In order to answer this question, it is important to first understand why dogs howl at all. Howling really dates back to the dog’s wolf ancestors, who used the howl as a way to communicate with one another.
Today, howling provides long-range communication with other dogs or owners. Howling can be used to locate another human or pack member, keep strangers away, or to call the pack for hunting. Some dogs howl when they have separation anxiety.
Knowing this, you can assume that your dog howls at night because he is lonely, bored or frightened. This often happens frequently with young puppies, especially the first few nights, as they are getting used to their new home.
Needless to say, howling at night is disturbing to both you and your neighbors. Luckily, all it normally takes to decrease or eliminate howling entirely is a little extra attention and training.
The following are some suggestions for dealing with a howling dog:
- Longer and/or more frequent walks.
- Group dog training sessions. This is great socialization for the dog, a wonderful bonding experience for both of you and lots of fun!
- Extra play. If your dog seems shy about playing, and if you don’t mind getting silly, go down into the “play bow” position, inviting her to join you.
- Invest in extra toys and chews.
- An (old and worn) article of your clothing makes a great comfort tool. Your scent will be on it, so your dog will feel that you are close.
Sometimes, a dog howls out of feelings of insecurity. Crate training exploits a dog’s natural instincts as a den animal. Add some soft bedding and a piece of your worn clothing, and the crate will soon become a special place for the dog to feel secure.
Remember to never use the crate as a punishment; dogs should never be in it for more than a few hours at a time.