As you well know, your dog is nothing more than a wolf in your living room. As such, howling is something he is genetically programmed to do for a few useful canine reasons.
It’s an ancient memory. He most likely doesn’t know why he’s doing it, but something deep inside tells him he should.
In the wild, wolves howl to communicate with each other. It’s a way to let each other know how they feel. They also use it to locate each other when separated. And, there are those occasions when it’s nothing more than one big sing-a-long; that’s fun and feels good! Everyone in the pack joins in!
Domesticated dogs have carried on the gene and tradition for 60,000 years.
Why is your dog howling?
Pay attention to the type of howling.
If your dog’s howl is mournful, most likely he’s outside, by himself, and is howling due to feeling lonesome. He wants you to come out and play, so he’s giving you an attention-seeking howl.
If your dog howls when he hears a passing siren, he is howling in response to let them know where he is. He’s talking back.
He also could have heard other dogs howling in the distance and wants to chat. It’s a canine version of a conference call and a way for your dog to try to connect with a fellow pack member.
Then, there is always the kid next door, learning how to play the clarinet or flute. That weird sound can trigger howling in dogs who would usually never think about howling, chime in, or test their pipes.
If your dog’s howling is disturbing, ignore him. Bring him inside when he stops. You do not want him to learn to associate, “Whenever I howl, they let me inside.”
Follow barking rules
The same rule holds for barking. When your dog is quiet, reward him and let him inside.
Exercise, exercise, exercise! Go out and play with him. He prefers your company to howling back and forth with sirens and strange dogs.
Bottom line: Let your dog howl
Howling sessions usually do not last long. Unless the howling disturbs you or your neighbors, don’t try to stop howling. Let your dog howl.
Join him. It takes a bit of practice to get it right. Nevertheless, your dog will be patient while you learn.
What a terrific way to bond with him! It’s a liberating, silly, fun time for both of you to share. Enjoy the call of the wild.
Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.