Most people associate howling with the cry or call of wolves, the ancestor of the domestic dog. Howling is one of the most common noises made by a wolf, it is intimately related to them, including in folklore.
Each wolf produces its own howling, allowing its identification. Wolves use howling in at least four ways to give different types of information:
- Howling can warn other wolves in the pack: for example, wolves howl when they are close to the limits of their territory.
- The howls of a lone wolf can indicate his position
- The screams can be used to rally the pack and keep them together
- Screaming helps males and females to come together to reproduce.
On the other hand, wolves have fewer screams and noises than dogs that are also noisier than wolves. The other sounds produced by the wolves are barking, grunting, and whining for the wolf cubs.
Domestic dogs have developed a greater range of sounds than wolves. Barking is the sound most commonly associated with dogs. This behavior has certainly crossed the ages and was probably adopted by the dogs at the time when they occupied the role of guardian.
On the other hand, howling is more rare in dogs than wolves, and many dogs never scream. For some, the howling of the dog can be perceived as a problem by their master. Perhaps this is because the howling is associated with the wolf and the fear it engenders in some people. However, howling is a completely natural behavior in dogs, and it is also much less noisy and intense than that of the wolf.
Dogs scream only in certain situations, most of them are very close to the wolf's use of it:
- To call his master or other dogs. Some dogs scream for example when their master is back home, when they hear another dog in the vicinity.
- When a dog is alone at home, he can scream to attract attention or express his anxiety. The anxiety related to the separation with his master is also expressed through chewing or pacing.
- The howling is also a warning cry for people or other dogs that would be on their territory.
- Some hunting dogs scream to warn their master or other dogs that they have found prey.
- Dogs can scream when they are injured.
- Some screams are pushed to respond to the howling of other dogs, especially when it is an attempt to regroup a pack.
- Some dogs only scream to respond to some very noisy sounds, such as the siren gendarmes or ambulance.
- It could actually be an instinctive reaction of the dog that confuses the sound of the siren and the rallying cry of a dog pack because of the power of the sound he heard.
The howling of the dog is easier to hear at night. This would be explained by the absence of sound at night and because it would be easier to cause a howl in the dark. Moreover, it is also easier to distinguish and hear from a great distance at night.
Some species of dogs howl more than others, this concerns several large species such as the Alaskan Malamute or the Siberian Husky. Some smaller breeds also have a tendency to scream as is the case for Beagles and Dachshunds.
Many dogs never scream and there are only a few dogs for which howling can become a problem, although this is a natural behavior. The howling is finally an instinctive reaction, wild memory of a very rich genetic heritage of our domestic dogs.