The Howling Dog…

There was time when while going to bed at night all of sudden a HOWOOOOLLing  noise would come. At that part of night that chain of howling sounds used to bang in my ear as if someone is torturing me to not to sleep. I used to cover my ears and face with dozen pillows and begging to God to stop this noise. One day out of curiosity I decided to research, study and understand the reasons behind the triggering of howling.

Howling in dogs is a vocal communication, which they generally do either to attract and get attention, to contact others or to announce their presence. Howling is inherited in the dog’s genetic structure as they are distant relatives of wolves. At times excessive howling of dogs is irritating for humans as well as dogs.  Hence should be controlled. But before that we first need to understand about the major reasons that stimulate howling in dogs.

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  • Separation Anxiety- Whenever you are going out for work and you leave your dog back at home all alone, your dog has the tendency to howl a lot as feel getting separated from you. This generally happens with the dogs that don’t have enough toys to keep them entertained. As a result the dog howls as a protest against being left alone.
  • Medical Causes- Some dogs howl when they are hurt or they are sick. So in case of sudden excessive howling, do take your dog to the vet to get immediate treatment.
  • Ancestry- As we know dogs are the descendants of wolves and are related to them, hence howling is in their genes. At times the dogs don’t even know why they howling. Howling is completely normal and natural until it is not chronic.
  • Communication- Dogs at times howl to communicate with other dogs and to announce their presence. Howling acts as auditory lighthouse which guides the scouted pack members to get back to base location.
  • Boundary demarcation and defense mechanism- Dogs howl to alert their pack members of changing circumstances or warn them against potential predators. At times dogs howl against other dogs as well who belong to a different packs and are trying to enter in other’s demarked area. Hence dogs at home howl if some stranger in coming in their house.
  • Response to Stimuli- Some voices and sirens and music stimuli howling in dogs like police, ambulance and fire engine sirens. There no much details available regarding why these noises stimuli howling in dogs.
  • Bonding exercises- Some people like the howling of dogs, hence they will trigger howling in dogs by howling in front of the dog. This strengthens the bond between the dog and the owner.

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Measures to reduce Howling

  • Make sure your dog stays active. Give your dog plenty of exercise because ones your dog is worn out, the chances of howling in response to other dogs and sirens are less. You can keep you dog active by taking him to dog parks or enrolling him in a doggy daycare (when you are at work).
  • Provide your dog stimulating toys and objects which can keep him busy in playing and distracted from howling.
  • Use positive reinforcement. While giving training to your dog to reduce howling, make sure you never reward him when he is barking or howling. For example when your dog is howling, never let him come inside home till he doesn’t stops howling. One’s howling stops you can invite him inside the house. This will make him learn that when he stops howling he gets a reward.
  • Teaching you dog to follow you instructions. While imparting training to your dog, first ask him to bark or howl by stressing on the word “SPEAK”. But don’t reward him for barking or howling. Later ask him to stop barking or howling by stressing on words “HUSH” or “QUITE”. One’s dog stops barking or howling for 3-5 seconds reward him with treats or toys.
  • Spend time with your dog. Because some dogs tend to howl when they feel lonely or anxious or depressed.
  • Seek Help. In some of the cases when howling is too chronic and worse, kindly seek help from a certified dog trainer.

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