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Why does a dog howl? It's rather errie, and many cultures regard this as indicative of the...
presence of ghosts.
Most of the time it's a means of long-distance communication with other dogs, though some dogs howl out of loneliness or boredom as well.
I run a dog rescue of 29 dogs, and when one begins to howl the remaining 28 chime in! What a sound they make....it is rather eerie but also as if coming deep from within their ancestors. Totally an instinctive sound, it sounds different than the misery barking of an unhappy dog who is lonely or unhappy. A person needs to listen deeply to the sound and if possible, watch the dog who is howling. It is very much a way of communication in a pack, which is how they originally lived. I guess they could ask us, "Why do you talk? It sounds crazy to me!"
Agree with both these responses. It isn't always sad. And it is a deep seeded instinct in dogs. It's a way to communicate everything from warning signs, to feelings, to location.
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