How to teach your dog to howl?
[Detailed step-by-step guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated June 28, 2021

Have you been wondering if you can teach your dog to howl? You may be trying to encourage a quiet dog to embrace its roots or attempting to control a frequent howler – either way, it can be done with some easy steps!

Dogs express themselves through a variety of noises. From barking at other dogs or barking to show their emotions, being vocal is natural to this animal. Many owners don’t understand howling or why dogs do it, which can differ from dog to dog. 

The key to helping your dog howl is to determine what sounds trigger them to start howling and then to reinforce this behavior. There are different training methods to do this, but the good news is that none need a dog trainer to complete!

Why Do Dogs Howl?

When it comes to howling, it comes naturally to certain dog breeds and not-so-naturally to others. Most of the time, working out the reason they are howling is the easiest way to control the behavior. 

Usually, dogs howl to communicate with other canines, which is ingrained in their history. Often their howling can sound like a wolf’s howl. Other breeds may use their howl to chase predators away and make their presence known. This is a territorial response and won’t be present in all dog breeds. 

Here are the most common reasons for a dog howling:

Sending Warnings And Alerts

If your dog becomes possessive when a stranger approaches your house (or ‘their territory’), they may let out a howling sound to warn a potential threat. Howling is how hunting dogs communicate alert signals to their pack or hunting companions when they’ve found their prey. 

They’re Lonely Or In Distress

Sometimes dogs howl to signal illness, pain, or general distress. If this is the case, make sure you consult veterinary advice or consult a dog trainer. These howls could also be due to your dog expressing loneliness or boredom – so make sure you provide toys and affection to meet their needs. 

Response To Music And Sounds

Certain sounds cause dogs to howl or bark in an automatic response – for example, the sound of sirens. High-pitched siren sounds or musical instrument noises are likely to trigger a howl reaction from your dog. If this is the reason your dog is howling, they should stop when the high-pitched noise stops. 

Pack Behavior

When dogs are together as a pack, howling can become a bonding ritual. This is a form of communication that is ingrained into their natural behavior. 

Talking To Other Dogs

Similar to barking and whining, howling is a common way dogs will talk to each other. Your dog may see you as their pack leader. If they howl when you leave the house, it’s because they think you have been separated from the pack. This is cute, but not to the neighbors who have to listen!

Which Dog Breeds Howl

All dogs are born with the ability to howl; however, some breeds embrace this behavior more than others. Some will do it more frequently and some will only howl on certain occasions. 

Huskies are an extremely vocal breed, so are American Eskimo dogs and Alaskan malamutes. Their vocal expressions go beyond howling, these breeds often bark whenever something triggers them. 

Other breeds known for intense communications are Bloodhounds, Basset hounds, beagles, and Dachshunds. These dog breeds tend to start howling without any training and will do it in response to many different triggers.

Dogs can sometimes start howling as they age too. Senior dog’s behavior may change as they age, especially as they lose hearing they may start howling. Dogs that develop dementia may also begin howling too since they are confused and may often howl to express this.

The Benefits Of Teaching A Dog To Howl

If your dog is an uncontrollable howler, you may be wondering why some owners are trying to get their dogs to howl. Though random howling can be frustrating, vets often recommend that owners let their dogs howl as it’s part of their natural communication.

Whether it’s high-pitched sounds like sirens that cause howling or just random howls, it’s essential to let your dog express their feelings. Howling could be a way of them telling you something is wrong; communication between a dog and owner is critical. Teaching your dog to howl is important, but so is training them to howl on command.

The Steps

Get The Dog To Howl

Sometimes dogs will need an extra push to start howling; that’s often the first step in the training process. You need to trigger their howling instinct. Some dogs do this naturally, making the first step easier for some owners. 

If you’re trying to trigger a howl, try singing. This is an older trick, but it’s simple, and it works. If you’re not a keen singer, opera music at a high pitch will work. Your dog will be curious about the music, and this could result in a howl. 

Musical instruments can also be an excellent way to trigger a howl. Don’t go out and buy an instrument if you don’t own one, online clips of them will do the trick. While the music is playing, you can howl to show your dog how to respond, this may feel somewhat silly, but it will help make the actions clearer. 

Another way to trigger a howl is to try whistling. However, some argue that this is not the best way to train your dog to howl as most owners whistle to call their dog over. Mixing howling training with whistling may confuse your dog more. 

If your dog is vocal when they’re playing, this could be a good place to start howling training. Listen to your dog while they play. Do they make any high-pitched sounds that are similar to howling? If they do, keep provoking this sound, and in time your dog may howl. 

Finally, try playing some dog howling audio to them. Online videos of other dogs howling may trigger a pack response and a howl from your dog. If not, audio of a siren may also cause a howl. Just be careful that your dog isn’t scared of sirens, as these sounds cause some dogs to hide. 

When your dog finally howls, it’s important to reward them with a treat to promote this good behavior. You don’t need a cue word yet, just keep rewarding your dog when they howl, as the more treats they receive, the more they will howl!

Teach Them To Howl On Cue

Once your dog has mastered the howling sound, it’s time to get them to do this on cue. Choose a cue word and teach your pup that howling on time will earn them a reward!

Now you know what sound triggers a howl for your dog, you can start adding the cue word in when this sound plays. Your cue word could be anything – a simple command or an invitation. Choose one word and make sure you stick to it. Say it whenever your dog howls. 

Make sure you treat your dog when they howl with the cue word. Your dog will start remembering the trigger sound, the cue word, and the treat. The goal is to get them to associate the cue word with howling, but howling should already be associated with the reward. 

Keep repeating this behavior to reinforce when they should howl. This will take time and patience, and success isn’t guaranteed – it can sometimes depend on each dog and their personality. Remember that your dog is trying to work it out too, being kind and patient with them is crucial. 

You will be able to remove the initial motivation after a few tries. It makes no difference if you play some audio of other dogs howling or just play with your dog, this initial motivation will gradually disappear over time. 

Remember that this step could take weeks of practice. It might be hard for your pup to realize that the cue is associated with howling, so go slow and reward them accordingly. When you’re sure they have nailed the cue, you can gradually start giving fewer treats. 

When the behavior is taught, always make sure you give rewards only when the cue word is said. If your dog howls on command, reward it. If they howl randomly, skip the reward. This will help them identify the howling behavior is correct when a cue word is said. If they are constantly rewarded for howling alone, this could result in a dog that howls all the time just for treats. 

Make Sure You Can Stop Their Howling

If your training goes wrong and howling becomes a problem behavior, understanding their motivations is the first step in dealing with it. When your dog is howling for attention or a treat, you should ignore it and treat them when they go quiet. 

It can be easy to focus on the bad behavior, remember to reward the good behavior after to reinforce this. If you are consistent with treats when they are quiet, your dog should realize that not howling all the time will earn them a treat. 

If your pup has started howling while alone, this usually signifies that they’re lonely. Anxiety could also be a cause, so if you suspect this is a reason, make an effort to spend more quality time with them or arrange for a dog sitter when you are away. We all live busy lives these days, but if your dog’s howling is due to loneliness, it might be time to put down the emails and set aside some needed playtime with your pup. 

FAQ

When teaching a dog to howl, many questions may arise – here are the most common questions dog trainers are asked during howling training sessions. 

Can All Dogs Howl?

All dogs can howl, some are more vocal than others due to their nature and personality, but all dogs can howl. It’s an instinct for them, if your dog hasn’t shown interest in howling, you may need to find the right cue word or sound to trigger a howl.

Is It Cruel To Make A Dog Howl?

Howling is not a cruel behavior – it comes naturally to dogs! Teaching your pet to howl is the same as teaching them to sit. It’s just training them vocally. The same training principles apply. Use lots of treats and patience. 

What Sounds Will Make My Dog Howl?

For most dogs, high-pitched sounds are the primary trigger sounds. High-pitched sounds that often cause a howl are sirens, other dogs howling, music or whistling. Different dogs will react to different sounds due to their natures and personalities, but the same sounds should be used to train them. 

Can Training Make My Dog Howl?

Training your dog to howl is more challenging than training other behaviors, but it is achievable! You can also train your dog to howl on command, it takes time and patience, but it is worth the effort. 

The Takeaway

Teaching your dog to howl is achievable, but time and patience are needed to get them there. Some dogs will be faster learners than others, however, if you’re consistent and provide lots of treats, your pup will be howling on cue in no time. 

Avoid going in the wrong direction by rewarding every howl with a treat, this could result in a dog that howls all day and night for attention and a reward. Make sure to find balance in training!

Howling on command is a fun trick and an accomplishment to be proud of. The training process is a great way to bond with your dog and a way to build an even stronger relationship. Hopefully, these tips will have your dog howling in no time – good luck!