Bloodhounds are known not only for their droopy ears and jowls, but for their distinctive baying or howling, a trait that makes them useful and adept hunting companions. Yet some bloodhounds who hunt only a ball still howl more frequently than is comfortable for you -- or your neighbors. Once you identify the reasons for this behavior, you'll be on the trail to calming your canine crooner.
Exercise, Treats, Friends and Music
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Take your bloodhound on long walks or hikes, ideally in areas with off-pavement trails and plenty of fresh smells to explore. One reason all dogs bark excessively -- or in a bloodhound's case, howl -- is pent-up energy. Long walks will help your dog feel more relaxed, less likely to overreact to -- or howl at -- noises or disturbances at home. Keep your bloodhound on a sturdy, non-retractable leash at all times she's outside our home. This is key, since you don't want her to tack off after an attractive scent, dragging you behind her.
Train your bloodhound to learn that howling is not acceptable behavior with treats, toys and positive reinforcement. Keep your dog's favorite snacks on hand and then reward her each time she doesn't respond to a trigger, be it a doorbell or something else, that is typically a set-off to howling or baying. Keep this practice up and don't stop -- praise on top of the treats is a powerful motivator. Bully sticks, durable rubber chew toys and chew toys that dispense treats can also help alleviate boredom and anxiety and prevent bloodhounds from howling.
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Play classical music, keep the radio on or consider purchasing a calming collar to soothe your bloodhound, making her less likely to howl as a result of anxiety. Another option is to outfit your dog with a good behavior-calming collar, which is packed with natural pheromones that mimic a mother dog's natural scent and hormones. These can be purchased, relatively cheaply, online or in major pet stores. As a last resort, consult a veterinarian -- who could recommend pharmaceutical options for anxiety treatment -- about options for treating anxiety and howling.
Arrange play dates or visits to the dog park to encourage your dog to enjoy the company of others. If your circumstances allow, consider adopting another dog as a companion animal. As pack animals, most dogs enjoy the company of a buddy, and may not be as stressed or vocal with a furry friend to play with.
- Scolding or yelling is unlikely to break your bloodhound's strong will or stop howling or barking. In fact, if you raise your voice, your dog is likely to think that you're joining in the fun and make it a duet.
Amy Lieberman is a journalist based in New York City, where she often reports out of the United Nations. She has covered international politics and human rights issues for various news publications, including Women's eNews, "The Christian Science Monitor" and "World Policy Journal." Lieberman has also reported from across Asia and Colombia.