BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

How to Make Your Dog Howl: Help Your Dog Find Their Inner Diva

dog howling
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

Howling is one of the many noises that dogs make. It is reminiscent of the sound that wolves make; it’s quite musical, and perhaps you find joy in hearing it. In that case, you may wonder how to make your dog howl.

While all dogs can howl, not all of them do it often, or at all. Some breeds are more prone to howling, while others may prefer barking. Regardless, if you want your dog to howl, you have found the right article as this will discuss the different ways to encourage howling in your pet.

At the end of this article, you will not only be able to make your dog howl, but also have lots of fun teaching your buddy this trick. Additionally, this post will detail everything you need to know about howling in dogs such as reasons why our favorite pets do this.

Why Do Dogs Howl?

beagle puppy howling

Like barking, whining, and growling, howling is one of the many forms of canine vocal communication. It can be described as a high-pitched sound that has a distinct and piercing quality.

It’s a sound that is often associated with wolves, who are known to be ancestors of the modern-day canine. In the wild, wolves would communicate with others by howling. Wolves howl more than dogs, but as you would learn in this article, it is possible to make your dog howl much more than he currently does.

Certain dog breeds are more prone to howling. Breeds like American Eskimos, Beagles, Alaskan Malamutes, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, Huskies, and Tamaskans are known to howl a lot compared to other dog breeds.

There are many reasons why dogs howl.

#1: Communication

You can look at the behavior of wolves and another dog ancestor, coyotes, to better understand dog howling. In the wild, these animals howl to announce their territory and deter other animals from entering it.

The same goes for dogs today. When a dog howls, he signals to other canines that he has claimed or occupied the area where he is now. It can be construed as a warning or even a threat to other dogs that they should not try to encroach the area. In effect, the howl works as a defense mechanism as it wards off potential predators and enemies.

Dogs not only howl to fend off potential predators and enemies. They may also do so in the face of strangers. Some dogs howl when a new car pulls up in the driveway or when a stranger comes to the door.

#2: Expressing Anxiety

dog sitting on sofa and howling

Dogs also howl to express anxiety. This form of vocal communication can be interpreted as the dog’s way of expressing separation anxiety. The dog may be sad, depressed, or lonely because his owner has been absent for extended periods.

#3: Pain

Howling may also be a way for a dog to inform or alert you about an injury. It can be similar to people crying when they get hurt. A dog howling may be vocalizing intense pain which you should immediately address.

#4: As a Response to Stimuli

small dog howling

It is also possible that dogs howl in response to stimuli. Environmental triggers like fire engine sirens can prompt a dog to respond by howling. And these triggers don’t have to be as loud as sirens. Even popular songs and sounds of musical instruments can provoke a dog to howl.

Indeed, there are many possible reasons or triggers for a dog to howl. In the next section of this post, we will take a look at some of the ways you can prompt your dog to howl.

How to Make Your Dog Howl

As mentioned earlier, there are dog breeds who are more likely to howl. If you have one, it’s only a matter of time before you catch him howling. Wait for him to howl.

In case you are not always around the house, you can monitor his daily activity with the use of a CCTV camera. Take note of environmental triggers which prompt your pet to howl. But since dogs suffering from separation anxiety tend to vocalize their displeasure for being left alone in the house, your dog’s howling could likely be due to you being not around.

When you catch your dog howling, reinforce the behavior by giving him treats. Vocalizing your pleasure by praising him whenever he starts singing is also another effective way of reinforcing the act.

But what if your dog won’t howl at all? Try instigating him to do so by setting up different triggers.

#1: Discover Music Your Dog Likes

dog and headphones

One way to make your dog howl is to discover music that your dog enjoys. This may sound difficult at first especially if you have noticed that your dog never sings along to any music you play. Just continue exposing him to different types of music. Play a variety of songs at home and observe which type of song gets your dog’s attention.

So take out your media player or open Spotify and try different musical genres. Play classical or opera songs, or old school music like the Beatles or Elvis Presley. Try newer songs like techno and R&B. Keep watching your pet until you find him responding to a song by howling.

You might wonder: is there research on dogs and their musical preferences? One study conducted by Queens University psychologist Deborah Wells showed that dogs are more likely to respond to classical music.

In her study, Wells exposed dogs to different types of music and observed their responses. She used popular music, including those by Britney Spears and Bob Marley, classical music including those by Beethoven, and heavy metal like the music of Metallica.

She found that dogs did not respond positively to pop music. Heavy metal music, meanwhile, caused the dogs to become agitated. The canines became calm and stopped barking when they were made to listen to classical music.

You may also try playing a musical instrument like a guitar or piano. If you don’t know how to play one, you can play recordings of different instruments. Wait until your dog positively responds to the sound.

Once you have heard him howl, play the same recording again and say the word ‘sing.’ The idea is that your dog will associate the word ‘sing’ with the act of howling.

If you can’t play a musical instrument or find a recording, you can try howling or singing yourself. This trigger may make your dog to start accompanying you. And again, remember to give him the command word ‘sing’ once he starts howling or singing with you.

See Also: Music for Dogs

#2: Use Sirens

It has been mentioned earlier that dogs howl whenever they hear a siren. If you have a loud horn siren at home, you can put it to good use. Or you may look for an app with siren sounds to catch your pet’s attention and train him to howl.

This is a trick that works most of the time because it is well-documented that dogs howl at sirens. It all goes back to their ancestry. In the wild, dog ancestors such as the wolves and coyotes howl to locate their companions. Howling allows these animals to communicate with each other even across long distances.

Once your dog howls upon hearing the siren, reinforce the behavior by giving him a treat. Don’t forget to praise him as well.

#3: Play Videos of Dogs Howling

You can also try to play online videos of dogs howling. While dogs aren’t as great as parrots when it comes to mimicking, repeated exposure to howling sounds can prompt them to howl, too.

YouTube has tons of videos of dogs howling, so finding one should not be a problem at all. Make sure that you have treats near you just in case your dog starts mimicking the canines shown on the online clips. And remember to reinforce the desired behavior by praising him every time he howls.

#4: Howl or Sing Yourself

puppy howling

In case the tricks above don’t work, why not howl or sing in front of your dog? The idea is that your dog could mimic your action. It’s a long shot but who knows, right? Again, reinforcing his behavior is important if you want him to learn how to howl. A pat on the head and some treats should be enough.

#5: Practice, Practice, Practice

It becomes a lot easier to train your dog to howl when you have identified the trigger. Whether it’s an app playing the sound of a siren or a CD of Beethoven, it is expected that you keep the trigger within arm’s reach. This way, you can practice dog howling whenever the opportunity comes.

It also goes without saying that you ought to devote time to practicing so that your pet will be able to master this new-found skill. Just like us humans, dogs need a lot of practice in order to howl on cue. This is especially true for dog breeds not known to howl a lot.

Your dog won’t learn how to howl overnight so be patient with him. And do keep your treats around so you can quickly give it and praise him for howling.

#6: Positive Reinforcement

petting a dog

Training your dog to howl may take a lot of time, testing your patience in the long run. But your dog’s failure to learn how to howl should not be a reason at all for punishing him.

Keep in mind that your pet is trying to learn something new, and punishing him for being a slow learner can only prevent him from fully learning how to howl. Moreover, punishing him could frighten him. It’s even possible he might not howl again.

Instead, use positive reinforcement. Once your dog has learned to howl on cue, you want to shape it into a desirable behavior. It’s up to you if you want a longer or shorter howl. Or maybe high-pitched instead of low-pitched. The idea is to teach your dog that he will be rewarded only if he performs your desired behavior.

The key here is to be more careful when it comes to giving treats. Don’t just give a treat to your dog for howling. Reward him if he howls for 5 or 10 seconds, if that is your goal. It can be an even slower process that may demand more patience and perseverance out of you, but you will surely like the end result.

See Also: How to Train a Stubborn Dog

Other Tips to Remember When Training Your Dog to Howl

Remember that dogs have notoriously short attention spans. Long training sessions can backfire so you must keep the training sessions short. Allot 5 to 10 minutes for the training. Avoid training straight for an hour unless you want to wear your pet’s brain out.

Keep the training fun. If you sense that your dog is getting frustrated, take a break. Play tug or fetch with him. You can also take him for a walk around the block. You’d know that a dog is getting frustrated if he barks at you or simply refuses to do anything.

Wrap Up

dog and microphone

Now that you have learned the different approaches to get your dog to howl, it is up to you to determine which is the easiest and best method to implement.

Howling is often associated with wolves and coyotes in the wild but dogs tend to do this when triggered by certain stimuli. In order to make your dog howl, you have to find that environmental trigger. It may be a certain sound or music, or it may be your singing.

Once you have discovered the stimulus that will provoke your dog to howl, your next focus would be to reinforce the action. Praise your pet and give him treats every time he howls.

Teaching a dog to howl may take some time, but the end result can be fun and fulfilling. Let us know if you succeeded in training your dog to howl. Leave a comment below! Also, there may be times when you just need your dog to stop barking and howling. In that case, check out our article on how to train a dog not to bark.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.

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