You never trained your dog to howl, but as soon as they see you howling, their ears perk up and they start howling right along with you. But what does it mean, and why do they do it?
For your dog, you and their other humans are a part of the pack. Howling together is a bonding activity, and many canines howl and make other high-pitched sounds together to express unity and companionship in the family.
But dogs communicate with their howls in the same way that wolves do, so depending on context, the howls could mean a variety of things.
Keep reading to find out what your dog's howl means and what they may be trying to communicate with you.
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Why does my dog howl when I howl? Potential reasons
Just as humans can engage in conversation for a variety of reasons, dogs can engage in howling for a variety of reasons as well.
Their instincts tell them too
In the wild, wolves howl as a way to talk to each other. For example, if a wolf becomes anxious while the rest of its family is out hunting, it may howl as a form of communicating distress, to alert the rest of their group that they need to come home.
So, perhaps your pet does not know why you are howling, but once you start, your dog feels in an instinctual way that they must join in with you. This same instinct can also kick in when your dog hears high-pitched noises like sirens or other sounds with a similar tone to dog howling.
They're bonding with you
Although we are different species, dogs and people have a lot in common. In the same way that you may throw your arms around your friends to sing your favorite song, your dog may start howling along with you as a way of building a relationship with you.
Howling together as a group demonstrates unity and togetherness. So if your dog always joins in with you when you sing or howl, the most likely reason is that they enjoy connecting with you and having some fun with you in that way.
Some dog breeds hardly howl at all, and not all dogs like to howl, so if your pet doesn't engage in this behavior, don't worry. It doesn't mean that they don't want to bond with you, they may just seek out different instinctual ways of fostering group dynamics.
They're sending a message (or helping you send one)
Dogs can't talk like us (well, most can't. I'm looking at you, Bunny), so they depend on barking, growling, howling, body language, and making noise in the few ways that they can. That means that the howl is used for many different forms of sending messages.
Your dog may howl to get your attention, because they are anxious, because they want food, because they smelled another dog close to your territory, or because they heard their owner or other dogs howling.
A howl can travel farther and last longer than other typical canine noises, so in the wild, it may be often used to communicate something to other canines at a larger distance.
It is also quite likely that your dog noticed you howling and decided to join in to help you send the sound farther, even if they don't know what exactly it is that you want to say with your howl.
They want to make you happy
Your dog is very tuned in to you and your emotions. If they do something that makes you excited and happy, they pick up on that.
When they hear you howling, they may (correctly) assume that if they join in with you, you will laugh and find joy in it. This encourages your canine to repeat this behavior and howl with you.
Your howl made them anxious
Some canines are shy and sensitive, and they may not love loud noises.
If your dog is particularly nervous, and they don't typically like loud noises like howls, then they may be startled if you start howling. They may wrongfully assume that you are in pain or your howl means that you are upset, or something is wrong.
As always, pay attention to the behavior and body language of your pet.
While dog howls can be fun for many dogs, it could be a sign of stress for others. If you find your canine howling consistently to a point that is disruptive and concerning, talk to a vet about methods for helping them calm down.
Especially if your pet is noisy by nature, you may have spent a long time discouraging them from behavior like barking or responding to other dogs howling.
So if you suddenly howl, and even encourage them to do the same thing, they may get excited by this chance to let loose and join in with their own howl.
Your dog howls for their unique expression
Just like people's words, dog howls can mean all sorts of different things.
Like its owner, your pet is an individual, and their howls are just as unique as they are. Pay attention to why and when your dog howls, and what they may be trying to share with you.
Why dogs howl with their owner: conclusion
Howling is a type of communication, which means that it can say many things.
Your dog may have heard a high-pitched siren, and an instinctual urge told them that they needed to match that sound, just like their ancestors once did.
OR maybe they're trying to make a phone call. When a bark doesn't cut it, a howl can reach far-away pack members.
But the most likely explanation is that your canine wants to join in with you because they see you as a united, family unit.
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