Last week I discussed the hot topic of dogs that lick all the time, this week I want to shed some light onto an issue that drives many dog owners crazy – howling dogs. Now, there are breeds that howl excessively (mostly hunting dogs and hounds), so if you own one of these breeds and you can’t stand the constant howling, you should have done your research before adopting your furry friend. But why do dogs howl, and how do you get them to stop?
Dogs use many different forms of vocal communication including barking, whining and howling. There are many reasons that your dog may be howling and that’s what you need to figure out first. Once you figure out the reason for the noise, you can try to remove the stimulation.
Finding out the reason for your dog’s excessive howling will also help you to train him to stop the annoying behavior. Keep in mind, some dogs may howl due to a medical condition. If you can’t easily pinpoint the reason for your dog’s howling you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure everything is okay.
Why Do Dogs Howl and How Do You Get Them to Stop?
If you’re looking for the basic reasons why dogs howl, the American Kennel Club has a straightforward and easy to read article on their website that explains some of the most common reasons. Most of the reasons are harmless, but you’ll want to figure it out anyone. As I mentioned, this will make stopping the problem much easier.
There are several reasons why your dog may be howling. And while you may find it annoying or worrisome, some of the reasons are very simple:
- For attention
Love That Pet also has an interesting blog post that discusses some unique ways to figure out why and when your dog is making excessive noise. These tips are for barking dogs, but you can also use them to discover why your dog is howling. The noise may be different, but the methods will work the same.
- If you are not sure what your dog is barking at or if he seems to be barking at everything, keep a bark diary. You may start to see a pattern, for example he barks at 3pm when kids are getting out of school. It might be useful to ask your neighbours to do this also, so you know when he is barking when you are not home. Your neighbours also then know you are attempting to resolve the problem.
Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons that dogs howl. Obviously, it’s going to be hard to notice this, as you won’t be near your dog when it happens. WebMD gives a brief explanation of howling linked to separation anxiety and the other symptoms that you’re likely to see accompany the howling.
There are many treatments for separation anxiety, and you can explore those if you think this is what is triggering your dog’s howling. You may be able to stop him by simply leaving on a television or radio for him while you’re gone. If it’s a severe case of separation anxiety you may need to seek the help of your veterinarian.
- If your neighbors call you and tell you that your dog is howling when you are at work, your dog’s excessive howling might be caused by separation anxiety. Separation anxiety howling only occurs when a dog is left alone or otherwise separated from his owner. This kind of howling is usually accompanied by at least one other symptom of separation anxiety, such as pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress.
Sometimes a dog only howls in response to loud or high pitched sound, like sirens. There are multiple reasons why dogs do this and Christine Gowen explains them all in this article for VPI pet insurace. She also answers other common questions like “Why don’t all dogs respond to sirens?” and “Do sirens hurt dogs’ ears?”
- Dogs, as descendants of wolves, may be expressing this instinctual behavior when prompted by the sound of a siren. As social pack animals, dogs may be interpreting a siren—or other high pitched sounds such as a flute, clarinet or a particular TV theme song—as communication.
For those of you that may not have the time to read all of these articles this week, you can check out this short video from Better Homes and Gardens that will explain very briefly why do dogs howl and how do you get them to stop.
So now we know why dogs howl, but how do you get your dog to stop the annoying racket? The ASPCA shares some great tips on their website to help you narrow down the reasons and help find a method to get your Fido to stop.
At the end of the article they also discuss getting help if you’re having trouble. This is important, because you’re not alone in this struggle. It can be difficult and frustrating, but you should never be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Working with a professional will be better for you and your dog in the long run.
- When the problem is rooted in how a dog feels about a particular thing, it sometimes isn’t enough to just teach him a different behavior—like to fetch a toy instead of howling, for example. Instead, it’s most effective to change his motivation and feelings, which are the underlying reasons for the behavior problem in the first place.
If you’re interested in some professional tips to get started with, check out this blog post from Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA. The tips are about getting your dog to stop barking, but they can be used interchangeably to get him to stop howling as well.
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- For anyone whose dog reacts strongly to outdoor sounds, but especially for apartment dwellers, a white-noise machine, a fan, or a radio playing soft music can help. Set it up by the door or window where that provocative noise comes in. Run one of those snaky draft blockers along the door’s bottom edge. If you have a plywood hollow-core door, can you replace it with something more solid?
Kimberly Caines also offers some great tips and tricks in this blog post. She discusses what to do if your dog begins to howl in response to certain stimulation, and she also addresses how to get your dog to stop howling if he’s looking for attention.
Attention seeking is another common reason that dogs howl. You’ll have to be consistent with this training or your dog won’t grasp the concept. It can be very trying on your patience, but by ignoring the unwanted behavior and praising acceptable behavior you should soon see a positive change.
- Ignore your pet companion if he howls just to get your attention. Fold your arms in front of your chest, look away and don’t talk to your dog when he starts howling. Imagine you’re not hearing him. When he stops howling and quiets down, reward him with a treat to reinforce the good behavior.
Does your dog howl excessively? Have you tried any methods to get him to stop? If you’ve got any tips and tricks that will help other readers understand why do dogs howl and how do you get them to stop, we’d love to see them in the comments below.
Feel free to share your personal experience with howling dogs. I’ve never had a howler myself, but we’ve known a few over the years. Personally, it would drive me crazy and I would be willing to try anything to make him stop. What do you think?