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Can I stop the howling?

Dog Dancer
July 14th, 2005, 01:54 PM
Just a question, Halo (my 4 yr LabX) howls at ambulances and fire trucks. She will generally stop once they pass. However, if I leave her outside on the upper deck with Shadow (my 8 yr AkitaX who has separation anxiety) they howl together and that makes the howling go on much longer as they seem to feed off of each other once the siren is gone. Our yard is well fenced and locked and the dogs are left on an upper outdoor patio that is also locked when we are not home. They are left outside due to Shadow's anxiety issues (she's claustrophobic so can't be crated and when left inside will tear the doors apart to get out). If we're home Shadow doesn't too often get into the howling, for her I think it's a stress thing when we're out and she starts up with Halo. I don't know how to approach this. I do try to distract Halo from howling when we are home so that she would hopefully learn that it's not a good reaction to the noise, but when we're not home she goes full tilt. I read a book by Stanley Coren who said howling at sirens is their way of answering what to them is another animal and often can't be trained out. Ideas please??? I know probably desensatization would be a suggestion, but honestly, we have so many sirens in our neighbourhood we get lots of practice!! I don't want the neighbours to get annoyed with us, so we don't leave them out too often.

July 14th, 2005, 02:21 PM
They're better safe INSIDE then out and so are you.

Do you have a room you can board them off in that wont' require any or much damage control IE kitchen area?

Dog Dancer
July 14th, 2005, 02:40 PM
Hi Prin, thanks for responding. Unfortunately Shadow can't be left inside alone. We've had her since she was 9 wks and her destructive behavior started at about a year. We worked with a behaviorist for a bit with little success - setting her up by coming and going and such didn't work with her she is just too smart and figures it out immediately. I have had her in doggy daycare for five years now during the day when nobody is home. But the damage she inflicts in the house is simply not something you can deal with on a regular basis - blinds torn down, window frames torn off, dry wall removed to the studs, linoleum lifted, door handles eaten off - she has also tried getting out a second floor window :eek: She's very focused. BF didn't believe me until she did it at his house last New Year's Eve (yeah Happy New Year... :eek: ). We even tried sedating her to crate her and it didn't work (she was crated as a puppy but not too much just because we really didn't need to). She's a handful and we simply deal with her because we love her to death. Halo prefers to be outside and as I said they are very secure and not in an area that people can easily get to them when they are out (I read the recent post about poisoning). The noise is my biggest concern. I would love to leave them inside, but for Shadow it's just not an option at all. I know they'd be better off there but no can do... As I said though, fortunately they're not out there too much, mostly if we need to go out for dinner or something. So I'm not trying to ignore advice, just wondering if there are any novel ideas out there. They do shut up if the neighbours holler at them and fortunately most of the neighbours have barky dogs too. So we've told the neighbours to go ahead and tell them to be quiet hoping it will help them to realize it's unacceptable behavior.

Dog Dancer
July 14th, 2005, 04:04 PM
Sorry Luba, lost my train of thought and called you Prin. DUH... But thanks again to you!! :o

July 14th, 2005, 04:19 PM
S'okay :D

So destructo huh! Well have you tried doing the leave them alone for five minute intervals at at time then gradually get up to 15/30mins and so on?

Rewards and praises when u come home and no big deal when u leave?

Especially great if when u come back you go for a little walk or play ball or something. But the short intervals seem to work really really good but it has to be consistent.

July 14th, 2005, 04:59 PM
Most of the dogs I've ever had howled at sirens - especially the coyote! :p In fact, you could get her to howl by making this really sick noise - I could never do it, but I have my hubby and Sheena on tape doing their duet! I think it was worse to listen to the corgi x try to howl. Since she learned from Sheena, she tried to sound like a coyote and ended up sounding like a dying cow!! :D I thought that the reason dogs howled at sirens was because of the pitch of the sirens themselves and that it was pretty much involuntary?

I think that most people realize dogs howling at sirens is an involuntary response and don't think much about it. All of my dogs would normally howl for a few more seconds after the siren was out of hearing range, but then would quit. I would be more annoyed by a dog that barked continually.

Dog Dancer
July 14th, 2005, 05:04 PM
We did try the 5 minute things and such and she was so onto us. We would even take the car out so she'd hear us leave. Destructo to the max, three times in the past maybe five years she has torn down walls that exposed metal or nails and cut her paws to shreds but kept on anyhow even though she was bleeding everywhere. My poor girl - I know her howling is stress release. The daycare thing actually really helped - she is not great with other dogs either and at the daycare she has to deal with many stress issues. After being in daycare we actually had her up to about 5 hours that we could leave her in the house alone (well with Halo) with no damage. I think daycare helped her learn to deal with stress. But she melted down on NY Eve as I mentioned and destroyed BF's back door (metal door with a window and she tore it to pieces - bent the metal door and all :evil: ). The last two times she's melted down were when her daycare was closed and her routine was changed on her - so I think that had a lot to do with it. Anyhow, that's sweet Shadow's anxiety issue - as I said we just deal with it. Sometimes I bring her to work with me if DCare is closed and she just lays under my desk and nobody believes she the "home wrecker". :rolleyes:

When Halo gets noisy howling while we're home I distract her with a treat and make her sit and shake a paw for her treat - that really helps to stop her before the action starts - so I figure if I keep working that angle she may learn eventually not to howl when she's alone. Shadow won't start the howling, that's Halo's job. Thanks for your input Luba - you're great.

Dog Dancer
July 14th, 2005, 05:08 PM
Hi Kandy, I thought is was the pitch too and don't know if it's that theythink it's a howl (per Stanley Coren) or if it's the noise, but they do it. If they would just stop when it stopped (which Halo normally does) that would be good, but once Shadow joins in, as I said, they seem to go on much, much longer. I worry the neighbours will get annoyed eventually. I just posted to Luba too that I am trying to work with Halo when I'm home and guess the neighbours will just have to tell them to stop when we're not around :o