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Any parent of a boxer knows that these dogs make some unique and interesting sounds. These noisy dogs are also known to howl, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. So why do boxers howl?
Howling is one of the many ways your boxer knows how to communicate with you. The same can be said for any breed. Your boxer might howl in different ways depending on what exactly they are trying to tell you.
A boxer’s howl isn’t always a sign that something is wrong. However, there are good and bad reasons why your boxer might be howling, and understanding what to look for to determine the reason for their howl can ensure you can take care of any problems.
Why Do Boxers Howl?
Boxers were bred to be able to hunt down certain game or animals alongside humans, and would often have to indicate their catch through communicating with their human companion. Even though your boxer isn’t hunting for you anymore, they still have that instinct within them to alert their humans to potential threats or prey. One of the ways boxers would alert humans would be to howl.
Boxers will also howl when they hear a sound that is similar to either howling or something that might sound like potential prey. This is why you might see your boxer howling out the window when an emergency vehicle goes by, or they might howl at the fridge making noises. Dogs also sometimes howl at each other to communicate.
Furthermore, boxers might howl when they are in pain or in distress. They could also howl because they are anxious about something, or they might be missing you. They might want some affection from you, and if you’re not giving it to them, they might howl until you give in.
Boxers Howl To Protect You
Boxers are known to be protective dogs. They see it as their duty to keep their families safe. This very sweet quality might lead them to want to alert you to any potential threat or activity going on in or around your home. Among other noises, this might lead to howling.
When boxers are still babies, they may not have developed their ability to bark yet. When they are wanting to alert you to something, they may howl because that’s the only thing they know how to do.
Boxers Howl To Talk
Boxers, as well as other dogs, don’t realize we can’t understand their barks and howls. Just like boxers learn to understand some of our words, we can learn what their howling means over time. Chances are they’ll be exhibiting some other type of behavior that will give you a better idea about why they’re howling.
For example, if your boxer is howling because they see another dog outside, you might notice that their body posture is also perked up and their eyes are fixated out of the window. If they are howling because they want some food, they might be howling and looking back and forth between you and their food dish.
Howling is a natural means of communication for many dogs, including boxers. This behavior can be traced back to their wolf ancestors, and they’ll likely never lose their urge to howl. In some circumstances, you’ll have to adapt to it, but there are some ways to at least reduce their tendency to howl.
Why Boxers Howl At Cars
Boxers will sometimes howl when they see cars drive by, especially if the cars are noisy or are going very fast. As mentioned, they also seem to howl at sirens from police cars or ambulances. There’s no conclusive reason as to why dogs howl in this manner, but there are some theories.
One very probable theory is that your boxer thinks it’s another dog trying to communicate with them. Even though dogs, including boxers, have a very strong sense of hearing, they can’t differentiate sounds like we can. Thus, that super high siren yell sounds like howling to dogs.
Dogs may also consider the sound of a siren as some type of warning call. It could also be interpreted as a potential threat or reason for concern. Your boxer might choose to howl in this circumstance so that you know what’s potentially approaching.
Boxers: Howling Versus Barking
Boxers seem to prefer to howl over barking when they want to draw your attention to something. These dogs also vary in their vocalizations depending on a few factors, such as training or socialization. Furthermore, each dog has their own personality, and some might be more chatty than others.
Boxers: Howling Versus Whining
Depending on your particular boxer, it can be hard to tell the difference between howling and whining. Some dogs, including boxers, will whine and howl at the same time. If your boxer is howling because they want your attention, they may alternate between howling and whining.
If you notice your boxer whining and howling, you should take a couple of minutes away from what you’re doing to give them some love. You don’t want them to end up feeling neglected. You can also train them to sit and be quiet before you give them pets to try and circumvent their howling or whining for attention.
Should You Encourage Howling?
It can be fun to howl along with your boxer for a laugh, but you should be aware that doing so encourages them to howl more often. They will associate howling with playing with you. Instead, you should try diverting their attention away from whatever their howling at if it’s due to something moving or something they’re hearing. You can use a toy as a distraction.
If you notice that your boxer likes to howl at certain sounds, see if you can remove that noise. If something requires fixing, make it a priority to fix it if it’s feasible. If there’s a particular object that isn’t necessary to keep in place that is making them howl, consider putting it somewhere out of their sightline.
The only time you should consider rewarding your boxer for howling is if they successfully alert you to a potential threat. This, hopefully, won’t happen very often. Unless you’ve had a professional trainer specifically train your boxer to be a guard dog, it’s not necessary for them to be trained to howl.
What To Do About Howling
For the most part, since your boxer is howling in an effort to communicate something to you, you don’t want to punish them for it. Boxers don’t respond very well to punishment-based discipline regardless. Instead, you want to teach them a command, such as “quiet” in a firm but calm tone, and give them a treat once they comply.
If you think your boxer might be howling because they’re in pain, look for any noticeable sign of injury. You can also gently press along their body to see if they have a reaction to a certain area being touched. If you suspect an injury or source of pain, you should take them to a vet to get it looked at.
Distraction can also be a good way to get your boxer to stop howling, especially if they tend to howl at something in particular. Consider a toy that they have to use their mouths to play with, like a chew toy, so they aren’t howling while playing.
When To Be Concerned About Howling
As expected, you should be concerned about your boxer howling if they appear to be hurt in some way. They might limp, they might excessively lick a body part in between howls, or they might also be crying. You should also be concerned about howling mixed with a lethargic attitude, or a change in appetite. This might mean your boxer is sick.
If you have neighbors and they let you know that your boxer howls a lot when you’re gone, it could be because they’ve developed separation anxiety. You might also notice other unfortunate behaviors such as accidents in the house or destruction of property.
There are a plethora of strategies you can use to reduce separation anxiety in your dog, which should be a major priority as anxiety can be bad for your pup’s health.
If your boxer’s howling is constant and excessive and nothing seems to work to decrease the behavior, it could be worth consulting either a vet or a dog trainer to learn some new ways to approach the situation. They could also help rule out any causes for their howling that you may not have considered.
Why do boxers howl? It’s a tough question to answer, but it’s also good to remember that howling is part of a boxer’s instincts for communication. They aren’t howling to annoy you or to be defiant; ultimately, they are looking for interaction, or to protect you.
There are ways to train them out of howling at certain things, but you may not be able to stop their howling on every occasion. It’s hard to get upset at your boxer’s howling when you know they are keeping your safety a priority.