Why Does a Dog Howl in Their Sleep? Decoding Dog Dreams!

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Author: Jeanette Hampton

Dogs are social creatures living and working alongside humans for thousands of years. Throughout that time, they have developed a variety of behaviours that reflect their natural instincts and social nature. One of those behaviours is howling, which dogs often do in their sleep. While this behaviour can seem unusual or even concerning to some dog owners, there are several reasons why dogs howl in their sleep. Continue reading to find out!

Reasons Why Dogs Howl?

Firstly, it’s essential to understand howling is a natural behaviour for dogs. In the wild, howling is a means of communication among pack members. It’s a way for dogs to signal their location, warn of danger, or call for urgent help. Howling can also allow dogs to express their emotions, such as loneliness or anxiety.

Dogs occasionally howl in response to specific noises, such as music or sirens. This could be a result of the sound invoking in the dog a primal drive to vocalise in response to perceived threats.

While howling is normal behaviour for dogs, it’s crucial to remember that excessive or repeated howling may indicate a deeper problem, such as boredom or separation anxiety. Asking your veterinarian or a qualified dog trainer for help is an excellent idea if you’re worried about your dog’s howling.

Why Do Dogs Howl in Their Sleep?

Dog howling in sleep
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Dog howling may not alarm pet owners much, but when they start howling when they are sleeping, it may cause concern. Some of the reasons include:

Natural Behavior:

Dogs naturally howl in their sleep, which is one of the most frequent causes of this behaviour. Howling is a form of communication used by packs of animals in the wild. Dogs can use it to signal their location, alert people to danger, or request assistance. Dogs who dream of talking with other dogs may simply be reflecting their natural impulses when they howl while they sleep.


Dogs may be dreaming about something that is making them anxious or afraid, which is another explanation for why they scream while they sleep. For instance, dogs with separation anxiety may be more likely to scream while they are sleeping.

Express their Emotions:

In addition to anxiety, dogs may also howl in their sleep as a way of expressing their emotions. For example, a dog that is feeling lonely or bored may howl in their sleep as a means of releasing pent-up energy or expressing its emotions. Similarly, dogs that are feeling stressed or overwhelmed may also howl in their sleep as a way of releasing tension.

Regardless of the reason why dogs howl in their sleep, it’s important for dog owners to understand that this behaviour is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. As long as your dog is otherwise healthy and happy, there is no need to worry if they occasionally howl in their sleep.

What To Do When Your Dog Howls in Its Sleep?

Dog comfortably sleeping
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If your dog howls in its sleep, there is generally no need to be concerned, as it is normal behaviour for dogs. However, if you are worried about your dog’s howling or if it is interfering with your sleep or the sleep of others in your household, there are a few things you can try to help reduce or prevent it:

Providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation during the day helps reduce boredom and restlessness.

Creating a comfortable and secure sleeping environment for your dog, such as a quiet, dark room or a crate.

Use white noise or other background sounds to help drown out any noise that may be triggering your dog’s howling.

Using positive reinforcement training techniques to teach your dog to be quiet on command, may help reduce howling in general.

Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer to address any underlying health or behavioural issues that may be contributing to the howling.

Can You Stop a Dog from Howling in Its Sleep?

It is generally not necessary or recommended to try to stop a dog from howling in its sleep. Howling is a natural behaviour for dogs, and it is a way for them to communicate and express themselves. In most cases, howling in their sleep is not a sign of any underlying health or behavioural issue, and it is not something that your dog can control.


What do dogs dream about?

Like humans, dogs experience various stages of sleep, including rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, dogs can experience vivid dreams, just like humans. In fact, studies have shown that dogs may dream about things that they have experienced in their daily lives, such as playing, running, or even chasing other animals.

Should I wake my dog up if he is barking in his sleep?

If your dog is barking when they are asleep, it is advised that you do nothing at all. Being awakened in the middle of a dream can be quite frustrating and disorienting for your dog, just like it is for people. Even if your dog’s dream looks to be a nightmare, it’s probably best to just let them deal with it any way they choose to.

How do you know if your dog is having a nightmare?

Nightmares might make your dog snarl as they sleep along with twitching paws and eyes. They might even bark an alert or cry, moan, or whimper. Your dog may abruptly snap awake if the scenario is traumatic enough, just like you or I could after having a very jarring nightmare.

Why does my dog cry in his sleep?

It’s not uncommon for dogs to cry, whine, whimper, or even bark in their sleep. Just like humans, dogs can dream and may exhibit physical or emotional responses while they sleep. These responses can include movements, sounds, and even vocalizations.


“Why Does a Dog Howl in Their Sleep” can be a complex question with several potential answers. In conclusion, dogs howl in their sleep for a variety of reasons, including natural instincts, anxiety, emotions, and enjoyment. As long as the dog is otherwise healthy and happy, this behaviour is nothing to be concerned about. Understanding why your dog howls in their sleep can help you appreciate their natural instincts and social nature, and deepen your bond with your furry companion.


  1. Burke, A. (2019, March 12). What Do Dogs Dream About? American Kennel Club. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from
  2. Howling. (n.d.). ASPCA. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from
  3. Petplan. (2017, July 1). 3 calming tips to improve dog behaviour at night. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from

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Jeanette Hampton
Jeanette Hampton is a content writer at WWD and an expert on all things pets. She’s been writing pet blogs for over 5 years and knows everything there is to know about dogs. Jeanette enjoys writing about pet-related topics because she enjoys helping people learn more about their furry friends.

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