Dog Howling – Why and What You Can Do

Home Dog Behaviors Dog Howling - Why and What You Can Do

Dogs have several means of passing messages, including whining, barking, growling, and of course, howling.

Dogs can howl for a good number of reasons, and these include announcing their presence, making contact with others, and to attract attention.

There are other factors that could trigger a dog to howl, and these include sirens from police cars or medical vehicles and sounds from high pitched musical instruments.

While these are all normal, there are instances where a dog howls excessively. This can be regarded as a problem, as it disturbs the peace of both the owner and the neighbors.

If your dog howls a little bit too much, then keep reading, as we will be dropping tips on how you can get them to reduce or stop.

Possible Reasons for Excessive Howling

To treat the problem, you need to first understand why your dog howls excessively in the first place.

Below are a few reasons.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety can express their pain in different ways. Some bark out loud, some whine, while others can howl.

If your neighbor calls to tell you that your dog is howling while you are at work, then you can suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. If your neighbor calls you and complain of the same thing the following day or frequently, then it’s confirmed, your dog is definitely suffering from separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety howling can be heard when an anxious dog is left alone in the house for long periods. Such habits don’t come alone, as your dog may pace up and down or destroy certain items in the process.

Medical Reason

A dog that is in poor health can also howl. If you notice your dog is howling more than usual, then you should assume he is sick or hurt.

Take him to a vet to confirm, or rule out your suspicions before you take any other action. If you find that he is truly sick or hurt, then have the vet give him the required treatment.

What You Can Do about Excessive Howling

Follow these tips:

Howling in Response to Sounds

If sounds like the howls of other dogs, police or ambulance sirens, etc cause your dog to howl in response, then he will most likely stop when the noises also stop.

If the triggers occur frequently and your dog howls each and every time he hears them, then it can be considered to be excessive howling.

What you can use to remedy this is desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC). This would help your dog learn to be quiet.

Systematic Desensitization and Counterconditioning

If a dog’s howling problem comes down to how he feels about a certain thing, then teaching him a behavior like fetching a toy would not be the ideal solution.

It would be better to change his feelings or motivation, which are the major reasons for the behavioral problem.

Systematic desensitization and counterconditioning are very popular treatments for fear, anxiety, phobias, and aggression. It can be used to treat basically any behavioral problem that involves emotions or arousal.

When trying to remedy a behavioral problem in a dog, using a combo of the two will give better results.

You should hire a professional to give you tips on how you can use both techniques separately or together.

If Your Dog Howls, Whines or Barks to Get Your Attention

Dogs are pretty smart animals and they know that howling can also attract the attention of their owner. If your dog howls because of attention, then he will do it in front of you.

He may be in need of food, water, or play toys. The biggest mistake you would make is to keep granting his request every time he howls.

You need to teach him that howling isn’t the right way to ask for things. On the contrary, quietness would be his best chance of having his requests granted.

Next time he howls for attention or to get an item from you, be sure to ignore him. Do not touch him, speak to him, or even look at him.

If you keep up with this, sooner or later he will discover that all the noisemaking is getting him nowhere and he will stop howling.

If he stops, then reward him for being quiet. Don’t give him the treat immediately he stops howling, you need to put his endurance to the test a little. Wait for like 10 to 15 seconds.

It’s up to you to keep the clock, it is very easy to forget your dog is even thereafter he keeps quiet. If you forget to reward him on time, he may begin howling all over again. You also need to remain focused.

Using your voice is a great way to train dogs. After your dog has mastered the art of keeping quiet, you can get him to tell you what the problem is by asking easily-understandable questions.

Saying the word “speak” in a sharp, authoritative manner can cause your dog to respond with a bark or a small howl, especially if you tap on an object that relates to what they need.

For instance, if your dog wants to go out and pee, ask him to “speak” and knock on the door just to be sure. If he barks when you knock, then you’ll know he wants to go outside.

The rules here are simple –

  • Ignore him when he howls so he’ll understand that’s not the best way to get your attention
  • Reward him for being quiet with a treat so he understands quietness is in his best interest
  • Develop a voice command or prompt that he can respond to, which will give you a clue to what he wants

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