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Help. . . howling dog in the dog park!

Quick background. Black & Tan coonhound rescue of 1 year (~4 year old dog). Sweet as a can be, humans, dogs and cats. Loves people, loves dogs, ignores cats. When we drive to the off-leash dog park, she begins howling in delight. With other dogs, she non-stop howls. Chasing, standing, you name it. Not aggressive, just loud. Most people and all dogs just adapt and laugh, no raised hair, no aggressive nipping, just "would you please stop lady (or turn the volume down)". Occasionally, owners lose their patience and abruptly ask if "could you control your dog?".

Honestly, would love to control her, but just as honestly, don't know how to. Have thought about a shock collar, but she's just playing. . . nothing aggressive. Appropriate (I think) dog behavior. A shock collar may stop the interaction and do nothing for the howling. Humans don't always tolerate, if I have a chance to explain, they observe and agree. I tell them, if they think it is upsetting to their animal I will leave. Always the dogs work it out. Only owners that I do not get that chance they sometimes lose their patience.

The shock collar may simply keep her from playing and not stop the howling at all. In the house, she's silent, except when excited (with guests) and howls in delight. That "happy howl". (As I said she howls in delight when we drive up in the truck and she simply see's the off leash dog park). Howls, at a friendly stranger, or a dog she wants to meet, the local school bus driver that gives her treats.

She loves the dog park, almost all dogs adapt and enjoy the play/chase. Humans not so much. Looking for ideas, as she needs and loves the exercise.

Thanks for helping a newbie. :)
 

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One of the crowd favorites at our Agilitiy trials is a Hound. She loves to stand and howl before she does some of the obstacles or when she is on top of the
a-frame. Never had anyone complain about the noise.
 

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My Deerhound used to sit in the garden and howl every Monday evening when the local church had bell ringing practice, she loved it. The neighbours thought it was funny, one of them tried to get her Labrador to do the same. No one ever complained.

The dog park is for the benefit of dogs, not owners. If the dogs don't object I don't see why you should have to leave just to please a couple of miserable owners. Some people will moan about anything, if it wasn't your happy dog they would find something else. Stand your ground and let your dog enjoy herself.
 

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You could easily teach your happy howler dog a shhhhh cue. And a speak cue. I teach my dogs using my sign of putting my finger up to my mouth while politely saying shhhhh. Not mean or harsh at all.

I just taught a sweet super hyper 5 month old lil chihuahua the same. I first taught him to speak or bark on cue using food and praise as rewards. Then when he would randomly bark trying to get the treats, I would ask for a shhhhh. He learned very quickly that shhhhh was just as rewarding as speaking (or barking) on cue! Fun game for all.

Maybe let your dog howl for fun for a bit at the park, then ask for a shhh if you feel this is a better choice for that moment. Good thing to practice for other occasions, too!

Some people are sensitive to barking, howling, noisy doggies. When I am with my Mom and one of my dogs bark suddenly, Mom will be instantly telling my dog to be quiet. I have to tell her it is ok if my dog barks once or twice to let me know she sees or hears something. No big deal. Dogs bark like that to communicate. But to Mom, one bark is too many. She is mostly a cat person, not a dog person:)
 

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It is pretty hard to teach a Hound which has been bred for generations to howl so the hunters can follow it, to not howl. I know it can be done but will take a lot of work and if you are all right with it, I don't think you need to do it just to satisfy other people. What about all the barking dogs at the park? Are they not suppose to bark too?
 

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@Ida, since you were originally asking about how to control your dog's howling, I found an article online that basically uses the same method I wrote about where you cue the howl and the quiet/no howl.

My intent is NOT in offering any opinion about the dog park howling, that is obviously for you to decide. Rather just offering you some good positive reinforcement training info in case you want to do the howl/no howl training.

And definitely a good idea to NOT use any shock collars at the dog park at all. A dog may start to associate the shock/buzzer/whatever wrongly and begin to have negative associations with other dogs!
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Is it possible to voice train a coon hound puppy not to howl?


https://www.quora.com/Is-it-possible-to-voice-train-a-coon-hound-puppy-not-to-howl
Eithne Rosdhu, Perpetual Student and Dog Trainer

You ask “Is it possible to voice train a coon hound puppy not to howl?”

No and yes. Or perhaps it is yes and no.

Coon hounds have been bred for quite a long time for voice. If you think about it, it’s pretty unnatural for a predator to deliberately make noise while hunting. Hunting can be hard enough without giving the prey advance warning. When humans want dogs to do the parts of locating, stalking, chasing and holding the prey at bay, though, it is way easier to follow a dog or pack of dogs that is making a lot of noise. Through some combination of random genetic mutation and selective breeding, humans solved the problem.

Plus, coon hounds often have a glorious voice, melodic, full, very pleasing to the ear to some people. Even were it possible, it would be sad never to hear it.

So in teaching a coon hound not to howl, you are always going to be working against instinct. That means that the day you stop training is the day your coon hound will start drifting back to giving voice. You can read more about the role of instinct as it relates to animal training in “The Misbehavior of Organisms”:

Classics in the History of Psychology -- Breland & Breland (1961)

What to do, what to do? Most people don’t live in a situation where the sound of a dog that can howl melodically but loudly enough to be heard up to a mile away is always appropriate. With the way most people live, there are times when it is okay and times when it is not okay. And that’s the key: show the coon hound when it is okay to howl and actually encourage the howling at those times (even join in—sometimes it is quite therapeutic to let loose one’s inner coon hound!) and teach the coon hound when to wait for your signal to howl.

There is an underlying training principle at work with this strategy: it is always easier to teach a dog “not now” than it is to teach them “never.”


Figure out what sort of treat the puppy loves. Keep in mind that if you look at the price per ounce of commercial treats, they’re often more expensive than filet (and not nearly as good for your dog). Treats should be relatively small, a taste rather than a meal. For a dog about the size of an adult coon hound, about the size of a raisin is good (but not raisins! they can trigger kidney failure in dogs). For a coon hound puppy, about half that size. Things like bits of roasted chicken, cheese, deli meat, peanut butter, cream cheese, canned spray cheeze (show your puppy the way it comes out of the nozzle from a couple feet away at first so you don’t startle your puppy; the overwhelming majority of dogs get to the point where they want to suck it directly out of the tube), strained baby food meat are things that most dogs enjoy but you have to figure out what your individual puppy likes.

So, start out with figuring out what triggers the puppy to howl. Fairly reliable triggers may include howling yourself, playing a recording of a dog howling or emergency vehicle sirens or playing on a harmonica. Trigger the puppy to howl and while the puppy is howling, use whatever word or hand gesture you want to act as the signal for howling. I’ve always used “let’s sing” but you can use anything. Just pick one signal and be consistent with it.

Then stop the howl. Use a different word or hand gesture to signal “time for quiet now.” Again, you can use anything but pick one thing and use it consistently. I use “hush.” Then give your puppy a good reason to be quiet by strewing a couple treats on the floor. Most dogs howl with their eyes open but for those who squinch their eyes shut when howling, waft the treats right past the puppy’s nose to catch their attention. If you are using something like peanut butter, cream cheese or strained baby food meat, scoop a little on a spoon or fork and hold it directly in front of the puppy’s nose.

Using goopy or sticky treats often helps when stopping vocalisation because a dog that is trying to manoeuvre gunk around their teeth is a dog that can’t be vocalising.

Pair the howl and hush with the respective signals for at least a week by eliciting the howl or the hush and then naming it. You want that puppy to form a firm association with howling or hushing with your signals. Resist the urge to use the signals before the puppy shows the behaviour for at least a week.

After that first week, every now and then, use the signal before the puppy howls. Have your back up trigger ready (whatever you used to elicit the howl in the first place, like the recording or your own howl). Give the signal, wait a beat, then elicit the howl. Pretty soon, your puppy will figure out that when you give the signal, the next thing you will do will make them want to howl, so they’ll just shortcut from signal to howl or hush.

Your puppy will be apt to do at least some unauthorised howling from time to time. Keep treats handy, use your signal for quiet and use the treats to stop the howling. Continue to use the treats to stop howling for as long as you can. Several months is not too long and neither is the entire lifetime of the dog. But given that life is what happens when we have other plans, there will come a day when your dog is howling and you don’t have your treats on you. Signal for quiet and then make a big, sincere fuss over your dog, petting, scritching and telling them with sincerity in your voice how much you appreciate that they stopped howling.

Dogs that live with people can be powerfully motivated with verbal praise but sincerity is the key; very few dogs are motivated by a rote sounding “good boy/girl.” Very few humans, for that matter. Unless you are in the moment (rather than thinking about the next thing on your to-do list, etc) and projecting genuine warmth, appreciation and gratitude through your voice, verbal praise is likely to be of little motivating value to your dog. Treats are what humans can use to bridge that gap between sincere approval and being distracted by non-dog concerns.

For the rest of your puppy’s life, if you want to keep the howling under control you will need to have regular howling sessions to alleviate the pressure of that instinct. The puppy needs a regular outlet but you can choose the time and place for howling. With some coon hounds, you will need to have at least one (or even two) howl sessions a day. Other coon hounds can be happy with every other day or just a couple times a week. You just have to do a little experimenting to figure this out about your particular puppy.
 
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