10 Reasons Why German Shepherds Howl (And How to Stop it!)
By Hallie Roddy
We’d be surprised if you have yet to hear your German Shepherd howl. While not all dogs howl, and it isn’t a cause for concern if they don’t, this breed is one that is rather chatty. The amount that they howl depends on the individual dog. If it seems to be going on non-stop and you just can’t take it anymore, there are ways to teach them to stop. Likewise, you can teach them to start as well. So why do German Shepherds howl so much? There are a few reasons why they are getting in touch with their inner wolf.
Why Do German Shepherds Howl?
German Shepherds howl for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they’re bored, sometimes they’re excited, and other times they’re in pain. Take a quick glance at some of the most common causes of howling to figure out what has brought on this vocal performance.
1. Howling is a Part of Who They Are
Every dog on the planet is descended from wolves, and we all know that wolves how. Howling is simply a part of your dog’s DNA, and instincts usually tell them to do so. Howling isn’t a bad behavior. Making noise is something that comes naturally to them.
2. German Shepherd Boredom
Dogs bark and cry, so why do we become so concerned when they start to howl? The German Shepherd breed is usually extremely active. When dogs don’t get enough exercise or mental activities, it is easy for them to become bored as all humans do. Howling from boredom could also be combined with other naughty behavior like chewing on things.
3. German Shepherd Anxiety
German shepherds were mainly bred to work alongside their owners, and they aren’t meant to be away from their pack for too long. If you leave your pup alone for extended periods, they might develop separation anxiety and start crying or becoming restless until they’re reunited with you.
4. They’re Excited to See You
As we said before, German Shepherds love to be with their pack, and you are their number one priority. Dogs will instinctively start to howl when they know that you’re coming home because they are trying to prevent you from getting lost. Wolves also do this in the wild for their pack mates to help them find their way back into their territory.
5. Signaling a Warning
As herding dogs, this breed made lots of noise to scare off predators and criminals that came onto their land. Howling is a way for dogs to say, “This is my territory. Don’t come any closer.” This warning is beneficial in some ways because it helps keep your home safer and deters people from breaking in.
6. Demanding Attention
Is there a better way to get your attention than making a bunch of noise? If you respond to howling, the dog quickly learns to get your attention this way. This is a behavior that is normally picked up when they are small puppies.
7. They’re Hurt
There is some howling that should never be ignored. Howling from pain is usually easy to distinguish between howling from happiness. Dogs in pain will howl because they need our assistance. This noise is their way of communicating that they aren’t feeling the best.
8. German Shepherd Happiness
Some dogs howl just because they are happy. It most often happens when they’re about to get a favorite toy or special treat, but there could be many different things that set them off. Take comfort in knowing your pup is expressing their joy in such a vocal way.
9. Loud Noises
Haven’t we all seen those adorable internet videos of the dogs howling to sirens? Sirens sound very similar to a dog howling, and your German Shepherd is simply replying to the outside noise. It may not sound similar to you, but dogs are capable of picking up much higher frequencies than we are.
10. It’s Nighttime
Many dog owners realize that their dogs start to howl more at nighttime than at any other time of the day. German Shepherds are usually on guard at this time, and if they are howling, it is probably because they are trying to signal that something is going on outside. Even if it’s just a small bunny, it’s nice to know that they’re looking out for you.
How to Stop Your German Shepherd from Howling
Howling is natural for dogs, but we understand why it can get annoying. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to stop this behavior.
1. Ignore Them
A lot of times, German Shepherds continue to howl because they’ve noticed that it is an easy way to get your attention. Instead of scolding them, ignore them completely and remain persistent. Over time, the dogs learn that this tactic doesn’t work anymore. If this doesn’t work, get up, leave the room, and shut the door behind you. Don’t return until the howling stops. Doing so lets them know that remaining quiet is the best way to get affection.
2. Spend More Time with Them
If your dog is demanding attention, it might help to be more genuine about your one-on-one time. Go outside and spend an hour playing with them. Give them lots of pats, hugs, and kisses. If they feel like they’re getting quality time with you, then they will be less likely to demand it later on.
Counterconditioning is a practice that tricks your dog into changing the way that they feel while they behave a certain way. For example, dogs that howl whenever someone walks by the house can be counter conditioned by giving them a treat as soon as they spot a person and before they start howling. The dog starts to associate a person walking by with a good feeling, which then makes them less likely to howl.
At the end of the day, howling is natural for many dogs. Some breeds are more likely to howl than others. If it truly bothers you, you might think about getting a dog that is less likely to make a lot of noise. However, if you already have a noisy dog, there are ways that you can train them to stop.
Featured Image Credit: Samantha Gould, Shutterstock