Howling is just one of the many forms of vocal communication in wild and domestic canines. There are many reasons for howling.
Some dogs howl in order to attract attention, announce their presence or make contact with other individuals. Others howl in response to unusual sounds, music, and vehicle emergency sirens, etc.
Howling When Left Alone
When some dogs are left alone they start howling excessively. This is accompanied by other behavior like depression, pacing, and destruction. The name for this psychological problem in dogs is ‘separation anxiety’ and usually your neighbor is the first to inform you your dog might have such a problem.
Howling When Triggered
Most dogs with howling issues are performing this action in response to some trigger – a nearby siren, mechanical noise, high-pitched sounds, and musical instruments. Luckily enough, this form of howling isn’t excessive and stops once the disturbing sound that irritates the dog stops. However, when the trigger frequently occurs you might consider using DSCC (Desenzitation and Counterconditioning) to deal with the dog’s howling.
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Deeply rooted problems with excessive howling cannot be solved with only teaching the pup a different behavior and taking his mind of the issue. Changing his feelings and motivation is most effective because both are the prime reasons for the problematic behavior.
Systematic Desensitization and Counterconditioning are frequently used to solve anxiety, fear, aggression, and phobia associated problems in dogs. Solving behavior problems usually requires using both of the procedures together. There is a lot of information on how to do this on your own, but reaching for professional help is definitely the best choice.
Howling for Attention
Dogs are smart and live for your attention. If howling helps them get food, water, play-time or even your bad words (even negative attention is better than no attention) they will just keep doing it. In order to solve this, you must make the pup learn that howling doesn’t help anymore. Moreover, teach him that only being quiet works. Once the dog realizes that howling makes him invisible and being quiet grants him the attention and all other stuff he might desire, the problem will disappear.
The first few days of ignoring the howling will be a mess, but in the long term, it will prove worthy. When the pup starts making noise totally ignore him, don’t speak to him, don’t touch him or even look at him. Fold your hands across your chest and walk away. Once he stops wait for a few seconds and give him a treat. Giving treats to a silent dog should be routinely performed.
Medical Reasons for Howling
When there is no apparent reason why your dog is excessively howling, it can mean that the poor thing is suffering from a disease, causing his pain. By howling the pup is trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you suspect that the dog is sick take him immediately to the vet to get him checked for the possible injury or illness causing him to howl.
Related: Why Do Dogs Howl
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