They are a lot of reasons to answer the question why do huskies howl. Ultimately, the reason is that huskies communicate, sometimes loudly, in order to get some sort of point across. Be it their state of health, how they are feeling, or just to find out where everyone else is. Howling is not just a loud noise produced in order to aggravate humans; if a husky is howling there is usually a good reason for it. So it pays to pay attention to what your husky may be howling about.
Why Do Huskies Howl Like Wolves?
Huskies are sometimes considered half-wolf, and the howling does not help in that consideration. While huskies separated from their wolf ancestors as all other dogs did, one trait they kept was howling. This allowed them to communicate over long distances, a useful trait considering how far it was between human settlements. This allowed the husky to take full advantage of the tundra, and hunt in packs without having to be close to each other, coordinating the entire pack in order to take down a prey animal or a group of animals.
When they became part of the human pack, howling allowed the human pack to coordinate over a distance, allowing them to at least tell where the other humans were as long as they had a husky with them. As humans learned to use sleds, howling allowed the packs to coordinate and become more efficient as a sled team. Given huskies’ need to escape, the howling also allowed the humans to track down errant huskies, but that was a side benefit. By paying attention to the howling, the humans could better tell how the huskies were doing.
When Do Huskies Start Howling?
Huskies start howling as soon as their vocal cords allow them to do so. However, their initial howls are not all that impressive and are usually more cute than useful.
As the husky grows up it is better able to howl, as both its vocal cords allow its voice to deepen and it has a lot more practice. The initial howls are only to others in its immediate vicinity, but eventually, the howls begin to be heard by others. The pups eventually become adults and are able to fully take advantage of their ability to howl and thus communicate with others.
It is worth noting that a pup raised without other huskies around it will eventually learn the husky howl. However, if there is another howling husky in the area, preferably an older one, the pup will learn how to howl quicker and more effectively. With an adult to learn from, the pup can quickly learn all there is to know about howling and can thus start communicating effectively younger than if they had to learn it by themselves. This makes it important for a pup to grow up near, or at least within hearing distance, of other huskies, in order to learn how to howl at the earliest possible age.
What does a Husky’s Howling Mean?
There are plenty of reasons why huskies howl.
Ultimately, the question of “Why do Siberian Huskies howl?” is a pretty simple one: They howl to communicate.
There are plenty of reasons for huskies to howl, and they range from just letting everyone know something interesting is happening to they are in trouble. It is just a matter of listening to the howl and looking at the husky’s behavior in order to determine the reason behind the husky’s howling. Once the reason behind the howling has been determined, the owner can then react to it if a reaction is warranted. There is a reason so many husky owners refer to howling and “talking”; the husky says a lot if you know the language.
It should be noted that howling is not the only form of vocal communication from huskies. They also growl and bark. Barking is good for local threats or to greet others, just as growling can be a sound to get someone to back down or to show pleasure, such as getting a good scratching. However, howling is usually far more efficient and actually takes less energy than barking or growling, and so howling is usually its first choice.
With that in mind, it is imperative that the owner learn the various howls of the husky, especially as the barking and growling may be pretty obvious.
Responding to Another Howl
If you want to see something interesting, play a video of any other canine howling where your husky can hear it. Odds are good that the husky will join in and respond to the howling that they hear; this is a natural reaction.
In the wild, howling would be used to coordinate the pack in taking down a prey animal. Domestic dogs still howl as it allows them to check in with other dogs, even if those dogs are not within view. Given that howling has a range in miles, this is not necessarily a bad way to see how everyone is doing.
This is also why dogs with separation anxiety howl: They are trying to get the attention of their owners and howling is the most effective way they know of doing exactly that. It is also likely that the owner will only hear about this from neighbors. While there are ways to deal with separation anxiety, it is something that needs to be dealt with as soon as the problem is a known issue.
It should be noted that a group of huskies responding to the same howl can quickly get out a message over a long distance relatively quickly, especially if the dogs themselves cover a wide area. While it is unlikely that such a howling network would be used in an urban area, it is somewhat common in more rural areas, especially if there is nothing that can interfere with the howling. It is thus possible that dogs could come together at a particular house or particular alert owners to figure out that something is afoot, therefore allowing the howling to act as an early defense system.
When They Hear High-Pitched Sounds
Dogs not only howl in response to the howling of other dogs but to any high-pitched sound that they hear. This can be anything from sirens to babies; anything that makes a high-pitched sound will elicit a response of some sort. It does not help in this situation that dogs can hear into a range that humans cannot; those sounds will also elicit a howl. The dog is merely responding to stimulus in its environment. In and of itself this is not a bad thing as it means that the dog is aware of what is going on in its environment.
This does not mean that you cannot have fun with it. It can actually be somewhat educational and, to a degree, entertaining to see exactly which sounds will start the husky to howling. As there is a wide range of sounds that can create the reaction, it can be interesting to see which sounds create the howl.
It should be noted that the dog is responding based on instinct; even a dog that has never been part of a pack is likely to howl if he hears the appropriate sound. Again, it is just instinct taking over and allowing the dog to report on what is happening around him to others.
There is Something Wrong With the Dog
As howling is communication it should be no wonder that a dog will describe its situation to anyone that will listen. This applies to any form of physical distress that the husky is feeling. This can be physical pain as well as just not feeling well. This is where it helps to pay attention to the actions of the dog as well as its howl; its actions can help you figure out exactly what the problem is. Failing that, you can always take the dog to the veterinarian.
It should be noted that the dog will be communicating mental issues as well as physical problems. This is where you, as the owner, need to get good at listening to the dog’s howling as well as paying attention to its actions. Dogs feel emotions just as humans do, and those emotions can be just as big an issue as they can for a person. This especially applies to sadness and depression. A dog not eating can be a good indicator of the dog’s mood, especially backed by a sorrowful howl.
If the dog’s howling indicates that there is something wrong, remember that you need to pay attention to its actions, be it eating things it normally would avoid or not being as active as it normally would be. A dog’s actions can tell a lot about any problems it going through. Howling is just one indicator, its actions are another. By combining the two an owner can get an idea of what is going on and thus work towards some sort of solution, be it just playing with the dog more or booking an appointment with the veterinarian as quickly as possible.
When There Is Some Relationship Issue
Just like humans, dogs can have relationship issues. Usually, the problem is that the owner leaves the dog by itself with nothing to distract it, and the dog feels lonely. The dog will then howl in hopes that the owner will respond, preferably by returning home as quickly as possible in order to console the dog and play with it. In this regard, if you are constantly busy away from the home it may be bad to bring a dog home; the dog will be very lonely and thus howl a lot.
The obvious solution is to either spend a lot of time playing with your husky whenever possible or at least spend time with it. Another solution is to have another dog at home in order for the husky to not be lonely. Some owners have found virtual ways to deal with the problem, such as using videos of other dogs as well as hiring dog sitters and dog walkers.
While the optimal solution is to simply not bring a dog home if you are unable to give it the attention it desires, there are solutions to a lonely dog if you pay attention to the problem.
To Warn You of Danger
One of the basic realities of huskies is that they make horrible guard dogs. As they are loyal to the family and not individuals, they are just not likely to defend the family as a regular guard dog would. However, they can sense danger, even if it is just an unfamiliar smell or someone approaching from a direction that they are not used to seeing someone approaching from.
In short, they are just more likely to let you know that there is a problem than to defend you from it, but that should be more than enough.
It should be noted that this is more of a function of the husky’s intelligence and ability to adapt to a given situation than because they are any good as a guard dog. This means that the dog is responding to an unfamiliar stimulus more than anything else.
Again, it is incumbent upon the owner in order to determine what the problem is and react appropriately, but at least some warning is better than none at all. Hopefully, that small amount of warning will be more than enough to figure out what the problem is and deal with it.
The Husky is a Happy Husky
Up until now, we have pointed out that a husky will respond to a range of unhappy stimuli. It should be noted that huskies also respond to happy stimuli as well, ranging from a special snack being given to the husky to the owner coming home. While it should be obvious to at least the owner that the husky is happy, that may not be the case to others. However, the sound of a happy husky should be obvious to all that know the dog in question.
Of course, because it is a howl it is likely that the message will be quickly spread among the dog’s network. If dogs do feel emotion like humans do, this could be a way of spreading good news quickly among a select group of dogs. In the wild, this could be a way of getting everyone to the same meal in a hurry, or where to find water. So spreading the news would be a way of keeping everyone alive, just as howling would pull everyone together for prey or act as a warning for anyone listening.
How to Deal with Excessive Howling
One of the problems with having a species that howls is that there is a possibility that it may howl too much. This, unfortunately, means that it is important to know how to deal with a husky that howls excessively. While you are most likely to hear the problem yourself, it is also likely that you may hear about the problem from neighbors, depending on the cause of the problem.
The first thing to do when you first hear the husky howling just a little too much is to rule out obvious problems.
Some huskies will howl in order to get attention. These huskies suffer from separation anxiety and are trying to get your attention, even if you cannot hear the howling. It just means that you need to spend more time with the dog.
Others will howl if there is some sort of medical issue. It is important to rule those two things out before going on to other solutions. It may take a trip to the veterinarian in order to solve the issue, but that trip could save more than your eardrums.
If it is determined that the dog is not just lonely or sick, then it is necessary to take steps to stop the husky howling. Desensitization and counter-conditioning are the usual first steps to dealing with a dog that howls too much. You can also teach the dog to be quiet or even an alternative to howling.
As usual, do not be afraid to seek out help if you need it. A certified professional dog trainer can help your dog deal with any excessive howling issues.
All told, huskies howl for a wide range of reasons. By listening to the various howls, a person can tell what is going on with the husky and allow for it as necessary, be it due to loneliness, illness, or even because there is something good going on. The howl is a very important part of a husky’s life as it is a lifeline to other huskies and their human pack mates. Without howling a husky would be unable to communicate with others, making its life pretty difficult. However, a husky able to howl can be a very happy animal, as anyone within miles can tell just by listening.