You might have noticed when a siren sounds throughout the area, there is a knock at the door or perhaps a full moon hanging low in the sky, your dog lets out a long, often loud howl. Other dogs nearby might join in, causing a cacophony of sound, and leaving you wondering if you accidentally brought home a pack of wolves instead of retrievers. While this behavior can appear odd or even annoying, the American Kennel Club notes that howling is a primal response for dogs. These primal instincts harken back to the origins of the domesticated dog: the wolf approximately 15,000 years ago. Some experts like to explain that howling is the dog version of a long-distance telephone call, alerting other dogs in the area to your dog’s location or needs.

Dogs can howl for several reasons: for attention, to alert their owner to danger, to make contact or acknowledge other dogs as well as in response to high pitched noises. While these reasons may be harmless, there are other causes of howling that could signal an issue with your dog. Howling may occur due to separation anxiety and is often paired with other anxious behaviors such as pacing, scratching, and digging. Medical issues may also induce howling. If you notice your dog howling more frequently or shrieking, your dog may be in pain from an injury or other medical issue. If you believe that your dog howling because they are in pain, it is suggested that you call your Veterinarian.

It is important to remember that most howling is harmless and is simply a basic means of communication for your dog. Unless the howling is incessant or urgent, your dog’s behavior is completely normal, albeit occasionally annoying. If you have any concerns surrounding your dog’s howling, feel free to mention it to your vet during your next visit!