Why do dogs howl and how to stop a dog from howling

It is disturbing when your dog howls all day and all night long. But is there something that can be done about this? In this article, you will learn why dogs howl and how to stop a dog from howling.

A dog howling
Photo by Kyrre Gjerstad, cc

Howling is a problem not only because it bothers us, and, unfortunately, our neighbors as well. Howling is a sign of stress, and, if continued, it can have adverse effects on your dog’s wellbeing and health.

Why do dogs howl

Dogs inherited their howling instinct from their old ancestors — wolves. Wolves howl to unite their herd, and, in some cases, to announce their presence to other wolves in a distance. Dogs in our house, on the contrary, howl for slightly different reasons.

Of course, dogs may use howling as a form of communication to other dogs, similar to barking, but with a longer reach. In most cases, though, they do it because of boredom.

The dog naturally has a repertoire of things it would do. Run, hunt, bark, sniff around, dig holes, chew food for hours, and other activities. That means, if a dog is bored, it has several options to do; in fact, he actually does not get bored in the first place. Ever.

If for some reason, the majority of these activities are unavailable, the dog may indulge more into those available. For examples, if an owner does not take the dog for walks, it does not get the opportunity to run, chase, and sniff. If additionally, the owner does not allow to dig holes in the garden, the dog may revert to the only options it has. For example, chew door frames, bark, or howl more.

Besides, female dogs may howl when they are in the heat; however, the primary cause of this behavior still is boredom. During the heat, a female dog requires more attention, than usual other times, and boredom and discomfort set in earlier.

Dogs also tend to howl when they hear other dogs howling. Quite often they may howl to sounds that appear similar, for example to sirens or some musical instruments.

How to stop your dog from howling?

Once you know why dogs howl, you can take appropriate measures to control this behavior.

  • Communicate with your dog — when we are bored, the best cure for it is to call someone or go out. Dogs, like us, are social and need attention. The benefit from communication with you, with other dogs, or pets of other species, as well. Go for a longer walk, visit group dog training, or even pay attention to your dog more frequently than in other cases, and you will soon realize, your dog howls less often.
  • Provide physical activity — if a dog gets to exercise, he’s not gonna get bored. Try to play with your dog often, go on longer walks time after time. A long walk or a run in a late evening will ensure your dog has a better sleep. There are other things to do besides walking. Ball throwing is an activity that can exhaust dogs, but at the same time, they so much enjoy it. Here you can read about fun activities to do with your dog.
  • Block outside noises — as we said before, dogs can howl upon hearing other dogs howl. It is more critical at nights when your dog can hear sounds from far away. If you can, let your dog in, and close the doors and windows. We won’t recommend you to replace doors, but some are more soundproof than others. You can also seal the gaps around door and window frames with the use of sticking sealant tape. You can buy it at most hardware stores. Playing light music during the night will also drown the outside noises and reduce your pet’s stress. Note though, if your dog is not used to music, it may take a while. Choose something calm.
  • Leave toys and chews — if you are away often and your dog feels lonely during this time, he may howl. Leave him a toy or few, or a chew. An excellent choice is a food dispenser toy. It can be filled with dog food, so your pet gets a kibble time after time while he continues to play. Bully sticks may also be helpful. They are delicious and last long enough to keep your dog busy for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Neuter your dog — it is not directly related to howling, but sterilization can make dogs calmer. Calmer dogs howl less or not at all. Miracles are not guaranteed, but if you are not planning to breed your dog, it is recommended to spay or neuter your dog, anyway.

From our experience, giving enough attention and activities to your dog, in most cases, is all it takes to lower, or even stop a dog’s necessity to howl.

Even if you are away for most of the day, having a quick walk in the morning, and a short jog before going to sleep may reduce the dog’s urge to howl. Besides, physical activity is critical to address most of the other behavior problems. And, not less important, your health will improve, too.