Why Do Dogs Howl – and How to Stop It (2021 Complete Guide)

In this post we will discuss why dogs howl and how to stop it.

Very often we get asked, “why do dogs howl at sirens?”

And, “why does my dog howl when I leave my house?”

So, we put together this educational guide.

What’s inside?

  • Why do dogs howl at sirens and music?
  • Why does my dog howl when I leave?
  • 5 additional reasons why dogs howl
  • How to stop unwanted dog howling

Let’s dive right into it!


Why do dogs howl at sirens and music?

Last I checked, my fur-baby was not a wolf.

And yet every time the music plays or a siren goes off, he starts to howl!


It’s common for dogs to howl when they hear certain high-pitched sounds like sirens and music, or in response to another dog’s barking.

When they howl it’s like they are telling us, “I heard that sound.”

That’s their way of expressing how they are ready to “join in” on the action.

So, they howl too.


How to Stop It

If your dog’s howling is triggered by outside noises, chances are that he’ll stop once the noises stop.

Generally, this type of howling is not excessive…

Unless, of course, you’ve got music and sirens blaring all day long.

If you do:

You can use training methods such as desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) to help your dog learn to be quiet (we’ll discuss that at length in a future post).

Let’s move on to our second most popular question…


Why does my dog howl when I leave?

This is most likely because of Separation Anxiety.

What is that?

That’s when a dog feels afraid when it is about to be left alone.

When it senses that the owner is about to leave it will begin to show signs of anxiety.

If this is the case for you, most probably you’ll find your dog doing other strange things.


Pacing, being destructive or showing other signs of depression and distress.

These are all symptoms of Separation Anxiety.


How to Stop It

If you think that your dog is howling for this reason, try to keep him busy.


Give him distractions.

Throw him a chew toy.

Play soft music or turn the television on.

Sometimes it may be a more serious case of separation anxiety, in which case I would recommend you read our post designated specifically for Separation Anxiety.

And now for the…


5 Additional Reasons Why Dogs Howl

Here are some more reasons to consider why your dog may be howling.

Reason #1: He is in pain.

This is something that must be ruled out first.

Just like we, humans, cry out when we’re in pain, dogs cry out too.

Their cries are in the form of howling.

So, if you see your dog suddenly howling or perhaps in a shrieking manner, you should check your dog for any visible injuries.

You should also take him to the veterinarian to ensure that there are no underlying medical issues.


The remaining reasons are regular healthy dog behaviors, and is nothing to be concerned of.


Reason #2: Because he wants your attention.

If your dog only seems to howl when she is in front of you, chances are she just wants your attention.

She may want a particular food, treat or favorite toy.

Or she may want to play with you.

Like humans, dogs are very social and need regular interaction with their human families.

What to do?

Try to spend more quality time together.

Bring her inside more often, play games and take walks with her.

If you have to leave your dog home alone for more than a few minutes, make sure you give him or her plenty of toys and attractive chew items to enjoy while you’re away.  

In addition:

To help your dog stop howling for attention, try to reward only quiet behavior.

Give him hugs or treats randomly when he is quiet

Withhold anything he “asks for” by howling.



Reason #3: As a means to communicate with each other.

Howling is just another way that dogs communicate with each other.

In the wild, dogs would howl to help members of the pack find each other.

This would signal the location of home and would guide the other members back to safety.

Our devoted dogs still use this tactic.

When they hear our car pull up or see us outside, they may howl in order to guide us safely back home.


Reason #4: To keep intruders away.

Howling is actually a good defense mechanism that keeps potential predators away.

Dogs use it to signal to incoming dogs that a particular area is already claimed and visitors aren’t welcome.

Because our home is “their territory”, they may howl when visitors or other dogs come near, in order to protect it.


Reason #5: To let you know that he’s excited and proud of a new discovery.

Their howling can actually be a cheer.

Just like we get excited from a new discovery, our dogs also get excited when they find new treasures.

 “Yippee, I found a ball!’

Or, “cool, look at that lady bug!”


So, in short…

If your dog is howling, first rule out the possibility of any injuries, medical issues or separation anxiety.

Then, shower her with lots of love and attention.

And lastly, always keep an attentive ear out to what your four-legged family member is trying to tell you.

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