It often seems that the howling is infectious - if a dog starts to howl, its peers join in the "concert". Sometimes dogs also "sing" when they hear a siren howling. Where does this behavior come from and what does it mean?
Why do dogs howl? When the wolf genes break through
As is well known, the dog descends from the wolf. He has got used to living with people wonderfully and feels comfortable in human society. Even so, dogs have retained some behaviors that they have inherited from their wild relatives. This includes in particular the spoken language, i.e. barking, whimpering, growling - and howling. The situations in which dogs howl are still similar to the contexts that make wolves howl. For example, they want to strengthen cohesion in the pack, warn other pack members of possible dangers, or call in other members of the species.
By the way: Some dog breeds are a little more "singing-happy" than others. These include, for example:
● Alaskan Malamute
● Alaskan and Siberian Husky
● American and English Foxhounds
● Basset hounds
"This is our territory": dogs howl to protect their territory
If your dog cries as soon as he sees a strange dog or an intruder out of the window, it is probably territorial behavior. Your four-legged friend wants to tell the stranger that this is his territory and the other has no business there.
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Singing together strengthens cohesion in dogs
If you have several dogs in the house, it may well be that they join a howling concert to chase away intruders. This social howl not only serves to demarcate one's own territory, but also strengthens cohesion within the pack. Whoever cries with the wolves - more precisely: the dogs - is one of them. After all, we humans feel particularly connected when we sing together - that's no different with the four-legged friends.
Dogs, who are sick with love, howl to common dogs
Do you have a male who has been crying his soul lately? He may have sniffed a bitch in heat at the end of the street and is now consuming himself with longing. With his singing he hopes to call the lady of his heart to himself. He behaves, so to speak, like a bard who, armed with a guitar, serenades his beloved.
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Why dogs cry with sirens
There is also a musical reason for dogs howling with sirens. Many dog owners then worry that the loud noise hurts their animals' ears. The opposite is the case, however, because the four-legged friends do not find the howling of the sirens uncomfortable. The frequencies of the sounds are so similar to the natural howling of dogs that the fur noses feel stimulated to "sing along". This phenomenon is called "contact howl".
Some dogs are so artistically gifted that they also cry with music, especially with classical music. But trumpet, violin and harmonica sounds also invite dogs to join in. Sometimes dogs also perceive sounds in the ultrasound range that are not accessible to humans, which then make the animals howl - but in a positive sense.
Loneliness and separation anxiety as a reason for howling dogs
As I said, dogs and wolves howl, among other things, when they want to summon their peers and pack members. For the dog, his caregiver is also part of his pack. If she isn't there, he may cry to call her back. Come to your dog every time he calls for you, he gets used to it. So his behavior can intensify over time so that he cries even though nothing is going on.
In extreme cases, however, excessive howling can be a symptom of separation anxiety. This can have various causes, but can be aggravated by incorrect behavior by the caregiver. If you suspect that your dog has a terrible fear of being alone, be sure to take him to a dog trainer who is well versed in animal psychology.
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When dogs cry all the time: are they sick?
If your dog is normally of the silent type, sudden, excessive howling can be a symptom of the disease. He may have pain or other health problems. If you are unsure whether your four-legged friend is well, see your veterinarian as a precaution.