Howling is a means of communication most often associated with the wolf, but it is also a primitive trait that remains in a handful of dog breeds today. Those howling breeds include the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, Basset Hound, Beagle, Bloodhound, Coonhound, and the Akita! But what does it mean when these domesticated dog breeds howl? Why do some domestic breeds howl when others do not? More specifically, for Akita owners, why do Akitas howl, what does it mean when they do, and how can you stop problem howling?
Why Do Akitas Howl? Akitas howl to get attention, to communicate with other dogs, to mark territory, to draw attention to something, to convey feelings of boredom and anxiety, to announce their presence, and in response to certain triggers.
To give your Akita what they need and to put an end to problem howling, though, you must first determine the cause of their howling. In the following article, I will look at what you need to know about howling and your Akita and answer some questions. Topics I will cover include – Why do Akitas Howl? Do Akitas Bark or Howl? Are Dogs Sad When They Howl? How to stop Akitas From Howling? With answers to these questions, you will better understand your Akita’s vocalizations so that you can be a better pet parent and so that you can better address any problem barking.
Why Do Akitas Howl?
Akitas are one of the dog breeds that howl more than they bark. Howling is a primitive behavior used by a dog’s wolf ancestors as a form of communication. Some dogs have retained the howling behavior, where others have no trace of it at all.
Dogs howl for a few distinct reasons including:
- Howling for attention.
- Howling to announce their presence.
- Howling as a primal instinct.
- Howling to communicate with other dogs.
- Howling out of boredom/anxiety.
- Howling to claim territory.
- Howling in response to triggers.
- Howling to identify something.
Do Akitas Bark Or Howl?
Akita‘s bark and howl, but they tend to howl much more frequently than they bark. In fact, many Akita owners will tell you that if your Akita starts to bark, you should ALWAYS find out why because there is usually a good reason behind it.
Brindle Akitas howl most frequently, and there can be many reasons why they howl. Howling is a primitive instinct that some dogs have retained from their wolf ancestors. Researchers are not sure why some breeds are more likely to howl than others, though.
Howling behavior is traceable back to wolves and prehistoric dogs that traveled in packs. Wolf packs would howl to communicate with each other over distances, and different wolf packs would howl to communicate with each other.
Other dog breeds that are known for being howlers include the:
- Basset Hound
- Siberian Husky
- Alaskan Malamute
- Alaskan Klee Kai
Are Dogs Sad When They Howl?
Since howling is a form of communication, dogs can experience a wide range of emotions when they howl. These emotions can include:
Of all the emotions noted above, a dog will most often howl out of boredom, anxiety, and sociability.
How To Stop Akitas From Howling
To stop your Akita from howling, the first thing you need to do is to discover why they are barking.
Is your dog howling because they are hungry for your attention?
Howling can be one way to attract attention when your dog is attention starved – think of this as a toddler acting out or throwing a tantrum because you are not paying enough attention to them when they are trying to show you something. If your dog is howling because they want your attention, spend some more time with them! Add a couple of short walks to your daily schedule or plan a game of fetch when you get home from work.
Is your dog only howling when another dog walks by the window?
Howling in response to another dog walking by your home is a way for your dog to announce themselves to the other dog. If your dog is howling when another dog walks by the window, try closing your blinds when you are not home or work with a trainer to eliminate problem behavior!
Is your dog howling in response to other dogs howling?
Howling has long been a form of communication in the canine kingdom – particularly for wolves. Some dogs retain this primitive instinct, and when they hear one dog howl, they howl back to “answer.” If your dog is howling in response to other dogs howling, they are likely acting on primitive instinct. You can correct that behavior with positive reinforcement training, but the chances are that you will need a professional behaviorist to help!
Is your dog howling in response to other dogs vocalizing?
Some dogs prefer to howl rather than bark, and they may respond to a barking dog by howling. This type of behavior is simply a method of communicating. If your dog is howling because they are answering other dogs barking, they are trying to communicate. You will need to work with a behavioral trainer to teach your dog that howling behavior is not a behavior that you find appropriate.
Is your dog howling because they are bored or feeling anxious?
When dogs are bored (or anxious), they may vocalize their emotions by howling for attention or howling to let you know that they are unhappy so that you can do something about it! If your dog is howling because they feel bored or anxious, work to find something to keep them occupied while you are not home. Try enrolling in doggy daycare, investing in interactive toys, or hiring a dog walker to come by and take your pup for a walk during the day to tire them out!
Is your dog howling because another dog has walked into your yard?
When dogs howl in response to another dog walking into their territory, it is your dog’s way of letting that dog know that they are trespassing on territory that is theirs. If your dog is howling because another dog has walked into your yard, look into installing a physical fence to keep other dogs out. You can also close your blinds when you leave home or find out who the dog belongs to and follow up with them, reminding them that it is illegal in most cities for pets to roam free (not to mention it is dangerous!)
Is your dog howling in response to a siren?
Howling in response to a siren is your dog acting on a primal instinct. Your dog derives from ancient wolves who howled to communicate with each other. Behaviorists believe dogs howl in response to sirens because they think the high-pitched siren is a dog howling. If your dog is howling in response to a siren, they are acting on a primal instinct. There is little you can do to quell this behavior aside from using positive reinforcement and a professional canine behaviorist to teach your dog that this type of howling is unacceptable behavior.
Is your dog howling because they have found something of interest?
Some dogs howl to indicate something of interest or even that something troublesome has happened. If your dog is howling because they have found something of interest, find out what it is! For example, if your dog is in another room howling, do not just tell them to stop howling, go and see what is making them howl!
Once you know why your dog is howling, finding a way to stop their howling is a matter of addressing the cause. *Note: To address your Akita’s problem barking or howling, it is always best to consult with a professional trainer who uses positive training methods.
Never trust your dog with a trainer who uses negative training methods. For example, resorting to using a shock collar to stop problem vocalizations. Negative training methods like shock collars may initially work to stop problem behavior, but they have repercussions. By hurting your dog for a specific behavior, you teach them that they cannot trust you and that they should be afraid of you. Breaking your dog’s trust in this way does not only have a short-term effect, but it can permanently damage your relationship with your dog.