If you have ever heard a Rottweiler howl, you probably found it to be a moving experience. The Rottweiler has a loud, deep voice that sounds nothing like a wolf but still very distinctly wild.
But why do Rottweilers howl? Rottweilers may howl because of ancient instincts, because they are lonely or suffering from separation anxiety, out of solidarity because they hear other dogs or people howling, or because they are trying to alert you to something.
Whether you are dealing with an incessantly howling Rottweiler or you are wondering why you haven’t ever heard your Rottweiler howl, here’s what you need to know about howling Rottweilers.
The Rottweiler is an ancient dog breed, arguably one of the oldest of any breed. Ancestors of the modern Rottweiler marched along with the Roman armies as they conquered the world.
Later on, the Rottweiler went on to be the foundation stock for lots of different breeds, but the Rottweiler breed has not changed very much in all of this time. Dog breeds that are closer to their wolf ancestry, like Rottweilers, may be more likely to howl than other breeds.
It is a very deeply ingrained instinct for wolves to howl to communicate with one another, establish territories, and for other reasons that are little understood. Although Rottweilers are far removed from wolves, they still display some of the same instincts, including howling.
Here’s what a howling Rottie sounds like:
Rottweilers are velcro dogs who prefer to be with their family as much as possible. Unfortunately, too many times, Rottweilers are left alone for much if not all of the time. A Rottweiler left without human companionship is very likely to howl their loneliness to the sky.
It’s unclear whether the Rottweiler hopes to call back the owner that has left them alone or whether they are simply expressing their emotions through howling, but either way, it seems much more common for Rottweilers to howl when they’re alone than at other times.
Rottweilers that are left home during the day may experience separation anxiety, which they respond to by howling, along with other displays of behavior like pacing and often behaving destructively. Even Rottweilers that get plenty of time with their people may experience separation anxiety and howl.
That’s because separation anxiety (and the related howling) isn’t a logical response to being left alone but rather an overreaction and extreme terror of being without their people.
Most Rottweilers can be encouraged to start howling if there are people howling or if another dog around them howls. A Rottweiler’s tendency to howl in solidarity may come out of their wolf instincts or it may be a social response to somebody else howling. In fact, howling may even point to some basic understanding of music. Whatever the reason, it’s very likely that your Rottweiler will tend to howl if they hear people or animals around them howling.
They’re Trying to Tell You Something
When a Rottweiler is trying to draw your attention to a potential threat, they are much more likely to bark than they are to howl. However, each dog is different, and some individuals may howl to communicate with you.
A Rottweiler may howl because they are excited, because they are aware of a threat in the environment that they want to alert you to and in a number of other cases in which your Rottweiler might be trying to communicate something to you. If your Rottweiler howls while they’re in the room with you it may be likely that they want your attention.
They’re in Pain or Discomfort
Howling and crying often go hand-in-hand, and it can often be hard to tell the difference. Your Rottweiler may howl because they are experiencing acute or chronic pain or if their basic needs aren’t met. If a Rottweiler is left alone and also does not have sufficient food or shelter as is often the case when Rottweilers are used as guard dogs, howling is very likely.
How to Stop Your Rottweiler from Howling
Most of the time, Rottweiler howling is not a serious problem. Rottweilers usually do not howl so much that it would be an irritation to your neighbors. However, in some cases, your Rottweiler may howl more than you would prefer. Here are some techniques to reduce Rottweiler howling:
Rottweilers are much more likely to howl when there is a stimulus like other dogs howling or if something in the environment is causing your Rottie to feel the need to alert you to it. Reducing the amount of stimulus that your dog has exposure to can reduce or eliminate the howling.
Instead of leaving your Rottweiler outside or in a room with lots of windows, try leaving a Rottweiler in an interior room or a crate. You can also try adding music into your dog’s routine. A 2012 study found classical music helped dogs stay calmer while being kenneled in an unfamiliar place. The music can also muffle or completely drown out stimuli from outside that may be causing your Rottie to howl.
Desensitize or Give Them Some Company
If your Rottweiler is howling when you aren’t with them, they may be missing you. You can desensitize your Rottweiler to separation anxiety with consistent training. The trick is to eliminate signals that your Rottweiler associates with you leaving.
Pick up your keys, grab your jacket, and do other things that your Rottweiler may associate with you leaving, but don’t actually leave. Walk out the door without doing any of your typical pre-leaving rituals. Make sure to vary how long you’re gone and never leave long enough for your dog to become frantic.
In time, your Rottweiler may become less excited about your comings and goings and less anxious when you’re gone. It helps to leave your Rottweiler with a food distributing toy and other chew toys so that they have something to entertain them and soothe them when you are away. I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but my favorite food toy for big Rottie bites is the Kong Extreme which you can see on Amazon.
Licking and chewing is naturally soothing for dogs, so being given the opportunity to lick and chew at food toys while you are away will make it much more likely that your dog will be able to self-soothe and comfort themselves. If you find that you cannot seem to get your dog to stop howling when you’re away even after desensitizing them to signals of leaving and providing them with plenty of food distributing toys and other entertainment, it may be that you are simply leaving your Rottweiler alone too much.
Rottweilers aren’t typically prone to separation anxiety, but they are highly devoted to their people, and separation anxiety can come out even when dogs are left alone for relatively short amounts of time. Some dogs are helped by having another dog or even another animal like a cat in the household, but many dogs who suffer from separation anxiety aren’t satisfied unless they have a person around them.
Consider taking your Rottweiler to dog daycare or hiring a pet sitter to reduce their separation anxiety and resulting howling.
Communicate With Them
Rottweilers howl to tell you about things that are going on in the environment. You can reduce this kind of howling by giving your Rottweiler the opportunity to feel that they have efficiently told you what they wanted to tell you.
Instead of just telling your dog to be quiet, go out, look at what they’re trying to indicate to you, and give a command like, “Thank you,” and then reward your dog for being quiet. Your dog will learn that you acknowledge and are not worried about the potential threat. This technique may not stop your dog from barking altogether, but it may stop the incessant howling.
Play With Your Rottweiler
One study found a connection between play and undesirable behavior. In other words, playing with your Rottweiler can help reduce aggression and anxiety. While howling isn’t always connected to anxiety when it is adding some fun Rottweiler games could help your pup get some energy out, calm down, and potentially stop howling.
But play doesn’t have to be complicated. Even though Rotties sometimes get a reputation for being lazy they’re actually some of the hardest-working (and playing dogs) in history. Just jump around the living room a few times and there’s a good chance your dog will get the idea that’s it’s time to play!
Why Does my Rottweiler Howl in His Sleep?
It may seem perfectly reasonable that your Rottweiler may howl when they find something exciting, but why would a Rottweiler howl in their sleep? Dogs seem to dream in a way very similar to how people do.
Whatever your Rottweiler experiences while they are awake, they may also experience in their sleep. In fact, it may be that your Rottweiler howls in their sleep even if they have never howled in real life. In their sleep, your Rottweiler may imagine other dogs howling, or they may feel a sense of loneliness that they don’t feel with you.
In this case, your Rottweiler may howl even though they’ve never had a reason to before. It is likely that when your Rottweiler howls in their sleep it will not be nearly as loud or drawn out as in real life, but this is certainly not always the case. Some Rottweilers really get some volume in their howls even in their sleep.
Enjoy Your Howling Rottweiler
You will probably find, as most Rottweiler owners do, that Rottie howling is actually very charming. In fact, you are likely to find that you show off your Rottweiler’s howling to all of your friends by howling at your dog and getting them to howl back at you.