Border Collies are known for their intelligence and perception skills but they’re also a noisy breed. They commonly howl on their own but you can also teach them to howl on command.
The easiest way to teach your collie to howl is to howl along with them. Collies have an innate understanding to howl when they hear you howling, and if you use a command like “speak” or “howl” combined with positive reinforcement of their howling behavior they will quickly learn to howl on command.
By using a command word when they howl naturally and offering rewards for it, they’ll quickly associate howling on command with treats.
In this article we’ll go over the step-by-step process for teaching your collie to howl, so your collie can howl along with you.
How to Teach your Border Collie to Howl
1. Howl Along with Them
It might sound strange but making some kind of attempt to howl with them can help them find their voice alongside yours. Border Collies are very perceptive so doing this is another way to tell them it’s okay to make that noise.
Every time they howl naturally, you should howl with them! Or at least attempt to howl as well to teach them it’s okay to make the loud noise. This is especially true for dogs who are a little unsure about making that much noise.
Border Collies howl for different reasons such as to attract attention or to interact with you so interacting with them helps to encourage the behavior.
2. Play Videos of other Dogs Howling
Your Border Collie might only want to howl along with other dogs. The best way to train a dog like this is to use YouTube videos. There are many videos online of dogs howling and of wolves howling too. Both of those are great options!
Don’t be surprised if it takes a few videos to find one that works. Border Collies can be very specific when it comes to what makes them howl. They might not respond to a terrier howling but they might respond to a bloodhound!
If your collie is howling along with you already, this step won’t be necessary.
3. Add a Verbal “Howl” Command
Every time your dog howls, use the verbal command to tell them what the action is then reward them for it. Eventually, your collie will associate the act of howling with this command.
You could use any command word you like such as “Howl”, “Cry” or “Speak”.
Once you’ve decided on the word, make sure you keep it consistent! Changing the word will confuse your dog and make training much more difficult. Also, pay attention to your hand movements to ensure you don’t accidentally teach them a hand signal for it too.
4. Reward them for Howling
Each time they howl naturally, reward them for it. Treats and rewards are a good way to train any dog for any trick or command. Positive reinforcement is a necessary tool for teaching your Border Collie new tricks, commands and good behaviors in general.
When your Border Collie howls, reward them for the behavior with verbal praise and a treat if you have one at hand. This is best done during training time but if you notice they don’t howl during that time, you may need to reward them at any time.
Even if you don’t have their favorite treats on hand, they’ll happily take a biscuit as a reward instead. Rewarding them for their natural behavior is an easy way to teach them to keep doing that.
5. Don’t Chastise your Collie for Howling
If you want to help your dog find their voice, don’t scold them for howling while you’re training.
Chastising them will slow their progress and you will end up confusing your dog. Collies are highly intelligent and love to please, but they need consistent training to help them learn what you want them to do.
If you scold your collie for howling one minute, then praise them the next, it can upset them because they don’t understand what you want them to do.
If you want to teach your collie to be quiet, wait until you have already taught them to howl to avoid any confusion.
Should You Teach your Collie to Howl?
Howling is a natural behavior in dogs and is used to communicate, protect their territory, and warn the group of a potential threat, when they’re injured or distressed and when they’re sick or anxious.
Teaching your dog to howl is a fun bonding experience and is mostly thought of as a cute party trick. However, your dog can also start howling to warn you of incoming problems such as a burglar or dangerous person. They can also tell you if they’re in pain or distress by howling.
Howling does come with problems though. Border Collies are very vocal dogs and they love to communicate with you. The downside of this is that they can howl often and at bad times of the day once they’ve learned to howl. The best way to counter this would be to also teach them a command to stop howling.
What if my Border Collie won’t Howl?
Some dogs will naturally howl in certain conditions or when they hear certain things. Exploiting this and saying the command word such as “howl” makes training them much easier. Your dog may howl when they hear a high-pitched sound or when they hear another dog howling.
Pay close attention to them and their possible triggers. Whenever they howl, use the command word and reward them for it. If you’re not sure what their triggers are then you should test a few potentials. Videos are a great way to test different sounds such as sirens, high-pitched sounds, and harmonicas. You can also try singing loudly as some Border Collies will howl along with you.
Music can also be a howling trigger for some Border Collies. However, only certain genres or songs might make them want to howl! For some reason, the Law and Order theme song works for a lot of dogs.
Border Collies are typically vocal dogs though every dog is different. Your furry companion might not be the howling type and that’s okay. Getting angry with them won’t solve the problem because some dogs just don’t howl. Teaching them to “Speak” by barking on command instead might be a better option.
Conclusion – How To Teach Your Border Collie to Howl
How to teach your collie to howl:
- Howl along with your collie
- Play videos of other dogs howling
- Add a verbal “howl” or “speak” command
- Reward your collie for howling with a treat
- Practice often!
Once your collie has mastered this trick, they will be able to howl on command!