Dogs make a lot of noises to communicate their needs. They howl, whine, bark, bay, whimper, and growl. For different breeds and mixes of dogs, the sounds mean different things. We explain why dogs howl in this guide to dog sounds. What we cover in this article what dog breeds howl the most. Are some types of dogs more likely to howl than others?
Dogs have plenty to say, and for some, that means howling. Your pet may howl to announce his presence, connect with fellow canines, or in response to emergency vehicle sirens or certain music. Other reasons your dog may howl include separation anxiety, aging, and medical issues. Some howlers tend to excessively vocalize for no reason but to hear their own songful voices.
If you’re looking to adopt a dog and don’t want a howler, or if you’re simply curious about howling dog breeds, read on. We’ve compiled a list of the dog breeds most likely to howl. We also include a section that explains what you can do if your pet’s howling habit has you reaching for earplugs.
Dog Breeds Prone to Howl
While every dog breed can howl, those in the hunting and sporting groups are more likely than others to be known howlers. The drawn-out mournful cry is rather distinctive from other vocalizations like barking and whining, so it should be evident if your pet is a howler. Breeds that take top honors for howling include:
- American Eskimo dog
- American foxhound
- Alaskan Malamute
- Basset hound
- Bluetick coonhound
- Redbone coonhound
- Siberian husky
If your dog didn’t make the list you can either rejoice or hold out because other breeds like the border collie, boxer, and bulldogs are known to howl as well. Here are some tidbits we gathered in our research about high-howling breeds.
How to Stop Dog Howling
Although you may enjoy a few howling sessions, they can get loud and long, which is enough to drive even the sanest crazy. In the quest for quiet, there are a few ways you can address your dog’s howling habit.
It’s tough NOT to pay attention when a dog starts howling. Unfortunately, the minute you acknowledge your dog when he howls, you reinforce the behavior — ensuring it will happen again. The first step to discouraging this type of howling is to ignore your pet completely. When we say “completely” we mean don’t look at, touch or talk to your pet until they quiet. The minute they settle down you offer positive reinforcement aka praise (your attention) and a treat.
Continued howling warrants intervention. Using a handheld ultrasonic training device, press the button on the device and quickly release it. This should immediately get your pet’s attention. Offer the command “quiet” and reward with a training treat when he complies. You can use this train, treat, repeat method each time your pet goes into a howling session.
Separation anxiety howling
If your dog persistently howls when you walk out the door or when he can’t find you, chances are he suffers from separation anxiety. This type of howling can be stressful for your pet, you, and your neighbors. You may also notice other destructive behaviors like pacing or chewing on furniture. Here are a few ideas that can help relieve your pet’s anxiety:
- Exercise your pet before you leave. A nice long walk may help subdue howling for a while.
- Give your pet busy toys to keep his body and mind occupied and distracted from the situation.
- Hide kibble or tasty, healthy treats around the house for your pet to find and practice their scent work.
- Leave behind a piece of clothing you’ve worn as your pet may find it comforting.
- Have a family member, friend, neighbor or professional dog-walker visit your dog while you’re away.
When your pet responds to a particular noise like a siren, another dog howling or music, chances are once the triggering sound stops, so should your pet’s howling. However, if your dog continues to howl, your best bet at quelling their behavior is to use a desensitization and counterconditioning approach. Slowly expose your pet to a quieter level of the noise. If your pet doesn’t howl, provide a reward (treat) and increase the volume. Repeat the process until your dog no longer has an interest in the noise. Note: this will not fix the problem overnight; expect weeks, if not months, for this to make a difference.
If you determine aging or medical issues are behind your dog’s howling, you should speak with your veterinarian on the best approach or treatment for the behavior.
While howling may get on your nerves, always remember never to yell at, scold or punish your pet as this can cause him to be fearful and display unwanted behaviors.
Whether your pooch belts out an entire composition, hits a few random chords, or throws down a mix, celebrate the fact that your pet communicates in such a unique way.