12 Reasons Why Your Dog Howls at Night: When The Moon Calls

why dog howls at night

If your canine companion has been howling during the night, you may be perplexed as to the reason and what you can do to alleviate this behavior. This article presents twelve typical reasons behind this nocturnal howling and offers practical solutions to curb it.

Potential reasons for your dog’s night-time howling might include separation anxiety, the need to urinate, feeling hungry, discomfort with the sleeping environment, responding to other dogs’ howling or reacting to ambient sounds.

The issue might be multifaceted, with several causes contributing. Nevertheless, there are factors to consider in identifying the main causes, and several strategies can be employed to mitigate them.

Causes of Your Dog’s Night Howling

Here are twelve potential explanations for your dog’s night howling, and circumstances that might make each more probable.

Separation Anxiety

Dog Separation - Anxiety

One possibility is that your dog suffers from separation anxiety. This is more likely if the dog isn’t allowed to sleep with you, if it has started howling after you’ve disallowed it from your bedroom, or if it shows signs of anxiety as you prepare for bed.

Helpful strategies to manage dog separation anxiety can be found in this recommended book on Amazon.

Reacting to Other Dogs

Dogs often howl in response to the howling of other dogs, possibly to signal their location or ward off intrusion into their territory.

Lack of Stimulation

Dog Exercising


Dogs typically require daily exercise. If they don’t get enough, abnormal behaviors, including night-time howling, might manifest. This is more likely if it howls more frequently on days it doesn’t get exercise. Ensuring your dog gets adequate exercise for its age and breed can help.

Uncomfortable Sleeping Environment

The issue might be an uncomfortable sleeping space. It could be excessively hot, loud, bright, or noisy, or there might not be enough room for your dog to rest comfortably.


Another cause could be hunger, possibly due to insufficient food or long intervals between meals. If your dog is fed only in the mornings, feeding it less in the morning and also in the evening could help.

Dietary Issues

Dog Separation

Dietary problems might be causing the howling. This could be due to eating inappropriate items or not receiving essential nutrients. This is more probable if the howling is associated with certain foods or a recent diet change.

Noise Sensitivity

Your dog might be reacting to noises it dislikes at night. This is more likely if the howling occurs only on specific nights or in certain rooms.

Encouraging the Behaviour

You might be inadvertently encouraging the night howling by rewarding your dog when it does so. If the howling seems to lack a specific trigger, such as needing to pee, yet you offer attention when it begins, it’s likely to howl more to seek more attention.

Rather, consider offering attention in the morning when it isn’t howling, and avoiding giving attention at night when it begins to howl, unless necessary.

Urination Needs

The need to urinate could be causing the howling. This is more probable if your dog is a puppy and howls more frequently when it hasn’t had the opportunity to pee in the evening.

Physical Discomfort

Dog Howling

Your dog might be in pain, particularly if the howling has started suddenly and it shows signs of discomfort during the day. In this case, consulting a vet is advisable.

Routine Changes

Dogs generally prefer consistent routines. If a night-time routine change has been followed by howling, it might be due to confusion.

In this case, it might help to allow your dog time to adjust to the new routine and avoid rewarding it when it howls, unless it seems to be due to something like needing to urinate.

Old Age

As dogs age, joint pain can become a problem, which could lead to night howling. This is more likely if your dog is older and has shown signs of discomfort both during the day and at night. In this situation, a consultation with your vet would be beneficial.

Factors to Consider

Dog Howls - Factors

Here are a few aspects to consider when identifying why your dog has been howling at night.

Past Events Coinciding with the Howling

If your dog didn’t always howl at night, it would be beneficial to consider any events that coincided with the onset of this behaviour.

A sudden start to the howling would suggest causes such as a change in diet, alteration in the sleeping environment, sickness, injury, or a disruption to its nightly routine.

Differences on Non-Howling Nights

It would also be valuable to note any differences on nights when your dog doesn’t howl.

For instance, if it refrains from howling on nights when it doesn’t consume a specific food, it could indicate a dietary issue.

Age of Your Dog

The age of your dog is also an important factor. If it’s a puppy, the howling could likely be due to needs such as urination, separation anxiety, or a desire for extra attention. In contrast, an adult dog’s howling is more likely to be caused by changes in routine, lack of exercise, problems with the sleeping environment, or night-time pain.

Strategies to Prevent Your Dog’s Night Howling

Here are some practical steps you can take to prevent your dog from howling at night.

Adjust Feeding Schedule

Try feeding your dog earlier in the evening to avoid discomfort that might interfere with its ability to sleep.

Manage Separation Anxiety

Why Dogs Cry at Night

Separation anxiety might be causing the howling. Therefore, implementing measures to reduce the anxiety experienced when you’re not around could be beneficial.

Again, the book recommended on Amazon regarding dog separation anxiety could provide valuable guidance.

Ensure a Balanced Diet

As mentioned earlier, dietary issues could be causing the howling. Therefore, ensuring your dog is receiving a balanced diet, isn’t being fed without your knowledge, and doesn’t have access to inappropriate food, could be beneficial. Additionally, feeding your dog earlier in the evening might help.

Provide Adequate Exercise

Ensure your dog gets the recommended amount of daily exercise for its age and breed.

Avoid Reinforcing the Behaviour

As noted, your dog might be howling to seek attention or rewards. Avoiding giving attention or rewards when it howls at night could help your dog understand that howling doesn’t yield any benefits. However, make sure to rule out other reasons for howling such as needing to urinate, discomfort with the sleeping environment, or physical pain.

Create an Appropriate Sleep Environment

Ensure that the room where your dog sleeps isn’t excessively hot, bright, or loud and that there’s enough space for it to lie down comfortably.

Crate Training

Crate training can provide your dog with a comfortable and safe space where it can feel secure at night without your presence.

Allow Time for Urination

It’s important to allow your dog to urinate just before bedtime.

Be Patient

If the howling has started following a change in its night routine, it’s likely to stop after a few days or weeks. In this case, patience and avoiding rewarding the howling could be beneficial. However, if there’s no improvement after a few weeks, consider seeking help from a dog behaviorist or vet.

Seek Professional Assistance

If your dog seems to be in discomfort, consult a vet. If it continues to howl but isn’t injured, a dog behaviorist could provide helpful guidance.

Dog owners have long been puzzled by their pets’ nighttime barking and howling habits. A recent article sheds some light on the reasons why your pup might be vocalizing during the wee hours. 


My dog has started howling since I changed its sleeping place. Could this be the reason?

Yes, dogs generally prefer a set routine, and changes to their environment, such as a different sleeping place, can cause them to become anxious and confused, resulting in howling. They may need some time to adjust to the new arrangement.

Can lack of exercise lead my dog to howl at night?

Absolutely. Dogs need a certain amount of exercise every day depending on their age, breed, and health. Lack of exercise can lead to pent-up energy and boredom, which could manifest in disruptive behaviors such as howling at night. Regular exercise can help your dog feel more relaxed and sleep better.

Could my dog be howling at night because it’s hungry?

Yes, hunger can certainly cause a dog to howl at night. If your dog is not getting enough food during the day, or if the time between meals is too long, it might feel hungry and express this by howling. Adjusting feeding times so your dog gets a meal in the evening could help.

Is my dog howling due to discomfort from its sleeping environment?

It’s possible. If the room where your dog sleeps is too hot, too bright, too noisy, or doesn’t provide enough space for your dog to lay down comfortably, your dog could howl in response to the discomfort. Make sure your dog’s sleeping environment is quiet, dark, and comfortable.

Can my dog’s howling be a sign of physical pain or discomfort?

Yes, howling can be a sign of physical pain or discomfort, especially in older dogs experiencing issues like arthritis. If your dog has suddenly started howling and shows other signs of discomfort, it’s advisable to consult with a vet.

I’ve noticed my dog only howls at night when it hears other dogs. Is this normal?

Yes, dogs often howl in response to other dogs as a way of communication. They might be howling to alert the other dogs of their location or to warn them not to enter their territory.

I sometimes give my dog attention when it howls at night. Could this be encouraging the behavior?

Yes, if you give your dog attention or rewards when it howls at night, you might unintentionally be reinforcing the behavior. It’s best to reward quiet behavior and ignore the howling unless it’s due to a specific need like wanting to go outside.


In conclusion, a dog’s nocturnal howling can be caused by numerous factors including separation anxiety, the need to urinate, hunger, discomfort in their sleeping environment, hearing other dogs or noises, boredom, diet issues, changes in night routine, and physical pain. Understanding the root cause is crucial in finding a suitable solution. Strategies to stop the howling include adjusting the feeding schedule, managing separation anxiety, ensuring a balanced diet, providing adequate exercise, and avoiding reinforcing the howling behaviour. Ensuring the dog’s sleeping environment is suitable and implementing crate training may also be beneficial. If the problem persists, professional assistance from a vet or a dog behaviourist may be required. Understanding and addressing your dog’s needs is essential for their well-being and a peaceful night’s sleep for both of you.

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