It is distressing to see your dog showing anxious or distressed behaviors, such as barking and howling when left alone.
What are the reasons behind dog barking and howling when left alone? And what can you do about it?
We’ll delve into the various reasons why dogs bark and howl when left alone and how to address this behavior
Here’s why your dog barks and howls when left alone
A dog barks and howls when left alone due to separation anxiety, attention-seeking behavior, frustration, boredom, fear, and an underlying medical problem. By understanding the meaning behind your dog’s barking and howling when left alone, it is possible to help your dog feel more comfortable and secure when left alone.
Is it normal for dogs to bark and howl when left alone?
No, it is not normal for dogs to bark and howl when left alone but it is also common. While some dogs may be more prone to barking and howling, many dogs are able to stay calm and quiet when left alone.
Barking and howling are natural and common behaviors for dogs that serve various purposes, such as communication with other dogs, humans, and other animals.
However, barking and howling when left alone can be a sign problem for a sign of either a medical or behavioral problem that needs to be addressed.
Reasons for dog barking and howling when left alone
Separation anxiety is a common cause of barking and howling when a dog is left alone. It is a condition in which a dog becomes anxious or distressed when their owner leaves them alone, and they may also present a variety of behaviors as a result, including barking or howling.
Separation anxiety in dogs can stem from several triggers, like a change in their owner’s routine, a relocation, or the loss of a loved one.
It’s also frequently seen in dogs with a history of trauma or instability, or those separated from their mother and littermates at an early age.
Some dog breeds are very susceptible to separation anxiety because they are people-oriented dogs that thrive on human companionship. This means that they love being close to their human owners and family.
When separated from their owners, they tend to suffer from separation anxiety by feeling insecure.
This is accompanied by other behaviors that include pacing, whining, and destructive behavior such as digging, or defecation in the house.
Attention seeking behavior
Barking and howling when left alone can be a way for dogs to get their owner’s attention, either for affection or to get something they want.
Dogs naturally crave attention from both their owners and when they don’t receive enough of it, they might turn to barking and howling when left alone to get it.
This can be especially true for dogs that are left alone for long periods of time and it occurs due to being anxious or lonely without their owner’s presence.
Additionally, attention-seeking behavior can be reinforced if a dog succeeds in getting their owner’s attention through barking or howling. For example, if a dog barks and howls, and their owner immediately comes to them and offers attention, the dog may learn that this behavior is an effective way to get what they want.
An attention-seeking dog will also cry, paw, jump up or follow you everywhere in order to get your attention.
Barking and howling when left alone can also be due to frustration. A dog may bark or howl when left alone if they are prevented from doing something they enjoy, such as playing with other dogs or exploring their surroundings, or if they are unable to get something they want.
A dog may engage in a number of undesirable behaviors in times of frustration, including barking or howling as a coping mechanism.
It is important to recognize and address the root cause of the frustration in order to prevent or resolve this behavior.
When dogs bark and howl when left alone, boredom can be a common cause. Dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy and if they don’t get enough of it, they might get bored.
They may engage in negative behaviors like barking or howling to pass the time.
When dogs are left alone for extended periods of time without anything to do, boredom can be particularly common.
Dogs who lack adequate room to roam and explore, or who lack access to toys or other forms of enrichment, may also experience boredom.
Underlying medical problem
In some cases, barking and howling when left alone may be a sign of an underlying medical problem that is causing discomfort, pain, or a medical problem affecting their behavior.
If your dog is barking and howling due to illness, signs of sickness such as loss of appetite, weakness, or signs of pain will be present.
Look out for these symptoms and more unusual behavior changes which can be indicative that your dog is unwell.
Fear and anxiety
Fear and anxiety also cause a dog to bark and howl when left alone. A dog may feel anxious due to several reasons including the fear of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms, or anxious about something in their environment.
Fear and anxiety can have many different root causes, including past trauma or abuse, a lack of socialization or training, and adjustments to their environment or routine.
When a dog is fearful or anxious, they may bark and howl as a way to cope with their emotions.
To stop this behavior, it is important to identify the source of the fear in order to put in place an appropriate solution.
Other fearful and anxious behaviors include pacing, panting, shaking, and hiding which may also be present in addition to barking and howling.
What to do if you see your dog barking and howling when left alone
There are a number of actions you can take to manage and stop your dog from barking and howling when left alone. This includes:
Identifying the underlying reason
Determining the reason for your dog’s barking and howling when left alone is essential to solving the problem.
Examine various factors such as your dog’s breed, age, background, and environment as well as any changes or stressors that may be contributing to the behavior.
Provide mental and physical exercise
A well-rounded routine of physical and mental activities is important for the well-being of your dog.
Ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise, playtime, and training, and consider incorporating interactive toys or games to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
Set clear boundaries through training
Establish strict rules and boundaries for your dog, and be unwavering in their enforcement. This could help your dog understand what behaviors are deemed appropriate especially when they use barking and howling all day to demand attention.
When to seek help
Consult a veterinarian or a trained dog trainer if you are unsure of the cause of your dog’s barking and howling if you suspect that the behavior is due to an underlying medical issue, or if the behavior continues to be a problem despite your efforts.
They will assist in identifying the underlying cause and offer advice on how to address the behavior.
It is particularly important to see a veterinarian for your dog’s barking or howling when left a. This includes:
- A sudden change of behavior: If barking and howling are sudden or unusual, it could be an indication of an underlying medical condition or psychological problem. Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your dog, and perform necessary diagnostic tests to identify the reason for the behavior and provide a solution.
- The behavior is accompanied by other symptoms: When barking and howling are accompanied by other symptoms, it is important to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or other behavior changes could indicate a medical problem that needs to be addressed.
- The behavior becomes problematic: If your dog’s barking and howling becomes an issue for neighbors, other people, or even for you, it is important to seek assistance. A veterinarian or professional dog trainer will offer guidance on stopping or minimizing the behavior.
What not to do when your dog is barking and howling when left alone
Avoid the following when your dog is barking and howling when left alone:
Yelling or punishing them: Avoid yelling or punishing your dog when they bark and howl. This form of discipline will only increase their stress and anxiety, leading to even more barking and howling when left alone.
Instead, keep calm and use positive reinforcement methods for good behavior to encourage them to stop.
Ignoring the behavior: It might seem like an easy fix to ignore your dog’s barking and howling, but doing so only reinforces the behavior.
One of the reasons dogs bark and howl is to get their owners’ attention and they are more likely to persist if they are not successful. It is important to address the behavior by implementing an appropriate solution.
Encouraging the behavior: Resist encouraging the behavior by not giving in to their demands by use of barking and howling to get attention.
In the long run, this can reinforce the behavior and make it more challenging to stop. Instead, use or get training for your dog to better teach them the appropriate behavior.
Takeaway: Dog barking and howling when left alone
A dog barking and howling when left alone are common dog behaviors, but they can become problematic if they are excessive.
A number of factors can cause this behavior, therefore, to stop your dog from barking and howling when left alone, it is important to identify the root cause of the behavior and to implement a solution that addresses it.
Remember, if your dog is barking and howling when left alone, reach out to your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for assistance on how to address the behavior.