is it good to let a dog howl?
- Are dogs sad when they howl?
- How to stop the dog from howling?
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.
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.
While howling sounds like a long cry, it doesn’t always mean that they are sad.
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.
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- adp_description_block125Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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