Why Do Dogs Howl? – Pet's Satisfaction

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Why Do Dogs Howl?

Black and white colored Husky howling winter

Many dog owners have probably already heard their dog howling somewhen.
Howling is a way of communicating with other dogs and humans used by dogs and it can express a variety of emotions.

As you might have expected, barking isn't the only means of communication with different implications, but howling can have several meanings, too.
Your dog may howl when he hears a shrill noise or as a way to communicate his feelings.
It could also be a way of him alerting you about upcoming danger.
The following post handles what to do if your dog's howling becomes out of hand.

Physiological or Mental Issues

If you are notified about your dog's howling during your absence from home, this might be a clear indicator for your canine suffering from separation anxiety.

This emotional state only arises when your dog is separated from you, as the owner, in one way or another.
It isn't unusual for your dog to suffer from another symptom at the same time, such as depression, destruction or other kinds of mental health issues.
Be aware of possible signs such as pacing, digging or scratching.

Your dog could also howl due to a sickness or injury.
If the howling of your darling becomes excessive you should at first take him to a veterinarian to preclude any potential medial issues before drawing conclusions about his mental health.

How To Stop Your Dog's Howling

If your dog is howling because of some high-pitched sound like another dog's howl or something similar, he will most probably stop as soon as the sound isn't perceptible anymore.

This kind of howling usually isn't excessive.
However, if your dog is being triggered more frequently this way, you should consider desensitization and counter-conditioning training for your furry darling.
This way your dog won't be so easily provoked in the future anymore.

Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning Training

This kind of training is most effective when done with both aspects, desensitization and counter-conditioning, together.

It helps to resolve the problem by changing the way your dog feels about a given situation.

The issue doesn't have to be howling and it is also commonly used for resolving phobias, anger and so on if it's happening due to the same triggers over and over again.

If you have found that this training is the right choice for your dog, you should start looking for a certified applied animal behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.
In case you cannot find a dog behaviorist nearby, you can also hire a certified professional dog trainer.

In this case, however, you should make sure that the dog trainer has extensive experience and education using desensitization and counter-conditioning training because this isn't needed for the certification as a dog trainer.

Your Dog Might Crave For Your Attention

If you think your dog is looking for attention and howls every time you're present, it might be due to him wanting you to play with him or because he's hungry.

In this case, your dog has to understand that howling won't get him the attention he's seeking, but instead only makes him become seemingly unnoticed.
Instead, you should give your canine attention when he deserved it by being silent and asking for what he wants in a more quiet way.

This way he'll quickly understand that howling or being loud in any other way doesn't work.

At first, you should simply try ignoring his howling and act as if your dog was not there every time he does howl.

You should not look at him, touch him or give him any other kind of attention.
Also refrain from berating him, since dogs act like children in this case.
They will find any form of attention rewarding, even if you try to make them stop by scolding them.

Try to act as if your dog is invisible, even if it might be hard.

Second, you definitely have to reward him if he's being quiet.
It's easy to forget paying attention to your dog when he's silent.
We often only pay attention to our dogs when they have been behaving in a way we don't want.
As a general rule, you should only give your dog treats or attention of any kind if he wasn't loud for at least a set period of time.
This set period of time should be at least five seconds.

Following the above-mentioned steps, your dog should dog will stop howling for attention, given enough time.

Train Your Dog In Other Ways

This kind of approach can also be used to teach your canine other disciplines.

For instance, you might want to train your dog to be quiet when you say so.
To do this, try making your dog bark or howl on command.
First, start by saying "Speak" or something similar.
Making a knocking sound with the help of a door or wall usually also works fine.

If he makes noise, commend him but do not reward him by giving him food or a toy.

Afterward, you train him to stop by saying "Hush", "Quiet" or something in that direction.
As soon as he doesn't howl for one or two seconds, reward him by granting him a treat or the toy he likes.

This is a whole sequence of conditioning.
Then you gradually increase the time he has to be quiet before earning his treat.

Gray wolf howling in forest

Spend More Time With Your Dog

Dogs are, like us humans, social animals.
Your furry friend might start to howl if he's being kept alone or outside for a long period of time.

Be sure to increase the quality time you spend with your dog regularly by playing with him or taking him out for walks.
Another option could be signing your dog up for courses or other behavior improving activities during which your dog can spend time with other canines.

However, if you have to leave him alone at home, be certain to keep enough toys he likes at home for him to play with.

Finding Professional Help

Your dog's excessive howling might be a challenge, but that's what certified professional dog trainers and behaviorists are there for.

Don't hesitate to contact someone professional to work with your dog when your dog's attention-seeking becomes out of hand.

Conclusion

If your dog is howling way too often, it is important to understand what he's trying to tell you.

Whether it's due to loneliness or separation anxiety, or due to physiological or medical issues, your dog's loud way of communicating should not simply be labeled as "usual dog behavior, that has to be accepted".

If your dog howls because of acoustic triggers such as a sirene or other noises more often than not, you should think about signing your dog up for desensitization and counter-conditioning training.

Does your dog howl every time you're away from home?
He might suffer from separation anxiety and you should try to keep your dog occupied for the time he's alone.
On top of that, spending more quality time with your beloved furry friend will surely help him, too.

However, your dog might also suffer from medical issues when his howling has become a problem.
To be completely sure that this isn't the case, please visit a veterinarian.

Your dog could also simply be craving for your attention.
Every time he howls he might want you to play with him, get something to eat or attention in any other form.
If this has become excessive, you can train your dog to be silent on command with the above-mentioned sequence.

Have you had problems with your dog excessively howling or still have?
Did you combat it and have you succeeded?

I'd be happy to hear from your experiences in the comment section below!

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