Dogs howl for a variety of reasons but the primary thing to understand here is that dogs howl as a means of communication. They use howling as a way to gain attention, alerts against intruders and finally to protect their territory. However if your dog is showing an excessive howling behavior, you might have to work on curbing that behavior. But before you get angry at your dogs howl, understand why your dog might be indulging in excessive howling.
Howling is a naturally and primal reaction in dogs. This is a mode of communication so if your dog is occasionally howling, you don’t need to worry. However, if your dog is indulging in excessive howling, there might be a medical or psychological cause behind it which needs to be worked on.
|How to stop excessive howling in dogs?
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Let’s look at the causes behind excessive howling:
Excessive howling due to separation anxiety
If you have a dog who suffers from separation anxiety, this might be one of the reasons why he or she is indulging in excessive howling. Dogs howl when they feel lonely. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety start to feel lonely within minutes of the guardian leaving the house. Therefore such dogs howl to gain the attention of their guardians and to backing them back home.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, excessive howling would be accompanied by some other behavior indicating that it is a case of separation anxiety like pacing, depression, destruction of items and furniture around the house etc.
If you suddenly notice excessive howling behavior in your dog, it could be a sign that your dog is in pain. Dogs have been observed to howl when they are sick or hurt. If you notice excessive howling suddenly without any apparent reason, it would be best to consult your vet to rule out any underlying medical reason.
If your dog only howls to some high pitched noises like the police or ambulance sirens, or high pitched music, and stops when the music stops, their is nothing wrong with your dog. Your dog is just being a dog.
What can you do to curb excessive howling in your dog?
The method to reduce excessive howling will depend on the reason on the howling. You fix the issues behind the problem and the problem will automatically go away.
Excessive howling in response to sounds
If your dog howls in response to sirens or other dogs howling, her or she will probably stop once the siren stops or the other dogs so howling. This behavior is generally not observed to be excessive. However if you do notice your dog howling constantly after the trigger has passed, you must focus on counter conditioning and desensitization methods to curb this behavior.
Systematic desensitization and counter conditioning
Systematic desensitization and counter conditioning is generally used to treat dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, aggression and phobias. Desensitization works with any behavior whose root cause is in emotions or arousal.
Check out this article on counter conditioning and desensitisation of dogs
If your dog indulges in excessive howling to gain your attention
When your dog howled the first few times, you went running to him or her. Now he or she knows that a howl will get your attention. So your dog will howl till you give him or her what she wants. There is an easy fix to this problem. Do not pay attention to your dog when or she is howling.
If you do not pay your dog any attention for a few times, he or she will learn that this kind of behavior is not yielding the desired response from the guardian. At the same time your dog must realize that being quiet is a better option. So while you do not pay attention to your dog when her or she howls, pay attention to your dog when he or she stops howling. When your dog stops howling, give him or her treats and praise the behavior. Eventually the or she will learn that howling is just a waste of energy and they can get what they want by just being quiet.
The ignorance towards excessive howling must be complete
A lot of times guardians give in to the howl after a few attempts of not responding. This does not help. As soon as your dog starts to make noise, start ignoring him or her completely. Do not look at your dog, touch your dog, or speak to your dog. Do not scold him or her for negative behavior either. Just complete ignorance. Behave as if your dog is invisible. If your dog comes to you, fold your arms across your chest and turn away from your dog.
Reward good behavior
This will require training your dog but can be very rewarding for the future. This would work to not only stop the howling but it will also help stop excessive barking as well. Most often we give our dogs attention when they are doing something wrong. However, when it dogs do something right like staying quiet, do we reward that? Most often it is missed.
If you want your dog to stop howling to get your attention, you must reward his or her good behavior as well. Give your dogs attention, toys and treats when he or she is staying quiet. This will ensure positive behavior from your dog more often.
Make a new rule in the home. Your dog goes not get anything he or she wants like toys, treats, food or attention if he or she is howling. Once the howling steps wait for 5 seconds before you done your dog anything. If your dog starts howling during that 5 second period, do not pay attention and continue to ignore. Only when your dog is quiet for 5 seconds should he or she be rewarded with what he or she wants.
Teach your dog to be quiet on command
It is possible to teach your dog to be quiet on command. It will require a little amount of patience and time from your side but this is a completely achievable outcome.
Ask your dog to SPEAK. If your dog knows how to speak, he or she will either howl or bark. Praise your dog when he or she vocalize in response to your command. If your dog already knows the command SPEAK, the behavior should not be rewarded with toys or treats.
Then say QUIET out HUSH. Following this command, the moment your dog stops vocalizing, praise him and offer gun or her a good treat. Keep repeating this exercise over and over. once your dog understand USH or QUIET means that he or she must create barking or howling, start expanding the time the dog has to stay quiet before he or she is awarded the treat. initially give the treat immediately when your dog quiet down. Then extend the period to 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds and so on.
Get help if needed
If you are struggling to curb the excessive howling behavior in your dog, their is no shame in contacting a trainer or dog behaviorist to help you out. We all want what’s best for our kids. It is preferable if you go for a certified professional dog trainer. Such trainers will help train your dog while giving you valuable pointers so that your dog keeps following the instructions and stays on track.
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Do not use punishment
Punishment never works as a dog training method. A lot of people prefer to use shock collars for barking or howling. Such collars send shock to the dog when the dog engages in an unwanted behavior. Such collars may be successful in preventing your dog from barking, but your dog will never be the same again. It will not only cause physical harm to the dog like pain and burns, shock collars can also cause severe emotional trauma to dogs. No certified dog trainer or guardian will ever recommend shock collars for dogs.
Similarly do not scold your dog for exhibiting unwanted mediator. As I mentioned previously, if you pay attention to your dog when your dog barks or howls, he or she is getting what they want. This will not help stop the unwanted behavior. Just ignore your dog when he or she engages in excessive howling. When your dog calms down, reward the good behavior with a treat and praise.
Spend more time with your pup
Dogs are very sensitive and pack minded creatures. They hate being left alone. If you notice that your dog is indulging in excessive howling because he or she is feeling lonely, spend more time with your dog. Engage in line playtime, mental stimulation and games with your dog. Take your dog for longer walks. These activities will tore out your dog and will prevent excessive howling.
When you need to leave your dog alone in the house, make sure your dog has stuffed treats, toys and lots of chew items to keep him or her body for the duration so that your dog does not feel lonely.
Does your dog engage in excessive howling? What do you think is the reason behind your dogs howls? Have you ever tried any of the above mentioned methods to reduce this excessive howling behavior in your pup? Do you have any other tips besides the ones mentioned above to reduce howling in your dog? Share your opinions with all of us in the comment section.
If you have any queries pertaining to this blog post or any other, feel free to reach out to me on any of my social media channels. You can also leave your quiet in the comment section. I will try to respond as soon as I can.