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Howling and Whining in dogs

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Howling is one of many forms of vocal communication used by dogs, and has a direct connection to barking. Just with barking, dogs howl get noticed, to get hold of others and to announce their presence. Some dogs also howl as a result of high-pitched sounds, like emergency vehicle sirens or musical instruments.


Issues to Rule-Out First

Separation Anxiety Howling
If your neighbors call you and tell you that your dog is howling when you are at work, your dog’s extreme howling may be brought on by separation anxiety. Separation anxiety howling only takes place when a dog is left alone or else separated from his human. This type of howling is usually coupled with at least one other characteristic of separation anxiety, like pacing, destruction, elimination, depression.

Health-related Causes
Dogs sometimes howl when they’re injured or unwell. If your dog starts howling or howls more than ever before, take him to a vet to eliminate sickness and injury prior to doing other things.

How to Handle Excessive Howling

Howling in Responds to Sounds
If your dog howls as a result of some kind of trigger, such as another dog howling or a nearby siren, he’ll most likely stop when the sound stops. This kind of howling usually
isn’t excessive -unless, of course, the triggers happen often. If they do, you should use desensitization and counter-conditioning to aid your dog learn to be quiet.

Systematic Desensitization and Counter-conditioning
When the issue is rooted in how a dog feels with regards to a particular thing, often it isn’t enough to just teach him a different behavior -like to fetch a toy rather than howling, for instance. Instead, it’s best to alter his motivation and feelings, which are the fundamental reasons for the behavior issue in the first place.

Systematic desensitization and counter-conditioning are two typical treatments for fears, anxiety, phobias and aggression -basically any behavior problem which involves arousal or emotions. It’s often most reliable to use these two methods together when trying to solve animal behavior problems.

Some dogs discover howling can get them attention from people. If your dog howls because of this, his howling will often occur in your presence when he wants attention, food or desired objects. If your dog howls to obtain your attention or “ask” you for things he wants, like food or toys, you have to teach him a couple of things to be successful in curbing his behavior.

For starters, he must learn that howling doesn’t work. Secondly, he also must learn that being quiet will work. If your dog understands that howling makes him invisible to you and being quiet earns him your attention as well as all the great stuff he wants, he’ll quickly figure out how to curb his vocal behavior.

Disregard your Dog’s Attention-Seeking Howling
To prevent accidentally rewarding your dog when he howls, completely ignore him as soon as he starts making noise. Don’t look at him, touch him or speak to him. Don’t make an effort to scold him either. Dogs, like kids, often find any attention rewarding -even if it’s negative one. So scolding your dog might make his howling behavior worse. Just pretend your pet is invisible. If you find it hard to get this done, try folding your arms across your chest and avoiding him completely.

Reward your Dog for being Quiet
It’s very easy to forget to focus on your dog when he’s being quiet. If you want your pet to learn to stop howling for attention, you’ll have to reward quiet behavior. At random give your dog treats and attention when he isn’t making noise. It's also advisable to make and adhere to a new rule: Your pet doesn’t get anything he wants (food, toys, access to the outdoors, treats, petting, etc.) until he’s been quiet for a minimum of five seconds. If your dog howls so as to get your attention, ignore him until he’s quiet, as described above. Then, after few seconds of silence, you can focus on him again.

Finding Help
Because howling issues can be tough to work with, don’t think twice to enlist the help of a professional.


Whining is yet again, one of the many forms of dog vocal communication and has a close connection with barking. Dogs most often whine when they’re seeking attention, when they’re excited, when they’re anxious or when they’re trying to appease you.

Why Do Dogs Whine?

Appeasement Actions
Some dogs whine exceedingly when interacting with people and other dogs, usually while adopting a submissive posture.

Greeting Behavior
Some dogs whine during greetings. This sort of vocalization is usually stimulated by excitement and may be inclined to dogs or people.

Seeking Attention
Some dogs whine in the presence of their owners to get their attention, rewards or desired objects.

Some dogs whine as a result of stressful situations. In this context, whining at times seems involuntarily.

Other Issues That May Cause Whining

Separation Anxiety
If your dog only whines right before you leave or during your absence, he may have separation anxiety.

Injury or Medical Condition
Dogs often whine in response to pain or an agonizing condition. If you notice that your dog vocalizes often or has suddenly begun to vocalize, it’s vital that you take her to the vet to rule out medical causes.

How to Handle Excessive Whining

Appeasement Whining
Dogs can try to appease people or other dogs when they perceive a threat or aggression being directed at them. Appeasement behaviors include holding the ears back, tucking the tail, crouching or rolling over on the back, avoiding eye contact or turning the body sideways to the perceived threat. Appeasement whining is also a normal canine behavior.

You may be able to reduce your dog’s appeasement whining by building her confidence. Try taking her to an obedience class that uses reward-based training techniques. You and your dog can also try trick-training classes or dog sports like agility, fly ball and musical freestyle. Playing fun, interactive games with your dog, like tug and fetch, can increase your dog’s confidence. Avoid physical and verbal punishment.

Whining During Greetings
If your dog whines when greeting people, you can divert his attention to his favorite toys. Simply telling your dog to be quiet during greetings usually isn’t effective because, unless you’ve taken specific steps to train your dog what the word “Quiet” means, he won’t understand you.

Furthermore, most dogs whine when greeting people because they’re excited, and in an incredibly aroused state, they may not have control over their behavior. Instead, use management procedures to help prevent your pooch from becoming overly excited.

Anxious Whining Whining as a result of anxiety is difficult to eliminate unless the cause of anxiety is removed. Anxious whining is usually accompanied by other nervous behaviors, such as pacing, circling and licking. Many anxious dogs do not seem able to control their whining when under extreme stress.

Some medications may help reduce your dog’s anxiety. Consult your pet doctor or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist to learn more about anti-anxiety medications. Do not give your dog any kind of medication for a behavior problem unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.

Steps to Avoid Whining In addition to not reinforcing whining behavior, you need to reward your dog for being quiet. Teach your dog that she must always be quiet before receiving your attention, play or treats. Regularly seek out your dog to give her attention and rewards when she’s not whining. When your dog understands that silence works well to get your attention, she won’t feel as motivated to whine.

Don’t hesitate to contact a professional in your area. Many pros offer group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play that will reduce her appeasement whining, whining during greetings and attention-seeking whining.

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