Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.


Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Woof Wednesday: Canine Sound Sense & Ear Problems

Magic9.5wks, face

“Say, what?”

Ain’t he a cuty? That’s the Magical-Dawg shortly after he came home at about 9-and-a-half weeks. Yes, he’s a German Shepherd, but you wouldn’t know it based on those ears. Canine ears help give our dogs their fine looks, breed characteristics (in some cases), and of course their acute sense of hearing. With Magic, his ears furled and unfurled for a couple of weeks, getting droopy when he was tired–that was a great puppy barometer of mood, too!


“I used to be cute…what happened?”

Seems like in some dogs the ears outgrow the rest of the body for a period of time. Magic’s ears took on giNORmous proportions. Scary picture here–if he grows into those airplane wings, he’ll be a monster-dawg!

My canine hero in my LOST & FOUND thriller is about this age–right around 9 months old–so still a wee bit growing into big paws and dumbo ears. Those ears, though, help Shadow (the hero pup) stay several paw-steps ahead of the bad guys. 🙂

Magic face 1 (2)

Thankfully Magic grew into those bat-ears to become that handsome fellow above. Today he has the auditory acuity of a high-flying bat. Like the famous Snoopy, he can hear you munch marshmallow and detect the stirrings of an imminent kitty hairball in time to “help.” (urk).

All these fun pictures serve as introduction to the topic, really. Doggy hearing is extraordinary, and it can serve them well or get them in trouble–and even cause doggy angst when the thunder rumbles. Dogs hear with the same mechanisms that people have, and can suffer from some of the same ear problems as people. You wouldn’t want to be prone to ear mites, though, I promise! Ew!  I’ve just posted some new articles about how dogs hear, and a second article listing the signs of the most common ear infections.

What are some of the extraordinary things your dog can detect with his/her hearing? If you have an older pet, has the hearing faded over the years?  (that’s normal, actually). Has your dog ever had ear problems? I have to be careful with Magic because he loves water so much he could develop “swimmers ears.” How do you keep your pets’ ears healthy? Do you have to groom them? I know some cockers and poodles need to be “plucked” (poor dears!). Please share your tips and experiences!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Weird Woof Wednesday: Knee-Jerk Reactions & Poopy-Puppies


We’ve had two blogs in a row filled to the brim with writer-icity, so it’s time for a bit of SQUEEEE! puppy-licious fun. There are a number of weird behaviors, though, that puzzle even savvy dog owners. One’s enough to make you question your dog’s good taste–literally.

Coprophagia–sounds all literary-like, right? But that’s just a fancy word for eating (ahem) poop.

Ew! You might want to put down your McMuffin while reading this.

Poop eating can be nature’s way for mom-dogs to keep the nest clean, and Junior-Dawg simply copy cats the behavior. It’s annoying, nasty, and great fun for juvenile delinquent pups. Even the Magical-Dawg indulged in his youth, played keep-away with the crap and one time actually carried some inside the house. Oh yeah, THAT went over well, and reinforced the cat’s opinion of him.

Most pups outgrow the behavior. If you have a canine connoisseur of pungent productions (say THAT fast five time!), these 10 tips to stop eating poop will help.  Just take a look at that face (below) and tell me you couldn’t forgive that keep-’em-laughing puppy! In fact, read on for some neato news.

July 15-17, Petfinder.com is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of Petfinder.com 15th Birthday year! That sweet puppy above with the goof-ball grin is Booger-Boy  and he’s available–just click on thr picture for a link to details. Betcha once he’s adopted (and you could change the name!) he’d promise not to eat anything you don’t want him to eat…except maybe a favorite sock that reminds him of his beloved human . . .

A less annoying but still puzzling behavior involves doggy scratching behavior. Does your pooch kick when he’s scratched? Is it a certain place if you rub him the right way, or will his leg jitter and jump with any scratch? The Ask Amy video below has some answers–but what have I missed? Why do you think dogs “fiddle” when scratched?

And do your dogs (or pups) eat nasty stuff? How do you handled the problem? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Old Fogey Dog Webinar, Ask Amy & Dogs Rolling Over

Those who regularly read my blog know about all the cute puppy pictures and content (SQUEEEE!) I’ve been creating. Our old fogey dogs are just as–or even more–deserving of our love and attention.

I’m thrilled to offer the fine folks at the Danish-Swedish Farm Dog USA organization a live Webinar next Monday June 20, based on my best-selling updated Complete Care for Your Aging Dog book. The presentation–with Q&A and some fun pictures from the powerpoint–has pending CCPDT accreditation. And a portion of the registration goes to fund dog-specific causes (your choice). Feel free to spread the furry word– and I  hope to “see” some of y’all there.


That puppy in the picture from last weekend’s local adoption event wanted to just chill on my lap, sleeping on his back, all afternoon. What a sweetie. When we first got Magic, he was NOT inclined to “roll over.”

Rolling onto the back and baring the tummy places a dog into a vulnerable position and not all feel comfortable doing this. As Magical-Dawg has matured, he’s much more willing to volunteer this behavior–and I’m flattered. It actually can be a sign of great trust, although many folks assumes this posture always means submission.

And no, of course I never “forced” Magic onto his back. Okay, guess I need to also mention “alpha roll” where the owner forces a dog onto his back to establish dominance. Probably a better name for it would be the “stupid roll” because it does nothing to foster submission and actually can get owners bit.

The premise comes from thinking that wolves make other wolves roll over to prove who is in charge. Uh…nope. Wolves roll over on their own to indicate deference, they aren’t “forced” to do this by a bigger wolf. And of course, dogs aren’t wolves. Dogs will show deference and respect to more potent, powerful and in charge individuals (whether that’s another dog, a cat or human). And sometimes the most powerful doggy in the group rolls over to show a less confident canine he means no threat, as an invitation to play or build confidence.

The fellow asking the question in the Ask Amy video was not happy about his newly adopted dog’s inclination to roll over. I suspect he wanted his dog to be “macho” and “dominant” and wasn’t clear on exactly what his dog was telling him–or what the dog “heard” his new owner saying.

Do your dogs enjoy tummy rubs? Does your dog flip on his back at the drop of a “hello?” When does he show his tummy–do you ask, or does he simply volunteer and request your attention?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Ask Amy, Puppy Baths & Skunk-icity

7-22 magic & hose
Magic loves water–for play! Bathes are a different story.

Last week during a ramble through the 13 acres of our Rosemont homestead, Magical-Dawg emerged from the treeline and scared my husband half to death. He threw himself on the ground (the dawg, not the hubby!), and rolled-rolled-rolled and scrubbed his face in the grass and dirt. Mahmoud thought he’d been bitten or stung by something, said Magic even seemed to foam a bit at the mouth and was nearly impossible to motivate him vertical so they could head back to the house.

I checked the boy over for bites and stings–one side of his jowls did seem a bit swollen–but Magic didn’t act tender and seemed fine. The repair folks arrived shortly thereafter to fix the oven/stove (that’s another story!) so Magic kenneled-up in our bedroom for the duration. An hour later when they left and I opened the bedroom door and released Magic from his kennel–

Ginger, the Morkie, can’t believe she’d ever need a bath! Copr. eamylove

WHEWIE! I hadn’t noticed it before, but confinement increased Magical-Dawg’s pungent-icity. Not a bug bite or sting at all–nope, my inquisitive fellow had a close encounter with a skunk. Luckily it wasn’t a direct hit or we’d have noticed much more quickly. So today, the Magical-Dawg will get a bath with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap–a bubbling miraculous solution for de-skunking the stinkiest pooch. For directions how to get other stuff out of the fur (tar, paint, chewing gum and more), you’ll find detailed how-to advice in the First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats.

Puppies shouldn’t be bathed until they are at least four weeks old—six or eight weeks is better. The little guys have trouble regulating their body temperature at that age, and can become chilled. While some breeds need more bathing than others, excessive baths can strip natural oils from the coat and dry the skin. For puppy-licious bathing advice, check out 13 Steps for Bathing Your Puppy (hot off the virtual press!).

Some dogs HATE bathes, though. Does yours? Magic LOVES the idea of chasing the water but doesn’t want to hold still for rinsing. Today’s Ask Amy explains some of the “whys” about dogs who hate bathing. How often do you bathe your dog? Or…HISSSSSSS…do you ever bathe your cat? Did you and the cat survive? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!