Why Do Dogs Howl When You Howl?

Dogs howl to communicate. Wolves howl in the wild to show their location to pack mates or show affection for one another.

So, why do dogs howl when you howl? They’re communicating that they love and respect you as their pack member. If you howl, it’s your dog’s instinct to howl back. They desire to bond with you, so they show it by howling. There could be a range of other reasons they howl when you howl.

Howling together will bring you and your dog together more than as owner and pet but as close pack mates.

What Is A Howl?

A howl is a low-pitched and long-lasting sound that dogs make to communicate with other dogs or their owners. A dog may want to show their location relative to yours or its current mood.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines howling as a prolonged sound that either sounds sad or can be loud. Your dog’s howl may not exhibit sadness, but it can show a specific response based on a current situation.

Why Dogs Howl

There are many reasons dogs howl—learning why a dog howls can open doors to knowing more about why your canine will howl when you do.

Howling is a dog’s form of communication. Besides howling in response to yours, canines will howl if:

  • A loud noise, such as a doorbell, sirens from emergency personnel vehicles, or house fire alarms, catches their attention
  • To get your attention so you can give him food or playtime
  • Separation anxiety from you
  • Communicate with other dogs throughout the neighborhood
  • Show you that danger is nearby
  • Communication with dogs that they see
  • Display excitement about an event to come
  • Show they are anxious about something

Of course, the reason your dog howls back when you howl is dependent upon the situation happening at the moment. It’s up to you to interpret the current situation’s events to figure out what your dog means when it returns your howl.

Why Dogs Howl When You Howl

Like their wolf ancestors, domesticated dogs follow specific communication tactics. Besides howling, dogs also use body language to show what they want and need from you as their own. Watch for both cues to discover what your canine is trying to tell you.

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Natural Instinct

Howling is a dog’s instinct. Dogs are domestic animals, not wild wolves like their ancestors, but howling is still instinctual. Even though you may not howl at your dog, they will howl for other reasons out of pure instinct to communicate their feelings and what is happening.

Reacting to a High-Pitched Sound

When you howl, your dog may howl back as a reaction to the high-pitched sound you made when howling. Another sound in the environment could earn a howl from your canine.

Perhaps your howl happens just before an unexpected sound, such as a fire truck siren or the doorbell sounding off. If you have more than one dog at home, one or more of your dogs may chime in when you howl. In both cases, your dog may react to the sounds rather than return your howl.

Separation Anxiety From You

If you and your dog are doing different activities, your dog may howl back out of separation anxiety. Since canines are highly sociable animals, they crave attention from their owners. At this point, you can pat your dog on the head or play a quick game together before returning to what you were doing.


Wolves howl together to display their strong social bonds as a pack. When you howl, your dog will howl back to bond with you. They would want to do everything to show their love for you, including the occasional howling session.

Your canine desires positive attention from you and to spend time together. Howling together can show your dog that you are interested in communicating in the way they do it rather than using human verbal communication.

Human and Dog Communication

One study showed that dogs and humans communicate utilizing acoustic signals. Each signal is unique to the situation in which you and your dog are together. Your dog will hear this signal and howl back to bond with you if you howl.

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Especially if your dog is far away from where you are howling, your dog will howl back to communicate its location range. The same reason that a wolf will howl is also why domestic dogs do so. 

When a wolf howls at night, you may think they are howling at the moon. However, they are showing their location to keep the pack together as a unit. Defensive howls keep predators away from the pack and show they are the stronger ones in a standoff against an enemy.

When you and your dog try to communicate, these acoustic signals help show language and interspecies communication. Howling to your dog will enable you to ask where they are in your home or express that you love them. Your dog whimpering to you while you are busy working in the kitchen is a sign that they feel lonely and would like you to play.

A high-pitched kissing call can also show that you want your dog’s attention for mealtime or to go on a walk. You and your dog may not be able to speak the same language, but using acoustic signals can help you be on the same page.



Your dog will howl when you howl to show their love for you. They want to bond with you as their pet and do pleasurable activities together, even if it involves howling. No matter why your dog howls when you do, learn to distinguish the verbal and body language cues that your dog is giving you so you know what they need or want from you.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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