Why Doesn’t My Dog Howl?

why doesn't my dog howl

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While we love every little thing about our dogs there are certain behaviors that we might not approve of, such as the uncontrollable howling into the night. But what if your dog doesn’t howl, in fact, what if they’ve never howled in their entire canine life?

This mystery is bound to raise some questions and probably concerns, especially if you’ve kind of hoped to sing along to their howling.

So why doesn’t my dog howl? While a puppy might not know how to howl yet, older dogs might have been trained not to howl or stopped because of a previous negative experience. Some dogs don’t howl because of depression, and illness, while some breeds simply prefer not to howl.

If you want to find out more about why your dog isn’t howling, how you can help them and whether it’s enough of a reason to be concerned, then keep on reading!

Why Dogs Howl?

Instead of diving right into our main question, I think it’s important to understand why dogs howl. First of all, it’s normal behavior and a natural canine instinct, an echo of their ancestral past when as wolves they bellowed to announce their location to their pack family.

In the modern world, just like barking, growling, and whining, dogs use howling as another sound to communicate with others. This might be a way for them to get your attention, to announce their presence and invite someone or warn them to stay away.

High pitched sounds like sirens or certain music can also trigger a dog to respond with a howling vocalization. If they hear other dogs make this sound, there’s a high chance they’ll follow suit. Certain breeds are prone to howling, like huskies and hound breeds, and less vocal dogs can use howling to show their distress or that they’re in physical pain.

Why Won’t My Dog Howl?

There are many reasons as to why your best friend would howl, but the same is true if they’re not howling. Since the happiness and comfort of our four-legged friends is our top priority let’s see what might be stopping them from howling their hearts out!

Reason 1: They’re Part Of A Quiet Dog Breed

If your dog doesn’t howl, the first question you should ask yourself is whether your dog’s breed generally is prone to howling or not. Some breeds are more likely to howl than others. The VetStreet has a list of the 14 quietest dog breeds and your buddy could be one of them.

Some of the most common quiet breeds are the Rhodesian Ridgeback which while being protective rarely barks or howls. The Bullmastiff, Pitbulls, as well as Greyhounds, tend to be quiet despite their size, and the list goes on. Other breeds, like the Rottweiler, fall somewhere in between.

While your furry friend’s breed can affect their howling, it’s also up to the dog’s own personality. Perhaps your buddy doesn’t like being vocal, or they use barking as a way to communicate their needs when necessary, and howling is simply not in their style.

Reason 2: They Don’t Know How To Howl

Do you have a small puppy in your life? If so, they just might not have learned how to howl yet. Like all babies, your puppy will need some time to explore and discover his abilities and the world around them. So, with time they might discover their vocal talents and begin to howl!

Older dogs that never had the opportunity to discover their howling abilities might stay quiet forever or discover this skill when they’re much older.

Reason 3: From Previous Experiences

Dogs have natural instincts and behaviors of course, but they also need guidance from their parents or other dogs. If your puppy grew up with dogs where howling wasn’t a thing, or they never go to discover howling while growing up with you then this could be the reason for their quietness.

Rescue dogs that don’t howl and are on the quiet side may have had some past experiences that negatively impacted their desire to be vocal. Unfortunately, our canine buddies can go through traumatic events as well, and if that trauma was due to howling, they might simply be too anxious to repeat this behavior no matter how comfortable they are around you.

It could also be possible that when they began experimenting with howling you mistook it for a barking sound, or you were somewhere public, and you shushed them. Your dog could’ve perceived that command as part of their training and realized that howling isn’t allowed. These experiences may be what’s causing your doggo to not want to howl at all.

Reason 4: From Previous Training

Previous bad experiences can affect how freely a dog can express himself through howling, similarly, previous training can have the same result. If your dog is more on the quiet side then it will take you some time and positive training to teach them how to do it and when howling is allowed.

With rescues, you can’t know if their previous owner found howling an unwanted behavior. If a dog was silenced, scolded, and trained to think that howling isn’t ok, then they won’t try to be vocal with you as well. That’s why it’s in your hands to retrain your best friend.

Reason 5: They’re Anxious or Sick

Howling can be triggered by high-pitched noises, but not all dogs are happy to join their voices with a passing siren or music. Instead, it might seem like they’re not enjoying themselves. Let’s not forget that dogs have excellent hearing so loud noises could make them feel anxious and scared.

Then again seeing your dog not howling might come as a shock if they previously enjoyed it. That can be a strange change and it’s worth looking into if your pooch loved to howl with you before and then suddenly they lost interest in it.

Perhaps it’s time you took a look at your dog’s overall behavior. Is the howling the only thing that changed or are they overall quieter than usual, lethargic even? Behavioral changes could mean that your sweet doggy is feeling sick, or they’re in pain.

Dogs are also sensitive to our emotional pain, so if you’re feeling distressed perhaps your little pooch has gone quiet because they empathize with you. A recent study states that dogs are responsive to their owner’s sadness or stress, and they even try to take action to alleviate it.

Reason 6: Deafness or Losing Their Hearing

Howling oftentimes is triggered by sounds and if your dog is not responding to them vocally then it’s quite possible that they’re deaf or are starting to lose their sense of hearing.

Complete deafness is easily recognizable since your doggy might not be as responsive to commands, but partial deafness in one ear can be difficult to determine. According to the American Kennel Club, “5 to 10 percent of dogs in the United States suffer from deafness, either in one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral).”

Of course, deafness of any sort doesn’t mean that your dog will be silent and won’t bark or howl at all. Instead, as veterinarians suggest, their vocalization abilities won’t rely on noise-related stimuli, but more on their sight. Nonetheless, howling might be affected since it usually is provoked by noise.

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Doesn’t Howl?

There are, in fact, times when the lack of howling can become concerning. For example, did your best bud used to howl, and one day they suddenly stopped? Can you think of a time when that change occurred?

If you’ve ruled out previous training, or past experiences, then it may be time to take a closer look at other factors that may have caused your best bud to stop howling.

Illness/Injury

As you watch your pooch grow it’s natural to see some of their behaviors change. Young dogs and puppies tend to be more energetic and as they grow their real personality come through. However, seeing drastic changes can be alarming. If your buddy used to howl back at you as you whistled or sang, but now they don’t even seem to react, is something worth investigating.

Veterinary neurologists suggest that we pay attention to sudden behavior changes because they can be caused by trauma, severe pain, or even a neurological issue.

If your furry buddy is no longer howling, then keep an eye on their body language and notice if there are other things they don’t seem interested in anymore. You may also want to look for other signs such as limping, drooling, or lethargy, but even if there’s nothing major, I still think a vet check-up is always worth your time!

Age/Hearing Loss

As I’ve explained above, if your friend isn’t hearing as clearly as they used to, then they may stop howling or vocalizing. If you’ve trained your dog to howl on command when they listen to certain sounds, and music then deafness can put a stop to that behavior.

That’s why make sure to check if they respond to your voice when they’re being called and other commands. Canine deafness can be hereditary, age-related and the result of an ear infection or illness. It’s also possible that something is blocking their ears, like earwax buildup, a tumor, or swelling.

That’s why make sure to consult a professional and learn how to adjust your training and commands to accommodate their hearing loss.

Depression

Feeling blue can happen to anyone even to your canine friend, and if your pooch isn’t feeling himself then they may decide to be less vocal. This could be temporary, perhaps there was a major change in your dog’s life, and they need time to readjust themselves.

When sadness becomes a constant state of being for your dog then it could be depression. According to John Ciribassi, DVM, “Dogs will become withdrawn. They become inactive. Their eating and sleeping habits often change. They don’t participate in the things they once enjoyed.”

If your dog enjoyed howling, then they might stop doing it altogether. While it’s important that you keep your dog happy and active, consider talking to your vet if their depression seems to be lasting.

Whether it’s you or your dog, talking with someone about depression can only help deal with it!

Should I Encourage My Dog To Howl?

This decision is entirely up to you. There are plenty of ways that you can attempt to get your buddy to sing with you. Although, if improperly trained, howling can become a real problem.

When you decide to train your dog to howl then you should make sure to teach them when it’s the appropriate time to do so. Perhaps create a howling association by using a specific sound and if they start howling without your permission then you can limit this behavior.

How To Get Your Dog To Howl

If you want to make your dog’s howling dreams come true, then there are several ways you can get your best friend to sing with you. These include specific training exercises and different noises to encourage your best bud to become more vocal, and most importantly a full moon isn’t necessary!

Training

Teaching your dog to do the things your want and to stop the things you don’t want needs time and patience. So, if you want to teach your doggy to howl then positive training with reward-based techniques is definitely a good start.

Use the treats they love the most, pets, and toys to show them that you approve of their howling, but remember to also set clear boundaries for when your buddy can and cannot howl or bark. With clear direction, I’m sure they will quickly get into it, especially if they’re a breed that’s easy to train like the Rottweiler!

Sing/Howl To Your Dog

You might wonder how you can train your dog to howl or reward their howling if they’ve never done it. Well, you’ll have to show them how to do it. It may sound silly but ancient canines howled as a pack, so since you are part of your dog’s pack you’ll have to sing or howl to your friend.

You might get a response fairly quickly in which case congrats, or you’ll have to keep on doing it until they catch on. Be sure to reward the positive howling behavior, and you will find that your buddy will begin to do it more often.

If you have other friends or family living with you then let them all join in like a howling choir!

Whistle or Play Howl-inducing Sounds

Of course, for some dogs, it’s all in the pitch, so your howl or singing may be too low, but the whistle might just hit the right note. Like singing and howling, the high pitch of a whistle might just perk your dog into making music with you.

You can also use actual music to make them howl. According to this study, classical music like Beethoven’s and Vivaldi’s can help our dogs feel more relaxed and calmer, but with the right tune, they can also sing along.

Just listen to Rambo this adorable dog that sings in tune with the guitar!

Play Your Dog Videos Of Other Dogs Howling

Howling is a communication technique, it’s also a pack thing so by using the howling of other dogs you can encourage your best bud’s social side. Thankfully you don’t need to look for a pack of wild wolves or dogs to help teach your dog how to howl, instead, you can let them listen to a howling compilation like this video!

Play Sirens or Alarm Sounds

If our other suggestions just aren’t cutting it, you may want to try playing a siren or an alarm sound. Just be careful of the volume, as sounds that are too loud may actually hurt your best friend’s ears.

I personally think that sirens can be a bit tricky, and your precious doggy might end up howling at police cars, ambulances, and other similar high-pitched sounds. So, perhaps leave it as a last option or a way of introducing howling until you find another sound to which they can howl.

Socialize Your Companion

Finally, you can turn howling into a social event. Instead of playing music or putting on dog howling compilations take your dog to a dog park. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of dog parents and their canine friends that will be more than happy to teach your dog how to howl.

With the social exposure of another or many other dogs, your pup might learn how to howl, but most importantly discover new friends along the way.

How Can Howling Be A Problem?

Since howling is a natural behavior for most dogs, it can become a problematic behavior. If you simply teach them how to howl, without giving them a proper association or command on when howling is allowed then your pooch could howl whenever they feel like it, no matter the time and place.

Your best friend also may begin to vocalize excessively as attention-seeking behavior, and they might respond to loud noises that they previously didn’t care for. Of course, this all comes down to proper training and finding the right way of teaching your best bud to understand just when they can (and can’t) howl for you.

Closing Thoughts

It’s strange that people want what they can’t have, even when it comes to our dog’s howling. Some dog parents are trying to stop their canine buddies from howling while others try to teach them how to sing along to their acoustic guitar.

Then again there are those who are worried when their best bud that used to howl on command has stopped. No matter what kind of parent you are, there’s always a solution as long as we listen to our dog’s needs, use proper training and spoil them with love!

What about you? Is your best friend a vocal being? Or are they more reserved?