How to Break a Dog's Howling Habit

Come home soon, or I will tear this up.

Come home soon, or I will tear this up.

Dogs howl instinctively, as their ancestors the wolves do, to establish their location. Some dogs howl more than others, and it can get very frustrating. Determine the reason they are howling first and then train them to stop. Your family members and neighbors will thank you for peace and quiet.

Attention Howling

Ignore your dog when he is attention howling for food, toys or just petting. It can be hard to pretend his howling is not irritating you, especially if you gave him what he wanted for howling in the past.

Cross your arms over your chest and turn your back to your dog when he is attention howling. This action shows him that you will not look at him, and he does not have your attention if he cannot see your face.

Give your dog a treat as soon as he quits howling and praise him for being quiet. Rewards for quiet behavior breaks the attention howling cycle. Wait for a few seconds longer of quietness before giving him treats each time he stops howling and eventually do not reward him with treats but petting and praise for silence.

Sound Howling

Throw a toy for your dog to play fetch with if he is howling in response to sounds such as a siren or other dogs in the neighborhood that are howling. Try to get him to focus his attention on something else so he will stop howling at sounds. If he has something in his mouth, the chances are that he cannot howl.

Desensitize your dog to sounds if they occur frequently and he howls at them often. Record the sound that makes him howl. Play the sound back at a very low volume inside to make him hear it often. Give him a dog treat for not howling at the sound.

Turn the volume up on the recording for short periods and reward him with a tasty treat for not vocalizing over the sound. Eventually, when he hears the sound often and at different volumes, it will not entice him to howl along with the sound.

Separation Anxiety Howling

Give your dog a puzzle toy filled with small treats or peanut butter before you leave your house. Peanut butter takes a long time to lick out of a puzzle toy and can occupy his mind to keep him from howling when you leave.

Tell your dog you will be back soon when you leave. Make shorter trips at first then lengthen them. You can listen outside of your house to see how long he howls, but you must be out of his sight. Newly adopted dogs may be unsure that you will return to them as they may have been abandoned in the past.

Pick up the puzzle toys with tasty treats when you return home. This teaches your dog that he only gets the specialty treats when you are away and you will return to pick them up.

Give your dog a very exuberant greeting when you arrive home. He will look forward to your return instead of howling when you are gone.

Items you will need

  • Dog treats
  • Dog toys
  • Dog puzzle toys
  • Peanut butter


  • Other signs of separation anxiety in dogs include destruction of property and soiling the floor when you are away. Acting quickly on separation anxiety howling can prevent these behaviors.
  • Dogs may have separation anxiety because of a change in their family, a change in your schedule, a new home or a new member in your family.


  • Do not reprimand your dog for howling; this will only make matters worse. He is howling for a reason known to him and needs training to overcome it.

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About the Author

Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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