Why does my German Shepherd howl?

Why does a German Shepherd howl? It is one of the most typical questions that people ask when they have a German shepherd or are thinking about getting one. Let’s all agree that German Shepherds have a habit of howling. Most owners of German Shepherds have shared that their dogs howl from time to time. […]
German Shepherd standing in the park
Why does my German Shepherd howl?

Why does a German Shepherd howl? It is one of the most typical questions that people ask when they have a German shepherd or are thinking about getting one. Let’s all agree that German Shepherds have a habit of howling.

Most owners of German Shepherds have shared that their dogs howl from time to time. Sometimes they howl due to some factors of their environment, other times, it seems that they howl without any apparent reason at all. This confusion leads most of the owners right back to the question, why does my German Shepherd howl?

This is the question that we will be exploring in the following section of this article. We will share the causes that make these dogs start the unusual and sometimes heavily entertaining howling. If you are worried about the howlings of your German Shepherd, better keep on reading.

Why does my German Shepherd howl?

There are many reasons for which the German Shepherds howl. Some of the principal reasons are injury, sickness, separation anxiety, communication, or defence. As German Shepherds are descendants of the wolves howling comes naturally to them. So, from defining territory and seeking attention to loneliness, the German Shepherds can howl for all of these reasons. Sounds, especially sirens and musical instruments, can cause your German Shepherd to howl as well.

These factors indicate that your German Shepherd can howl even when there is no cause for concern.

To effectively stop your dog from howling incessantly, you should identify the reason for its behaviour and find the best methods for stopping it.

What If Your German Shepherd Does Not Howl?

While most German Shepherds howl, some dogs do not. Whether the dog will howl or not depends on the animal itself. So, there is no cause for concern if your dog does not howl. As you can teach your German Shepherds how to stop howling, you can also teach your dog to howl.

Why does my German Shepherd howl?

We have already explained the reasons for howling in short. But to understand the howling behaviour of your dog better, you should have in-depth knowledge about the reasons for such action. Here are the explanations in full of the reasons that make the German Shepherd howl.

Ancestry

The German Shepherds are the descendants of wolves. If you study the characteristics of the wolves, you will notice that howling is one of their most common traits. Through the howling, wolves identify each other in the wild. Whenever someone gets separated from the pack or if one of the wolves stays back to tend the young, it keeps howling. It is like a signal for the rest of the pack to come to them.

If your German Shepherd howls, it can indicate that they instinctively choose to do it. So, if you are wondering whether the howling exhibits lousy behaviour on your dog’s part, think again.

Grey wolf howling in a forest
Grey Wolf Howling

Separation anxiety

As we have already mentioned, the wolves howl when they get separated from the pack. For modern dogs, the owner becomes its entire pack. So, the chances are that when you get away, your German Shepherd will howl for you to come back.

Their howl is an indication that they want you back home to them. In simple terms, your dog loves you and misses you terribly, and your absence is making them anxious. So, your German Shepherd wants you to come back.

Furthermore, as you return at the end of the day, your dog thinks that his howling was successful. This understanding reinforces howling.

Checking the condition of your home is one of the easiest ways to find out whether your dog was howling due to anxiety. Most of the time, the separation anxiety in the dogs is associated with other destructive behaviours. Your dog needs to vent the anxiety in some way or the other. That could lead them to chew things up when you are not there.

If you think this is the problem, then take active measures to find a solution. Perhaps you could try to arrange for a dog sitter. You can also try to check-in where possible to your dog more to stop them from getting anxious and howling all day.

Defining the territory

Like the wolves, the German Shepherds are pretty protective of their territory. So, if they think that someone is encroaching on their territory, they can howl. It is a signal to the other dogs or animals that if they come close to the howling point, the German Shepherd is all set to engage with them.

Howling for attention

This type of howling is different from the above ones. It has, in fact, an uncanny similarity to the crying of the babies when they want your undivided attention.

This type of howling does not indicate that your dog is injured or requires food. Some people argue that as the survival of the dog depends on your attention, it instinctively howls for your attention. However, there is some doubt about this theory.

Whatever the reasons might be, it merely indicates that your dog requires your attention. If your dog keeps howling in such a manner, you should ask yourself whether you are giving your dog enough attention, or if it is merely seeking your attention for the sake of craving attention. As you find the root cause, try to take adequate actions, and the howling will stop.

Howling in response to sound

If you follow the howling behaviour of your German Shepherd closely, you will find that they often howl in response to another sound. While this type of howling may amuse you, your dog is not howling to have fun. Let’s have a look in the following section to know why your german Shepherd howls in response to sounds.

Sirens

If you notice your dog closely, you will find that the sound of the siren catches the attention of your German Shepherd immediately. Most owners think that the loud blasting sound of the sirens hurt the ears of the dogs. As the blasting sirens are pretty painful to human ears, we tend to assume that the dogs have a much more keen sense of hearing compared to us. It is one of the biggest myths.

Observe your dog while it howls to the siren, and ask yourself whether your dog looks like it’s in pain. Most probably, your answer to that question would be no. You can even catch your dog wagging its tail and enjoying itself while howling away at the sound of the siren.

The reason for this behaviour once again brings the ancestry of the German Shepherd. Wolves never bark to communicate with each other. Instead, they howl. Researchers have found out that the things that the wolves communicate with howling tend to mean one of the two things;

a. It is lonely
b. Go away.

Since the dog was not howling before it heard the siren, it typically means that the dog is telling the siren to go away. As the emergency vehicles do go away pretty fast, the dog thinks that they have been successful in its efforts. This leads your dog to howl over and over whenever it hears a siren.

Singing

While trying to find the answers to your question, why does my German Shepherd howl, have you ever thought that your dog might just be signing? Incredible, isn’t it?

Well, the researchers have indicated that most of the canines can sense the pitch. For example, if a wolf joins the howling of another wolf, the first one tends to change its howling pitch slightly. As more wolve joins the howling, each of them howls in a different pitch. The reason is, each of the wolves wants to be heard. So, they deliberately change their pitch to make sure that it does not sound like others.

Your German Shepherd does the same thing. Unlike its ancestors, it does not want to sound different. It just wants to add its two cents to your singing or the song you are playing in your sound system. It’s up to you to decipher what your dog is saying, but while howling along to a song, it tends to enjoy itself.

Musical instrument

If you have played different musical instruments around your dog, you might have noticed that some instruments evoke more reactions from your German Shepherd than the others. The wind instruments, as well as the long drawn out notes of the violin, prods the dogs to howl reasonably often.

German Shepherd not only howls more to specific instruments, but they also tend to act differently depending on the variation of music. A researcher of Queen’s University Belfast noted that the dogs responded differently to three different types of music. While pop music did not show much response from the dogs, it is the heavy metal that created a canine pandemonium. Classical music, on the other hand, had a calming effect on the dogs.

Howling for pain

If a person gets injured in some way or the other, he or she often curses, shouts or cries out loud. Howling is the dog’s way of crying out loud when it is in pain. So, if your dog keeps howling and you fail to find any reasons, you need to investigate the matter more thoroughly.

In some cases, the dogs’ injuries are not easily noticeable to us. You need to take a closer look to find out if there is any injury in the first place. Check your dog’s body carefully to find out whether there are any cuts. Use your fingers to examine its paws and body to find out the trace of an open wound.

Even if you do not locate any injury, you should not assume that there are no health reasons behind the howling. At this point, you must consult your vet for a better check-up. The trained veterinarian can find out the cause of the pain and take necessary actions to stop the howling.

Howling due to loneliness

Have you ever noticed a chained up dog howling desperately? You might think that the dog is signalling you to go away, but the reason might be something else. The dog might feel lonely, and that’s why it is howling.

As unfortunate as it may seem, certain people do not give their German Shepherd the love and attention it desperately seeks. Instead of giving them a home, where they will get a lot of attention and love, they chain the dog outside of the house or business premises to deter the intruders.

Some dog owners do not think that the dogs can be more than just a barrier of defence against the intruders. They neglect to give attention to the dogs that they need. In these situations, the German Shepherds keep howling as they feel incredibly lonely.

German Shepherd's play fighting in the snow
German Shepherd’s play fighting

Howling to communicate

It is one of the most common reasons for the German Shepherd breed to howl. They often howl to communicate with the other dogs. As you might know, dogs are one of the most friendly animals. They crave interactions with other dogs that they do not get as much. You might notice that as your dog starts howling, the dog of your neighbour starts it too.

This type of howling often resembles a chain reaction. It usually occurs as your dog does not get much chance to communicate with other dogs. As howling helps the dogs to cast a wide net of sounds, it helps your dog to communicate with the dogs of homes that are far away from yours.

All in all, every German Shepherd owner needs to understand the reasons that your German Shepherd howl. As the above article elaborated perfectly, there is always some reason why your German Shepherd keeps howling. If you comprehend the causes, you will be able to understand your dog better and take steps to solve the underlying issues.

If you are still not sure about the reasons why your German Shepherd keeps howling, you should get professional to help. A veterinary professional can find out the problem and advise you about the steps that you can take to stop it. Also, it is better to train your German Shepherd well if you want to have a healthy and happy dog. All in all, read more about your dog, take care of it, and shower it with abundant affection and love to keep your German Shepherd happy forever.

About the Author

Teresa loves animals and travelling around the UK! She currently has two dogs and two cats. She loves caring for and sharing her knowledge of pets. Qualified Dog Groomer and currently studying Canine Behaviour. She has been part of the Dog Friendly Team since 2016

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