How to Train a German Shepherd to Howl

Medium
4-9 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

Have you ever watched those funny videos online or on TV of dogs howling while people sing or play music? The dog helps everyone sing happy birthday or joins in on the Christmas caroling. It is hard not to smile when you watch something so hilarious and fun, and laughter is the best medicine, right? It is certainly something that we could all use a bit more of in our lives. 

What if you could teach your dog to howl too? Teaching your dog to howl on cue can be hilarious and fun. There is no doubt that it can bring a lot of smiles to people's faces, and maybe it will even encourage hesitant observers to join in on the festivities by singing too.

Defining Tasks

In addition to being a fun trick, howling can also serve many practical purposes. If you are teaching your German Shepherd how to track for hunting or search and rescue work then howling is a wonderful way for your dog to alert you to his whereabouts when he finds what he has been searching for. Howling is continuous and distinct. You can hear it from far away and it is less likely to be confused with the barking of other dogs. This makes howling an excellent alert signal for very specific things, especially when open areas or long distances are involved.

The success of this training will depend mostly on you discovering what your dog will howl in response to. If your dog tends to howl quite often on his own, then 'The Capture Method' will probably work quite well. If your dog tends to only howl when he hears a siren, such as a fire truck siren, then 'The Siren Method' will probably work best for him. If your dog tends to howl in response to the howling of other dogs, then 'The Imitation Method' is probably the best method for you to use. You will likely have to try several different recordings of howling dogs or sirens before you find one that your dog will howl in response to. If you are struggling to get your dog to howl then you might need to adjust the volume, repeat the same recording several times in a row, or act more excited yourself. If multiple different recordings fail to get your dog to howl, then you can try going to a place with actual sirens or howling dogs, such as dog parks with breeds of dogs that howl frequently present, or areas nearby hospitals or fire stations, where many emergency vehicles pass by every day with their sirens on.

Timing is important for teaching your dog how to howl. If you are using 'The Capture Method' then you will need to act quickly when you hear your dog begin to howl. You will need to quickly go over to him, tell him "Howl" while he is still howling, and then praise and give him a treat right after you tell him to howl. If you are using 'The Siren Method' or 'The Imitation Method' then you will need to tell your dog to howl right when you begin the recording, before he starts to howl, then you will need to praise him as soon as he starts to howl, and give him a treat after he has howled for one or two seconds.

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small treats that your dog loves. If you are using  'The Capture Method' then you will need a small Ziploc bag or treat pouch to place the treats in and keep with you. A small baggie or treat pouch can also be useful if you are using 'The Siren Method' or 'The Imitation Method'. If you are using these then you will also need a portable electronic device, such as a smart phone or tablet, that has the ability to watch videos or play recordings. If you are using 'The Siren Method,  you will also need one or more audio or video recordings of sirens, such as fire truck or ambulance sirens. If you are using 'The Imitation Method', you will also need one or more audio or video recordings of dogs howling. With all of the methods you will need good timing, patience, excitement, goofiness, and a willingness to try different things until you find what works for your dog.

The Siren Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab lots of small treats that your dog loves and a portable electronic device, such as a smart phone or tablet, that has internet access. On your electronic device, find a video or audio recording of a siren, such as a fire truck siren.
Step
2
Play the siren recording
Next, call your dog over to you in a calm location. Keep your device out of sight from your dog. Tell your dog to "Howl" while you play the recording of the siren for him. If he does not howl then repeat the recording several times in a row, try different recordings of sirens, or turn the volume up. Be careful not to frighten your dog though. If you try all of those things and he still will not howl then use a different method to train this.
Step
3
Reward
When your dog howls, praise him enthusiastically and offer him a treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the recording, telling your dog to "Howl", and praise and rewarding him when he does so. Do this at least thirty times.
Step
5
Test without the recording
After thirty repetitions with the recording, play the recording again while you tell Fido to "Howl", and praise him and reward him when he does so. After you have rewarded him, tell him to howl again, without playing the recording. Do this up to five times in a row, and when he howls in response to your command praise him and offer him five treats, one treat at a time. Give him one treat each time that he howls after the first five times.
Step
6
Try again
If your buddy does not howl in response to just your command any of the times, then go back to practicing with the recording for longer. Practice with the recording at least fifteen more times before telling him to "Howl" again, without playing the recording. Repeat this process until your pup will howl when you tell him to without the recording.
Step
7
Practice!
When Fido will howl in response to your command, without the recording, then practice until he can do it consistently. If he seems confused about what to do at any point then give him a hint by playing the recording again. After he howls in response to the recording go back to not using it again. Do this until he no longer needs the recording occasionally, in order to respond to your command consistently.
Recommend training method?

The Imitation Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab lots of treats that your dog loves and a portable electronic device, such as a smart phone or tablet, that has access to the internet. On your device find a video or audio recording of one or more dogs howling.
Step
2
Play the recording
Next, call your dog over to you, hide your device where your dog cannot see it, and tell him to "Howl" while you play the howling recording. If your dog does not howl when he hears it, then either turn up the volume, repeat the video multiple times in a row, or try several different recordings of howling. If none of those things work then you will need to use another method to teach this.
Step
3
Reward
When your dog howls then praise him and give him five treats, one at a time. Give five treats the first five times that he howls while practicing this. After the first five times then give him only one treat each time that he howls.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the recording, telling him to "Howl", and praising and rewarding him when he does so. Do this at least thirty times.
Step
5
Test
After you have practiced howling with your dog at least thirty times, then play the recording again while you tell him to "Howl", and praise and reward him when he does so. After he is quiet again and the recording is off, then tell him to "Howl" again, in an excited tone of voice. Repeat this up to five times in a row, until he howls. When he howls without hearing the recording then praise him and give him five treats, one at a time. Give him five treats the first five times that he howls in response to just your command, and one treat each time after that.
Step
6
Try again
If your dog will not howl in response to just your command during any of the five repetitions, then practice with the recording at least fifteen more times. After at least fifteen repetitions with the recording, tell him to "Howl" again, without playing the recording. Repeat this process until he howls in response to just your command.
Step
7
Give hints
When your dog will howl in response to just your command, without hearing the recording, then practice telling him to "Howl" without playing the recording until he can do it consistently. If your pup is struggling to remember what to do when you tell him to "Howl", give him a hint by playing the recording again, then go back to not using the recording after he succeeds. Do this until he no longer needs to be given hints occasionally.
Recommend training method?

The Capture Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Get ready
To begin, grab some of your Shepherd's favorite small treats and a small Ziploc bag or treat pouch to place them in.
Step
2
Listen
Attach your filled treat pouch to yourself, or place your treat filled, Ziploc bag into your pocket. Listen to your dog anytime that you are with him. Be ready to respond to any howling that he does.
Step
3
Catch howling
When your dog begins to howl then quickly go over to him and tell him to "Howl", then immediately praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Any time that your dog howls over the course of the next several weeks, immediately go over to him, tell him to "Howl" while he is still howling, and then praise him and give him a treat. Do this until you have caught him howling at least thirty times.
Step
5
Test him
After you have caught your dog howling at least thirty times, call him over to you and tell him to "Howl". If he howls, then praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this up to five times in a row, until he howls.
Step
6
Try again
If your buddy does not howl when you tell him to any of the times then go back to capturing his howling for longer. After you have caught him howling at least ten more times then call him over to you again and tell him to "Howl" again. Do this to test whether or not he knows it now. Repeat this process until he will howl when you call him over and tell him to "Howl".
Step
7
Practice makes perfect
When your pup will howl when you tell him to, then practice it until he can do it consistently. When he can do it consistently then he has learned the trick. Congratulations on teaching him something new!
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Beau
German Shepherd
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Beau
German Shepherd
2 Years

I’ve tried different methods to try to teach him, but still nothing. He will stare and wine but no howl. He only did it a couple times as a baby

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
113 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alyson, It is possible that he simply will not howl. I would suggest taking him somewhere with real sirens. Don't get him so close that he will be frightened but make sure that the sirens are loud enough to encourage him to howl. Being a block or so away from a fire station should be a good distance. Try different types of sirens, such as ambulances near a hospital, firetrucks near a fire station, and police cars near a police station. Also try making your music off key and louder. You may need a real piano and loud, high pitched singing in person. If you are able to trigger him to howl initially, then you will need to use that same trigger to practice him howling on cue until he learns to do it on his own on command. He is likely not sensitive enough to imitations or sirens and other noise and needs the noise to be in person. If you know of another dog that tends to howl at things like sirens, then have that dog join the training session because your dog will be more likely to howl if he hears another dog doing it in person. For example, my own dog rarely howls, but when we go to a dog park that is located near a fire station he will howl when the sirens go off and other dogs are howling too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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