Howling is a natural behavior that almost every breed of dog exhibits, using the howl as a form of communication with other dogs, animals, or even their owners. The behavior goes back to their ancestor, the wolf, whose primary form of communication with the rest of its pack members is the howl that can be heard across large areas of land, carrying their message from one member of the pack to another. A domestic dog may howl as a way of mimicking behavior, such as when a person whistles or sings in a high pitch, or when a baby cries. It can be utilized as an alert system, most prominently in hunting dogs whose breeds are more likely to sniff out and identify prey or another similar target. However, howling can also be used as a response to pain, discomfort, or anxiety. Ultimately, there are many reasons dogs howl and interpreting it can sometimes be difficult for those who don’t speak “dog”.
While howling can seem like an effective tool to a dog with a desire to express something, it’s not always seen as appropriate to use howling to communicate with you. Howling can be disruptive in a suburban backyard, or inside an apartment with close proximity to other renters on all sides. It can interrupt your sleep or just be generally noisy and unpleasant. While puppies may howl during their younger years, the issue may often extend into adulthood if not addressed. Teaching a puppy to stop howling early on can be much more simple than an older dog who has been howling for years. However, for dogs of any age, howling can also be the sign of a greater problem, such as separation anxiety, territorial behavior, or an injury that needs to be tended to.
Once you can eliminate the possibility of it being another issue that requires you to address it first and come to the conclusion that your dog is simply howling just to howl, you can find your preferred method of correcting the excessive noise-making.
Have your dog checked by a vet to ensure there is no injury, illness, or anxiety that is causing him to howl. There are any number of reasons why he may be in discomfort.
If your vet offers your dog a clean bill of health, you can proceed to address the howling behavior. To do this, you’ll need a quiet environment where you can control the noise level, some treats for rewarding, a leash for exercise, your phone or a nearby computer where you can play sounds, some stimulating toys for distraction, and a lot of patience. Howling and barking are two behaviors that come very naturally to many dogs and getting rid of the behavior takes some work. With enough dedication to the following methods, you can start remembering what it’s like to get some peace and quiet.