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Dog Howling: Causes and How to Stop the Habit

Is your dog’s howling annoying you?

Dogs are some of the sweetest and most beloved animals, bringing immense joy and playfulness into our lives. But what about the annoying howling at totally unexpected times?

Dogs have a lot of reasons to howl, and one of them is probably to annoy their owners. Separation anxiety, the need for attention, or an environmental trigger are some of the most common causes of howling.

How to stop the habit?

The first method is handling your dog’s separation anxiety.

Image by smrm1977 from Shutterstock

1 ) Recognize their behavior

The first thing you need to do is recognize their behavior. If your dog is howling while you are gone, it may suffer from separation anxiety. Here are some behavior patterns that can be observed when a dog is suffering from separation anxiety:

  • Pacing and destroying things
  • Drooling
  • Defecation and/or urination (These may be the WORST)

2 ) Try counterconditioning

You can help your dog handle separation anxiety by making it associate separation with good things.

  • Offer your dog a toy each time you leave your home. The best toys are probably the ones that can be stuffed with food and keep your dog busy for a longer time. You can find these kinds of toys at pet supply stores.
  • Once you are back home, don’t forget to take the toy away. This way, your dog will associate it with the times when you are gone.
  • By repeating this, your dog’s separation anxiety should get better, and the howling should slowly disappear.
  • Don’t punish your dog! The punishment is not helping at all; it will just increase your dog’s anxiety and accentuate howling.

3 ) If the counterconditioning is not working, you should consult a professional

If your dog suffers from severe separation anxiety, it may need more attention and time to heal. A veterinarian can give you information about the best training techniques, medication, or other options.

4 ) Spend more time with your dog

Playing daily with your dog and taking long walks can significantly improve your dog’s howling behavior and reduce separation anxiety. Dogs need attention, so make sure you spend enough time with your dog daily, take walks, and play together.

If your dog lacks energy, discuss it with your veterinarian. Anyway, spending time with your dog will make the transition easier. When you are away, it will be sure that you are going to come back for your playtime.

The second method is to stop your dog from howling for attention.

Dog Howling
Image by Igor Normann from Shutterstock

1 ) Ignore your dog when it is howling for attention

Most of the dogs make loud noises to get their owner’s attention. If a dog wants to play, howling can be a great way to get noticed. To prevent this kind of behavior, you should teach your dog that howling is not a way to get your recognition.

Also, you should avoid punishing your dog! Even this kind of attention can be rewarding in this case.

2 ) Give your dog rewards for being quiet

Give your dog treats at unexpected times when it is quiet. In case he is howling and you want to stop him, don’t give him any treats until it stops for at least 5 seconds. Your dog will learn to associate calm behavior with getting a reward.

3 ) Train your dog to be quiet on command

Dogs can be trained to speak, just as they can be trained to stay quiet. Try to play with your dog and make it understand what “speak” and “quiet” mean, and reward it each time it manages to stay quiet for a longer time.

The third method is to discover what makes your dog feel scared.

Dog Howling
Image by Billion Photos from Shutterstock

1 ) Determine which environmental trigger is causing your dog to howl

Most dogs are usually howling each time they hear external stimuli, such as sirens, other dogs, or thunder. The howling will stop once the trigger ends or goes away.

2 ) Change your dog’s reaction to a trigger that makes it howl

If your dogs’ howling bothers your neighbors or your family, you should start using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques. For example, your dog may start howling when it hears the sound of your dryer. In this case, you can train your dog by trying to keep it calm as long as the dryer works and rewarding it right after. Do this multiple times and increase the working time of your dryer. In this way, your dog will become desensitized to the trigger.

Even though some environmental triggers cannot be controlled, such as an alarm, a siren, or thunder, you can still use the desensitization technique. How? Well, the easiest way is to download a program that can provide the same sounds that scare your dog. To make the technique work, you have to reward your dog each time it remains calm while you turn on the volume of the program with unpleasant sounds. In the beginning, your dog can go crazy and howl even more, but as long as you do it regularly, you’ll for sure see an improvement in its behavior.

3 ) Take care of your dog if they don’t feel well

Your dog may be howling because it is not feeling well. If you exclude the possibility of separation anxiety or being stimulated by an environmental trigger, your dog may be hurt or sad. In that case, you should visit your veterinarian as fast as you can to find out what is going on.

Some breeds are more prone to howling

Don’t forget to take into consideration that some dog breeds are more prone to howling than others. Breeds like Huskies and Beagles are known for their vocal nature and are more likely to howl.

Why are toys important for a dog’s well-being?

Toys play a significant role in maintaining a dog’s physical and mental health.

Toys designed for physical activity, such as balls or frisbees, encourage exercise and keep dogs fit. Regular physical activity and play with these toys can prevent obesity, improve overall health, and strengthen muscles.

Mental stimulation is very important for a dog’s cognitive development and happiness. For example, treat-dispensing toys are not only the most loved by dogs but are also great at keeping them engaged and mentally sharp. These toys require dogs to figure out how to release a treat. We think that every dog owner should purchase a toy like this for their dogs.

On Amazon, you can find some of the best dog puzzle toy models. Here is our recommendation for you, this interactive and mentally stimulating treat dispenser is great for training small, medium, and large dogs. Don’t forget that it also represents a great way to keep your dog busy while you are gone. And don’t worry! It’s a specially designed, slow feeder to prevent overeating and bloating. Your dog will have fun and also stay healthy.

Before you leave, write us in the comment section about your experience with your dog’s howling. Is it annoying? What are your neighbors saying? How do you handle it?

Also, if you liked this article, another related one can be found on Cute Animal Planet. It is about the most common 11 signs your dog is feeling ignored and what you can do about it. It’s really useful, so make sure you take a look at it!


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