How To Stop A Dog From Howling [Guide]

One reason why dogs make such great companions is that they communicate with you and try to engage with you in their own ways. Figuring out what they’re trying to say can be funny and exasperating at the same time.

Dogs will try to tell you plenty of things through their body language and movement, like excessive tail wagging and vocalization.

How to stop dogs from howling?
How to stop dogs from howling?

Dogs whine, bark, howl, and make other sounds to try to communicate with you. Howling is a commonly misunderstood sound your dog produces that poses many questions. Many associate a dog’s howl with distress, danger, and discomfort. Yes, there’s a grain of truth in these possibilities.

But there’s also the probability that howling will be a more common occurrence in your house because of your dog’s breed. Beagles and huskies are notorious howlers not because they have something to say to you but because they want to vocalize and very much can.

Why Do Dogs Howl?

Howling may just seem like noise to non-dog owners. They may find it annoying, but pet owners, know that your dog is trying to tell you something and it’s up to you to figure out what the message is.

Knowing the common reasons your dogs howl can help you understand them better and the message they’re trying to convey. 

Here are the most common reasons why your dog howls.

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1. Your Dog Is Telling You That There’s Possible Danger Or Intrusion

Howling is one of the surest ways to get your attention. And your dog knows this dog alarm system will make you stop and observe it closely.

Recall instances when your dog howls at random or all strangers walking near your property, or new dogs in your neighborhood. Sure, there’s no imminent threat, but your dog is establishing the message that it is there to protect its home or territory and that outsiders (or intruders) better stay away.

When your dog detects a threat—even the slightest one, it activates its defense mechanism mode and marks the territorial boundaries. It is also to let the other dogs know there’s a canine within the perimeter.

a dog asleep with its tongue hanging out
A dog asleep with its tongue hanging out

2. Your Dog Is Reacting To Its Canine Community And Working As A Homing Beacon

A fun fact: Dog howling is a way to organize the canine community and lead lost dogs home.

This is significantly attributed to your dog’s wilder ancestors—wolves and feral canines howl to help bring the scouts back to the pack’s location. This is usually after several of the pack were sent on a hunting trip.

The dogs currently on the base would howl to provide their location to the rest of the pack. Serving as a homing beacon or an auditory lighthouse, howling can lead every member of the pack home.

Additionally, howling back is acknowledging that you have heard that signal. You may see this in domestic dogs, when your dog starts to howl after it hears the neighbor’s dog howling and then, one after the other, all the dogs in your community start to return the message.

3. Your Dog Wants You To Pay Attention To It

Your dog, based on experience, may have learned that when it howls, it will get you to stop whatever you are doing and go to it and ask what’s wrong. If this has been your routine, our dog will howl to get your attention.

It can be for some TLC, cuddles, or a treat, but their howling is to draw your attention to them. And this, dear dog owner, is verbal manipulation at its finest.

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4. Your Dog Is Physically Or Mentally Not Ok

Another reason your dog might start howling is if it is not feeling well. Usually, there are other signs that your dog is physically sick, like being lethargic or having a loss of appetite.

Look into these other physical indications and listen to the howl your dog emits. High-pitched and urgent wailing means something is bothering your dog, and it is distressed and stressed.

Your dog may also howl to express its frustration about being separated from you. Yes, dogs do experience separation anxiety, and similar to not feeling physically well, other signs can confirm if this is the reason why your dog is howling.

Restlessness, continuous pacing, excessive panting, and an obvious sign of unhappiness can help you see how your dog gets stressed when you leave it alone.

5. Your Dog Wants To Share Something Exciting

If your dog discovered something new, the first thing it would want to do is share it with you. It could be a new toy, a new discovery across the neighbor’s yard, or a piece of a slipper—you are your dog’s favorite audience.

The typical dog behavior is to howl to get your attention so it can share a surprise with you.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Howling?

Now that you’ve learned the most common reasons why your dog might suddenly howl or enjoy going on a howling spree, it’s time to learn how to stop a dog from howling.

The fact is that you cannot stop any dog from howling. This vocal expression is ingrained in its DNA, and the pull of the wild and its instincts can sometimes be extremely strong.

So, what can you do to manage this howling?

1. Ignore And Reward

This is the best way to manage your dog’s unnecessary howling, especially if it makes noise to get your attention. Ignore your pet when you are entirely positive that they’re not hurt and everyone in the household is safe, but your dog is howling and wants to be the focus.

Yes, this can be difficult, but once your dog learns that the howling won’t bring instant gratification and won’t help it get its way, it will gradually stop doing it. And once your dog stops the habit, recognize it and give it some treats to show it that good behavior means a yummy prize.

2. Know What Triggers The Howling

If the trigger for your dog’s howling is the constant rustling in your backyard, courtesy of wayward chipmunks and raccoons, you should minimize your dog’s time in that room where it can hear the sound.

Or you can ensure that the dog is not allowed in that area or play some white noise to drown out the trigger noises.

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3. Keep Your Dog Physically And Mentally Stimulated

Bored dogs will let you know that they need some playtime and attention. And again, howling is the most effective way to do it.

If you are gone for most of the day, leave problem-solving toys that can keep your dog’s interest for a while, and when you have the time, spend it playing and tiring out your dog. Keeping your dog physically active is one way to tire them, and tired dogs have lower tendencies to howl and would likely rest for the rest of the day.

4. Desensitize Your Dog

Most of the time, your dog howls when it hears a new sound, so get your pet accustomed to these different sounds. At that point, the sounds no longer interest it, and it will disregard them in the future.

Your dog howls in response to the different sounds because of their unfamiliarity, so when your pet is already aware that sirens are associated with passing firetrucks and that vacuuming is just a regular household activity, it won’t be afraid of these sounds anymore and won’t howl anymore.

5. Reassure Your Dog

Reassure your dog when you leave the house to help reduce the howling. This is especially true if your dog only howls when you are leaving or have been left alone at home

Spend extra time with your dog before leaving, and give it some pats and treats before you leave. Take it to the dog park or bring your pet when you go for your morning jog.

Exercise can help your dog relax, and of course, it will deplete some of its energy, so instead of howling when left alone, it will rest to recover.

Furthermore, assuring your dog that you will always return is critical to stopping the howling and the neighbors from reporting you. Let your dog learn that even if you leave for 30 minutes, an hour, or half a day, you’ll always come back and are always happy to see your pet.

6. Teach The “Quiet” Command

Teaching your dog the “quiet” rule will be helpful. Blow a whistle when your dog just finished howling or is currently on a howling episode. When your dog stops howling, it is time for you to reinforce the behavior.

7. Seek Professional Help

If your dog continues to howl despite your efforts, consult a veterinarian to ensure that everything is in order. And if you have your animal doctor’s clearance, get a professional dog trainer to work with your dog.

If you can’t control or manage your dog’s howling, seek help. It doesn’t make you less of a dog owner. Your approach is most likely not working out. Dog trainers have different methodologies that they might try with different dogs, and sometimes, a little help is all you need to control the howling.

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Why Do Puppies Howl?

Puppies do not engage in such attention-seeking behavior—yet. They howl for a reason, generally because they need something.

The primary reason puppies howl is that they’re hungry or thirsty. They are getting your attention so you can address their needs. If you recently adopted a puppy, it may be missing its littermates and howling because it is lonely.

When you are crate training, there will also be instances when your dog will howl, and this is because of fear and, of course, seeking your attention to let them out.

The good news is that you can use the same conditioning methods that you apply to adult dogs, where you ensure that the needs are first addressed and met. Don’t tolerate attention-seeking howling from the start, so your puppy doesn’t grow up thinking it’s normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Just Let My Dog Howl In The Early Mornings?

As long as your dog is comfortable and safe, you can let it howl. Your dilemma is getting enough sleep and not causing a nuisance to your neighbors. So even if ignoring your dog is the best solution, do some early damage control, like ensuring windows and doors are shut to keep the sound at bay. Yes, you can’t help but wake up, but as long as you don’t entertain the behavior, your attention-seeking dog will soon learn that the howling is useless.

What Dog Breeds Howl A Lot?

All dogs, regardless of breed, howl. Some may howl more than usual, while others only howl when there’s a valid reason. The bottom line is that all dogs can and will howl.

But if you decide on a dog, it’s good to know ahead of time if they are natural howlers or not. Beagles and huskies, as mentioned above, are very vocal breeds. 

Other howlers include the Alaskan Malamute, Basset Hound, Dachshund, Japanese Spitz, and Welsh Springer Spaniel.

When Dogs Howl, Does It Mean Death Is Coming?

Despite the superstition, the howling of the dogs doesn’t mean anything bad will happen. It is not related to death, but a scientific explanation is that dogs howl when an earthquake is imminent.

Dogs have excellent hearing, so they can hear the rocks grinding and all the underground seismic activities. So dogs may howl to warn about a threat.

After Thoughts

By better understanding why your dog howls, you can better manage the situation. Remember that there’s always an underlying reason why your dog howls, and it is up to you to find the most appropriate ways to train your dog and effectively reduce it.

Howling is innate to your dog, and sometimes, it’s also good to validate the reasons because you never know if your dog is trying to tell you something important.

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