Dogs have quirky ways of communicating, like howling. But while most of your pooch’s ‘a-woooo’ seems cute, it can give you a mix of worry and annoyance if they let out the same high-pitched and harrowing sound late at night.
So, why do dogs howl at night? Are they trying to tell you something? Possible reasons for your dog howling at night may be because they feel bored, have separation anxiety, are hungry, or need to pee. In some cases, dogs will howl in the evenings simply because they heard other dogs howling or loud sirens and cars in the neighbourhood.
Knowing what your dog wants to tell you is essential. So, let's dive headfirst into the reasons why dogs howl during the night, whether it's normal, and what you can do once their howling starts becoming disruptive.
Common Reasons Dogs Howl at Night
While your pup may not 'a-woooo' at the moon, like many canine behaviours, howling is part of the dog's wild, ancestral roots. But howling at night is not just because dogs channel their distant ancestor wolves—your pooch is trying to communicate with you! And these are the common reasons your dog may howl at night.
It Has Separation Anxiety
If your dog is howling in their crate or the other room at night, it may be because they have separation anxiety. It might be the reason for their nightly howling if you started not letting your pooch sleep with you. Your pooch may be struggling with the new night routine of being away from you. This kind of howling is more common in puppies, although older dogs can also have separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety howling at night is often accompanied by one or more separation anxiety symptoms like pacing, elimination, whining, destructive behaviour, and other signs of distress.
Your Dog Is Howling for Attention
Seeking attention is another reason a dog howls at night. They may not suffer from separation anxiety, but your pooch may still prefer spending the night with you. Some dogs learn that howling at night will get your attention, and it becomes an ingrained behaviour.
They Could Be Hungry
Nightly howling in dogs may be because they are hungry. They may not be eating enough during the day, or there are long gaps between their meals. If they are not getting enough calories for the day, you get a dog who keeps howling at night because they are hungry and can't sleep.
The Dog May Want to Relieve Themselves
Another possible reason for dogs howling at night is that your dog needs to pee. This cause is more likely to happen in puppies because they need to pee more often. Puppies are likely to howl when they don’t get to pee in the evenings.
It Hears Other Dogs Howling
If other dogs are howling nearby, your dog will likely respond with a howl of its own. It's a behaviour particularly common in the evenings when there's less noise in the background. Some dogs howl at night when they hear or sense other dogs nearby. It's their way of announcing their presence and asserting their territory.
The Dog Hears Strange Noises
Besides hearing other dogs, your pooch may hear other strange noises nearby. It could be sirens from emergency vehicles or car horns. These sounds closely mimic other dogs' howls, which are high-pitched enough to get your dog's attention. They may mistake it for calls from other dogs in distress. Hence, they make your dog inclined to howl in response. This issue is common if you're living in a bustling city or a busy neighbourhood.
This type of howling is usually moderate. Your dog will most likely stop howling when the sound stops. That said, if the trigger happens frequently, your dog may be howling nonstop. If they do, desensitising the dog to specific noises might help.
Dogs may occasionally howl because they are uncomfortable in their sleeping environment. It’s their way of telling you that there’s a problem with the room they’re sleeping in. The place may be too hot, too cold, too noisy, too bright, or too cramped for them to get a good night’s rest.
The Dog Might Be Sick
Some dogs howl when they are in pain or feel unwell at night. This cause would be more likely if your dog suddenly starts howling at night or howling more than normal.
The Dog’s Age
The dog's age may be a contributing factor to their endless nighttime howls. For example, puppies are likely to howl at night when they are left alone, feeling discomfort, want to pee, or want extra attention.
On the other hand, howling at nighttime is also common in older or senior dogs with dulled senses. They easily feel confused, especially in the dark. In addition, joints become more painful as dogs get older. All these reasons might be causing senior dogs to howl at night.
What to Do to Stop Your Dog Howling at Night?
When the nighttime howling becomes excessive, below are some tips to stop your dog's disruptive behaviour.
Avoid Encouraging The Behavior
Is your dog's howling an attention-seeking behaviour? It's reinforced whenever you go to your dog or shush him for howling. The first thing you can do to stop attention-seeking howling is to avoid rewarding the behaviour. Teach them that howling will not get them extra attention or whatever else they want. You can also reward them for desirable behaviour, like calmness or staying quiet at night.
Try Crate Training
If you crate-train your dog correctly, it will teach them to get comfortable and safe in their space at night without being around you.
Let Them Out Before Bedtime
It would be important and helpful to stop the howling to let the dog out to pee just before bedtime.
Use White Noise at Night
A great way to prevent dogs from howling at night because of other dogs and loud noises is to use white noise to cover up trigger noises at night.
Ensure Proper Diet and Exercise
Giving your pooch a proper diet and enough mental and physical stimulation ensures that they can have a good night's rest. Consider why your pup wants more of your attention. Perhaps, they are bored and still have a lot of energy to burn at night. Giving them enough mental and physical stimulation before bedtime should help.
Visit the Vet
If dogs howl at night suddenly and have been showing any signs of discomfort during the day, the best option would be to bring the dog to a veterinarian.
Why Do Some Dogs Howl in Their Sleep?
It’s strange to hear a dog howling while in its sleep, but it happens because they are dreaming. Sometimes, dogs howl in their sleep because they have an unpleasant dream and the howling, often accompanied by a little bark or growl, is how they express their emotions within the dream.
But it's nothing to be too concerned about. Unless their howling disrupts the entire household, there's no reason to wake up your dog from its nightmare. Bad dreams aren't hazardous to your pooch. Waking them up from a bad dream may only cause them to engage in reactive behaviours.
A dog howling can be fascinating to hear until it becomes annoying and disruptive for you and your neighbours at night. That said, howling is how they communicate.
Your dog could be demanding extra attention, wanting to be let out, being hungry, in pain, or just howling in response to another dog in the neighbourhood or loud noises in the street.
Whatever the reason is, getting to the root of why dogs howl at night is essential for your furry friend's well-being, and everyone's good night's rest.