13 Odd Reasons Why Your Dog Howls When You Leave + 7 Tips

Why Does My Dog Howl When I Leave

Awwwhhhhooooo!!!

Your family and neighbors freak out. 

Text messages and missed calls flood your phone. Even the TV news calls out for you to come home.

Your dog’s on a howling frenzy again.

Oh no! 

Before you rush to your dog, keep reading to find out:

  • Why do dogs howl?
  • 7 tips on how to stop your dog from howling.
  • 13 odd reasons why your dog howls when you leave?
  • And much much more…

Why does my dog howl when I leave?

Your dog howls when you leave because it’s a form of communication or defense mechanism, or due to confinement, separation anxiety, breed personality, medical reasons, hunger, mating season, boredom, fear, reinforcement, age factor, or because they’re hunting. 


13 odd reasons why your dog howls when you leave


#1: Separation anxiety

Does your dog howl when you leave the house? 

If they do, it’s possible they have separation anxiety. 

You see, pooches who have this disorder get stressed when their dog parents leave them. Or every time they’re left alone.

They’re sensitive to your routine whenever you’re leaving. 

So they freak out as soon as they catch wind of the things you do. 

Your dog may start to whine as soon as you pick up your keys or bag. Then they could also attempt to stop you from leaving with their barks. 

“Don’t go, Mom/Dad!” 

And when you close the door, that’s when they start howling and crying non-stop.

Uh-oh!

Aside from howling when you leave, your dog may also do things such as:

  • Destroy things.
  • Become depressed.
  • Urinate or defecate around the house.
  • Try to escape your house by digging under the fence or chewing the door to follow you.

So how common is this behavior in dogs exactly?

According to the Illinois CVM, 20 to 40% of the dogs who are taken to specialists suffer from separation anxiety

Dogs from shelters or those who are abused/neglected are often the ones who have this disorder. 

As well as pooches who recently experienced a loss of a dog parent.

They’re afraid of being abandoned again, so they get anxious whenever their dog parents leave.

Other causes of separation anxiety

“But Petya, my dog’s not neglected or has ever been abused in their life. 

Why would they have separation anxiety?”

There are other reasons why they could be feeling anxiety when you leave.

Here’s an example.

Some people carry their pooches around wherever they go, right? 

Because of this, the dogs get used to being close with their dog parents all the time. They can’t handle being alone anymore.

Another one is a recent change in a dog’s environment.

A different home or routine could make them uncertain and scared. 

So they howl for comfort when they’re left alone. 

#2: It’s their breed personality

Your dog’s breed could also be the reason why they howl when you leave.

Here’s a scenario.

“My dog howls every time I leave for work.”, you tell your friend with a deep sigh.

“How come? Mine don’t.”, they reply.

You wonder what’s the reason behind your dog’s howling behavior. And there are many questions in your head like:

“Is this a normal thing for dogs to do?”

“Or mine just really loves howling?”

Because of their breed, it could be a combination of those things.

They could be upset when you leave. 

And at the same time, well, they kinda enjoy howling too. 

Like the cute dogs in this video below.

Some dogs are more vocal than others. And it’s because of their breed.

For example, Siberian Huskies are famous for ‘talking’ and howling when they get upset. 

Malamutes too. 

They’re known for being sled dogs, right? But did you know that they can also belt out some high notes?

Oh, and let’s not forget the ‘small but fierce’ Beagles and Chihuahuas.

Don’t let their size fool you. Believe it or not, Chihuahuas can howl.

These little pooches may be smaller compared to others. 

But they make up for this by being more talkative than the other dog breeds. 

Other howling dog breeds are: 

  • Bloodhound.
  • Pomeranian.
  • Basset Hound.
  • Redbone Coonhound.

#3: Mating season

Your dog might whine and howl when you leave because they’re in heat. 

Or if your dog’s male, then they absolutely want to… ehem, mate.

And as soon as male pooches sniff this scent in the air, they’d go crazy. 

The scent makes them sexually aroused. 

*Cue in some sexy music*

But since your dog isn’t able to come outside, they’d whine out of frustration. 

The male dog would howl as a call for their mate. Hoping the female would respond back to their message. 

#4: Medical reasons

Your Dog Howls When You Leave Due To Medical Reasons

“Why do some dog parents have pooches who howl when they leave?”

A possible reason is their pooch may have an injury or dog dementia.

Body injury/pain

Your dog would howl out of pain when they accidentally bump on something. 

Or if they took a step using their injured leg.

So how can you be sure if your pooch’s feeling pain? 

I mean, they can’t tell you. Not literally at least.

PetMD says you should look for signs such as:

  • Limping.
  • Arching back.
  • Being restless.
  • Refusing to walk.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Twitching muscles.
  • Avoiding physical touches.

Canine Cognitive Dementia

Another reason why your dog howls when you leave is dog dementia or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.

This is a common brain degenerative disorder for dogs who reach 14 years of age. And it’s kind of similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. 

It can cause your dog to forget who you are, develop repetitive habits, and become overly vocal

So if your old pooch howls frequently, it may be one of the early symptoms of having this condition.

#5: To communicate with other dogs

Your pooch and the next-door neighbor’s dog are besties. 

They have no problems being alone. 

In fact, they seem to be having the time of their life when you’re at work.

Because every time you leave the house, your dog howls to call out on their best dog buddy. 

And as soon as their friend hears the friendly call, they come out to play and have a good time. 

So… Is howling some kind of a secret message that only dogs can understand?

Yep!

Dogs communicate in many ways. 

They could do friendly high-pitched barks, howl, or whine to call on their other dog friends.

It’s their own way to let other dogs know that they’re not a threat and they mean no harm.

Also read: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Barks When Other Dogs Bark + 5 Tips

#6: They’re hearing something

“I’m going crazy! 

My dog howls when I leave, and they also do it when I’m at home…”

Don’t worry, I got you. 

Are you living near a busy road near the community center? If yes, then expect that your dog will howl all the time. 

With or without you in the house. 

This is because their howls are a response to something that they’re hearing. 

It may be the sound of the ambulance’s, the police’s, or the fire truck’s siren. 

Or the kid who plays harmonica next door. 

These are all high-pitched, and they resemble the sound of a howl. 

So your pooch’s instinct when they hear it is to respond back. Or to try to mimic its sounds.

#7: They’re not fed properly

Your dog might howl and cry when you leave because they’re hungry.

“No way, I just fed them before I went out.”

That’s great!

But they may still be hungry if they’re not fed right.

See, there are many cases of dogs who are malnourished or underweight. 

And this is because they’re not eating the proper amount of food they need. Or, the amount is right but it just doesn’t contain the right nutrients. 

#8: Being confined for too long

“Why does my puppy howl when I leave him?

One reason he may howl is because he’s being confined for too long. 

If you’re using a crate to house train your pooch, it’s best to remember not to leave him in there too long.

Dogs by nature don’t like peeing or pooping in the place where they sleep. 

And since puppies have small bladders, they can’t hold their pee for more than 3 hours. 

Now, leaving your pup inside the crate for much longer than that can make him howl. 

Because he really, REALLY needs to pee or poop.

Learn more about the dangers and tips of crating by reading this article.

#9: Something’s scary

Your Pup Gets Scared Of Everything

Pups get scared of everything. 

That’s one reason why your puppy howls when you leave the room.

They may be scared of being alone. Or they heard something loud like a car horn.

It’s totally normal for them to behave this way in their discovery stage. 

You just need to give them lots of exposure to things and situations. This will build their confidence and social skills. 

#10: Boredom

“Am alone again.

Hey, neighbors! Listen to my song, pwease.”

Meanwhile…

“Oh my god, the dog next door’s howling again!” 

Perhaps your dog howls when you leave for work because they’re bored. 

You don’t leave them with mind-stimulating toys to play with. Or maybe you keep them inside a room with no views of the outside world.

There’s nothing there that could entertain them. 

So they just howl to have something to do.

#11: It’s a beaconing call

“Awwwwhoo. Come back to me, hooman!”

Your dog howls when you leave the house because they’re calling you to come back home. 

Dogs are descendants of wolves.

And wolves are known for howling.

While telling you this, I imagine a wolf howling in nature. At night. With a full-moon background. Anyway…

Wolves howl to let the other pack members know their location. Since their territories are vast and wide.

Now, back to your pooch.

There are still traces of their wolf ancestry in their body. That’s why in some instances they behave as wolves do. 

They think that when they howl, you’ll come home rushing to them.

#12: They’re hunting

And speaking of their wolf ancestry… 

Another reason why your dog howls when you leave the house is because they’re hunting. 

And they’ve killed something. Like maybe a mouse or a squirrel.

“Oh no!”

Sorry to say this, but their howls don’t mean they’re mourning for their kill.

In fact, they do this as a form of celebration. 

I know. Weird, right?

This behavior is another salute to their wolf’s lineage. See, wolves howl after every successful hunt. 

They do this to let their other members know that they’ve already found food. And it’s time for a feast.

So check your house. 

Maybe you also have other little animal roommates aside from your pooch. 

#13: To ward off threats

If your dog howls when you leave for work, a possible reason for this is they’re trying to defend your house.

It’s a common thing for dogs to become territorial.

If there’s a delivery guy at your door, your dog barks to scare them away, right?

It’s the same thing with their howls. 

By howling, they try to let other dogs know not to come to their territory. 

(Or maybe they’re also doing this to ward off any people who want to sell you guys something. Neat!)

Bonus: You reinforce it

“Petya, one last thing. 

Why does my dog howl when I leave the room?”

One reason is separation anxiety. But it’s also possible they’re doing this because you have reinforced this behavior. 

Perhaps, you’re always rushing to get to them when they howl. 

That’s why your dog has learned that the easiest way to make you come back to the room is by howling. 


7 tips on how to stop dog howling when you leave


Desensitize Your Dog

#1: Desensitize your dog

Dogs who have separation anxiety know your routine. 

They know that once you pick up your keys or take that last sip of coffee you’ll be ready to leave.

So desensitize them from these movements by faking your leave. 

“Wait, what?”

You’re gonna fake your leave. 

For example, your dog starts to show their anxiety whenever you grab your keys to lock the door. 

So what you’re gonna do is to grab your keys at random times a day, every day. 

But you’re not going anywhere. 

(Well, maybe just go to the bathroom, or something.) 

The important thing here is to make your dog feel that picking up your keys doesn’t always mean you’re leaving. 

So this will lessen their reactions like howling when you’re actually leaving the house.

#2: Keep them in a safe room

If your dog howls because they’re in heat, it’s best to let them stay in a safe room. 

This will make them less exposed to the scent of sexuality.

Plus an enclosed space will also keep them from escaping. 

(This can also apply to dogs with separation anxiety.)

And not only that.

Keeping your pooch or puppy in an open area like an empty room or bathroom is better than confining them in crates. 

They’ll be able to move freely. 

And it’s so much easier to manage a puppy’s peeing issues. Just put a mat on one side and they can pee there by themselves.

#3: Bond with your dog

If your dog’s howling behavior is caused by boredom, then spend some quality time with them.

Play with them before you go to work. 

Or let them go with you on your morning jogs. 

These will make your bond stronger.

And by exercising with them before you leave, your pooch will be exhausted. 

They’d rather sleep instead of howling and disturbing the grandma next door. 

#4: Leave casually

Another way to lessen your dog’s anxiety when you leave the house is by not making a big deal out of it.

Don’t hug your pooch too much before you go out the door. And don’t keep on telling your dog that you’ll miss them. 

Even though you will. 

But believe me, being chill about ‘Goodbyes’ will make your dog relax, too.

What you can do is to calmly acknowledge them. Stroke their fur for a bit or give them a chin rub.

This way, your pooch will sense that nothing grand is happening. 

So they’d be calmer and more tolerating whenever you’re leaving the house. 

#5: Take them to a vet

Does your pooch howl when you leave the house because of medical reasons?

If yes, then it’s best to take them to a veterinarian or an animal clinic. 

Have them spayed or neutered. 

This can help during the heat cycle. And it will reduce your dog’s howling. 

#6: Leave them with mind-stimulating toys

To stop your dog’s howling activities when you leave, give them toys that’ll make them busy for hours.

Dog puzzles, ‘Kongs’, long-lasting chew toys, and the automatic ball launcher. 

These are just some cost-effective toys you can provide your pooch. 

They’ll enjoy these toys too much to even remember what howling is.

#7: Ignore their howls

At home, don’t come running to your dog every time they howl. 

If you do this, they will just continue with this behavior. 

To end this howling problem, you need to ignore them whenever they do it. 

Act like you’re hearing nothing. 

(Even if your eardrums are shattering into pieces.)

This way, your pooch will learn that their howls won’t work with you anymore. 

And once they stop, that’s the only time you give them your attention.

Bonus: Give them company

To lessen your dog’s howling habit, give them a companion.

You can take them to doggy daycares so they can improve their social skills. 

Or you can ask your friends or relatives to visit your pooch. 

If they’re with someone they trust, they will be able to relax more.