What does a dog howling mean? Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Howling?

What does a dog howling mean? Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Howling?

Why Do Dogs Howl? Should I Be Concerned?

The mysterious and haunting sound of a dog howling has captivated humans for centuries. Many dog parents have found themselves wondering about this behavior and in some cases asking if they should be worried about their dog howling. This intriguing behavior always leads to questions like: Why do dogs howl? Should I be worried about my dog howling? Is your dog trying to tell you something through their howl? Are there different kinds of howling? What can I do if my dog is howling too much?

Let’s unpack all these question one by one by starting from the first origins. 

Why Do Wolves Howl?

To understand why dogs howl, we need to go back to their roots, tracing their ancestry to wolves. Wolves, the ancestors of domestic dogs, rely on howling as a form of communication. This instinctual way of vocal communication serves various purposes in the wild, including marking territory, recalling the pack, and signaling danger or the location of prey. Wolves howl to maintain social bonds within the pack and convey crucial information across long distances.

Why Do Dogs Howl?

Some domestic dogs, having evolved from wolves, have inherit this howling behavior with some modifications. While domestic family dogs don’t need or depend on howling as wolves do in the  wilderness, dogs can howl for various reasons. It’s a form of communication manifested in different ways that can send different messages depending on the context. We’ll talk later in this article how dogs use howling as a form of social interaction and what different types of howls might mean.

Reasons Dogs Howl

Before we drive into potential concerns and solutions related to dog howling, let’s talk about the various reasons why dogs howl. This will lay the groundwork for understanding their vocal behavior and provide insights into their communication methods.

-Dogs Howl to Get Attention

One common reason for a dog’s howling is a desire for attention. Whether they’re seeking interaction, playtime, or simply want to be acknowledged, howling is simply a way to get your valued attention. 

-Dogs Howl to Communicate with People or Other Dogs

Dogs are social animals, and howling is one way they communicate with both humans and fellow dogs. We’ll talk later in this article how dogs use howling as a form of social interaction and what different types of howls might mean.

-Dogs Howl to Let Others Know They’re There

In the wild, wolves use howling to establish their presence and maintain contact with other pack members. Human family dogs, may howl to tell their location or their presence to other dogs in your neighborhood. This is why sometimes this behavior can become a block doggy howling concert!

-Dogs Howl to Express Emotions

Sometime dogs howl to express their emotions. This could be joy, loneliness, anxiety – each emotion can have its unique nuanced sound. 

-Dogs Howl to Convey Pain or Discomfort

Howling can also express physical distress. I’ll explain later how to differentiate between attention-seeking howls and those that signal pain or discomfort.

-Dogs Howl to Respond to Triggering Noises

Certain sounds can trigger a dog’s howling instinct. Whether it’s a siren, musical instruments, or other dogs howling, sometimes its just a conditional response to external stimuli.

-Do Dogs Howl as signaling Death?

The notion that dogs howl as an omen of death has persisted for centuries. It’s hard to separate fact from fiction, but it would be interesting to explore the cultural and historical context of this belief. Let me know on the comments if you’d like to know more about that! 

Should I Be Worried About My Dog’s Howling?

While occasional howling is normal, persistent or sudden changes in behavior may be concerning. Excessive howling could 

indicate underlying issues, and understanding when to be worried is crucial for your dog’s well-being.

Excessive howling may be a sign of distress, boredom, loneliness, or even a medical problem. Dogs are highly expressive creatures, and changes in behavior are often their way of communicating that something is up.

If your dog has suddenly started howling more than usual, consider factors such as recent changes in their environment, routine, or any potential stressors. Environmental factors, like loud noises or the presence of unfamiliar people or animals, can trigger increased vocalization.

What’s the difference between attention-seeking howls and pain or discomfort howls?

Distinguishing between attention-seeking howls and those that indicate pain or discomfort in your dog requires careful observation and understanding of your dog’s behavior. Here are some tips to help you differentiate:

Context and Timing:

Pay attention to when the howling occurs. If your dog howls when you’re not giving attention or during specific situations, it may be attention-seeking. On the other hand, if it happens consistently during certain activities or when touched in a specific area, it could be a sign of pain.

Body Language:

Observe your dog’s overall body language. Signs of pain may include a tense body, hunched back, or avoidance of certain movements. Attention-seeking howls may be accompanied by playful behavior or a wagging tail. Don’t underestimate your intuition. Intuition tends to flow in when you are a good observer just by paying attention. 

Location of Howling:

Consider where your dog is howling. If it happens when you leave the room or when they want your attention, it’s likely attention-seeking. If the howling is associated with a specific area or while performing certain actions, it may indicate discomfort or pain.

Vocalization Nuances:

The tone and pitch of the howl can provide clues. Continuous and high-pitched howls may indicate distress or pain, while short, sporadic howls may be attention-seeking.

Physical Examination:

Gently examine your dog for any signs of injury or discomfort. Check for limping, swelling, or sensitivity in certain areas. If you suspect pain, consult with a veterinarian for a thorough examination.

Changes in Behavior:

Pay attention for any changes in your dog’s behavior. If you feel their not acting as themselves. If they suddenly become more aggressive, reluctant to engage in activities they usually enjoy, or  they seem less energetic it could be a sign of pain.

Consulting a Veterinarian:

If you’re uncertain about the cause of your dog’s howling, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform a physical examination, conduct tests if necessary, and provide professional advice on your dog’s well-being.

What Do I Do If My Dog Is Howling Too Much?

As I already covered Identifying the root cause of your dog’s increased howling is the first step in addressing the issue. Here are some practical tips to help you manage and reduce excessive howling:

1. Environmental Calmness

Ensure your dog has a relaxed environment and that feels safe at your home. Providing a home where your dog is not stress can have a great impact on their demeanor and good mental heath.

2. Regular Structured Exercise

A tired dog is less likely to engage in excessive howling. Make sure your dog gets regular structured exercise through walks, playtime, behavior training and other physical activities that involves mental self control. 

3. Vet Check-Up

If your dog’s howling is sudden or seems unrelated to environmental factors, a visit to the veterinarian is essential. Physical discomfort, pain, or underlying health issues could be triggering the increased vocalization.

4. Calm Reinforcement

Use calm reinforcement techniques for quiet behavior. When your dog refrains from howling in situations where they usually would, praise with calmness or engage your dog in a structured game that involves mental control. Be very careful with treats or activities that can overstimulate your dog, since this can trigger excitement which will trigger howling. Sometimes less is more!! For more on that read this other blog: How to calm your dog down

5. Training and Desensitization

If your dog’s howling is triggered by specific noises, consider behavior training and desensitization techniques. Gradually expose them to the triggering sounds under threshold and at low intensity. Asking for professional help from an experienced behavior trainer like Pawmos Dog Training can help if you’re not sure how to do it yourself. You can also read this bog for more insight : How to deal with a traumatic experience: Lassie is terrified of stairs

6. Seek Professional Help

If the problem persists or if you’re unsure about the underlying cause, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist like Pawmos Dog Training. They can assess your dog’s behavior, provide tailored advice, and assist in developing a behavior modification plan.

Remember, patience and consistency are key when addressing excessive howling. Each dog is unique, and finding the right approach may take time.

The Musicality of Dog’s Howls

Now that we’ve addressed concerns related to excessive howling, let’s explore the musicality of doggy howls. As a former professional musician, as an artist and as behaviorist I just need to dive into this!! 

Each dog has a unique voice, and their howls can vary in pitch, tone, and duration. Now we are going to get into the different musical qualities of dog’s howls and what they might reveal about your dog’s personality.

The Art of Interpretation: Decoding Your Dog’s Howls

Have you ever wondered what your dog is trying to say through their howls? This is my favorite part! You’d be amazed of how much you can bond with your dog if you just listen. Because bonding is not just about doing things all the time, it’s also about being present and learning about your dog in silence. By listening with curiosity you can feed your own understanding and intuition directly from your dog. 

 I can’t wait to get into this. Ok, so whether it’s a mournful howl, an excited yodel, or a series of short barks, let’s decode the furry secrets within their melodic performances!

Dogs’ howls can vary in musical qualities, and while it’s not a precise science, that’s why I call it the Art of Dog Training, certain characteristics may provide insights into your dog’s personality. Keep in mind that like any art form, individual differences and contexts play a significant role, and these interpretations are simply guidelines:

Pitch:

  • High-Pitched: Excitement, playfulness, or seeking attention.
  • Low-Pitched: Confidence, assertiveness, or a response to a perceived threa

Duration:

  • Short and Sporadic: Attention-seeking, wanting to play, or expressing happiness.
  • Long and Continuous: Could indicate loneliness, anxiety, or a response to a perceived danger.

Volume:

  • Loud: Confidence, excitement, or an attempt to communicate over a distance.
  • Soft: Submission, fear, or a less urgent form of communication.

Consistency:

  • Consistent Howling: May indicate a more stable and content personality.
  • Inconsistent or Sudden Changes: Could suggest stress, discomfort, or a reaction to a change in environment.

Harmonics:

  • ls with Vibrato or Changes in Pitch: Could indicate a more expressive and emotionally responsive personality.

Rhythm:

  • Regular Rhythm: Potential confidence and comfort.
  • Irregular Rhythm: Nervousness, fear, or uncertainty.

Context:

  • Howling in Response to Certain Sounds: May suggest alertness or a more sensitive nature.
  • Howling during Play: Playful and social personality.
  • Howling at Strangers: Protective or territorial nature.

Solo or Group Howling:

  • Solo Howling: Independence or a desire for attention.
  • Group Howling: Social and pack-oriented nature.

Frequency:

  • Frequent Howling: Could indicate a more vocal and expressive personality.
  • Rare Howling: Reserved or less vocal personality.

Reactivity:

  • Quick Response to Environmental Stimuli: Alertness and awareness.
  • Delayed or Lack of Response: Could suggest a more laid-back or indifferent personality.

 

To sum up the howl remains one of the most enigmatic aspects of dog’s behavior. Rooted in their ancestral ties to wolves, dogs’ howling serves various functions in their communication repertoire. Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s howling can deepen the bond between you and your furry friend. So, the next time you hear that haunting melody, remember – it’s your dog’s unique way of expressing themselves in the language of howls.

         © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved Jan 2024

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

Cracking The “Come When Called” Code: Your Dog’s Best-Kept Secret”

“Come when called,” commonly known as recall training, is arguably the most critical cue for any dog owner to perfect. While it may seem straightforward, there are numerous nuances to consider, and overlooking them can jeopardize your results. However, there’s a hidden secret that can make all the difference in your recall training journey.

Factors such as avoiding the use of food lures, gradually phasing out treats, mastering your body language, comprehending reinforcement, success rates, and introducing distance and distractions are all essential components of recall training. But there’s one element, often underestimated, that can have a lasting impact on your dog’s recall. On the flip side, if you get it right, recall training becomes a breeze. So, what is this elusive secret, and how can you unlock its potential?

To uncover this hidden gem, we first need to acknowledge that there are five crucial stages of recall training. Among them, the initial stage is the simplest yet most vital: “CLARITY.”

Let’s deep into the concept of clarity and understand why this stage, and the correct sequence of events, is of vital importance. As Winston Churchill once said, “Luck is in the taking care of the important details.”

The first stage, “CLARITY,” centers around making the command or cue “come” absolutely clear in your pup’s mind, and ensuring it works like a well-oiled machine.

This means that when you say “come,” your dog should respond fast and automatically. This process is known as “conditioning” or, for those interested in the finer details, “classical conditioning.” Why is this so crucial? Because this is what imparts the true meaning of “come” to your dog. You are conditioning your dog to have an automatic, immediate response to the word “come.” It’s not a thought process; it happens automatically and is rewarded. Understanding this concept is essential.

Let’s illustrate how classical conditioning works with a simple example: think of a dog, a bell, and hidden food. You ring the bell and then present and provide food. Crucially, there should be a delay between the bell sound and food delivery. If you repeat this process enough times, something fascinating occurs. When you ring the bell without offering any food, the dog starts salivating. Essentially, the value of the food becomes associated with the bell.

The bell alone, without food, now triggers salivation. It’s essential to know that salivating is an automatic response, not a conscious decision. In other words, the dog doesn’t choose to salivate; it occurs automatically through association. This process is known as conditioning, more specifically, “classical conditioning.”

Understanding the difference between triggering a response (classical conditioning) and reinforcing a response that already occurred with food (operant conditioning) is crucial for establishing clarity from the beginning.

Why is this understanding important? Because reinforcement (operant conditioning) rewards a behavior that has already happened, while an automatic conditioned response (classical conditioning) initiates the behavior. These are two entirely different processes, each serving a distinct purpose over time. This is a point that many people often overlook or misunderstand.

But let’s get practical, as promised. Here’s how to create that automatic conditioned response and discover the hidden gem. Pay close attention:

Important Tip: In Stage 1, your dog should be excited and a little riled up. Without excitement, you won’t achieve the speed you need in your recall training.

Stage 1: CLARITY! Your goal in this stage is to ensure that the command or cue “come” is crystal clear in your pup’s mind and that it works.

To establish this clarity and a strong conditioning foundation from the outset, conduct your training indoors, free from distractions and at a close distance. Why? Because distractions and distance can interfere with the meaning and imprinting of the word “come.” In this initial conditioning phase, you’re imprinting a swift response in your dog when you say the word “come.”

Step 1: Begin by grabbing a treat (or your dog’s most high-value reward) and stand very close in front of your pup. Get your dog’s attention with the treat, but do not use it as a lure. Simply show the treat to your dog.

Step 2: Say “come” and pause for half a second. Then move away quickly and backwards, facing your dog. Be cautious not to trip over any obstacles behind you.

Step 3: When your dog comes to you, deliver the reward as close to your body as possible. Do not ask your dog to sit or wait. Just provide the reward. You are teaching one thing: “come,” and that’s it. Introducing other commands or cues at this stage can hinder clarity and the conditioning process. This is particularly true at the beginning when you’re teaching your dog what the word “come” means.

Step 4: Repeat this process 3 to 5 times. Then take a break for 30 seconds, or wait until your dog becomes distracted with something else. Afterward, say the word “come” again. If your dog responds by coming to you, you have successfully taught your dog the meaning of “come,” and the conditioning is working. If your dog doesn’t come to you, wait for a good hour, and repeat steps 1 to 3 until your dog grasps the meaning of “come.” Stick with Stage 1 until “come” truly means “come.” Do not exceed 5 to 6 repetitions of steps 1-3, and always stop when your dog is eager for more.

Remember, you are merely associating the word “come” with an action (coming to you) and rewarding it with a treat, ball, or favorite toy. This initial stage serves as the foundation for your recall training. Without a solid foundation, all your training efforts may crumble. So there you have it, the key to unlocking the perfect “come” command!

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved Nov 2023

 

 How Do I Teach My Puppy Not To Bite My Hands?

 How Do I Teach My Puppy Not To Bite My Hands?

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Getting a new puppy can be an exciting and fun time, but it also requires a lot of work and patience. One of the most important things you’ll need to teach your puppy is how to not bite your hands or your clothes. Here are some tips to help you train your new furry friend:

– 1. Set Boundaries

The first thing you’ll need to do is to learn how to set boundaries for your puppy in a calm and effective way. Teach them that biting is not acceptable. If your puppy bites your hands, you can stop the play or use the underhand technique to calm them down.

– 2. Do NOT yell or say NO

Using a high-pitched yelp to mimic the sound of a littermate being hurt to help discourage biting is NOT a good idea. This usually riles them up and makes them bite harder. Saying NO in harsh voice will either scare your puppy or make him/her more feisty.

– 3. Provide Chew Toys With Movement

Puppies like to chase things. Instead of just throwing toys to the floor and hope for the best, move the toys around with your hands. Make them chase the toys so they become interested in them. Offer your puppy a variety of textures and shapes to see what they prefer. This will help redirect their biting behavior to an appropriate outlet.

– 4. Encourage Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a very effective training method for puppies. When your puppy exhibits good behavior, reward them with a treat or verbal praise. This will help your puppy learn what is expected of them and will encourage them to continue appropriate behavior.

– 4 Be Consistent

Don’t let your puppy rehearse biting your hands. Consistency is key when it comes to training your puppy. Make sure everyone in your household is on the same page and using the same training techniques. If you’re inconsistent with your training, it will confuse your puppy and make it harder for them to learn.

– 5. Control Excitement 

Excitement can encourage biting behavior, so it’s important to be aware of it. If you riled your puppy up with excitement and move your hands fast your puppy is more likely to get bitey and target your hands.

– 6. Seek Professional Help

If your puppy’s biting behavior becomes aggressive or doesn’t improve with training, it may be time to seek professional help. A professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help assess your puppy’s behavior and provide more targeted training techniques.

Training your puppy not to bite your hands or your clothes takes patience and consistency. By setting boundaries, providing chew toys, encouraging positive reinforcement, not letting the practice it and seeking professional help if necessary, you can help your puppy learn appropriate behavior and develop into a well-behaved adult dog.

  © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved May 2023

 

Why Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts?

Why Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Butts?

Dogs are known for their curious and playful nature. They love to explore and interact with the world around them, including other dogs. One of the most common ways that dogs interact with each other is by sniffing each other’s butts. This behavior may seem strange to humans, but it is actually a crucial part of canine communication.

So, why do dogs sniff each other’s butts? 

To understand this behavior, it is important to know that dogs have a highly developed sense of smell. Their noses are much more sensitive than ours, and they use their sense of smell to gather information about the world around them. This includes gathering information about other dogs.

  • When dogs sniff each other’s butts, they are essentially gathering information about their fellow canine. The area around a dog’s butt is rich in scent glands, and the odors produced by these glands contain a wealth of information about the dog. For example, the scent can tell a dog about the other dog’s age, sex, health, and even what it has been eating.
  • Another reason dogs sniff each other’s butts is to socialize. It is a way for dogs to say hello and get to know each other. Dogs are social animals, and sniffing is a way for them to gather information and build relationships. They bond and establish trust with each other. 
  • Sometimes the manner in which dogs sniff rear ends can establish which of the two dogs is dominant and set the foundation of a canine relationshipThe dog that is sniffed first is usually considered to be the lower-ranking dog, while the dog that does the sniffing is the higher-ranking dog. 
  • Sniffing also helps the dog know when others are ready to mate or helps puppies locate their mother when they’re ready to eat.

Is intense smelling a sign of aggression?

There’s been some reports where a correlation between intense smelling and aggression has been noticed. In my experience the smelling part is never the issue, but the intensity can cause  problems. If your dog is smelling to intense and too pushy I advice you to work on slowing down your dog before interacting with a new dog or group of dogs. Dogs who interact too intense can create a lot of tension when socializing.  

Why do dogs smell another dog’s poop?

Dogs possess very powerful olfactory senses that can decode a lot of information. For dogs, poop is not gross, is just a source of very useful data  Dogs sniff poop to gather information about health conditions, diet, distress, home environment, and even another dog’s mood. The main aim of smelling poop is to gather information and learn more about the dog.

Sniffing each other’s butts is a natural behavior for dogs. It is a way for them to communicate, establish hierarchy status and bond with each other. So, next time you see your dog sniffing another dog’s butt, let them be. Your furry friend is simply engaging in a behavior that is a crucial part of dog communication.

     © Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved April 2023

What’s Dog Trancing? Is This Normal?

What’s Dog Trancing? Is This Normal?

What is Dog trancing?

Trancing, also known as “ghost walking” or “shadow chasing,” is a behavior that some dogs exhibit when they enter a hypnotic-like state. It involves the dog walking slowly and deliberately, with their head lowered and their body rigid. During trancing, the dog may appear unresponsive to external stimuli, including their owner’s commands.

Trancing is not a harmful behavior, but it can be concerning to some dog owners who may not understand why their dog is behaving in this way. It is important to note that not all dogs will exhibit trancing behavior, and it is more commonly seen in certain breeds, such as Bull Terriers, Greyhounds, Whippets, and Salukis.

So why do dogs trance? 

There are several theories, but no definitive answer. One theory is that trancing is a self-soothing behavior that dogs engage in to relieve stress or anxiety. In this sense, trancing may serve as a coping mechanism for dogs who are feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Another theory is that trancing is an instinctual behavior that is related to the hunting and stalking behaviors of wild canids. When a dog is in a trance-like state, they may be more focused on their surroundings and better able to detect prey. This may explain why some breeds, such as Greyhounds, which were originally bred for hunting, are more likely to trance than other breeds.

Is Trancing  a concerning behavioral disorder?

It is important to note that while trancing is generally considered harmless, there are some cases where it may be a cause for concern. For example, if a dog is trancing excessively or in inappropriate situations, such as when they are outside and should be paying attention to their surroundings, it may indicate an underlying medical or behavioral issue. Additionally, if a dog is exhibiting other concerning behaviors, such as aggression or anxiety, it is important to seek the advice of a veterinarian or experienced dog behaviorist.

Can Trancing be learnt from dog to dog?

Some dog owners with multiple dogs have reported that their non-trancing dogs will start to trance after watching the other dog trancing. The new dog may trance under the same trigger the first dog tranced under, but oftentimes one dog will prefer to trance under different triggers or environment.

Should I do anything about it?

Trancing is an odd peculiar behavior that some dogs have. For the most part trancing is harmless and is not a pre-cursor obsessive compulsive disorder. So when you catch your dog trancing go ahead and let them be. 

Overall, trancing is a relatively common behavior in dogs, and while the exact reasons for it are not fully understood, it is generally considered a harmless behavior. If you are concerned about your dog’s trancing behavior, it is important to speak with a qualified professional who can help you determine if there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved April 2023

Is My Dog Mad At Me?

Is My Dog Mad At Me?

As pet parents, we often anthropomorphize our furry friends and assume they experience emotions similar to our own. One of the common emotions we attribute to dogs is anger. Have you ever wondered if your dog is mad at you? Well, the answer is not that simple.

Dogs do not experience emotions in the same way that humans do. While they can certainly show signs of discomfort, fear, or happiness, anger is not an emotion that dogs experience in the same sense that humans do. However, dogs do have their own ways of communicating discomfort, annoyance, or frustration.

So, how can you tell if your dog is upset? 

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Body language: A dog’s body language can tell you a lot about their emotional state. If your dog is upset, they may avoid eye contact, have a stiff body posture, or growl.

  • Barking: Barking can be a sign of annoyance, frustration, or anger in dogs. If your dog is barking excessively, it could be a sign that they are upset.

  • Refusing commands: If your dog has been trained to follow commands and suddenly stops following them, it could be a sign that they are upset, frustrated or overstimulated.

  • Avoidance: If your dog starts avoiding you, it could be a sign that they are upset. They may stop coming to you for attention or treats or may hide from you.

It’s important to remember that dogs do not hold grudges or have long-term memories of negative experiences in the same way that humans do. Never take it personally! 

There can be certain triggers that can activate an emotional response that sets them up into a “red zone”. Sometimes this trigger could be a human for a variety of different reasons even if that human never did anything bad to that dog. So, if your dog is acting out, it’s likely due to a recent event, a change in their environment or a trigger that sets him/her off. 

In conclusion, while dogs may not experience anger in the same way that humans do, they can still show signs of discomfort, annoyance, or frustration. As pet parents, it’s important to pay attention to our dogs’ body language and behavior to better understand their emotional state. If you think your dog is mad at you, try to identify the cause of their discomfort and make changes to improve their overall wellbeing.

© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC |   All Rights Reserved March  2023