Why do Dogs Howl?
Does your dog howl? Of all of our dogs, only Tino howled, and only occasionally – mainly when he heard fire engines or the ice cream truck. It was odd because those two don’t have the same pitch or tone at all. They sound nothing alike, so why did he howl to them? Steve could also get Tino to howl if he started howling. Yes, that was odd too.
I did a little research on the topic and came upon an interesting article in Psychology Today about whether dogs have a musical sense and whether howling was a dog’s attempt to sing. He talked about an actual musical called Howl, which played at Carnegie Hall in 1980 which was a musical work for twenty humans and three canines. They actually appeared on David Letterman too, see the video below. Oh, the nutty thing people do…
Putting the musical aside, Dr. Stanley Coren, who writes weekly about dog behavior for Psychology Today, said that “Howling is actually a form of communication, which can indicate loneliness in an isolated dog, but often serves other social functions. Wolves howl to assemble the pack and also to reinforce the identity of the group.”
I agree, I think Tino was howling to tell the ice cream truck to come to our house.
Interestingly, in the research on wolves, they found that wolves do have a sense of tone and pitch, but do not like being in the same pitch as their fellow howlers. They will change pitch when others join the group so they all stay at a different pitch! That’s why a pack of wolves, or coyotes or even dogs sound so diverse when howling as a group. Check out these super howlers.
How about you, does your dog howl? Can you get him to howl on cue?