Howling can be quite an annoying behavior when it’s done too often. And you likely want to know why your schnauzer is howling to either stop or reduce the behavior. Unfortunately, you may have unknowingly trained your schnauzer to excessively howl.
Why Do Schnauzers Howl:
Schnauzers were bred to hunt and be guard dogs, so they have a natural desire to howl to warn bypassers not to come near their territory, or to let their pack know prey has been found. They may also howl for attention, they feel anxious, or because they’re hurt.
In this post you’ll discover the 7 most common reasons why your schnauzer is howling, when their howling can become worrisome, as well as 4 helpful tips to reduce or even stop their howling altogether.
Tip #3 is the least known but extremely effective.
Let’s jump right in.
Top 7 Reasons Why Schnauzers Howl
1) They Want Attention
Dogs will do just about anything to get their owners attention, and howling is certainly no exception.
Your schnauzers loud piercing howl likely always brings you to them in an attempt to get them to stop.
Unfortunately, this only reinforces the behavior because regardless of if it’s positive or negative attention, they got your attention.
If you notice your pup is howling a lot, they may have learned that it gets them your attention.
The best thing to do is only reward them with your attention (and treats) when they’re being quiet.
This is much easier said than done because you might be worried about the howling bothering your neighbors.
It’s likely also quite bothersome for you and the rest of your family.
But if you wait until they stop howling, then give them the attention they want, this will encourage quiet behavior.
Also, giving them attention and treats randomly when they’re being quiet will show them quiet behavior is what will get your attention, and not howling.
2) They’re Scared/Anxious
Sometimes your schnauzer can become so attached to you that they get extremely sad when you leave which makes them howl uncontrollably.
If your pup has separation anxiety you’ll likely notice their howling mostly, if not always, takes place when you’re away.
When you’re home they’ll be quiet because their anxious feelings are gone.
A study done in 2013 looked at wolves and examined their cortisol levels while howling for different reasons.
Interestingly, they came to the conclusion that a wolf would howl more because of the quality of their relationship with the wolf they’ve been separated from rather than emotional stress.
Which sounds like two sides of the same coin. But it let the researchers know that howling because of separation from a loved one was also about the strength of the relationship and not solely emotional dependence.
If you feel their reason for howling is because of extreme anxiety you’ll also notice them going to the bathroom inside, have destructive behaviors, constantly pacing, or even harming themselves (such as excessive licking).
If this is the case it’s important to help them get over their separation anxiety and not scold them.
This can take quite a bit of time and patience and might be worth hiring a behavior specialist to help you.
3) They’re Cheering
Much like how people cheer when their favorite sports team wins or their kids accomplish something they’re proud of, your schnauzer may howl as a form of cheering.
You may notice more howling for cheering more than other breeds because of your schnauzer’s instincts.
Since schnauzers were bred to be hunting and guarding dogs, they were trained to mimic their ancestors behavior.
Which means when they corner prey, they’ll howl as a form of cheering because they know they won’t go another day starving for food.
Your pup may not be a hunter, but whenever they discover something they are excited about, they may howl as a response.
If you usually find something in front of your schnauzer when they’re howling in the backyard or in your home, they’re likely celebrating.
4) They’re Hurt
If your schnauzer is normally a quiet pup, and all of a sudden they’ve started howling a lot, they might be injured.
Howling in this instance is acting as a cry for help.
Just like when people get hurt and cry, your schnauzer may be howling to vocalize pain.
If howling is rather unusual behavior for your pup it’s a good idea to take them to the vet.
This way you can rule out an injury or illness or get them the treatment they need to recover.
5) “I’m Over Here!”
There are two reasons why your schnauzers wolf ancestors would howl to let their pack know where they are.
When it was time to leave the den and search for food, one wolf would stay home to help the others find their way back.
Occasionally the wolf that stayed home would howl to communicate with the other wolves which way they needed to go to get back home.
So howling in this instance is a way for the wolves to help find one another.
And if your schnauzer seems to always howl as you pull in the driveway and walk up to your front door.
They may be howling to let you know where they are to help you get home safely.
How considerate of them!
Another way your schnauzer might howl to let others know where they are is if they’re entering an unfamiliar place.
This lets the other dogs know that they’re coming and not to be startled when they get close.
They want to let the surrounding dogs know that their environment is about to change because of their presence.
If they didn’t howl it could be seen as a form of aggression because they’d be sneaking into another territory.
So in this case you may notice your schnauzer howl before entering your home, or before going into the dog park.
They want to let others know of their upcoming arrival to not startle them and let them know there’s nothing to worry about.
6) They’re Letting Others Know To Stay Away
On the flip side, your schnauzer could also be letting other dogs or people to stay away.
Howling in this case is used to let other dogs know that this territory is claimed, and they don’t want any visitors.
This was useful for your pups’ ancestors as potential predators would be warned by a group of howling wolves that they shouldn’t come any closer.
Your schnauzer may feel compelled to howl more than usual for this reason because they were bred partially to be guard dogs.
Now if your schnauzer isn’t a guard dog and is simply a family pet, they may not be completely aware that they don’t need to have their guard up.
But if you notice they howl quite frequently at bypassers, they could be howling to signal them to stay away from their home.
If this is the case for your pup and you’d like to reduce this type of howling, limiting what they can see is your best bet.
This means not letting them look out windows or see who/what’s going on outside for them to feel protective and wanting to howl.
7) They’re Ready For Action
If a fire truck or ambulance has ever driven by your house with their sirens on, you likely noticed your schnauzer starts to howl.
It can also happen when they hear loud music, or when another dog is howling of course.
Howling in this instance is your schnauzer letting the other animal making the sound know they’re ready and willing to join in on the action.
This may sound silly for a siren or loud music, but to them it’s another animal letting your pup know where they are.
So naturally, they want to acknowledge that they hear the sound and are ready for action.
You can likely get your pup to howl if you start howling as well.
They’re 100% ready to join you in whatever you have in mind.
Top 4 Tips To Stop/Reduce Your Schnauzer’s Howling
1) Ignore Them
This will take a lot of patience, but is essential to training howling out of your schnauzer.
If every time they start howling, you go to them and either yell at them to stop or pet them, they’re getting what they want. Your attention.
They’re not super concerned whether it’s positive or negative attention. They simply want you to interact with them.
And if every time they howl, you interact with them in some way, they’ll continue to howl.
The best thing to do, which isn’t easy, is to ignore them entirely.
This will likely mean they howl for longer periods…
Because they’re used to you coming to them when they howl.
But eventually when you stop coming or interacting with them when they howl, and instead give them love and attention when they’re quiet.
They’ll learn that being quiet gets them what they want.
And so you should see their howling stop altogether or at least become less of a problem.
2) Spend More Time With Them
If you notice your schnauzer is howling more than usual, they might simply be lonely.
You might be working more often lately. Or your work schedule has recently changed which means less time for your pup.
These can both be reasons that your loving pup is feeling more lonely than usual and maybe even neglected.
In which case their howling is from sadness.
There’s not much you can do about your work schedule, but when you are home you can make some adjustments to make them feel better.
Spending more quality time either playing fetch in your backyard, going on fun adventures like hikes or longer walks, or increasing play time in general.
Your pup only wants two things in this world, food and time with their beloved owner.
If you spend more quality time with them this could help reduce or stop their howling.
3) Desensitize Them
This one can be tricky because you need to know what trigger is causing your schnauzer to howl. But, it’s very effective once you know the trigger.
Pets WebMD says that desensitizing and counterconditioning is often also used for more serious emotional triggers like fear, anxiety or aggression.
The goal is to expose your pup to a certain trigger in a controled environment and help them change how they feel about the trigger.
For instance if your pup howls excessively when you leave the house, work on desentizing them to this experience.
How you can do this is by 1, not making your departure a big deal, and 2, not making it obvious you’re leaving.
If you make a big deal everytime you leave by giving your pup lots of attention right before you go, this builds up their negative emotions that you’re about to leave.
Instead, if you simply leave without making a big deal about it, your pup won’t have as much time to get themselves worked up about you leaving.
As for number 2, you likely do the exact same thing every time you’re about to leave the house (unknowingly). But your schnauzer has picked up on your patterns.
If instead you put your jacket on then sat on the couch or did the dishes. Or grabbed your keys and then did laundry. This would confuse your pup and break the pattern.
They would then never truly be certain about when you’re leaving which again wouldn’t allow them to get worked up about your leaving.
4) Get Help From a Professional
Sometimes certain behaviors, like howling, have become so rooted in your schnauzer that no matter what you try, nothing seems to stop it.
If this is the case, it might be worth consulting with a behavioral specialist to get help in curbing the behavior.
They may find a trigger that you weren’t able to notice and will likely have a solution that you can work on.
If you contact the right person, they’ve dealt with dozens or even 100s of different dogs and circumstances which means they’ll be able to find a solution much quicker than if you were to wing it.
Other posts you might find interesting: