If your dog treats the entire neighborhood to a daily concert, he'll quickly become a nuisance. Your furry friend's howling is his way of communicating and expressing himself. He might be announcing the start or end of the day, or responding to certain sounds he hears. Occasional howling is generally not a problem, but excessive howling should be stopped before a hard-to-break habit develops. After ruling out medical conditions, try various tactics to get your pet companion to stop showing off his vocal skills. If these fail, don't hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer.
Spend Quality Time Together
If you believe your dog is howling out of loneliness or boredom, spice up his life and spend more time with him -- take him for walks, challenge him to daily obedience-training sessions, arrange doggie play dates and play games, such as tug-of-war and fetch with him. Afterward, your dog will be pleasantly tired and might take a nap instead of giving a concert. When he's home alone, give him a food-stuffed dog toy for entertainment and leave the television or radio on, because he might associate the sound with your presence, which can be comforting.
Using the "Quiet" Command
Similar to teaching your dog to "sit" and "come," you can teach him to be "quiet." First, get him to howl by singing or making an alarm sound. Let him howl for a few seconds, then hold a dog treat in front of his nose and say "quiet." Your dog can't sniff and howl at the same time and will stop making noise to investigate the goodie. When he does, lavish him with praise and wait three seconds before giving him the treat. Repeat this tactic several times and gradually extend the time your dog has to wait before getting the treat.
Make Loud Noise
Your pet companion isn't the only one who can make loud noises; you can, too. Loud noises can startle your dog into being quiet. Seconds after your dog starts a howling rant, grab two metal pans and bang them together. Alternatively, use an air horn. The noise has to be louder than your dog's howling to be effective. It will startle your pet companion and, with consistency, he'll stop howling to prevent the unpleasant sound.
Now You See Him, Now Your Don't
When your dog starts howling, don't yell at him to get him to stop, because he'll just think you're joining in on the fun. Instead, ignore him -- turn your back to him, don't talk to him, don't pet him and imagine he's not in the room. The moment he stops making noise, give him a dog treat and praise him to reinforce the good behavior. Do this consistently, and over time, your pet companion will realize that being quiet gets your attention and being noisy doesn't.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.