Sunday, 17 June 2007

Howling dogs


Rokedi, the Briard I look after, howls when he hears the ice cream van. And only when it plays the Blue Danube. Now, not all species of the dog family howl. Foxes do not howl. Members of highly social species such as domestic dogs, dingoes, coyotes and wolves do.
The literature on wolf ecology suggests that they howl for two reasons: first to help assemble the pack before a hunt and second lone individuals either to seek contact with other pack members or to attract others during mating/breeding season.
Some wolves and dogs howl at the moon or the sky: no one knows why. And some howl in response to the sound of singing or the violin or the sound of the vacuum cleaner as if to imitate the sound they are hearing. But like lone wolves, domestic dogs most often howl when they are on their own, deprived of the company of humans or other dogs, especially if they are shut away. Often dogs also howl when their owners die. It is a way of expression grief and seeking companionship and comfort from the humans around them. This may stem from a long evolutionary ancestry because researchers into wolf behaviour in the face of death have observed that wolves howl in a particularly mournful way when a beloved companion has died.

11 comments:

Flowerpot said...

in that instance (howling when their beloved companions die) they are like us humans. I'm glad to say our dog has never howled - yet! A lovely post.

jmb said...

This is a really interesting post. So many different reasons to howl and not all common to every dog.
We had a black schnauzer who would howl when my son played his clarinet. He would run into the room and sit in front of him and howl. My daughter played the flute but that was of no interest to him whatsoever.
He didn't howl at any other time and he was my only dog who was a howler.
regards
jmb

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Very interesting, Eurodog. Simi doesn't howl, I am glad to say but I once had a dog who howled to the Archers theme tune on radio 4! I never worked out whether he couldn't stand it or was joining in!

Jean said...

My dog howls when I'm working in the front garden and he's inside!

Result: I have to work in the front garden with the leash tied to my belt, which is quiet a funny view for people that drive by...

Rebecca Taunton said...

A lovely post Eurodog.

We had two dogs when I was growing up. When it was just me in the house, they would forget that I was upstairs and first one would start in her high pitched howl, and then the other would join in with his low bass, like a doggy singing competition.

When the female died, poor Sam howled every time he was left on his own (even if it was just to go to the loo). I think he missed his companion very much.

Ellee said...

How very interesting, dogs are so clever and to have a tuneful one must be a real bonus.

I have just returned from Greece where there were many think dogs. I am not sure if they were thin as a result of their natural physiology, or if they were hungry.

VioletsVintage said...

I feel awful when I hear a dog howl, especially at the shelter. I keep raw hide chews for them so they will have something to concentrate on besides how lonely they are.

Eurodog said...

ellee,
yes, I noticed that too in Spain and in Portugal. Maybe the heat has something to do with it. I must look into that.

Eurodog said...

VV, you must do terrific work at the shelter and it must be very difficult at times.

Winchester whisperer said...

have you tried playing him a cd of the Blue Danube to see if it sets him off?

Anonymous said...

My dog howls because there is a bitch in season a few blocks from us. I wondered why he has just started to do it, he is 2 1/2 yrs old, my vet asked if he was a randy dog and he was, she said that's why he is howling. He got a temporary hormone injection whichstopped the howling for about 8 weeks, then it all started again. Seemingly a dog can smell a bitch in season for miles. i have had to make the hard decision and is is getting castrated..