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I play accordion, and ever since Penny was a puppy, she’s felt an overwhelming need to howl along with it whenever I sit down to play. I say overwhelming need because it seems less like she wants to be there howling, and more like some unstoppable force compels her to. Whenever somebody plays the accordion, she runs in from another room to start singing.

So that made me wonder…why do dogs howl to certain sounds? Penny doesn’t howl to fire truck sirens or tornado siren tests. Or any recordings of dogs howling. Just the accordion.
And why do some dogs look so “unhappy” when they howl to a noise? Penny starts whining and grumbling before she starts howling. In the video I took she gave the side eye and stretched, not sure what those mean in this context. She could leave at any point but she always chooses to come and howl until she’s tired of it. Which can be…a lot of howling.

My theory: Long sounds with multiple notes are more howl-worthy. The accordion plays anywhere from 1 to 3 notes with one key, and the bass side plays an entire chord. Sirens sound like they have multiple tones but I haven’t looked into that.

Here’s the video I took:
(I’m not sure this is the right way to put it in a post, anybody know?)
 

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I think it varies. Ritter only howls when I take Galen out and leave him home; he seems to get upset at being left behind. Galen has only howled at fire engines. Pogo and Snarky, however, used to howl from excitement and, I think, enjoyment. They would sit facing each other and harmonize. A couple of their dog friends also knew how to howl, so the whole group would form a song circle on occasion. They seemed to get the same pleasure from their harmonies that shaped note singers get. After Snarky died I only heard Pogo howl once again. He saw something out on the street, let out a loud warble, and then looked around puzzled at the absence of his brother's harmony. That was the last time he ever tried to sing.
 

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I love the fact you play the accordion!! Ethel howls when she gets really, REALLY worked up about something. First is her regular bark. Then her DEEP bark. Then her several deep barks in a row. Then barks in a row that end in a hoooWWWWLLLL. Jeffrey doesn't really bark much and doesn't howl. Thomas only barks.
 

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My family dog growing up would howl and sing along when my sister played arpeggios on the violin. I definitely think it tickles something in their deep wolfy brains - he would even howl in his sleep when she played a certain arpeggio.
 

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I've only heard Topper howls a few times-when he's nibbling on his little raccoon stuffy in the evening. He's done it twice, and it always happens after a fun evening of play and chewing. He wants me to hold the raccoon while he nibbles on it and makes a variety of soft vocalizations. I squeak it once in a while, and sometimes that induces a howl. He doesn't howl at sirens or the sound of other dogs in our neighborhood or on TV. I'm still trying to figure out if it's because he's stressed, overtired or what.
 

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My childhood dog howled at fire trucks - we joked that he wanted a ride. Phoebe howls for me when I leave the house. She would howl for me when I was upstairs and she was downstairs too long when she was you hers. She doesn’t howl when anyone else leaves the house, and if I tell her to hush through the camera, she does right away. I wish I could get her to sing with me! I love a cute howling dog. I also can’t get her to bark for me, but she barks at my husband daily.
 

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One Giant Schnauzer howled along to the theme for final jeopardy every day. Another liked to "sing" with me. He would come and start chewing (gently) on my feet until I started yelping playfully, then burst into a howl, and I would howl along with him. I could make him howl any time by howling myself, then we would have a concert. He just liked it. We both did!

Have never heard Zephyr howl except once in his sleep. Don't know what kind of dream he was having!
 

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I think Leo is the only dog I've had howl at sounds, and it's always been sirens.
 

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I just tried howling for Galen and Ritter to see what they would do. Galen looked puzzled, cocked his head, and wagged his tail. Then when he couldn't figure out why I was acting weird, he applied his all purpose solution: he brought me a tennis ball. Ritter, in contrast, was very disturbed. He looked at me, started barking, spun in circles in front of me while continuing to bark, and jumped up to lick my face. He remained agitated after I stopped, patted him, and told him everything was ok. My husband and I have previously discussed the fact that Ritter seems to have much less of a sense of humor than Galen. Today falls in line with that observation.
 

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Penny is adorable! I'm so glad you posted this. When my mom plays the piano Wally doesn't pay much attention but when she plays the organ he barks and howls. A lot of the time he wags his tail as he howls. I've wondered if it was because it hurts his ears, but then he doesn't have to stand next to her. After seeing Wally in action my brother said, "No, your little circus dog is just excited and thinks it's time to go jump up on the pony's back." Lol. I had tried scissoring him here before a bath. It didn't turn out well.

 
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