How to prevent and address a dog’s howling

Owners need not surrender their dogs who howl to kill pounds or no-kill shelters, or abandon them anywhere

Train 'em young.  Start teaching them when they are pups: give them treats, attention and  toys when they are quiet. Do not spoil your pups.  Set some rules and stick to the rule.  They will not depart from it.
Last week, we identified the reasons dogs howl so we can prevent howling and/or address this without giving up on our dogs.

In sum, here are the reasons dogs howl:

1. To mark their territory.

2. To call back a member of the pack, which is YOU  when you leave the house to go to work or to do chores.

3. To warn owners of they have been injured or are sick and thus need to be brought to the vet.

4. To inform the owners they have discovered something.

5. To get attention and get something they want.

6. To get attention due to separation anxiety.

7. As a reaction to environmental triggers like police sirens.

In Howling in Dogs in WebMD, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (ASPCA)  stressed: “ Separation anxiety howling only occurs when a dog is left alone or otherwise separated from his owner. This kind of howling is usually accompanied by at least one other symptom of separation anxiety, such as pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress.”

Suggestions to address the howling

1. Howling due to sounds will stop once the trigger is gone.  Once the police car or ambulance or fire truck has passed by your area, the dog will stop howling.

2. But if the trigger is always present, or you live near a fire station,  you can use desensitization and counterconditioning (DSCC) to train your dog to be quiet when he hears a siren or the trigger.

ASPCA explained: “When the problem is rooted in how a dog feels about a particular thing, it sometimes isn’t enough to just teach him a different behavior---like to fetch a toy instead of howling, for example. Instead, it’s most effective to change his motivation and feelings, which are the underlying reasons for the behavior problem in the first place.”

“Systematic desensitization and counterconditioning are two common treatments for fears, anxiety, phobias, and aggression---basically any behavior problem that involves arousal or emotions. It’s often most effective to use these two procedures together when trying to resolve animal behavior problems. “ 

Please look for a certified applied animal behaviorist or a certified professional dog trainer to help you.

3. Howling to get your attention can be addressed in many ways.

Some dogs learn that they can get your attention when they howl. If this is the reason, the dog will howl in your presence when he wants food, attention or a desired object.

To  stop the howling, teach him:

a. That howling will not work if wants something by not giving him the object he desires when he howls. Ignore him or her.  

“Don’t look at him, touch him or speak to him. Don’t try to scold him either. Dogs, like kids, often find any attention rewarding even if it’s negative attention. So scolding your dog might make his howling behavior worse! Just pretend your dog is invisible. If you find it difficult to do this, try folding your arms across your chest and turning away from him completely, “ ASPCA stressed.

b. Reward the dog instead when he/she is quiet. Tell him/her that he/she will get what he wants if he is quiet.

“If your dog realizes that howling always makes him invisible to you and being quiet earns him your attention as well as all the great stuff he wants in life, he’ll quickly learn to curb his vocal behavior, “ASPCA said.  

c. You can also give treats and attention randomly when he is not making any noise.

Stick to the new rule: no treats until he’s been quiet for at least five seconds. Then give him the treat or the attention he is seeking.

d. You can teach your dog to be quiet by asking him to.

ASPCA explained:  

“First, say “Speak!” and try to get your dog to bark or howl. (Knocking on a wall or door usually works well.) Praise your dog when he starts making noise-but DO NOT give him a treat or toy. Then say “Hush” or “Quiet.” The moment your dog stops barking or howling for a second or two, quickly say “Good!” and give him a tasty treat. Repeat this sequence over and over, slowly stretching out the time that your dog must be quiet before earning his goodie. At first, one second of silence can earn him a treat. After he’s successfully mastered that step, increase the time to three seconds. If he’s successful again, increase the time to five seconds, then ten seconds, then 20 seconds, and so on.”

4. Spend Time with Your Dog

There are dogs who howl due to loneliness.  Dogs who have been kept outside for a long period of time without human contact tend to howl.

Here are tips from ASPCA:

a. Bring your dog inside the house more often.

b. Play games with your dog.

c. Bring him to a fun training class which focuses on rewarding good behavior.

“When you must leave your dog home alone for more than a few minutes, be sure to give him plenty of toys and attractive chew items to enjoy by himself,” ASPCA  suggested.

5. Find help if you feel you need assistance to address the challenge.

Because howling issues can be challenging to work with, enlist the help of a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT).

“Many CPDTs offer group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of help with attention-seeking howling, “ASPCA said.

Rafa and Nica, pups who survived the fatal parvo virus after being rescued by animal welfare group Save ALL, enjoy playing in the garden. Give your dogs more time to play to expend extra energy so that they will just sleep or stay quiet after playing. 
6. Bring your dog to the  vet

If the howling continues and even worsens, please bring your dog to the vet to determine if there is a medical cause for the howling.  Your dog might be sick.

Topics: Howling in Dogs , dog , howling , guideline , pet , ASPCA

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