12 Reasons Dogs Howl, Whine, and Cry

Scientific Reason Of Dog Howling

All animals communicate in one way or another, whether it’s a vocalization, a flick of the tail, or raised hackles along the back. Domesticated animals, like our beloved dogs, not only communicate instinctually, but they learn to “talk” to us in many different ways. Howling, whining, and crying are three common methods to get needs and wants across to their humans. Learning to understand their vocalization requires us to pay close attention, and to connect the dots to discern their communication.

But what does it all mean? Why do our fur buddies choose a particular method to get and hold our attention? Here are 12 reasons dogs howl, whine, and cry.

1. Stress

Pug laying with sad face

The number one reason dogs whine is because of stress. Suppose you’re in a training class and suddenly Buddy begins pacing, cowering, licking his lips or panting, drops his tail and quits responding to your cues. Then the whining starts. He’s telling you that he’s under too much stress and you need to change your training place or method. He’s reached his stress threshold.

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2. Appeasement

One dog facing away from another dog

 

When you’re out walking your furbaby and you come upon someone who is walking their furbaby, what does your dog do? If he’s whining and folding his ears back, tucking his tail in, rolling over on his back, crouching, and refuses to make eye contact, he lacks confidence. His whine is telling you that he does not feel safe, and he’s looking to you for assurance. If your efforts at socializing him fail, you may need to get professional help from a trainer to get him beyond his fear.


3. Separation anxiety

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For many dogs, being left alone causes severe anxiety issues. Although some may act out by tearing the house apart, others may cry, whine, or howl, even for hours on end. Intervention may include slowly conditioning the dog to be left alone for longer and longer periods of time, and there are other ways to help your furbaby feel less anxious. A pet camera allows you to see and interact with your dog remotely when he becomes upset. Talking to your dog or tossing him a treat remotely is a great boon to those who must work and leave their dogs at home during the workday.


4. Pain

Dog with elizabethan collar

Interestingly enough, dogs with chronic pain rarely whine or cry because of it. However, acute pain, such as the sharp pain that accompanies rising for an arthritic dog, can certainly cause him to voice his discomfort. If your dog doesn’t have a condition that causes pain, yet he is whining, a trip to the vet is the best way to find out what’s going on.

5. Attention

French Bull dog looking up with a big smile

Every dog lover who ever raised a puppy knows that when you first leave a puppy alone, he will cry. A natural part of learning to be a pet (perhaps the only one in his household) instead of part of a litter, puppies quickly learn that crying will bring attention. Older dogs learn this trick, too, crying for attention whenever they feel ignored.


6. Age-related dementia

Old dog looking confused

As our dog’s age, like humans, they sometimes develop cognitive problems. Confusion is very stressful to a dog, and often they will cry when they feel lost or afraid. Disorientation and dementia cause anxiety, which produces crying, whining, or even howling. See your vet for medications that can help.

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7. Excitement

Dog jumping and looks really excited

If your Labrador Retriever comes unglued, whining and barking when someone new comes in the door, he is probably also wiggling from his nose to the tip of his tail, which is wagging as though it will fall off. His communication is “I can’t control myself!” He needs some help to learn more moderate ways of greeting strange dogs or people. Training him to go to his mat when the doorbell rings will help him be calmer.


8. An invitation

Two dogs playing on the grass

In the wild, dogs howl to organize their pack. Howling helps the scouts locate the rest of the pack and return to them. In domestic dogs, howling may serve a similar purpose. If you’ve been gone all day, his howling hopes to bring you back home.

9. Setting boundaries

Dog peeing on the tree making marks

Sometimes, dogs howl to set up boundaries. Letting potential predators or even just trespassers know they have entered a dog’s territory is cause for a good, long howl. Many dogs bark when someone comes to the door or drives up in the driveway, but others howl for the same reason. It’s a form of communication that warns trespassers away.


10. Discovery

Dog howling

Especially with hunting breeds, dogs may howl to alert you to the fact that they have found something. For most hunting dogs, this is instinctual, but it can also be trained into them. Bloodhounds “sound” (howl) when they have picked up a track that they are trying to follow.

11. Trigger responses

Dog on the street with a car beside

It seems that dogs love to howl in response to certain triggers. Sirens, certain music, even someone singing can start a pup howling, looking for all the world like he wants to simply join in. Science hasn’t been able to account for why dogs will howl from certain triggers. Perhaps they just want to contribute to the celebration!

12. Speaking words?

Some people are convinced that their dog’s vocalizations are attempts to speak words. In fact, when sounds are selectively reinforced, they can seem to replicate human speech. It does, indeed, sound like they are saying words. It is unlikely that your furbaby knows what it means when he says “I love you,” but people encourage it nonetheless.

We’re learning more all the time about the way dogs think. Maybe, in time, we’ll be able to truly understand what it is our fur buddies are trying to say through their howls, whines, and cries.

Author Furbo


Paranormal Reason of Dog Howling

By Langley Cornwell

Admit it, the melancholy sound of a howling dog sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it? If you’re not the superstitious type, then you may blame Hollywood for this association. We’ve all seen movies where the howling of a dog foreshadows something ominous, but do you know where the roots of this concept come from?

The idea that dogs are in tune with the supernatural has been around a long time and is believed by many cultures. One of the most common superstitions is that a howling dog is an omen of death or extreme misfortune. It’s impossible to trace this concept back to a single source, but here are a few of the more widely accepted origins:

 

Nordic Countries

Norse legend links this belief to Freyja, the goddess of magic, love, fertility, war, and death. The story goes like this – when Freyja is playing the part of the goddess of death, she rides her chariot on the crest of a storm. This fanciful chariot is pulled by two enormous cats. And since felines are considered canines’ accepted enemies, the belief is that when dogs sense the approach of Freyja they begin to howl at the goddess and her magical oversized cats.

Egypt

Another superstition about howling dogs and death traces back to ancient Egypt. It is believed that the god that tended to the dead was named Anubis. According to ancient Egyptian religion, this god was also associated with mummification and the afterlife. One of his most important roles was serving as protector of the dead and their tombs. Because Anubis had the head of a jackal when dogs howl it stands to reason that they are calling souls to Anubis.

Ireland

The Irish have a much simpler concept. In Ireland, folklore claims that dogs howl when they hear the universal phantom pack of hounds. These mystical hounds are said to lead their riders on a wild, barren hunt through the sky gathering the souls of the dead.

Wales

In Wales, tradition has it that God gave the king of Annwn control over demons so he could protect the world. As such, he would ride on his supernatural rounds on a hunt for mortal souls. Only dogs could see the death-bringing “Hounds of Annwn,” and howled their acknowledgment.


Ancient Greece

The goddess Hecate played a prominent role in Athenian households, where she was worshiped for her protective abilities. Hecate was also associated with crossroads and entryways. According to ancient Greek legend, dogs howled when Hecate was at a crossroads foretelling an imminent death.

Southern U.S. States

Here in the south where I live, superstitions run deep. Regarding death and dogs, some of the old-timers believe that dogs will tell them when their time is coming. They say if a dog howls twice, close together, death is coming for a male. Three howls close together means it’s a woman Mr. Death is after. You can tell the specific man or woman that death is coming for by the direction the dog is looking. If he’s looking at you when he howls, you’re next. Following that same logic, some folks say it is good luck when a dog howls with his backside towards you.


Other superstitions include: a dog howl means the wind god has summoned death, and the spirits of the dead are being released; a howling dog in an otherwise silent night is the first warning of supernatural events; when you hear a dog howling it means bad luck for you or that someone you love will get sick or worse; a howling dog outside the house of a sick person means the person is going to die—especially if the dog was sent away and comes back to howl again.

It goes on and on.

It’s no wonder the plaintive sounds of a dog’s howl has inspired legend and folklore in a variety of cultures. It’s a spooky sound. I’ve covered a lot of ground here, but I know I didn’t get it all. Tell us about some of the superstitions you’ve heard.

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