If your German Shepherd has a habit of howling you’re probably wondering why. This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might howl and what you can do about it.

So, why does my German Shepherd howl? The main reasons are ancestry with wolves, communication, sickness or injury, separation anxiety and defense.

There actually are a number of different reasons why German Shepherds howl and it may or may not be a cause for concern. If you want to get your German Shepherd to reduce its howling then you should first figure out what the root cause is and then take measures to correct it after.

What Causes German Shepherds To Howl?

If your German Shepherd is regularly howling then the first step is to figure out what might be causing it. There are a number of different reasons why your German Shepherd could be howling that I will detail below.

Ancestry

Wolves are known to howl to identify each other in the wild and this is a trait that presentday dogs could have kept from their ancestors. This means that if your German Shepherd is howling it’s not necessarily a bad thing since German Shepherds are known to howl often.

Separation Anxiety

Even though it is in their nature to howl the reason for their howling could be for a number of reasons. The first of those being separation anxiety. This is where the German Shepherd does not like being left without its owner, or other company, so it starts to howl in hopes for its owner to return. This type of howling will often be accompanied by other things such as destruction, pacing or other signs of distress.

Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?

Injury Or Illness

The howling could be due to it having injury or illness. In the same way humans cry, when they’re in pain, dogs will howl. If your German Shepherd is howling in a different way than normal or it is acting strangely it could be because it’s trying to alert you to an injury or illness that it has. In this case, you should make sure to take it to a vet.

Communication

Wolves, in the wild, will howl to tell other members of the pack where it is or to scare off other predators that are entering their territories. In the case of your German Shepherd, the howling could be to alert others of its location such as when it hears sirens. It could also be to warn others not to enter its territory. 

Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you

Environment

The cause of the howling could be due to environmental triggers. It could be due to hearing a high pitch noise that is triggering it like the sound of sirens.  The exact reason why sounds cause howling could be to alert others of its presence or it could be a more evolutionary trigger such as when wolves would howl as groups. It could also be that the German Shepherd has found what it considers to be a danger and it is howling to alert you of its presence. 

Boredom

It could be that the German Shepherd is howling due to boredom. German Shepherds were bred to be very active dogs and it takes a lot to properly stimulate them. If the German Shepherd isn’t getting enough stimuli from its environment then it could be howling to get you to give it more attention and to give it something to do

How To Stop Your German Shepherd From Howling

Once you have figured out the root cause of the German Shepherds howling preventing it from continuing will become a lot easier. 

If you would like some more tips on how to train your German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.

Rule Out Medical Causes

If you think that the German Shepherd is howling to alert you to an injury or illness then your first step should be to take it to a vet where they will be able to diagnose any illnesses or injuries that it might have.

Rule Out Separation Anxiety

Figuring out whether or not your German Shepherd is howling due to separation anxiety can be a little bit more tricky since the howling will be taking place when you are away and can’t hear it. 

If your German Shepherd becomes overly anxious when you leave or at the sight of you preparing to leave then it could be a case of separation anxiety. Other cues could be that it becomes destructive when you are away, it could be depressed or it might pace up and down when it thinks that you could be leaving.

Reward them when they don’t misbehave when you’re not with them. Give them toys to play with when you’re away it’s not a cure but it does help to alleviate the issues. Lots of exercise with the dog. If you’re away for a while then consider dog daycare. 

Solve Howling Due To External Sounds

Figuring out whether or not sounds are causing the howling should be a bit easier since the German Shepherd will begin to howl at the start of the sound and then stop howling when it stops.

If the sound doesn’t occur frequently then the howling shouldn’t be too much of an issue since it will likely not last long and not happen regularly enough to be a problem.

If it is a frequent sound then getting it to stop could be a bit more tricky. The first thing that you could do is to try to stop the sound from happening in the first place if it’s possible. If not then teaching the German Shepherd a different behavior when the sound happens such as fetching a toy won’t necessarily help to reduce its distress.

Instead, you should consider a systematic desensitization and counterconditioning program that is designed to solve emotional related issues. Desensitization is where the German Shepherd is guided to become less sensitive to the sounds and to reduce its physical and emotional response.

Counterconditioning is designed to make the German Shepherd change the way that it feels about the sound and to improve its feelings towards it. You can read more about these programs at pets.webmd here. If you’re considering doing the program then look for a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in your area.

Solve Howling For Attention

It’s common for owners to give their dogs attention when they start howling which can teach the dog that howling will get them attention. If your dog starts howling when nothing else appears to be wrong but it starts getting excited in your presence then it’s probably doing it for attention. 

In this case, to get the howling to stop, you need to teach the German Shepherd that howling for attention won’t continue to work and that being well behaved will work. 

To do this the first thing that you should do is to stop giving the German Shepherd any attention when it starts to howl. This also means that you should totally ignore the German Shepherd since even negative attention can be considered as a reward for it. 

The second thing to do is to reward good behavior. This means that when your German Shepherd has been well behaved and quiet for a while you should reward it with your attention and a treat.

It would also be beneficial to avoid giving it treats and attention when it has just been naughty. You can do this by doing things such as ensuring not to give it a treat until it has been well behaved for at least 5 seconds. 

Reduce its Boredom

Since German Shepherds are designed to be very active dogs it is necessary to keep them very active. If your German Shepherd hasn’t been getting lots of exercise then allowing it to do so would be a good idea and should do a lot in helping to improve its behavior. You can give the German Shepherd more exercise by taking it out for walks daily or you could hire a dog walker to do it for you if you can’t.

Get Help From A Professional

If you’re still unsure of why your German Shepherd keeps howling and you haven’t been able to get it to stop then you should consider getting help from a professional who will be better able to diagnose the problem. You can do this by contacting a local Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist in your area.

Related Questions

Why does my German Shepherd nibble me? Nibbling in German Shepherds isn’t something to be overly alarmed about. it can be a sign of affection in dogs. When they are young they explore the world with their mouths a lot and so nibbling on you isn’t something to be surprised about. With that being said it is something that you should stop while they are young so that they don’t continue the habit into adulthood.

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