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Howling in Dogs

(continued)

What to Do About Excessive Howling continued...

If Your Dog Howls, Whines or Barks to Get Your Attention

Some dogs learn that howling can get them attention from people. If your dog howls for this reason, his howling will usually occur in your presence when he wants attention, food or desired objects. If your dog howls to get your attention or “ask” you for things he wants, like food or toys, you need to teach him two things to be successful in curbing his behavior. First of all, he needs to learn that howling doesn’t work (even if it did in the past). He also needs to learn that being quiet will work. If your dog realizes that howling always makes him invisible to you and being quiet earns him your attention as well as all the great stuff he wants in life, he’ll quickly learn to curb his vocal behavior.

  1. Ignore your dog’s attention-seeking howling
    To avoid accidentally rewarding your dog when he howls, totally ignore him as soon as he starts making noise. Don’t look at him, touch him or speak to him. Don’t try to scold him either. Dogs, like kids, often find any attention rewarding-even if it’s negative attention. So scolding your dog might make his howling behavior worse! Just pretend your dog is invisible. If you find it difficult to do this, try folding your arms across your chest and turning away from him completely.
  2. Reward your dog for being quiet
    It’s easy to forget to pay attention to your dog when he’s being quiet. Often, we only pay attention to our dogs when they’re doing something wrong! If you want your dog to learn to stop howling for attention, you’ll need to reward quiet behavior. Randomly give your dog treats and attention when he isn’t making noise. You should also make and stick to a new rule: Your dog doesn’t get anything he wants (food, toys, access to the outdoors, treats, petting, etc.) until he’s been quiet for at least five seconds. If your dog howls in an attempt to get your attention, ignore him until he’s quiet, as described above. Then, after five seconds of silence, you can pay attention to him again.

You can also try teaching your dog to be quiet when you ask him to. First, say “Speak!” and try to get your dog to bark or howl. (Knocking on a wall or door usually works well.) Praise your dog when he starts making noise-but DO NOT give him a treat or toy. Then say “Hush” or “Quiet.” The moment your dog stops barking or howling for a second or two, quickly say “Good!” and give him a tasty treat. Repeat this sequence over and over, slowly stretching out the time that your dog must be quiet before earning his goodie. At first, one second of silence can earn him a treat. After he’s successfully mastered that step, increase the time to three seconds. If he’s successful again, increase the time to five seconds, then ten seconds, then 20 seconds, and so on.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

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