Getting your dog to respond to you is fun and exciting, especially when it comes to howling. Many dog owners have routines with their dogs or have heard their dogs howl at passing sirens or other high-pitched noises. But why does it happen? Especially when you do it back, why do dogs howl when you howl?
Dogs howl when you howl as a form of communication. Dogs perceive it as your effort to tell them something. Howling can upset more stress-prone dogs, who perceive higher-pitched noises as imminent danger.
This article breaks down the meaning of howls, if and when it’s okay to howl with or at your dog, and what your dog might be trying to tell you in your howl conversation.
What Does Dog Howling Mean
Howling is a trait passed down to our domesticated dogs from their wolf ancestors. As pack animals, wolves howl to announce their presence to their pack, ward off enemies, signal that they’re in need, and make contact with fellow wolves.
Wolves would wander and get separated in the vast wilderness, and their hearing became extremely sensitive as a means of survival.
Even though they spend their time at home lounging, domesticated dogs still have a wolf’s understanding and ability to hear complex sounds.
We’ve all heard of “sounds only dogs can hear.” This is a phenomenon that exists. Sound frequencies are measured in Hertz, and the higher the frequency, the higher the pitch.
While the average human can’t hear sounds above 20,000 Hertz (Hz), a dog’s threshold is 47,000-65,000 Hz. Dogs can also hear much softer noises than humans can, which is also a trait our dogs inherited from wolves, who would prey on mice and other rodents and needed to hear their squeaks for survival.
At its core, howling means a dog is trying to communicate. Communication can be for many reasons. Dogs often howl on their own for attention, out of loneliness, or to get something they want like food or a trip outside.
It’s hard to know exactly what a dog is trying to tell us through their howling, and in particular when they howl along with us. But we know they are doing it to tell us something. When they hear a high-pitched sound in return, they interpret it as an answer to their call.
What Do Dogs Think When You Howl
Dogs understand high pitched noises as communication tools. Some dogs may also associate high pitched sounds with things being off the ground or beyond their reach.
Similar to humans, dogs can understand different inflections as meaning different things. Their instincts kick in when they hear such a noise, and even if they can see who is making the noise, they howl back at it. If a dog is howling for attention or food, they assume that a howl back means that need will be addressed.
Why Does My Dog Freak Out When I Howl
If you howl at your dog, they will assume you’re trying to tell them something. From there, the individual reaction can vary based on breed and your dog’s personality.
If you have a generally easygoing dog and doesn’t suffer from much anxiety, they may howl back at you as if you’re having a chat, or they may ignore you.
Dogs that are higher-strung, however, may have very strong reactions to your howling. They could think you’re in danger or that something terrible is happening.
If your dog freaks out when you howl, it’s best not to do it. You could be making them anxious for no reason, and they may think you’re in trouble or that something is amiss. If you howl from a different room and they can’t see where you are, it can be even worse.
Is It Bad To Howl At Your Dog
Howling at your dog can be fine or bad, depending on your dog. From here, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions. Is your dog suffering from anxiety? Have they seemed lonely or sad? Are they extremely protective of you? If any of these are true, it’s best not to howl at your dog.
On the other hand, if your dog is secure with their humans and enjoys playing the game and “talking,” then the practice is not harmful.
Is It Cruel To Make Your Dog Howl
It’s not painful for your dog to howl unless they are doing it excessively. But it could be psychologically manipulative, particularly if your dog already suffers from anxiety.
If you want to howl along with your dog to communicate or have fun, make sure the dog is pretty laid back and that they are enjoying howling with you. If your dog is howling for a specific reason, such as wanting to go outside, make sure your howl isn’t an empty promise and fulfill the dog’s request!
You will be able to tell by the dog’s body if you’re upsetting them or if they’re enjoying having you speak their language.
Flattened ears, a tail under the legs, or an arched back means they don’t like the howl. Running or crying when they hear it means they’re scared. But if they’re hanging out and howling with you like you’re at a campfire sing-a-long, it’s just fine!
It is very cruel to make a high-strung dog howl for your amusement. You’re scaring them and making them think something is wrong. This depends on the individual dog, but if your dog is stressed and gets scared by howling, don’t do it.
Reasons Dogs Howl When You Howl
If you howl at your dog, you are essentially starting a conversation. Your dog could howl back at you for any of the following reasons:
● They think you’re in danger and need their help.
● They think you’re answering a need they’ve communicated by howling.
● They’re happy to see you and interpret your howl as you announcing your presence.
● They think you’re going to feed them.
● They’re playing a game with you.
● They love you and like talking to you.
Essentially, the reasons can vary widely. It’s essential to know your dog very well before you start a howling game with them. Since a howl can mean so many things, varying your communication and making a stressed out or lonely dog knows you’re there for them is the most important thing.
Knowing your dog and what they can handle is essential before you start a howling game of your own. Remember-those high-pitched sounds mean a lot more to your dog than they do to you!