Archives for the day Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Why do dogs howl? What’s the meaning behind the howl?

 Have you ever wondered why dogs howl and how they feel when they howl? I have never heard of our dog “Palette” howl except at the day she came home from leg surgery. ( You can read about her leg surgery in previous entry titled “Run like wind again:  Palette’s limping story ” here.) That night, to me, it sounded like she was telling me her legs hurts and wanted company near her when she sleeps, I remember I spent time near her throughout the night.

 My brother-in-law family have 2 Huskies, and I have seen one of the Huskies howl when my brother – in-law howl as if he were duet with my brother-in-law. When Palette hear my brother-in-law howl at her, she gets scared and excuse herself, trot to her familiar crate.

 I have watched other dogs howl as if they were singing to music/sirens/musical instrument via youtube video and, Palette tilts her head, very interested to listen to their howling.

 So, what the howling mean to dogs? Why do they howl?

 According to petplace.com site, reasons why dogs howl seem to be not clear, however, it is thought that dog howling could be a trace of wild nature of their ancestor: wolf.

 It also states that wolves use the howling to communicate each other and it uses different pitches when howl. Reason why is that different pitched tone can carry sound to longer distance possible. And, for wolves, howling can mean a couple of things.

 1. to let others know where howling wolves are at precise location if they happen to be separated from their own pack.

 2. to acknowledge wolves got messages of howling wolves

 3. to discourage other pack of wolves to get into their territory

 Interesting thing is that, it seems each individual wolf has their own unique howling and IF wolves that got separated from own pack can recognize if the howl is from their pack or not. And,if the howl did not sound similar, the lost wolves move away from where they were howling.

 You can read more on dog howling here.

 So, what are your theories on why dogs howl? Did you know that simple barking alone has their own meaning behind it?

 Bow, wow wow (short,calm bark) :barking to familiar people or dogs aka canine greeting

 Bowwowwowwowwow : non stop barking aka warning others (telling others something is not right)
 
 Howl: calling for their own pack from loneliness?
 
 Grrr: (low tone growling): Warning others “I am not comfortable”
 
 yelp: (high pitched short tone): feeling pain
 
 yodeling sound: I’m happy!

 As a side note, one of my Japanese book on dog behavior talked about relationship of tone of the barking and emotion of the dogs. Author Mina Mochizuki (from book titled emotion of the dogs) wrote that the higher the dog barking pitch is, the more it shows dogs are feeling pain,scared, nervousness. Also she states that the faster the barking interval of each bark,the more it shows dogs are feeling excitement.

 Case in point, dogs see UPS guy walking to your door. What barks do you hear? I bet you hear non stop barking and never hear calm short bark.

 And, last not but least, the lower the tone of the bark, the more dogs feel uncomfortable and lower tone means warning, or showing they are angry. Case in point,you never hear high pitched yelping sound for example when you try to take their favorite toys away.

 ** Make sure to give back whatever things you took away from them,and let them know that not everything you take away going away forever. Practice “give” command with low valued item to them and if the item you happen to have to take away was very high valued item like bones they were chewing on, trade the bone you like to take away with something more high valued items.

 Playing fetch game (ball, Frisbee etc) is also good opportunity to practice “give” command, plus good opportunity for them to practice self control. When Palette bring back ball or Frisbee, first thing she does is drop the ball/Frisbee (aka “give command) , and I pick it up and when she sits nicely without barking, I continue throwing balls/Frisbee. If she were barking non stop from excitement or impatient etc, she never gets to continue playing When I first started teaching her “give” command, I started off with toys which she did not have much interests in playing and gradually moved up higher valued item to food.

 Listen carefully what your furry friends say to you. Just simple barking has so much to offer for you to understand them.

 
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Dec 01, 2009 | 0 | Uncategorized