It’s no secret that Huskies are very “talkative” dogs. Husky owners (and their neighbors) are all too familiar with the sound of a howling Husky next door. Not only is a loud howl disturbing to those within earshot, but it can also lead to other dogs howling too. Dogs are, after all, pack animals.
Huskies are believed to be closely related to the wolf, the common ancestor of all dogs. With their sharp, triangular ears, distinct coat markings, and pointed noses, it’s easy to see the wolf ancestor in today’s Husky dog.
But, for many owners, what starts off as cute “talking”, whining, or howling, can quickly turn into a nuisance, especially if you live in an apartment and neighbors are close by.
The reasons why a husky might howl is a complicated one. Some howl when they hear sirens, others howl when they’re excited, nervous, or anxious, and still, others howl when they want to get their owners’ attention at dinner time. Each dog presents a unique situation and set of circumstances.
To discover a few of the most common reasons why huskies howl, and what you can do about it, read on.
Check this out: Can Huskies Live in Hot Weather? 7 Tips to Keep Them Cool
What Causes Huskies to Howl?
Huskies howl to communicate with their owners, other dogs (or their pack), and the rest of the world. And that’s completely normal: all dogs communicate. But, you may wonder, why doesn’t my Husky just bark, like a normal dog?
Howling is an especially effective way for wolves (and dogs) to communicate. For starters, a howl can be heard over long distances and is less likely to echo. Barks, on the other hand, will not travel as far.
In your Husky’s mind, he isn’t being loud by howling, he’s just communicating the best way he knows how – he’s being an efficient communicator. As dog owners, however, we don’t always see eye-to-eye with our Huskies when they howl.
Huskies begin howling at a young age. Some Husky puppies even begin howling as young as 7-8 weeks old. If you have a Husky puppy, you can get a head start on training and correct the behavior before it gets out of hand.
No matter your dog’s age, you can train your Husky to limit their howling by following the below tips.
How to Stop Your Husky from Howling
Because Huskies are so hardwired to howl, getting a Husky to stop howling can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Before you begin retraining your husky to stop howling, check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is not experiencing a medical condition that results in him vocalizing more. Dogs experiencing pain or distress will often vocalize to alert their owner that something isn’t right.
If your dog is in distress, seek medical attention immediately.
Pinpoint the reason behind the behavior
To understand what is causing your Husky to howl, it helps to keep track of all the instances that cause them to vocalize. Ask yourself, does my husky howl:
- Only at police, ambulance, or fire truck sirens?
- Around dinner time?
- When it’s feeling excited?
- When it’s feeling anxious or nervous?
- When it wants attention?
- When they have excessive energy?
- When it hears other dogs howl?
Once you pinpoint situations where your Husky howls, you can better correct the problem.
For example, if you’re a few minutes late feeding your dog on their 5 pm dinner schedule, do they howl for the food they want? Or, if you’re preoccupied with something else, and your Husky feels left out, or a little jealous that something or someone, else is taking your attention, do they start to howl?
Make sure your husky is getting enough exercise
Many Husky owners will tell you that if they don’t exercise their dogs enough, say, they skip a walk or two, they notice an increase in howling.
The same way that any high-energy, working dog will try to tire itself out by chewing things they aren’t supposed to, or running circles around the living room to wear themselves out, a Husky might vocalize a little more than usual. Think of it like a kid who has consumed too much sugar; they’re just a little too excitable.
Working dogs require at least two, thirty-minute walks a day, in addition to playtime at home. If your husky’s basic physical exercise needs aren’t being met, they may howl more. Don’t forget, your Husky dog was bred to be a high endurance athlete.
Their main job was to pull a heavy sled across the ice. Even though Huskies pull as a team, that takes a lot of energy.
To see if your dog just needs more daily exercise to stop their howling, try increasing the length of their walks by fifteen or twenty minutes, or try taking them to the dog park a few times a week.
Adding brain-teasing toys like treat puzzle boxes or peanut butter-filled Kongs to their daily routine is also a good idea.
The solution to your Husky’s howling may be as easy as giving them an outlet for all that Husky energy.
You may also be interested in: Husky Throwing Up? 6 Reasons Why (and How to Help)
Avoid encouraging behavior
You may be unwittingly encouraging your Husky to howl by giving him attention when he does so.
If you hop on YouTube, there are thousands and thousands of videos of Huskies howling. And those owners may think it’s pretty cute when their dog starts howling and “talking” to them.
But, for owners that do not want their Huskies to howl at every opportune moment, giving them attention (by videoing and laughing at them when they howl), unintentionally encourages them to continue the behavior.
It’s easy for a Husky to see that we’re having a good time videoing them as they howl at that police siren. If you seem to enjoy your Husky howling in some situations, but not others, your Husky won’t understand when you discipline him.
Let’s look at another example: if your dog whines, howls, or begins demanding your attention right before dinner time, do not give in and feed them early. This will teach the Husky that by vocalizing, he gets what he wants.
If you’ve ever heard the saying, “dogs train people, people don’t train dogs,” this is a perfect example. Your Husky has learned that by howling, you will do what he wants.
Short Doggie Timeouts
Dogs love being with their owners. So putting your dog in a short “timeout” is a meaningful, easy-to-implement way to discourage bad behavior.
For this deterrent, you will need a bedroom or dog pen. Do not use a room like a small, dark closet. This type of small, dark, confined place could frighten your dog. You will also want to avoid using your dog’s crate as a form of punishment.
Your dog’s crate should always be a welcoming, safe place that they enjoy going to, not a place they associate with being in trouble.
How to use time outs effectively with your dog
When your Husky begins howling, first try ignoring the behavior by going to another room. If, after you leave the room, he continues howling, say something like, “too bad”, or “no-no”.
From here, place him in the bedroom or dog pen, and leave the area for a minute or two. If he continues howling, ignore him. Once the howling stops for about 10-20 seconds, let him back out.
Do not leave him alone for more than a few minutes. Dogs have shorter attention spans than us and he will not see the connection between him being alone in the room and his howling.
Reinforce positive behavior
Positive reinforcement works wonders with dogs, and reinforcing positive behavior when training your Husky to stop howling is a great tool.
Here’s an example of an easy way to use positive reinforcement to change a dog’s behavior.
Your Husky howls and jumps with excitement when you come home from work.
After you enter the home, turn your back on the dog and ignore them. Once your dog calms down (all four paws are on the floor, and there’s no howling.), reward your dog.
It won’t take long for your Husky to understand that a calm greeting, instead of the excited one, is the one that gets them praise, treats, and attention.
It may even help to keep a small bag of treats with you when you enter your home, so you can positively reward your Husky for their polite greeting
Repeat this behavior whenever you come home.
To be sure, Huskies love howling like their wolf cousins. But once you understand the reason your Husky howls, you can immediately begin working with them to limit the behavior.
The most important thing to remember when trying to train your Husky not to howl, or any dog, for that matter, is consistency. Dogs respond to repetition and consistency. This helps the dog understand what is expected of him.
If all else fails, try enlisting the help of a professional trainer.