Is It Cruel to Make Your Dog Howl?


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A dog howling is iconic, and in many cartoons, tv shows, and movies, we often see dogs depicted as masters of the howl, which makes sense when you think about it.

After all, this natural form of communicating is inherited from wolves howling in the wild, so dogs learn to howl instinctively over time regardless of whether you own a rescue dog or a young puppy.

If your puppy is happy and healthy, then it should not be taken as a cruel thing to howl alongside your animal companion, but if you can’t get your canine friend to stop with a simple command, then it might be howling for different reasons thank you think. So keep reading to find out what could be wrong.

Why Does My Dog Howl?

Under normal circumstances, dogs howl for attention and to communicate with other dogs. It’s a naturally occurring thing that dogs across most races and breeds tend to do at some point in their life, although some breeds are more prone to doing it than others.

Sometimes dogs howl to make sure other dogs are aware of their presence. This can be to intimidate other dogs into not challenging the pet, or it can be more of an inviting social thing. It all depends on the type of howl and why your pet would start howling.

In general, howling tends to be a positive thing. It is often associated with socializing and other good influences, but there can be times when your pet might howl because of something negative.

Why Does My Dog Howl When I Leave the Home?

Your pet might have separation anxiety and begin howling once it is left alone. This type of howl can be difficult to treat and discover, especially since your animal friend might wait until you’re already in your car and out of earshot before it starts howling.

If you wish to find out for sure if your pet is howling when you leave it alone, you could ask your neighbors or set up a camera to film your dog’s behavior when it is left alone.

If you suspect your pet might be upset and scared when alone, it can be a difficult thing to treat since the dogs tend to be just fine when around people, and correcting the dog when it is alone can be a challenge in itself.

It is possible to help your dog in some cases, often by using specific training methods or even crate training in order to provide a safe haven for your furry friend when it’s left alone.

Which methods and training programs would be best for your animal companion is something you should discuss with a professional dog trainer or dog behavioral expert.

Is It Cruel to Make Your Dog Howl?

If you would like to feel primal for a few minutes, you might be tempted to let out a howl every now and then. Releasing pent-up stress by shouting or singing is a normal activity for humans.

If you have ever howled in front of your dog, you might have noticed it also starts howling once you do. Sometimes these howls can sound odd, and you might wonder if you are annoying the dog or doing something wrong in that case.

In general, there should be no issue with having a howl and letting your dog participate. If anything, it should be a great way for your dog and you to bond over something people and animals have been doing for tens of thousands of years.

Some people believe that, like humans, dogs relieve stress by howling. While it is difficult to know for sure, there aren’t any specifically known downsides to letting your dog howl.

Other than it might annoy the neighbors or seem odd if your dog starts howling at your boss, for an example. As long as your dog doesn’t lose control completely, you should be fine.

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What Can I Do If My Dog Starts Howling?

Dogs that howl for fun or out of natural reasons not associated with pain or discomfort should be able to listen to a simple “stop” command from their owner or handler. It is rare for dogs to get so engrossed that they can’t respond to other stimuli.

If your dog won’t stop howling, or your dog howls at inappropriate times or people, then you might want to consider dog behavior training as long as you have ruled out any underlying medical reasons.

If you suspect your dog’s howl to attract attention, then figuring out what is wrong and what your dogs communicate with you is key. Is your dog happy when howling? Then it might be playful and wanting to play fetch or other normal behavior.

Realizing that howls are like barks can often mean something different depending on the high-pitched noises, you can get your dog to howl as part of good behavior but rule it out when it feels more like the dog is making noise.

What Should I Know About My Dog’s Howling Behavior?

You might notice that your dog seems to have a consistent howling behavior when it comes to certain people, objects, sounds, or smells. Many different things can trigger howling in dogs, but unlike barking, unless the howling consists of excessively high pitched sounds, it does not mean anything bad or negative.

Owners of certain breeds, like the Siberian Husky, might notice their dogs love to howl at everything and everyone. In contrast, owners of Golden Retrievers might only notice the howling happening in very specific instances.

This is all normal, and part of the different dog breeds personalities and tendencies. In order to communicate over long distances, we can observe a wild wolf howl similarly to a domesticated dog.

When wolves howl in the wild, they tend to signal important information to other members of the species. Scientists believe the howl can include information about predators, certain locations good for hunting, and more.

This natural pattern is seen worldwide in canines and means that if your dog is howling, it is most likely just taking part in an ancient ritual.

Can Medical Causes Be the Root of My Dog’s Howling?

In short, yes. There can be various medical reasons that could make your dog unhappy, sick, or in pain, and howling could be a way to express that and even get your attention in an uncommon way.

For some dog breeds, it can be difficult for the individual dog owner to recognize whether the sounds are made because of pain or anxiety or whether the dog just loves to sing and have fun.

If you notice any other signs accompanied by excessive howling compared to your dog’s normal rhythms, consider taking your dog to the vet for a checkup.

If you find your dog howling at odd hours, or after performing certain things, like long walks or running around, note this down and share the information with your vet as well.

Keep in mind that while people like their animals to be quiet and prefer pets that do not bark or are heard all the time, some animals are just more vocal than others.

As long as your pet is healthy, then howling should not be considered an issue, as it feels good for the canine friend and both your pup as well as your senior pack member.

My Dog Only Howls From Separation Anxiety; What Can I Do?

In this case, the answer is to help your dog get over the anxiety and stress it feels when alone. There are many ways to help dogs through this difficult stage, including crate training for younger dogs, providing your dog with a snack as you leave, and more.

We’ll provide a quick overview of some of the most popular methods to get dogs to stop howling, but remember always to do plenty of research or talk to professionals when it comes to training dogs as it can depend on the breed, the individual personality of the dog, and a whole range of other aspects.

1. Associate Leaving With Something Positive

One of the simpler methods on this list simply involves you providing a snack or treat for your dog when you’re about to leave it alone. Over a few weeks, your dog should hopefully learn that it is good when you leave since it will be given something tasty.

It is also an easy method to try that doesn’t require much effort on your part, but it doesn’t work for every dog. And sometimes, we, as dog owners, would like a faster solution. If that’s the case, then keep reading.

2. Remember Not to Feel Bad When Leaving

Dogs are great at reading our body language and expressions. If you feel guilty about leaving your dog, and your dog can notice, it will not understand why you feel bad, just that you do. This means your dog will learn from you that it is bad when you leave and then act accordingly.

So keep in mind that your leaving and coming back home should not be a special event that you dread or fear. Instead, consider it as normal as everything else, and you might just stop your dog from howling out of separation anxiety before you know it!

3. Leave a Small Part of Yourself Back Home

Another trick can be to give the dog a blanket or t-shirt that has your fresh scent on it. This way, whenever the dog feels lonely, it can be comforted by the clothes or other items you left for it.

Some dog owners report them coming home to find their dog sleeping soundly, all wrapped up in the sweater they left out for the dog before leaving. This tip is easy to try, so give it a go, and you can even combine it with providing a snack.

4. The Desensitization Method

If you notice that your dog feels scared when you go through your morning routine before leaving, try using that to your advantage. During the weekend, or whenever else you don’t have to go to work, try waking up at the same time you would during a work day, and do the same things as you do when you leave for work.

This means showering and eating breakfast, putting on your jacket and shoes, and jingling with your keys at the door. If you notice your dog starting to act anxious, then you might be able to use the desensitization method.

Instead of leaving out the door, turn around and give your dog some attention or cuddles. Then repeat the process. The trick is to let your dog live through the scary moment and teach the dog that it does not have to be a bad thing.

Once your dog becomes okay with you doing this, you can advance to going out the door. Then wait for a few seconds and come back in and give cuddles and snacks again. Slowly but surely, you can train your dog to withstand separation, and eventually, your dog might not have a problem at all.

5. If All Else Fails, Contact Professionals

Unfortunately, we can’t always get rid of separation anxiety by ourselves. Therefore, it is important that we consider professional help in those cases, as our dogs might live under a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety when left alone.

This can be bad for their health and manifest itself in many negative ways. So know when to call for help when the problem becomes too much for you to handle.


In short, your pet might howl to get in contact with other animals, to feel part of the pack, as an expression fun and excitement, or because an underlying medical issue has formed that you need to take care of.

As long as your pet is healthy and sound, then it should be perfectly fine to howl with your dog and even see who can howl the loudest or longest. It can be a great way to bond with your pet, and it might also make you appear even more in tune with the pack if you have more than one dog.