Karen B. London
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Howling Dogs, Crying Babies
What are these interactions all about?

A common theme for You Tube videos of dogs and babies is dogs who howl when a baby was crying. Interestingly, the dogs’ vocalizations often have a calming affect on the babies. Here are two videos in which a crying baby and a howling dog are in close proximity. In the first one, a dog is howling while a baby cries in a bassinet, and it seems as though the baby stops crying in response to the dog’s vocalizations.

In the second video, a dog and a baby are lying on a blanket on the floor and both are making a lot of noise. Though more subtle, it again appears as though the baby’s response to the dog’s howling is to stop crying for a brief moment.

It’s really anybody’s guess what is going on in these interactions. There are a lot of experts commenting on them, but without knowing more about the contexts and the individuals involved, it’s just guesswork. To really know what was happening, I would need to know if the baby and the dog usually act like this or if it was just a one-time event. I’d also want to know what works for soothing the babies when the dogs aren’t involved, and what other sounds or situations make the dogs howl.
Here are some possibilities about what is going on, but as I said, it’s not possible to know for certain which explanations are correct. It’s highly likely that a totally different interpretation is the right one.
The baby stops crying because he likes the howling.
The baby stops crying because he likes any loud noise
The baby stops crying because the howling startles him.
The cessation of the baby’s crying has nothing to do with the howling at all.
The dog howls because she likes to join in with the baby’s “howling.”
The dog howls because she has learned that this gets the baby to quiet down.
The dog howls because she doesn’t like being near the baby.
The dog howls because she’s trying to get a human’s attention: (“Pick up the baby and make it stop!!!)
What do you think is going on? Do you have experience with a dog and a baby who howl and cry together?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Anonymous | March 4 2011 |

This is just based off of opinion or shallow thoughts or whatever so I wouldn't consider this factual or anything! This is just my opinion, lol.

Huskies, the dogs shown in the video, are actually closely related to wolves. I'm not sure how, maybe inter-breeding or something, but I guess it's safe to assume the originate from the same family. Wolves are pack animals, as are huskies, and so they will look out for one another that they love or care for or are in their "pack".

Since these huskies are obviously family pets, maybe they made a bond with the baby and now it's treated as if the baby was in their own "pack" or "family" and when the child cries it caused the husky to howl so that someone can take care of it. I'm sure the dog knows that it is not the same time of "animal" as the child but it knows that the baby's parents are and so it howls to draw their attention and causes them to lift the baby or care for it or however you want to see it as. Dogs are a human's supposed "best friend" and maybe this is just an example of it. The husky looking out for the baby and allowing attention and care to be given to it when it howls.

The main reason why I think this is because if you think about it, animals truly care about humans that treat them right so they return the care. From personal experience - when I cried my cat put his paws on my face and rubbed his head on my cheek. I mean sure he left right after that but he was still showing affection so maybe the dog is just looking out for the person it cares about. Dogs are said to have that sixth sense.

Feel free to simply ignore this but I just felt like saying it, lol. I'm not sure if it's already been said before either but, ya know. :)

Submitted by Ailecs | May 27 2014 |

The baby stops crying because its instinct. A baby who stays quiet lives. he baby who cries when a beast or predator or approaches gets eaten first.

The dog howls because in the wild this is how wolves call unto the pack. So with this still ingrained in our domestic dogs they use this to call the pack leaders (mom and dad). As far as the dog is concerned the baby cries is another pack member calling.

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