Why Do Dogs Howl at Night? The Surprising Truth!

Have you ever wondered why do dogs howl at night? It is an unusual and harrowing sound, especially when it comes out of nowhere or you hear the sound for the first time coming from your pet dog.

So, if you are wondering – why do dogs howl at night? Please keep reading to find out about all the potential reasons so that you can work out why your dog howls at night and hopefully stop them from doing so.

  • Do dogs howl because they are related to wolves?
  • Do dogs howl because they are sad or lonely?
  • Do dogs howl because they are communicating?
  • Does a dog howl when they are not well?
  • Do dogs howl to seek attention?
  • Should you allow or leave a dog to howl?
  • How to stop a dog from howling at night

Do Dogs Howl Because They Are Related To Wolves?

A familiar image that may come to mind is of a wolf howling at the moon. But have you ever wondered if dogs also howl at night because of their ancestral link to wild wolves? You might not be far off the mark. Wolves, like dogs, are social animals that like to live in packs.

wolf howling

Wolves Howl to Communicate

Howling is their way of communicating, not only with members of their pack to locate but to alert them to something.

Also, to let other packs of wolves or a lone wolf in the area know that they are there in an attempt to warn them of their territory and avoid dangerous and stressful confrontations.

The association of wolves and dogs howling at the moon, however, is mainly related to superstition.

How To Stop A Dog From Howling At Night

If you have a night-howler and you want to stop your dog from doing it, the first thing you need to work out is what is causing your dog to howl in the first place.

  • Is it a behavioral problem like attention-seeking? 
  • Is it linked to a health problem like pain? 
  • Or is it an emotional issue like separation anxiety?

Once you know why your dog is howling, you will target the problem more effectively. Problem howling is usually associated with excessive howling.

This means that if your dog howls because a specific noise triggers them, and then they stop howling shortly afterward, the behavior isn't considered problematic or excessive.

However, if you feel like this is a problem for you and your dog, you may wish to consider desensitization techniques and counterconditioning training.

Do Dogs Howl Because They Are Sad Or Lonely?

Another common association is that when dogs howl, it is as if they are crying or upset. Some young puppies are likely to bark or howl when left alone.

Howling is a survival technique that puppies use to ensure they will not be abandoned in the den when the mother goes hunting for food.

If you have brought home a new puppy, they may howl on the first few nights when left alone to sleep, and this may well be because they are scared and lonely after being used to having the warmth, safety, and comfort of their mother and littermates. 

Older dogs can also revert to howling when left behind in the house for extended periods.

Separation Anxiety Dogs

Howling could be due to separation anxiety, and the howling is their way of calling out to let you know where they are so that you can find them again, like when they were puppies waiting in the den for mum to return.

why dogs howl at night

Why Does my Dog Howl at Night?

  • Howling is a way of communication with other dogs
  • External noise stimulation
  • Separation Anxiety or Loneliness
  • Pain, injury, or illness
  • Attention seeking

Do Dogs Howl Because They Are Communicating?

If your dog has been howling at night, one of the reasons could be that they can hear a howling dog in the neighborhood and respond by using howling as a form of communication in the same way that a wolf would in the wild.

You may have experienced this when one dog's howling sets off all the other dogs on the street. In addition, howling is an exceptionally infectious behavior. 

If you play a recording of another dog howling, your dog will probably join in the harrowing chorus. It may even seem like they are doing it without any control over their behavior, almost as if it is a compulsion, and the natural wild instinct to return the howl is too strong to resist.

Music and Howling dogs

Some dogs may even howl in the same compulsive manner to certain types of music that contain a similar pitch, which triggers the howling response. Certain types of dogs are more prone to howling than others.

For example, hunting dogs howl to communicate to other dogs in the pack that they have found something, like food. In a hunting context, the dogs howl or bark at their dog owners when they have discovered the prey they were hunting.

Does A Dog Howl When They Are Not Well?

Sometimes a dog howls when it is ill or in pain. Unlike humans, dogs cannot talk or cry when they are injured. Therefore, howling can be seen as the canine form of crying. The howling is essentially a sign of discomfort or pain.

dog howling in park

Is Your Dog in Pain?

If your dog is howling, you should very carefully examine them for external injuries, but be cautious when doing so as a dog can behave unpredictably when in pain.

If you cannot find any external injury, you shouldn't assume that the dog is not injured, as an internal injury may cause the pain. Instead, it would be best if you took your dog to the vet to be examined thoroughly. Before you assume that your dog's howling is pain-related, wait and see if the howling continues. 

If it stops after a short time and doesn't start up again, it was probably related to something else entirely, and a vet visit may not be necessary after all. You can call the vet helpline for advice before booking an appointment or taking your dog into the clinic if in doubt.

External noise stimulation cause dog howling.

Sounds like emergency sirens, emergency vehicle sirens, musical instruments, or other high-pitched sounds can induce your canine to howl. As long as it responds to external noise stimulus, why do dogs howl at night?

It is believed that the reason why dogs howl is due to their strong sense of hearing. The sound would trigger their brain to send a signal for them to produce a vocal response, and thus they will start howling. 

Since the dog belongs in the canine family, why do dogs howl at night? It is prevalent for their homeowners to be awakened by the midnight howling of the dog. It has become a typical issue that many pet parents face, and there is nothing we can do.

Why do dogs howl in their sleep?

The howling usually occurs during the first two hours of sleep and often happens after midnight. The specific reasons for why dogs howl in their sleep are not fully understood. Many dogs dream while they sleep.

Why dogs howl in this night is not a question with an answer that can be generalized across all dogs. Why dogs howl at night depends on the individual animal's physiological needs, mood, or environment.

Does Dogs Howl To Seek Attention?

Dogs are brilliant, and unfortunately, this often means that they can very quickly pick up and learn bad habits that they will use to control their owners and get what they want.

Puppies are a prime example of this manipulation, using their cries to lure sympathetic humans into giving them attention, treats, company and playtime. 

If your puppy learns that howling results in your presence and then leads to great things like cuddles, then they are going to repeat the dog behavior over and over again.

Does Ignoring Your Dog Help with Howling

Each time you respond to them, you will be reinforcing the behavior convincing the pup that howling is the best way to get anything they want from you.

It will get to the point where even negative attention will be taken as a reward, such as reprimanding and punishments, because the howling still results in what the pup wants, which is your attention. 

This problem can carry on into adulthood, meaning that you could end up with an adult dog that howls for attention, and there is nothing you can do about it unless you have the nerves of steel it takes to train the behavior out of your dog.

Should You Allow Or Leave A Dog To Howl?

Whether or not you should leave a dog to howl depends on the context. If you have a brand new puppy howling on its first night staying in your house, then a little empathy for their situation can go a long way.

Some dog owners would say the best thing is to leave the puppy to howl to teach it that howling doesn't result in immediate comfort, whereas others would allow for a bit of comfort on the first few nights until the puppy feels more settled secure.

Train Your Puppy to Not Howl

Suppose you have had a puppy for a while, and the howling at night is becoming a habit because they have learned that it is a great way to call their new owners to the bedside.

In that case, ignoring the behavior may help, to a certain extent, as long as you ensure that the puppy isn't howling for a legitimate reason, like needing to be let out to pee.

 Ignoring attention-seeking howling must be supported with adequate training during the day, though, to ensure that the puppy gets used to spending time by themselves.

puppy howling

Comfort Your Puppy

If you spend the whole day attached to your puppy and then expect them to accept being left alone throughout the night, it's not very fair or realistic. Your dog may also be howling due to separation anxiety. If this is the case, this needs to fix quickly. It can be very distressing for a dog.

It can also lead to many other behavioral issues, such as being destructive or eliminating in the house and chewing and biting furniture, objects, or parts of their own body. Anxiety is always something that needs to be resolved and never ignored. Unfortunately, it won't just go away. Instead, it is more likely to get worse.

What should I do about excessive howling?

Excessive howling may be due to separation anxiety in dogs. Although excessive howling can also signify other things, it is wise to rule out separation anxiety before looking at other causes.

Here are some tips on helping your dog with excessive howling:

  • Your dog should not go outside alone while you're gone during the day (or night).
  • Your dog should be taken on a long walk before bed.
  • Teach your dog an alternative behavior to excessive howlings, such as lying down and looking at you. Reward with treats or praise when the dog stops howling. Afterward, you may want to reward with your attention calmly (sit and pet your dog).

Attention Seeking Behavior

This will help your dog resist the temptation to make noise and remain quiet instead by changing the dog's feeling towards the sound they previously responded to.

If the howling is attention-seeking behavior, your focus should be on ignoring the undesirable behavior (and not using punishment) and instead lavishing positive reinforcement like praise, affection, and food or toy rewards for desirable behavior, like calmness and non-reactivity. 

For example, suppose your dog howls because they are lonely. In that case, your solution may be as simple as spending more quality time with them, ensuring that they provide plenty of physical exercises and mental stimulation. Then, when they are left alone, they will be happy to settle down and rest.

Summary

A dog howling can be fascinating, but it can also be incredibly annoying, not only for you but also for your neighbors. So getting to the root of your dog's behavior is essential. It is also vital for your dog's well-being.

Hopefully, you now have enough information to help you get started in working out why your dog howls at night so that you can sort it out and get a better night's sleep. Reason dogs howling may result from behavioral problems, underlying problems with being alone, or just a function of pack animals. 

For example, dog howling at night is hard on families in condos because they live so close together. A stray dog or rescue dog may howl because they miss being a pack member.

(Last Updated On: August 30, 2021)
Liz
 

I'm a self-employed blogger, life-long pet parent, and lover of dogs and somehow manage to have time to pursue another of my passions - writing. I’m the primary contributor and editor of PUPPY FAQS. I love to write about nutrition, health, and care of puppies. In my spare time, I volunteer at my local dog shelter. If you have a question that needs answering, please leave a comment below, and I will do my best to explain it.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: