Howling is a common trait within the Siberian Husky breed, but there are a variety of reasons why each individual husky may howl. Sometimes, howling may be due to anxiety, or it can be a way to express happiness.
Other times, it may seem like your Husky is howling simply because they can.
In this article, we will explore all the reasons that your husky may be howling, as well as how to get your husky to stop howling (or even how to try and get them to howl, if you’ve lucked out and have a quieter dog).
Why Do Huskies Howl?
Siberian Huskies are a breed that is thought to be closely related to the dog’s common ancestor with the wolf, so it makes sense that they share this trait with wolves yet today. However, you’re probably wondering just why your Husky might be howling.
1. Howls can be heard over a long distance.
When the ancestor of wolves and dogs was still a wild animal, howling was necessary in order to communicate with their pack over a long distance.
Unlike barking, a howl will last longer, takes less effort, and can be heard from further away. Howling is also less likely to echo than a bark, and the howl can be heard more easily through the wind.
Because the howl works much better for communication in the wild than barking, wolves and their ancestors developed a strong instinct to howl because it helped to keep them safe.
The primitive dogs that are most closely related to the ancestor they share with wolves, such as Siberian Huskies, haven’t changed as much as other breeds over the years.
While Huskies no longer need to use their howls to communicate in a group in the wild, this trait is still leftover from their ancestors.
2. It’s an instinctual response to high-pitched sounds.
This ancestral trait is not only an instinctual sound, but it sometimes happens as an instinctual response.
When Huskies hear other dogs howling, a siren, a baby crying, or another high-pitched sound, they often howl in response.
It’s thought that their ancestors would use howling to signal that they were lost or in distress, and when the group howled back, the lost member of the pack could more easily find the group.
This is likely a leftover instinctual trait, from when the ancestors of your Husky would howl in response to each other in order to find the pack.
3. Howling is a method of communication.
Whether your Husky is communicating that they are anxious, sense a threat, or simply that they are happy, howling is a method of communication.
As you get to know your Husky, you’ll likely notice these different types of howls and start to understand their meaning.
Most of the time, an anxious Husky or one that is trying to warn of danger will exhibit an extremely loud howl, often while maintaining rather stiff body language and staring in the direction of the potential threat.
However, a happy Husky is much more likely to have loose and wiggly body language, make a softer “woo-woo” sound, and look at their owner or another person as they do so.
Howling alone will not tell you how the dog feels. Instead, you need to look at the body language of the dog and the context of the howling to figure out what your dog is trying to tell you.
At What Age Do Huskies Start Howling?
Huskies actually can start howling shortly after being able to vocalize as a very young puppy.
At 2-3 weeks of age, puppies are able to start making small grunt and whine sounds, as their eyes and ears open around this age and they are starting to interact with the world.
By the time puppies reach 7-8 weeks of age, they are starting to bark and make more individual and specific vocalizations, including howls.
This means your Husky may already be howling by the time they go home with you.
Because howling is so instinctual to Huskies, the sound comes naturally to them. Rather than barking, your young Husky may simply find it easier to howl at first.
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Do Huskies Howl When Left Alone?
Since howling is a form of communication, your Husky may howl when left alone if they are anxious or frustrated.
Huskies do not usually howl when left alone if they are comfortable and properly trained to be home alone.
Instead, if a husky is howling when alone, it is because the Husky is trying to communicate something. This might be that the Husky is bored, or frustrated, or anxious and stressed.
In general, Huskies are likely to be more vocal than other breeds. Some other breeds of dogs may choose to express these feelings by chewing on something, or pacing.
However, the howling when home alone is usually a sign of something greater happening in your dog’s world. If you address their anxieties or boredom, the howling is likely to stop happening.
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How to Stop Husky Howling
The first step in stopping your Husky from howling is to determine the reason they are howling.
A dog usually doesn’t bark or howl simply to hear their own voice – these vocalizations are a form of communication.
Looking at the rest of your Husky’s body language, as well as the situation itself, will help you figure out why your Husky is howling.
For example, a Husky that is howling when kenneled and left alone, especially if the Husky is also biting at the bars of the crate or pawing at the door, is likely howling due to frustration of being crated or separation anxiety.
On the other hand, a Husky that is howling at their owner when they get home, while wiggling and wagging their tail, is likely howling out of excitement.
Giving your Husky plenty of exercise – both physically and mentally – is key in stopping Husky howling. If your dog is content and their needs have been met, they are much less likely to howl.
Besides exercise, it’s also important to teach your Husky what you want them to do instead.
If your Husky is howling while jumping on you when you get home because they are so excited to see you, the best place to start is teaching your Husky how to stay calm when you arrive home.
You can do this by only acknowledging your Husky when they have all 4 feet calmly on the ground, and praising them while rewarding them with a treat.
If your Husky tries to howl or jump up, they lose your attention until they calm down again.
For mild kennel anxiety, you can also start to practice this by having your Husky in their kennel for brief moments only.
Leaving your Husky in the kennel with a Kong or another food toy to occupy them can not only help them stay quiet, but it’s a great form of mental enrichment as well.
Severe cases of separation anxiety often need the help of a professional trainer or dog behavior consultant and might need a veterinarian to be involved as well.
If the howling isn’t excessive, however, it’s best to just let your Husky be. Howling is a way that they communicate, and it’s instinctively a part of who they are.
Otherwise, you will be stifling a form of communication and a large part of what makes a Husky so unique and fun. If you can’t stand any form of howling, a Husky is not likely the breed for you.
Why Doesn’t My Husky Howl?
While howling is a common trait in Huskies, not all Huskies may howl. This might be because your Husky simply isn’t anxious or frustrated, and doesn’t feel the need to communicate through howling.
Vocalizations in dogs are also genetic, to a certain extent. Dogs of the same breed, but with different parents, will likely sound more like their individual parents than a generic sound for the breed.
Because Huskies are a popular breed of dog, there are many genetic differences even within the breed. This means that some lines of Huskies may be more likely to howl than others.
You can also ask your Husky’s breeder if your dog’s parents howl, and at what age they started howling, to get an idea of when and if your Husky is likely to howl.
How Do I Get My Husky to Howl?
One of the best ways to try and get your Husky to howl is to play a high-pitched sound, such as a siren, a crying baby, a harmonica, or even the sound of another Husky howling.
It’s best to try this when you Husky is excited, yet comfortable. A dog that is worried or shy is less likely to vocalize or draw attention to themselves by howling.
If you know your Husky’s breeder, you can ask them about your dog’s parents. Knowing if they howl, and what makes them howl, can help you unlock the howl within your Husky.
Once you’re able to get your Husky to howl, you can teach them how to howl on cue by asking them to “speak” (or whatever cue you choose) right before triggering them to howl.
After they howl, reward them with a treat. With repetition, you will no longer need the triggering sound to get your Husky to howl, since they will be able to howl on a cue.
You may have to do this in multiple short sessions. Huskies are an extremely intelligent breed of dog and can get bored quickly if something is too repetitive.
Why Do Huskies Scream?
The howls and vocalizations that come from some Huskies are sometimes called a “scream.” Usually, this loud, high-pitched, and continuous noise is a sign of frustration, excitement, or anxiety.
Many owners may hear this sound when leaving their Husky in a kennel, or when their Husky is on a leash and can’t get to the other sidewalk to play with another dog.
Huskies can make a wide variety of howls and other vocalizations – in fact, many Husky owners describe all these sounds as their way of “talking” and it certainly can seem like that on occasion.
The screaming sound that some Huskies make is simply another variety of the howling sounds that many Huskies perform.
While the screaming can be embarrassing if it occurs around others, it doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is injured or in trouble.
Rather, you will need to look at the context and the rest of their body language to figure out why your Husky is screaming.
An excited Husky is likely to be trying to get to something they find exciting, and will also likely be acting playful and have loose and wiggly body language.
Sometimes, this excitement is exacerbated by frustration when a door, window, or leash prevents them from getting where they want to go.
However, a Husky screaming out of anxiety will likely be displaying other anxiety-related behaviors. Some of these include: licking their lips, yawning, pacing, and trying to escape a situation.
Husky Howling At Moon
It’s long been thought that wolves (and Huskies) howl more during a full moon. There are images and stories of a wolf howling at the moon dating back many years.
However, Huskies (and wolves) don’t actually howl at the moon. Rather, the moon just happens to be out during times they are more likely to be awake.
Wolves are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Unlike diurnal animals, which are active during the peak of the day, or nocturnal animals, active during the peak of the night, wolves spend the middle of each day and night sleeping.
While dogs adapt very well to our schedules, their internal circadian rhythms tend to follow a crepuscular pattern as well.
This pattern of activity means that wolves and dogs are most likely to be active and awake during times of twilight when many people are also awake to hear their howling and notice that the moon is present in the sky.