dogs have this thing where they howl, right? They do it for all sorts of reasons – like getting noticed, saying hi to other dogs, or just letting everyone know they’re around.
Funny thing is, some dogs even start howling when they hear high-pitched sounds, like the wailing of an ambulance or tunes from a musical instrument.
If you’ve got a dog that can’t stop howling, stick around to find out what you can do about it.
First, Check for These Potential Issues
So imagine this, you get a ring from the folks next door telling you that your pooch has been howling up a storm while you’re away at work.
It’s possible that your dog’s non-stop howling is all because they’re feeling anxious when you’re not around.
This kind of “I miss you” howling typically only happens when your furry friend is left on their own or somehow split from their favorite human – that’s you!
Often, this howling isn’t alone. It’s usually part of a package deal with other “I’m stressed” signals like walking in circles, wrecking stuff, going to the bathroom where they shouldn’t, acting sad, or showing other worrisome behaviors. Wanna know more about this? Check out our piece called “Separation Anxiety.”
Sometimes, dogs might howl because they’re in pain or not feeling well. If your pup suddenly starts howling or is howling more than before, your first move should be to get them checked out by a vet. This way, you can make sure there’s no sickness or injury causing this behavior.
How to Handle Over-the-Top Howling
Howling Triggered by Noises
If your dog starts howling because of a certain noise, like the howl of another dog or a siren in the distance, chances are they’ll quit once the noise stops.
This kind of howling generally isn’t a big deal, unless of course, these noise triggers are happening all the time.
If that’s the case, you might wanna try something called desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) to help teach your dog when to hit the mute button.
Systematic Desensitization and Counterconditioning
When a dog’s issue comes from their feelings about a certain thing, it often isn’t enough to just redirect them to a new action – like fetching a toy instead of howling.
What really works is altering their motivation and emotions, which are the real root causes of the behavioral issue.
Desensitization and counterconditioning are two usual go-to methods to deal with problems like fear, anxiety, phobias, and aggression – basically anything that’s tied up with a dog’s emotional state or excitement levels.
Using these two techniques together usually works best when you’re trying to sort out pet behavior problems.
If you think this approach could work for your dog, check out our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) near you.
If you can’t find a behaviorist, you could also consider a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).
But make sure they’ve got solid experience and know-how with desensitization and counterconditioning, as this isn’t a requirement for CPDT certification. It’s important you find someone who’s really qualified to help you out.
Howling for Attention
Some dogs figure out that howling is a surefire way to grab human attention. If your dog howls for this reason, you’ll probably notice them doing it when you’re around and they want something – like food, toys, or just your attention.
If your dog uses howling as a way to get you to notice them or give them what they want, there are a couple of things you’ll need to teach them to get a handle on this behavior.
First off, they need to understand that howling isn’t gonna get them what they want (even if it worked before).
They also need to learn that keeping quiet is the real key to getting your attention and the goodies they’re after.
Once your dog gets that howling makes them invisible and silence makes them the center of your world, they’ll start toning down the noise pretty quick.
Don’t Feed Into the Howling
When your dog starts to howl for attention, make sure you don’t accidentally encourage it.
You’ve got to completely ignore them the second they start with the noise. Don’t make eye contact, don’t touch them, don’t talk to them. And definitely don’t tell them off.
Dogs are a bit like kids in that they love any kind of attention, even if it’s negative. So telling your dog off might just make the howling worse.
You’ve basically got to pretend your dog’s invisible. If you’re finding this tough, try crossing your arms and turning your back to them.
Reward the Silence
A lot of the time, we forget to give our dogs attention when they’re behaving. We tend to focus on them when they’re causing trouble!
If you want your dog to learn not to howl for attention, you’ve got to reward them when they’re quiet. Surprise them with treats and affection when they’re being good and not making noise.
Start a new rule and stick to it: your dog gets nothing they want (food, toys, trips outside, treats, cuddles, you name it) unless they’ve been silent for at least five seconds.
If your dog starts howling to grab your attention, remember to ignore them until they’re quiet, as mentioned before. Then, after they’ve been quiet for five seconds, you can give them the attention they’re after.
Teaching your dog to be quiet on command can be beneficial. Start by saying “Speak!” and encouraging your dog to bark or howl, for example, by knocking on a wall or door.
Praise your dog when they start making noise, but avoid giving them treats or toys at this point.
Next, use the command “Hush” or “Quiet.” When your dog stops barking or howling for a moment or two, quickly say “Good!” and reward them with a tasty treat.
Keep practicing this sequence repeatedly, gradually increasing the time your dog must remain quiet before receiving the treat. Begin with just one second of silence to earn the treat.
Once your dog gets the hang of it, extend the time to three seconds. If they succeed again, increase the time to five seconds, then ten seconds, and continue increasing it gradually.
By consistently working on this training, your dog will learn to associate the “Hush” command with getting a reward for their quiet behavior. With patience and repetition, your dog will become better at staying quiet for longer durations when asked.
Spend time with your dog
Loneliness can be a common reason why some dogs howl, especially if they’re left alone or spend extended periods outside without companionship.
Dogs, just like humans, are highly social animals and crave regular interaction with their human families. If your dog frequently howls when left alone, it might be a sign that they need more quality time with you.
Try bringing your dog inside the house more often and engage in activities like playtime and daily walks together. Participating in a fun training class that focuses on positive reinforcement for good behavior can also strengthen your bond.
When you have to leave your dog home alone for more than a few minutes, make sure to provide plenty of toys and attractive chew items to keep them entertained and occupied while you’re away.
Ensuring your dog has stimulating activities and a comfortable environment can help reduce their feelings of loneliness and excessive howling.
Wanna know more about dog behavior?
Explore these informative blogs to deepen your understanding and enhance your relationship with your canine friend:
Each blog offers insights, tips, and techniques from professionals and experienced dog owners alike. Learn how to communicate with your dog, understand their needs, and establish a relationship built on trust and mutual respect.