You may hear dogs howl when you howl and wonder why they channel their inner wolf. While we don’t understand it, howling is a dog’s way of communicating outside of barking and shrieking. There are several weird reasons why your dog may howl with you. So let’s explore!
The reasons why your dog howls when you howl
1. Instinctual Behavior
Your dog’s howling instincts date back to its wild ancestry. Howling is common in wolves, and they howl to communicate a variety of information from their location to potential prey or rival wolf packs.
This instinctual behavior lingers on in dogs that we know today. When you howl, you trigger an instinct in your dog to howl alongside its pack.
2. Seeking Your Attention
Sometimes dogs howl when you howl because they need your attention. And they may also need something else at the same time. For example, they may howl because they’re bored or hungry.
3. Bonding with Owners
Feeling the need to howl is one thing, but howling when you howl usually indicates that your dog wants to bond with you. And it’s your dog’s way of telling everyone else that you two stick together.
Making synchronized, rhythmic noises like howling can reinforce social bonds.
4. Mirroring Owners
Some dogs may howl when owners howl simply as a way of mirroring. Mirroring is a common behavior between humans and dogs.
When you start howling, your loving dog may copy your behavior by howling. Experts believe that personality and action mirroring are ways of endearing one another.
5. Loud and Vocal Dogs
If your dog is loud and vocal, it will howl with you and other people. Their howling instinct is impossible to deny, control, or stop.
Some owners find howling funny, but excessive howling can be troublesome for neighbors. And it may also drive owners crazy sometimes.
Your dog may be one of the dog breeds known to howl more than the others. They also howl for leisure purposes. These dog breeds include:
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Redbone Coonhound
- American English Coonhound
If you have one of these, you may need to buy yourself some earplugs.
6. Owners Reinforce Howling
Your dog howls when you howl because you reinforce it. If you howl along with your dog when it’s howling, you encourage the behavior. You can also reinforce howling by laughing when your dog howls at you. When you pay attention to your dog, you reinforce the behavior that immediately preceded your attention. If your dog gets your attention by howling, it considers howling a good thing.
7. Communicating with Owners
Howling is one of a few specific vocalizations that dogs can make besides barking and growling. When you start to howl, you’re using a communication tool familiar to dogs. So it shouldn’t surprise you that your dog attempts to communicate by howling back.
Also, your dog may believe you’re trying to communicate with someone far away and try to help you send the message.
8. Reacting To High-Pitched Sound
Many domestic dogs are reactive to high-pitched sounds. If your dog howls when you howl, it may be reacting to the noise.
Dogs are very sensitive to high-pitched noises, which is why many dogs howl when police cars or ambulances drive by. The blaring sirens or squeaking vehicles encourage dogs to howl.
Dogs also howl if sounds are constantly bombarding them. Plus, you probably discourage barking and other vocalizations most of the time.
Dogs aren’t always making some complex, wolf-like communication when they join owners in a howl. They may just be reacting to loud or high-pitched noises.
9. They Think You Enjoy It
Your dog may think you enjoy howling and want to join you in the fun. And since dogs like it when you’re happy, they’ll howl to bond with you and meet your expectations.
10. They’re Anxious
Most dogs howl out of good-natured fun, but some dogs can become anxious if you start howling. Your dog may think howling is a sign of distress or a warning. It may start howling with you thinking you’re both in danger and need help.
11. Howling in Anticipation
If you howl before or while you’re doing activities with your dog, like before taking your dog out for a walk, it may get excited and howl in anticipation.
Dogs are creatures of habit and will learn that howling along with you is a predictor of things to come.
12. Just For Fun
Howling can also be a fun thing to do. It gets dogs’ hearts pumping
Howling gets dogs’ hearts pumping. It’s loud too, which they aren’t often allowed to be. Plus, it’s fun because you and your dog are howling together. Anything as fun and free-spirited as howling with your dog
Tips to Prevent Your Dog from Howling When You Howl
1. Ignore Your Dog’s Howling
To avoid accidentally praising your dog’s howling, totally ignore it as soon as it starts making noise. Don’t try to scold your dog. And that’s because dogs find any attention rewarding—even if it’s negative attention. So scolding your dog might make its howling behavior worse! Just pretend your dog isn’t there. If you find it difficult to pretend your dog is invisible, try turning away completely and folding your arms across your chest.
2. Reward Your Dog For being Quiet
It’s easy to forget to praise your dog when it’s being quiet. Often, owners only pay attention to dogs when they’re doing something wrong. If you want your dog to stop howling for attention, you’ll need to praise and reward quiet behavior. Randomly give your dog attention and treats when it isn’t howling. You should also make a new rule: Your dog doesn’t get anything it wants until it’s been quiet for at least five seconds. If your dog howls to grab your attention, ignore it. Then, after a few seconds of silence, you can pay attention to it again.
You can also teach your dog to be quiet whenever asked. First, say “Speak!” and get your dog to howl or bark. Praise your dog when it starts making noise, but don’t offer a treat or toy. Then say “Quiet “or “Hush” The moment your dog stops howling for a second or two, quickly say “Good!” and give it a tasty treat. Repeat this sequence until your dog learns to stay quiet on your command.
3. Spend Time with Your Dog
Some dogs start howling because they’re lonely, especially if they’re kept outside for many hours. Dogs are very social animals and need regular interaction with their human parents. If your dog often howls when left alone, you may need to spend quality time together. Bring your dog inside more often, play games, and take long walks. Take your dog to a fun training class. When you must leave your dog alone for more than a few minutes, give it plenty of toys and attractive chew items to enjoy.
4. Find Help
Because howling issues can be challenging, don’t hesitate to get the help of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). Many professionals offer group or private classes to help you control your dog’s attention-seeking howling.