Why Does my German Shepherd Howl? (10 Common Reasons)

Ever wonder why your German Shepherd howls? A lot of people think that the dog is just being annoying or trying to get attention. But there are actually a few different reasons why German Shepherds howl, and understanding what they mean can help you better understand your furry friend.

Here’s The Short Answer to Why Your German Shepherd Howls:

Most often, the reason why your German shepherd howls is that it is instinctive. Just like their wolf ancestors, German Shepherds howl to identify each pack member, so they know who is friend and foe; essentially what territory they belong to; which one should not serve as a warning, etc. Other reasons that German Shepherds howl include: loneliness, boredom, injury, excitement, environmental factors (such as sirens), or seeking attention.

why does my german shepherd howl

Why Does My German Shepherd Howl?

In the following, we will go into further detail about each of these reasons and what to do about it.

1. Descendants of The Wolf

First, let’s get a little bit of background info out of the way and begin by explaining why dogs howl. Basically, the origin of German shepherd howling can be traced back to their wolf ancestors. This is because every dog has DNA from its wolf ancestors that date back to about 30,000 years ago.

One trait that wolves have is the ability to howl. As pack animals, wolves howl to communicate many different types of messages to one another. They use their howls for everything from identifying each other, warning each other, announcing hunts, and even ganging up on prey.

Just like their wolf ancestors, in domesticated dogs, howling may serve the same purpose as well. While modern dogs may not have a pack to identify as wolves do, they can still use their instinctual trait to their advantage by understanding why and when they do it so they can better communicate with you or other dogs.

2. Howling Due to Loneliness or Boredom

If your puppy or German shepherd is howling while you are away from home, it might be because they are lonely and need some attention. Dogs, just like humans, can get bored easily if there’s nothing to do while you’re gone.

Even worse, they can develop separation anxiety. Separation anxiety German Shepherds will act out in destructive and/or unusual behavior while you are away. This can include howling, barking, chewing, whining, and even urinating or defecating inside.

This is why puppies should be crate trained as early as possible. You want to make sure that this association is created from the beginning so that it becomes a quiet, safe place for them to go whenever they feel their anxiety begins to ramp up.

3. Howling to Communicate

In some cases, your German Shepherd’s howling is their way of communicating with other dogs. Think of it as like their “pack” within your neighborhood.

In other words, they are saying to other dogs in the area that this is my territory and here’s who I belong with. Your German shepherd might also use howling as a way of getting others’ attention if they are trying to communicate something important such as a warning or call for help.

4. Howling for Pain or Injury

Pain can be another reason for your German Shepherd to howl. This is actually a form of communication, just like if your dog barked or whined while trying to tell you what was wrong with them. This is especially true if your German shepherd has an injury or is experiencing pain from a condition like arthritis.

Unfortunately, howling because of pain might lead to inappropriate aggressive behavior towards you and/or other members of the household. This means that it’s important for you to know when your dog starts howling due to pain and take the appropriate actions by taking them to a licensed veterinarian for treatment.

5. Excitement

When feeling excited, content, or confused, howling can be a reason why German shepherds do it. The excitement may come from receiving attention or being given praise after performing a trick properly for the first time. This is likely the case if you catch your dog wagging their tail and showing other signs of excitement while they howl.

In some cases, excitement can also come from feeling uncomfortable or being curious about something they have never encountered before. This might cause them to howl hysterically to express their confusion and hysteria.

6. Responding to Environmental Factors (Sirens, Loud Noise)

Dog owners will sometimes notice that their dogs howl when they hear outside noises like the sirens of passing fire trucks or ambulances. In this situation, German Shepherd howling can signify a response to environmental factors.

If your dog is familiar with these sounds and you know they come with a certain set of circumstances, then they may howl to prepare themselves for what’s about to happen.

If, on the other hand, your German shepherd is unfamiliar with the sound and doesn’t understand why it is occurring or if the noise is loud enough to startle them, they might howl out of fear.

7. Hormonal Howling

When your dog hears other female dogs howling, their hormones might kick in to howl with them. This type of behavior is especially common among young dogs trying to attract a female dog in heat.

Although your dog may not intend to run away from home, the presence of a female in heat may be too tempting for him to resist. Therefore, it would be wise to strengthen your home in case your dog’s hormones get the better of them. For example, you could install a fence or gate around your home and/or make sure none of the gates have holes large enough for them to squeeze through.

8. Howling for Singing

Just like when some humans sing to music, dogs may also do this. If your dog seems to be in tune with the pop music you play or the sounds that come on the television, they may join in, and what better way to do it than by howling?

9. Howling Due to Stress or Anxiety

If you notice your German Shepherd is howling more frequently when there is an unfamiliar person or animal in the house, then there is a good chance that they are howling because of stress or anxiety.

In addition to seeing new people or pets, dogs can also experience anxiety from a number of situations, including visiting a vet, moving to a new house or room in the house, having their hair or nails trimmed, and getting groomed.

10. Some Breeds Are More Likely to Howl Than Others

While howling is common practice among dogs in general, some breeds are more likely to howl more frequently than others. Those who are more likely to howl include the German Shepherds, huskies, dachshunds, beagles, Alaskan malamutes, American Eskimo, basset hounds, bloodhounds, and others in the hunting and herding breed group.

Should You Be Concerned?

While occasional howling is normal, excessive howling is probably not. However, if your dog’s howls are so loud and frequent that they warrant your attention, then something may be wrong, and it would be best to find out what.

How To Make Your Dog Stop Howling?

Here are some tips to help you put an end to your dog’s excessive howling.

1. Isolate Your Dog From The Situation

To make your dog stop howling, you need to temporarily or permanently remove them from whatever situation they are experiencing and/or whatever is causing their stress or anxiety in the first place. Doing so will give them some relief and allow them to stop the howling.

2. Unchain Your Dog

Have you ever noticed a chained-up dog will often be more vocal than one who is free to roam? This is most likely because the dog feels trapped and lonely. In my opinion, you should never chain up your dog unless it’s really necessary.

Dogs that are chained up can suffer from serious physical issues because they’re at constant risk of getting tangled in the chain. Their paws can get cut to the point where they need an amputation. The bones in their limbs can be weakened and broken, and they’re also more prone to infections because of the wounds they’ve suffered.

3. Give Your Dog Some Attention

Howling is also a great way for a dog to attract attention, so if you have a really vocal dog, let it get some attention by doing good things. Take your German Shepherd out walking on a leash or play fetch with it in the backyard. Give it proper food and water along with plenty of exercise. Even just a simple act of sitting down next to them will make them feel a lot more loved and free, and therefore less lonely.

4. Study Your Dog’s Interaction With Other Dogs

If your dog howls more when they see another dog or female in heat, you may need to keep them separated from each other for a while until their hormones smooth out. This should calm your dog down and give them less reason to howl.

5. Train Your Dog the “Quiet” Command

The “Quiet” command will stop your dog from barking or howling when you don’t want then to be. Here’s how to train it.

The best way to train the “Quiet” command is to start by asking your dog to come and play with you. Once they start to howl, point your finger and say “quiet,” then give them their reward after a few seconds of silence or howling has passed. Keep repeating this process until the dog knows how to quiet down when they see the signal from you.

6. Consult with Your Vet

Be sure to consult with your vet if you think that there may be a medical reason behind your dog’s excessive howling. Your vet will be able to give you advice on treatments that are proven to work, and they can also dispense medications if a medical condition is the cause of your dog’s howling.

Related Questions

1. Is Dog Howling Good or Bad?

Howling is a natural behavior that strengthens the bond between you and your dog. It’s something dogs do when they feel lonely or when they need to communicate with other animals, such as wolves, who howl to locate each other in forests or fields. However, too much of it can be a nuisance to some people living close by.

2. What Does It Mean When Your Dog Howls At The Moon?

Howling at the moon is really a myth. Numerous scientific studies have tried to determine a connection between a full moon and its effect on wolves and dogs without much success.

The most likely reason why your dog howls at a full moon is that your dog wants to communicate with other dogs by howling at the sky to make their voice travel further, and at the same time, it just happens that the moon is full.

3. Does Dog Howling Mean Death?

Some people believe that if a dog howls at someone’s funeral, it means the death of the howler. However, despite numerous folklores and superstitions that associate dog howling with death, it has no scientific evidence to support the claim.