Q:

What does it mean when a dog howls?

A:

Dogs howl for a number of reasons, since howling is their sole means of vocal communication; they may howl to make contact with others, to attract attention or in response to stimuli. Dogs may also howl because they are injured or sick.

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Separation anxiety can cause a dog to howl when its owner leaves or when the dog is separated in some way from his owner. Dogs may also urinate, destroy objects, pace or show signs of depression or stress to accompany the howling when they are anxious about being separated from their owners.

Dogs that are hurt or sick may howl in pain. A dog that begins howling suddenly or that howls more than is usual may need to be seen by a veterinarian to determine if medical intervention is needed.

A passing ambulance or loud stereo may trigger a howling response in some dogs. This type of howling doesn't usually last long since the trigger passes quickly. Dogs that are exposed to noise triggers frequently may need to undergo a desensitization and counter-conditioning program to help them deal with the stimuli without making howling noises. Generally, this behavioral modification program involves teaching the dog to do something else instead of howling, such as fetch a toy.

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