Teach howl and growl to a dog who doesn't exhibit the behavior naturally


New Member
DISCLAIMER: I am not Michael Vick, nor am I attempting to encourage dog-aggressive or person-aggressive behavior.

I've wanted to teach these for a while, and I'm even more intrigued since there seem to be few useful online resources. These tricks can be a challenge since they don't lend themselves to luring the same way 'sit', 'roll-over', etc., do.

Also, my dog does not currently exhibit howl or growl with any regularity, so it's not simply a matter of reinforcing a behavior he already does on his own. His natural noise-making tended toward soft whimpering (e.g., when he wants to go out) or squeaking (e.g., when he's excited because he sees his "girlfriend" coming down the sidewalk).

It took me 2 weeks just to teach "speak" (i.e., a proper, manly bark).

When he's VERY excited, he does a hound-like bark-howl, but that occurs only when I first get home from work and quickly subsides.

FYI - He's a 1-year-old intact male Yorkie/Shih Tzu mix.

For the howl, I've tried:

1) Harmonica - for the most part, he ignores it completely. My neighbors, on the other hand, do not.
2) Trumpet - this sends him running to the far corner of the apartment, but he doesn't react vocally.
3) Howling myself - he seems to think I'm in distress (as though I'm whimpering), and he comes running and licks my face. But again, no vocalization. And again, the neighbors are not thrilled.

For the growl, I've tried:

1) Tug 'o war - Some dogs get into this and growl, but not mine.
2) Wearing a wig and sunglasses - It doesn't work when I do it, but he chased my former roommate (who was dressed as Slash, for those of you who were wondering) out of the apartment on Halloween.
3) Youtube - He's vaguely interested but doesn't vocalize.
4) Growling myself - He submits by lying on his back. It's cool, but it's not the behavior I'm going for.

I've considered borrowing my dog's mom from my former roommates hoping that it can help impart the desired behavior to my dog. She is the undisputed pack alpha (she even pees by lifting her leg, and she acts like she's scent-marking), and she growls like a champ on cue (she does it naturally, no training required). Of course, she also dominates the other pack members on cue ("Get him!"), although we didn't train that, either. She always just responded immediately to the tone of voice. She rarely howls, but we can get her to do it if we hide in the bathroom, close the door, and howl ourselves.

Does anyone have any ideas on how to proceed? There a great Youtube video of Omar Muller's wolf-hybrid growling/snarling, but there's a dearth of online instructions. And currently, I'm stumped!


Jean Cote

Staff member
Have you tried putting your dog in a room, closing the door and howl from the other side? This might generate a better response since he cannot come to you and lick you.

Another option would be to google an audio clip of wolves howling and playing it, see if it generates any response from your dog.

Some does howl naturally, especially snow dogs, but since I have never heard a Yorkshire or a Shih Tzu howl, I can't really advise much more on this, sorry!


New Member
I've tried playing youtube clips of everything from Alaskan Huskies to Yorkshire Terriers howling, but to no avail. I tried howling from the other side of a door, which worked for his mom, but it didn't work for him (I used the same technique to try to get him to speak/bark, with only slightly more success). And for the last 20 minutes, there have been loud fire truck sirens outside our apartment, and I tried howling along, but the best I got was a bark.

My dog's mom would howl, and there are plenty of youtube vids of yorkies and shih tzu's howling, so the capability is certainly there. My dog is just not prone to it, I guess.

I'm planning to work on his hound-like bark-howl first. If I can get him to do that on command, it should be easier to segue to an all-out howl. Then I'll work on growling.

Professional trainers do this sort of thing with movie dogs of every breed; anyone have any ideas how they do it? Or other options to try? I'm thinking about getting a dog whistle or some other super-high-pitched sound to see if that triggers a response.

I'll keep you posted.


New Member
After I posted the last reply, I downloaded the high-pitched ringtone that adults supposedly can't hear (I'm 32 and can still hear it fine, though). It piqued my dog's interest and his ears definitely tuned in, but I couldn't get him to howl. I also tried one of the many so-called "hearing tests" on youtube (ranging to 18kHz) because many people have suggested that high pitched noises can get dogs to respond with a howl. But not mine. My hearing appears to be in tip-top shape, though.

I also played the howling sounds from Wolf Park, which elicited the best response to date. If I held a treat and howled along with the wolves, my dog would whimper/whine, which might move him in the right direction if I keep at it. But maybe not.