How to Stop Dog Howling

July 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Pets

What Makes Dogs Howl

A howling dog is simply using one of the means of communication available to them. More commonly a dog might bark, whine or growl as howling has the least use for them if they are no longer wild.

Some owners are concerned that they have never heard their dog howl, but there is nothing wrong with your dog if they don’t as they simply have no need to howl.

Certainly judging by the number of YouTube hits videos of dog howling gets, people generally find it amusing when they do. That is until they live close to a dog that howls at night or is suffering from dog separation anxiety…

Benefits of Howling to a Dog

In nature, the sound of a dog howling will carry over long distances and was therefore used to locate other members of the pack and call them together for hunting (as wolves still do).

It also acts as a warning to rival packs to keep away because dog howls are individually recognisable, and therefore if they don’t recognise the howl, another pack would know to keep off the territory if they wanted to remain safe.

How To Stop A Dog From Howling

Some dog howling will last only as long as the noise that triggered it. For instance, some dogs will howl at a passing siren, but stop as soon as it’s gone. There is little you can do to stop this and if it doesn’t happen very often is not worth worrying about. You could try calling your dog to you to distract them, or take them inside until they are quiet. Use lots of praise if they quieten down quickly to reinforce the positive behaviour.

Whatever method you use, don’t shout at your dog. This rarely works and if they think you’re joining in with them are much more likely to continue for longer.

Equally, your dog may reply to other dogs howling but again this should not be long lived, (unless you have other dogs around you that howl continuously) or even howl along to music, singing or TV theme tunes. Here they are simply joining in as they would do when a pack gets together.

Separation Anxiety in Dogs Cause of Nuisance Howling

The sort of constant howling that upsets the neighbours and stops you sleeping at night is usually caused by other problems which you will need to identify and address.

A dog suffering from separation anxiety will start howling when the are left at home on their own. In their panic at being separated from you they will howl to locate you and communicate with you so you know where you should come back home to. They will continue trying to reach you for a long time, especially if you don’t howl back!

The only way to deal with this kind of howling is to deal with the separation anxiety issues, which will need behaviour modification training, perhaps some desensitisation training, and in extreme cases may need dog anxiety medication.

Look for other dog anxiety symptoms to help you confirm that anxiety is at the root of your dogs howling problems. Problems such as chewing, urinating on the carpets, or pooping in the house and many others. You can get our free report on the major symptoms of dog anxiety to help you.

Dog Howling to Grab Your Attention

Some dogs will howl because it gets them your attention. For instance, if you respond every time they howl by asking them “What is it?”, or getting cross, or going up to them and trying to reassure them, they have every reason to carry on because they just got some attention from you when they wanted it.

To tackle this you need a two-pronged approach. Firstly to show your dog that this behaviour doesn’t work and secondly that being quiet will earn him your attention and treats.

So when your dog next howls, don’t look at him, speak to him or touch him. If you’re in the same room as your dog when he howls and find it difficult to ignore, you could walk out the door and shut it leaving him alone until he stops. That way he learns that not only does it not get your attention, but he loses the pack too. You may find that the minute you turn your back and start to walk away, he’ll stop and follow you, so no need to even close the door.

Reinforce this by using positive training techniques, (ignore the slip ups, but praise them when they get it right) to encourage calm or quiet behaviour. You could consider trying to teach them to respond to a ‘keep calm’ or ‘quiet’ command to back it up.

If you’d like to know more about Dog Anxiety we’ve created a useful, free report to help you spot the symptoms of anxiety in your dog, because a dog howling could just be the start of anxiety problems, so catch it and stop it fast.


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