Beagles do howl a lot more than other breeds I’ve known. I’ve heard them howling at music, fire truck sirens, at night, when left alone, and even when you are trying to get to sleep!
Howling is a huge part of their lives. It’s such an important part of them, it’s even in their name! The name ‘Beagle’ comes from two French words combined: ‘Béer’, meaning wide open/gape and ‘Gueule’, meaning snout.
This is important because it gives us an indication of what Beagles, historically, were bred to do – sniff out their prey and howl their little lungs off in order to alert hunters.
But, that’s not the only reason Beagles howl.
Why do Beagles howl so much? Beagles often howl if they sniff a potential prey. They are bred to alert hunters by howling. Beagles will also howl if bored, lonely, in pain or to join in with other howling dogs they can hear, as Beagles have exceptionally good hearing!
There are also some very specific circumstances when your Beagle will howl more than usual; here’s a selection!
Why do Beagles howl at sirens?
There are a number of theories as to why Beagles howl at fire truck sirens, and they both make perfect sense. It’s all down to their ancestry and breeding.
The first reason Beagles howl at sirens is due to their descendance from wolves. Howling is their way of communicating, and a lost wolf will howl to get the attention of the pack in order to find their way back.
If your Beagle hears a high-pitched siren, it’s probably triggers that behavior, and he will howl back, thinking it’s another dog howling somewhere in the distance.
The second theory for why Beagles howl at sirens is due to their protective nature. They have been bred to be human companions. If they hear something potentially threatening or unusual, like a fire truck siren, then they will react by howling for your attention – that way, your Beagle is telling you there is danger coming… in their own special way!
I’ve also read comments online from Beagle owners who say they howl at sirens because their hearing is so sensitive that it hurts them. I am not convinced by this argument though, as if your Beagle was scared you would see other signs too; hiding, cowering, and so on.
Why do Beagles howl at music?
Just as I explained in the previous section, Beagles will howl at music for the same reason they get vocal around sirens; there’s something about the high-pitched tones in music that set off an instinctive response – harmonica howling is a great example.
There’s even been some research conducted to reveal that dogs have a sense of pitch. When there’s a group of dogs howling, they will often change the note to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
In fact, there could even be some notes in the music that your Beagle can hear, and you can’t… and it’s those particular high-pitched notes in music that your Beagle is howling along to.
It really can depend on the genre of music. For example, research suggests that reggae music is something that dogs like to listen to, as it can calm them down.
Why do Beagles howl in their sleep and at night?
When you hear a Beagle howling in his sleep, it’s most likely due to a dream they are having. Dogs can dream according to the Psychology Today website, and howling could mean their dream is unpleasant or scary.
Don’t be too worried though; a Beagle howling in his sleep could be just your furry friend having an exciting moment during their dream-state. Let them get through it, as if you wake them up in this moment you might get a nip!
Do Beagles howl when left alone?
Just like any other dog, Beagles can suffer with separation anxiety and can howl when they are left alone. But Beagles have been bred to be companion dogs, and so are used to being part of a pack…
This means they are more susceptible to howling when left alone and do tend to have more pronounced separation anxiety than other breeds.
Handy Hint: I’ve put together 16 tips designed to help you calm your dog down when he’s anxious at night.
Why are Beagles so vocal?
There is so much more to the way Beagles verbally communicate than just howling – it is important to distinguish your typical howl and the extended howl unique to hound dog breed known as ‘baying’.
So, before we go into why Beagles howl and why they are so vocal, I will work to establish what they’re howling, and how to tell the difference between howling and baying in your Beagle.
Howling is the universal sound attributed to all canines in the wild, and can be distinguished by a loud, long wailing sound.
No matter what your breed of dog, you should expect them to howl occasionally – it’s nothing to worry about, it’s completely natural behaviour.
It all goes back to canines’ shared roots: the wolf.
In the wild, wolves howl for what is called ‘aggregation purposes’, which basically means that they’re calling for other wolves to come over and join them for a hunt. Wolves in a pack also tend to howl altogether and is their way of showing a feeling of community with each other. This then shows us that howling in canines is an instinctively social behaviour.
This then explains why dogs howl when they have been left alone for a while and haven’t seen their owner – it demonstrates their instinctive yearning for social contact.
It also explains why your Beagle tends to howl if left alone or when they hear other dogs howling or hear a sound that mimics a dog’s howl like an ambulance or police siren – it all links back to wolf pack behaviour where they would howl in unison.
Meanwhile, baying is a learned behaviour that has become instinctive in hound dogs. When hunters noticed how far the sound of a hound’s howl could carry, they selectively bred them based on that ability because it would help them keep track of where the dog is and alert them to any potential prey that they find.
The main difference between baying – or ‘giving tongue’ – and regular howling is that the former becomes more intense and enthusiastic the closer the hound gets to the prey, which historically helps hunters to locate not just the dog, but whatever it is they’re hunting.
But how does my Beagle come into this?
So, as a now-domesticated hound dog that was traditionally bred for hunting, it is important to note that the modern Beagle will howl and bay.
The type of noise they produce all depends on their internal feelings and external stimuli.
Identifying which is which, in turn, is the first step in curbing the behaviour.
Why does my Beagle howl?
There are many reasons why your Beagle might howl, but here are some of the most common ones…
1. Separation anxiety and loneliness
As mentioned before, howling in all canines is an inherently social behaviour, mimicking the way wolves call out to other members of their pack to join them.
So, given that most dogs see owners as members of their pack (whether you’re in charge of the pack is another matter!), they might howl when left alone because they wish to reunite with you.
That’s normal behaviour for any dog, but if they begin to howl when you leave a room, that’s indicative of separation anxiety, where it seems that your Beagle needs to be with you all the time.
They’ll howl to get your attention, so even if you respond to the howl by coming to get them to stop, it won’t have the desired effect because they’ll see it as satisfying that need for attention, whether it be negative or positive.
Alternatively, if work long hours, don’t give your dog a lot of attention have your Beagle spend a lot of time indoors, it may well be that they’re lonely – in which case the howl isn’t just a cry for your attention, but any attention at all.
Indeed, if you don’t give your dog a lot of attention, toys or exercise, that could be another reason why they howl.
Beagles are known for being especially high-energy, so if their needs aren’t met and that energy isn’t expelled, they will expel that energy in unhealthy ways.
So, your Beagle may begin to howl a lot because they are bored, they find it fun and there is nothing else for them to do!
Handy Hint: Wondering when your Beagle will eventually calm down? Read this guide to what to expect with their hyper behaviour.
3. A response to external stimuli
If your Beagle starts howling when they’re out in the garden or on a walk, chances are that they smell something you can’t yet see, like another dog, food or bird.
As hunting dogs, a Beagle’s nose is one of the most sensitive noses out there, so it can’t be assumed that they are howling at random.
A lot of people own dogs because they believe they will alert them to unwanted home intruders. All dogs, including Beagles, are especially sensitive of unknown forces threatening ‘their’ territory.
So, if the doorbell rings or an animal, human or even object veer too close to their home, don’t be surprised if they start excessively howling.
In both cases, the Beagle is howling to alert their owner of something – whether it be a prey or a home intruder. So, although your Beagle’s howling may seem excessive or irritating, be assured that they’re doing it with the best of intentions!
4. They’re in pain
Beagles also howl to alert their owner that they’re in pain. If they are recovering from an injury or surgery or live with a chronic pain condition like canine arthritis, they will obviously not understand the nature of their condition, meaning that their howling is an indication of their panic.
This kind of howling can be useful when your Beagle doesn’t have a visible injury or known cause for their pain, as it can let you know that you need to take them to the vets.
How do I stop my Beagle from howling?
But what if the howling is getting too much? The tips below might help you put a stop to it.
1. Teach them to howl on command
It might be easier to control the behaviour than curb it completely.
If, for example, your Beagle howls every time somebody rings the doorbell, you can use that stimulus to condition them to howl at certain time, rewarding them with treats so they have positive associations with howling at certain instances.
This in turn makes them more likely to do it.
2. Take them away from external stimuli
If your Beagle has nothing to howl at, they won’t howl.
If, for example, your Beagle howls whenever someone approaches the house, try to keep them away from doors and windows. If your Beagle howls a lot at a certain dog park, try taking them to another, and so on.
It might feel a little like trial and error, but if you learn to pick up on what stimuli your Beagle responds to, it makes curbing the howling a lot easier!
3. Don’t reward bad behaviour!
If your Beagle is howling to get your attention, the most effective solution is to ignore them. It may be difficult, especially if the howling is disruptive, but any response to the howling – whether it be positive or negative – reinforces the message to your Beagle that howling will lead to the attention they crave.
If you prove their hypothesis to be wrong, they will stop seeing the point of howling and cease from doing it.
4. Keep them physically and mentally active
If your Beagle has other things to focus on, they won’t have the time or energy to howl for hours on end.
As I have mentioned, Beagles are an especially energized breed, so if they are howling a lot take a moment to reflect on whether all their energy is being expelled with cardio exercise as well as a daily forty-minute walk.
Interacting with your Beagle through playtime, fetch and other toys will make the world of difference, satisfying their hunger for contact and intellectual challenges.
You could also try interactive toys which makes your Beagle work for their treats as a way to help occupy them mentally.
As we have seen, Beagles can howl for all kinds of reasons. Each howl could mean a different thing. If the above steps don’t help to improve your Beagle’s howling habit, it is important to take them to see a vet or professional dog trainer.
If there’s one thing you should know before bringing a Beagle home, it’s that they’re definitely used to making their presence felt!
As energetic, athletic hunting dogs who love to run, they are also incredibly vocal and big howlers.
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