Ever wondered why dogs and wolves howl?

Have you ever wondered why wolves howl? And if you’re a fan of dogs or have a dog, or two or three at home, have you ever heard them howl and wonder why they do it? Well, they aren’t the only animals in the world to howl. Naturally, the most famous howlers are the wolves who, according to Doug Smith, senior wildlife biologist at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, there are three main reasons why wolves howl.

The first is to communicate to other wolves that “this is my territory” or to “stay away”. Imagine if we could howl at people to get them to leave us alone, I’d probably be howling all the time. The second reason is to locate their pack members when they’re separated. Thirdly, to maintain their social relationships with those in the pack. However, wolves don’t necessarily howl all the time. During denning season, most wolves raising their pups, would stay quiet to avoid giving away their location and risking any possible harm.

Craig Sholley of the African Wildlife Foundation also gave his input on why jackals (who are closely related to the wolf family) also howl. It’s mostly to repel intruders and to attract their family members. A chorus of howls is also said to reinforce family bonds and to state their territory. So there really isn’t much difference between the reasons why wolves and jackals howl.

But the lingering question still stands, why do dogs howl? Well, there are the more harmless and simple reasons such as your dog(s) may just want some attention or to acknowledge other dogs nearby. Sometimes your dog’s just being a dog when it responses to high pitched sounds/noises, more commonly sirens. Fret not, it isn’t every siren that your dog howls at, it’s generally those with a higher pitch which would trigger them.

Of course, your dog could also be howling because of more worrisome issues. The first being separation anxiety which happens when your dog is left alone at home or is separated from you for an extended period of time. But the howling is often paired with another behavior such as scratching and digging or even pacing.  The second reason would be due to medical issues, such as physical injury or possibly even internal injuries, but this would only be done more frequently or in a shrieking manner.

The most important reason would be to alert their owners to danger. Howling is considered to be a natural primal instinct every dog has and unless it’s incessant or urgent, you just have a normal dog who wants to let you know what’s going on. What a good boy!! Or if it’s a girl, what a good girl!! Good doggie/doggo/doggerino/pupper/pupperino/pugger/puggerino/doge/shibe/shiber/shoob/shoober/shooberino/corgo/dogger/doggest/longo dongo/other internet memes for dogs I’ve missed out on. Love all dogs, don’t hate, don’t discriminate.

Article by Stephanie Leng

Photo from Wallpaper Cave

musaeditor

Editorial board of Monash University Student Association

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