Why Do Dogs Howl When You Howl?

Dogs howl. Sometimes, they howl at the moon, sometimes it’s the twilight bark (101 Dalmatians, anyone?), and sometimes, they howl when you howl.

Why, though?

Is it because they’re descended from wolves?

Maybe your little Bruiser yearns back to the days when his ancestors ran wild in the hills. So, while he’s stuck being a tiny handbag dog, the best he can do is howl as though his life depended on it.

Then, you have to wonder, is it safe?

Is it mean to make them howl?

I mean, it looks like they enjoy it, but do they really? Well, we trawled the internet on this subject, so you don’t have to.

Pack Bonding

Dogs are pack animals, and most often, they view their human family as part of the pack.

In the wild, wolves and other species of packs have certain rituals that signal that you’re part of the pack.

So, if you howl at your dog, he might howl back to signify that you’re part of his pack.

Awww! As they say, “imitation is the greatest form of compliment,” so I guess he’s complimenting you on your attempt to bond with him.

Or, he sees himself as ranking higher than you in the pack, and he’s indulging your urges, kind of like parents do with young kids. Right.

Descent from Wolves

When you go way back in history, you’ll find that dogs are descended from domesticated wolves.

I wonder how the first wolves were domesticated?

Like, which human said, “Hey, that ferocious predator is kind of cute, and I want to pet him”? I digress. 

In the wild, wolves howl to indicate their position to other wolves since they’re territorial animals.

So, when a dog hears high-pitched noises, he’s genetically predisposed to howl in response, signaling to the other (real or imaginary) wolves that they’re not the only ones around.

These noises include sirens, doorbells, violins, and your howling

For Treats

Dogs are brilliant (most of them, anyway), and they’ll quickly figure out which behavior gets them treats and which doesn’t.

So, if you give your Rover treats when he howls, he’ll quickly catch on and start doing it for the reward. Can you blame him

Empathy

Most dogs are finely tuned to their human parents’ emotions.

When you’re excited, they’ll show excitement, bouncing around and getting all giddy.

The same goes for when you’re stressed, sad, anxious, or any other point on the emotional spectrum.

So, if you display emotions or behavior that’s a bit weird to your dog when you’re trying to get him to howl, he’ll probably howl in response.

He might actually be a bit freaked out.

You know, like, he thinks you’re saying, “oh man!

This is so weird, and I don’t know what’s going on!” Then, he shouts back, “buddy, you’re freaking me out, and this is weird!

Oh my goodness, please stop already!” Or maybe not.

Who can read minds, right?

Boredom

Like a toddler on a plane kicking the seat in front of them, dogs will find ways to deal with boredom, and they’re not always constructive.

They might chew on your garden furniture or shoes, dig an enormous hole under the veranda, or howl. If you find that your dog howls from boredom, you might want to offer him some more stimulating toys and activities.

You know, get his mind going to bust the boredom.

Intelligent fog breed, like Collies and Jack Russels, thrives on games that engage their minds and bodies, getting the mental juices flowing while getting all the energy out.

He’s Trying to Tell You Something

Your dog might be one of those that howl when you howl, but not always. He might howl at other times, too.

So, pay attention to when he howls and try to spot a pattern. It might be that it’s his way of telling you that he needs something.

You know, like signaling mealtime, or that it’s time to go for a walk, or that he needs to go potty. Poor guy doesn’t have human words to tell you these things, so he must get creative to get the message across.

If you spot a pattern in Bruiser’s howling, you’ll be better able to understand and meet his needs, making life so much easier for both of you.

Is it Cruel to Make Your Dog Howl?

Some dogs like howling and others don’t.

Since they don’t have words to let you know what they’re feeling, your best bet is to check out Rover’s body language.

If he’s relaxed when he’s howling, he’s probably having a good time and just bonding with you. That’s fun for both of you, and you can encourage that.

Suppose your pup shows signs of agitation or anxiety when he’s howling. In that case, he’s probably doing it out of a negative response.

He might be feeling anxious, afraid, or uncertain. In this case, it’s best not to encourage the howling.

Instead, reassure him that everything’s fine by petting him, talking to him in calm, low tones, and generally being calm too.

Additionally, look out for patterns since these could help you figure out what’s making him anxious.

You can’t fix something if you don’t know about it.

What Do I Do When My Dog Howls?

So, now that you know why dogs howl, what should you do about it?

That depends on the situation and the reason for his howling.

If your dog is howling to bond with you because he likes it, or any other positive reasons, you can let him howl.

Unless it bothers you or the neighbors, of course. 

If you don’t want your dog to howl, or if it’s howling due to anxiety or any other negative reason, it’s best not to encourage the howling.

The best plan here is to reward him when he doesn’t howl.

This could be hard because you’re rewarding non-action instead of action but press through, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Which Breeds of Dogs Can’t or Won’t Howl?

Some dog breeds are way more likely to howl than others, like Huskies and German Shepherds. Hound breeds also tend to howl a lot.

Most dog breeds never howl, or they’re highly unlikely to do so.

There’s one dog that doesn’t even bark: the Basenji.

This pup’s name literally translates to “barkless dog.” That doesn’t mean it’s absolutely quiet, though – it makes a low-level noise that sounds a bit like yodeling.

French Bulldogs also hardly ever bark, and they’re super unlikely to howl. They’re notorious couch potatoes too, so they’re particularly well-suited to apartment living.

Other quiet breeds include the Bulldog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Whippet, Shih Tzu, Shiba Inu, Scottish Deer Hound, and Doberman Pinschers.

Closing Thoughts

While most dogs aren’t prone to howl, some breeds, specifically the hounds, love it.

That said, you could probably get your dog to howl with you, unless it’s a Basenji, since they’re physically incapable of howling.

Dogs that howl with their owners do so for various reasons, mainly because they love bonding with their human parents and thoroughly enjoy a good howl. 

Some dogs don’t like howling and do it when they’re anxious. Suppose you spot this type of behavior in your pet.

In that case, it’s probably best to discourage the howling, reassure your pet with lots of love and attention, and figure out what’s causing the anxiety.

If you don’t mind the noise and your pup’s happily howling along, there’s no need to discourage it.

If, however, you (or your neighbors) prefer a quieter situation, you can discourage the howling or opt for a dog of a quieter breed.