Is it possible to teach a dog to howl on command? Absolutely. Whether you’re looking for ways to encourage your quiet dog to let out his inner wolf, or would like to train a dog that frequently howls to tone it down a bit, the first step is determining the exact sounds that make your dog howl and reinforcing the behavior. With certain methods and techniques, your dog could be trained to howl to his heart’s content--but only when you give the go signal.
Why Dogs Howl?
Certain dog breeds howl more than others, but exactly how do you teach a dog to howl? It’s just a matter of finding the right triggers and repeated reinforcement of howling behavior. Dogs howl primarily as a means of calling out to other canines. It would be a lot easier to teach your dog to howl on command if you can identify the reasons why dogs howl in the first place.
Communicating With Other Dogs
Howling, like barking or whining, is a way dogs communicate with each other. Dogs may howl to call out to other dogs who may have been separated from the rest of the pack. Your dog sees you as his pack leader, which is why dogs sometimes howl when their owners leave the house.
Dogs howling together as a pack can be seen as a sort of canine bonding ritual that’s not entirely different from human beings singing together.
Sending Warnings or Alert Signals
Your dog may howl instinctively when it sees a stranger approaching the house, which he considers “territory.” Dogs may also howl to warn other dogs of any threat, or simply to announce their presence. Howling is also how hunting dogs sent alert signals to other dogs or human hunting companions when they’ve cornered their prey.
Responding to Music or Other Sounds
There are sounds that make dogs bark or howl in auto response, such as the sound of sirens. Hearing the high-pitched sounds of a siren or a musical instrument is very likely to incite a howl. Because it’s howling in response, your dog would often stop when the trigger sound stops.
When Lonely or in Distress
Dogs may also howl when sick, in pain, or feeling distressed. Howling may also be a way of expressing loneliness or even boredom.
Here is How to Teach Your Dog to Howl
Howling is a behavior that’s buried deep in every dog’s genetic code, more deeply, perhaps in specific breeds such as hounds, huskies, beagles, coonhounds, foxhounds, and dachshunds. Much like how you teach your dog to sit, play dead, fetch, and do other tricks, you can also train dogs to start howling, or “singing” if you may, with some tried and tested techniques.
Find Out What Makes Your Dog Howl
Does your dog howl when it hears a police siren? Does it chime in when the neighbors’ dogs get into a howling chorus? If you haven’t heard your dog howl, interaction with other dogs might help him embrace his connection to his wolf ancestors. Try taking it your dog to the park or play dates. It would be easier to train your dog to howl once you’re able to encourage natural howling.
Play Music or a Musical Instrument
Music is almost guaranteed to make your dog howl. Queens University psychologist Deborah Wells conducted an experiment where she exposed dogs to different types of music. Findings show that our canine friends, much like us, have a different musical preference as well. Try playing different types of music and find out if your dog would howl to Britney Spears, Metallica, or Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Your dog may also respond if you play a high note on the piano, the harmonica, or another instrument.
Play Videos or Sounds of Other Dogs Howling
Another effective way to teach your dog to howl is to show him how other dogs do it. There are many videos online that has successfully helped owners teach their dogs how to howl, including this compilation of dog howling sounds by DRV on YouTube. You can also check the channel for other sound effects such as cats meowing. Some dogs are known to respond to other animal sounds.
Experiment with Siren Sounds
Using the sound of a siren to make dogs howl is one technique that’s almost always effective. Siren sounds closely resemble a dog’s howl, which is probably why a lot of dogs respond to it. Download an app that plays siren sounds and sees if your dog howls when he hears it.
Establish a Verbal or Non-Verbal Cue.
When you get your dog to finally howl, the next step now is to establish a cue. You could say “howl” or “sing” in a deep firm voice every time he howls. Keep repeating the process a few times a day. In a few weeks, he will be able to make the connection between the cue and his howling. If you prefer to use hand signals, use the signal every time the dog howls.
Reward Your Dog With Treats
Giving him dog treats when he is able to howl on command is a positive way to reinforce the behavior. You might have to continue the simulation by playing the trigger music or sound in your training sessions. For the treats to work, you need to be firm and reward him only when he howls on your signal. However, it’s crucial that you don’t punish the dog if he fails to perform.
Once you have successfully established the cue, it’s important that you keep practicing until your dog howls on command even without being given treats. It could take weeks of practice for the dog to recognize the signal as a cue for him to howl. When you’re sure he has it down pat, you can start giving him less and fewer treats until you no longer have to.
Being able to teach your dog to howl on command is surely an accomplishment to be proud of. The same way you teach your dog any other trick, patience and consistency are key. It’s a fun and charming trick that’s sure to help build a stronger bond between you and your dog. If it turns out you and your dog share a preference for the same type of music, then that would be a really cool bonus.