Do German Shepherds Howl? 7 Reasons For Howling

The German Shepherd is indeed an appealing dog. But often prospective dog owners want to know the cons (if any) of owning a German Shepherd before adopting one. One particular question is “Do German Shepherds howl?”

The truth is German Shepherds do howl! They can howl due to pain, separation anxiety, happiness, instinct, or seeking attention. 

There are many reasons for howling. Let’s take a closer look at German Shepherd howling. The good news is you can train them to howl less, more on this later. 

Do German Shepherds Howl?

Yes, German Shepherds do howl. But just because they can doesn’t mean all German Shepherds will howl!

Some do and they love it while others might do it once in a blue moon. But, suppose your dog loves doing it, what can you do about it?

Howling is just like barking, with the right techniques you can limit it through training your German Shepherd. You will have to enforce these methods well or else they may not make a difference. 

Causes of German Shepherd Howling

A German Shepherd may howl for a range of reasons and not just to irritate his owners. There can be deeper reasons for howling. Some reasons are not concerning while others are very concerning, it is up to owners to set them apart. 

Here are the most common reasons that cause a German Shepherd to howl. 

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Separation Anxiety 

Dogs are man’s best friends and form an unbreakable bond with their owners. When their owner has to go away, his best friend will suffer from separation anxiety. Your dog could take to howling to call you home.

Just how a wolf howls to locate and call its pack, your German Shepherd is doing the same by howling. This dog breed is not so good at occupying himself and you might not want to leave him home alone. 

Apart from suffering from separation anxiety, you may come home to a messy house and a few broken things. Avoid leaving him alone, get a neighbor or relative to watch him when you are gone for long periods. 

Triggered By Other Dogs Howling

So you are settling in for bed, you turn off the light and you hear a dog howling in the distance. If you have a social German Shepherd, you know what happens next. Your German Shepherd may instinctively return the howling call. 

Dogs are social animals and will automatically feel inclined to join in on nighttime howling with other dogs.

This again can be from the ancestral wolf-like tendencies that lie within their genes. Not much you can do about it and learning to get used to it would be great for dog owners.

Howling is not the only sound they will make. Sometimes other dogs barking will make your dog bark for not much reason. 

If your German Shepherd also barks at night, read about why dogs bark at night.

Happiness

Howling for happiness may be experienced when a dog’s owner returns home, even after just a few hours of being away. Your German Shepherd will start to miss you the moment you step out of the door. 

He will show his excitement in an unexpected way, by howling like a wolf! This may be an unconventional method of displaying happiness but no doubt your dog is happy to see you again. 

This method of showing his happy side may also be seen in other dogs that are thought to have a close relation to wolves. This includes the German Shepherd, Husky, and maybe even their mixes. 

Physical Pain

Just how dogs can howl to show their delight, they can also howl to show their discomfort.

If your dog is suffering from a disease or injury, he will howl to show he is in pain. Owners should not avoid this type of howling and should look into the cause immediately.

Often, a dog with an injury will also whine in pain. If your dog is howling and whining, it is a sure sign that he may be hurt or suffering from an ailment.

Owners may not be able to find exactly what the problem is, a vet can help solve the mystery. 

Finding the reason and stopping the pain could be what will also stop the howling and whining. If the howling does not stop, there could be another reason behind it.

Boredom 

If there is anything the German Shepherd is known for, it is their high affinity for action and activity.

These dogs love to play and work, taking on any physical challenge you throw their way.

But, limiting their physical work and depriving them of exercise time will not go well with them. It can invite barking, howling, and even destructive behavior.

You might start to find some household objects with chew marks. These are all signs of boredom, something the German Shepherd cannot handle. 

If owners continuously avoid exercising their German Shepherd, howling and barking will pursue until a change is made. 

Descendants of Wolves

Before you blame bad behavior for your German Shepherd howling, try to understand that dogs are descendants of wolves. They may not even be doing it purposely and it could just be a natural instinct that comes to them life reflexes.

There is no point in scolding him for his basic instinct. And it’s not just the German Shepherd who can howl! Lots of other wolf-like dog breeds take to howling, one particular example is the Husky. 

Find out if a Husky is a wolf dog

Wolves often howl at night and that could be the reason why your German Shepherd takes to howling mostly at night. Having a good sleep at night may be tough if you have a howling German Shepherd!

Attention Seeking Howling 

German Shepherds can also use howling as an attention-seeking tactic! This is especially true if your dog knows you hate him howling. He may want your attention for cuddles or maybe he is looking for someone to play with. 

Do your German Shepherd commonly bark or howl when you are playing with your other dog? Maybe his howling is a sign of jealousy! Dogs are quite crafty and know how to get what they want.  

Sometimes, your dog may be trying to get attention for the right reasons. Maybe you have forgotten to give him clean water or he needs to go out outside.  

As a German Shepherd owner, it is important to assess if the howling is for necessary attention or unnecessary attention. 

Tips To Manage German Shepherd Howling

We understand how inconvenient a howling German Shepherd can be, especially when he starts howling during an important zoom call!

Knowing why he howls is one thing and knowing how to make him stop is another. 

Luckily there are several methods to make your German Shepherd howl less or avoid situations that make him howl. These are some tips to try out on your howling German Shepherd. 

Ignore Them When They Howl  

Does your dog howl even though you spend enough time with him and he has everything he needs? Then chances are he is howling just to get your attention! In this case, ignorance is bliss.

Also, another way to tackle this cause of howling is to train your dog properly. This issue is mainly seen in dogs that have not undergone complete training and those that are used to getting their way. 

Giving them what they want to keep them quiet may seem like the easiest solution. But, in actual fact, it will be the start of many problems. He will begin to think it will work every time and on everyone. 

Provide Adequate Exercise Time 

German Shepherds love to exercise and have a role to play, they are after all a working breed. Lack of exercise can make any exercise-loving dog cranky! To avoid your dog rebelling with howling, make an exercise schedule and stick to it!

You might be okay with skipping a day but your dog will not take it lying down.

Even with enough exercise and playtime, your German Shepherd may get bored depending on his energy levels. To combat this, invest in a few toys that will withstand the might of a German Shepherd’s teeth. 

Don’t Neglect Them

A leading cause of howling in German Shepherd dogs is due to their owners not spending enough time with them. If you have one of these dogs, you have to invest a considerable amount of time with him. 

Lack of quality time with your canine will result in a poor relationship. This means he may be less likely to heed your commands.

Train Them

One thing about the German Shepherd is that he needs a lot of training, or else bad habits will take a hold of him!

People who have experience with a German Shepherd will know this is true. When your dog starts to howl, you can try to cut him off to dissuade him from doing it.

Hopefully, if you are as persistent as he is, it will work.

Use commands that he responds well to like ‘NO’, or ‘BAD BOY’. It may take time. But, one thing is for sure, all the members of your household will have to follow suit in stopping the howling. 

When he gets it right, verbal praise will not be enough. Use treats and cuddles or anything else that may motivate your dog. Remember, German Shepherd dogs are a bit stubborn and this training would have to be constant with no breaks!  

Counterconditioning 

Using counterconditioning could also work if your dog is howling because he is scared or feeling an emotion (good or bad). This counter condition method works by distracting your dogs and allowing them to pay attention to what you are doing. 

When your dog begins to howl for an emotional reason, offer him comfort and a treat. This will make him change his mind about howling. As this continues on for some time, his mind will associate the emotion with the cuddles and treats. 

This will greatly reduce German Shepherd howling due to fear or sadness. But, if you want this method to work it would be most ideal to consult a professional trainer. 

Can You Train A German Shepherd To Never Howl? 

A question many people often ask is if howling can be trained out of a German Shepherd completely. This may be for owners whose dogs are incessant howlers. 

Wolves and dogs share many similarities and howling is definitely one of them when it comes to the German Shepherd.

Although it is possible to train your German Shepherd to howl less, it cannot be completely trained out of them.

Stopping a German Shepherd from ever howling would require you to rewrite their DNA! This is not possible to do. So entertaining the thought of a non-howling dog is pointless.

Why would you want to stop a dog from howling anyway? Barking, howling, whining, and growling are his methods of communicating. 

Conclusion

Howling and German Shepherd dogs are widely associated, and there is nothing odd about this combination.

Reasons for howling vary and could be due to happiness, pain, boredom, attention, or just instinctively. 

You can train them to not howl in some instances. But, there is no way to completely stop a German Shepherd from Howling. 

FAQS

Do German Shepherds howl or bark? 

German Shepherds have a variety of communicative tools. That means you can expect your German Shepherd to bark, howl, and make any other sound a dog can make. 

References

  1. https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/58694/dalrev_vol36_iss1_pp58.pdf?sequence=1