Why do Dogs Howl? How to Stop Excessive Howling.

Does your dog let out a big howl whenever a fire truck or ambulance passes? What about when you play a certain song on the radio? (Like this adorable pittie singing Tennessee Whiskey)

No matter what age, attitude, or breed your dog is, they all have the ability to howl.

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of Hounds and Huskies let out a big “awooooo” just for fun. Sometimes it even sounds like they’re having conversations with each other. So why do dogs howl anyway?

Believe it or not, all dogs are the ancestors of wolves. That’s right. Even the little ones like Yorkies and Chihuahuas!

Because of this, howling is a part of their ancestral DNA.

Before dogs were domesticated, wolves would howl to communicate with each other.

But did you know there are different reasons for howling? Let’s look at 7 different reasons why your dog is howling. 

Reasons for Dog Howling

dogs howl to attract attention

To Attract Attention

Some dogs like to howl to get attention from their owners and other people.

This is especially common when dogs aren’t exercised enough and have too much excess energy.

Think of it like they’re screaming, “MOM I’M BORED!”

If this is the case, I found the secret way to tire out your dog that doesn’t involve becoming a marathon runner. And doesn’t take hours at the dog park!

In addition, many dogs howl when they are learning to spend time in their crate during potty and crate training.

I remember when Archie was a puppy he would howl constantly until we let him out of the crate.

In retrospect that was a big mistake on our part. Because everytime we tried to ignore the howling after that, he would howl even longer than the first time.

If we stuck it out and just let him howl it out as a puppy, we wouldn’t have to retrain him in the crate now. 

Response to High Pitch Sounds

Many dogs start howling when they hear high pitch noises like sirens, music, or other dogs.

The reason behind this is actually sort of adorable.

Howling lets others know that your dog hears the sound, and lets them know that he’s ready to respond and are waiting for other communications. Plus, it’s just loads of  fun for them! 

Separation Anxiety

Some dogs, like my dog Cali, have extreme separation anxiety.

You’ll be able to tell if your dog howls when they’re anxious because they will start screaming and howling shortly after you leave the house.

Adding onto that, if your neighbors are complaining about your dog’s noise when you’re out, your dog is almost guaranteed to have separation anxiety.

Luckily, I’ve found 5 easy ways that helped Cali with her separation anxiety. Hopefully they work just as well for you!

dogs howl because of medical issues

Medical Issues

This reason is not as common, but is something to definitely look into if your dog usually isn’t a howler.

Some dogs howl when they have a medical issue or they’re in physical pain.

Make sure to check for any external signs like limping or bleeding first.

If they’re still howling after a few days, you should schedule a visit with your vet to make sure everything is ok. 

They’re Proud They Found Something

Another adorable reason that dogs howl is that hunting breeds (even when not trained for hunting) often howl when they find something they think is important.

In reality, this may be something like a dead bird or squirrel that your dog thinks they hunted down for you.

When I was little I had a labrador that would catch birds at the lake, rip their heads off, and bring them to my front porch. Then howl like she found buried treasure with her tail wagging.

We thought it was the grossest thing on the planet, but she just thought she brought home dinner for the family. 

dogs howl to show their location

To Let You Know Their Location

Popular with many farming and hunting breeds, some dogs howl to let you know where they are.

In addition, some dogs howl before going into an unfamiliar area to let others know that they’re coming.

The reason behind this is to let other dogs and animals know that there will be a new dog in the area soon, so they should leave if they’re scared. 

As A Warning

Lastly, if your dog tends to howl at specific things like people banging on your front door, they’re usually howling as a warning.

This lets the “intruders” know that there is a beast inside waiting and ready to eat you if you cross into their territory.

My red nose Archie has a tendency to howl at screaming children. When he was a young puppy he got whacked in the head by an obnoxious screaming little boy. So now he’s afraid.

Now when children yell at him, he perceives this as a threat because he thinks they’re going to hurt him, so he howls to scare them off.

Howling as a warning could be good or bad for you depending on the situation. But I do know that I feel much safer when strangers walk up to my house. Archie’s deep howl prevents any stranger from staying too long. 


As we’ve now learned, dogs howl for many different reasons.

If you listen closely enough, you can even begin to learn the different tones of your dogs howl and will be able to tell why they’re doing it.

If your dog is an excessive howler, I recommend checking out my article on how to get a dog to stop barking

Does your dog howl? What kind of dog do you have and what do they howl at? Let me know in the comments!

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