Do Belgian Malinois Howl? (And 7 Ways To Stop Them!)

Are you thinking about getting a Belgian Malinois pup as your furry companion? If you’re looking for a trainable and active dog, this breed is the right one for you. As a herding dog, Belgian Malinois is confident, intelligent, and hardworking.

But before getting your Mali pup, you must be aware of its vocal tendencies. Yes, Belgian Malinois are vocal creatures, and that might or might not fit your lifestyle. 

Why Do Belgian Malinois Howl? 

Yes, Belgian Malinois tends to howl loudly when a howling or barking stimuli is triggered.

As a herding breed, Belgian Malinois tend to be very communicative. While Mals are on herding duty, they communicate with their owners and other dogs by barking and howling. The tone and urgency of their howl or barks are determined by what is happening (danger, herding commands, etc.) Here are some of the reasons why a Belgian Malinois might suddenly go to a howling fit. 

1. A Sign Of Greeting

Belgian Malinois can be very protective of strangers and other dogs. But when a Mali is exposed to socialization early on, they actually enjoy other dogs and people’s companionship. They commonly show their excitement by barking a lot of howling in a “happy” or “friendly” tone. So if a family or friend visits, Belgian Malinois would literally make its “happy noises.” 

2. Danger Sense / Defensive Barking

If a Belgian Malinois senses danger, it will alert its owner by howling or barking excessively. Mals are herding dogs, and while on herding duty, they can only communicate by barking or howling.  The howling usually happens when a new, unfamiliar person approaches the Belgian Mal’s territory. It is to alert that there are other people or dogs nearby. 

3. Wanting Attention

Yes, Belgian Malinois would sometimes howl or bark unnecessarily when they want to catch their owner’s attention. So if a Mali starts making some noises without any apparent reason, it might just want to spend some time and play with the owner. This will likely happen when you leave your Mali for a long period without a companion or work to do. 

4. Illness

Unfortunately, a pained barking or howling might be a sign of illness. Although dogs would often get unusually silent when sick, Belgian Malinois might still bark or howl a bit to communicate what it feels. If you’re unsure why your Mali is making these noises, and if there’s a change in appetite or other behavior, it’s better to set an appointment with your vet for these cases. 

Like other dog breeds, a Belgian Malinois might go into a loud howling session when it’s not comfortable. This often happens when you confine a Mali in a cage that is too small for its size. If a dog is comfortable, it will never whine about it. 

Small cages are not the only thing that can make your dog uncomfortable, so keep this in mind the next time your dog starts to get vocal again. 

5. Reaction To Sounds

The ears of Belgian Malinois are very sensitive to different sounds and frequencies. This enhanced sound sensitivity is due to their ears’ shape, which is perked up instead of being floppy. This dog breed has one of the best senses of hearing compared to other breeds. 

When Belgian Malinois picked up an unfamiliar or unpleasant sound, they tend to react to it by howling. That’s the reason why some Malinois would pick up the habit of howling when they hear the phone ring or something similar to those sounds.

Belgian Malinois benefits from their advanced hearing when they are given herding jobs. With this advanced hearing, they can hear impending danger and act upon it immediately by barking or howling. Unfortunately, this behavior can be very annoying to people who like a quiet pet. 

6. Separation Anxiety

Incessant barking and howling is a sign that your Mali is exhibiting canine separation anxiety. A usual scenario for this case is when the dog starts barking when the owner goes away (even for just a few minutes.) Having separation anxiety is not the dog’s fault. It is an acquired behavior manifesting when the dog was abandoned or given away during its earlier years. 

7. Improper Training Routine

Belgian Malinoises indeed are one of the most trainable dog breeds out there. In fact, these pups are so trainable that the military and police use them for their operations. However, they will also do the things they learned from improper training practices.

For example, you tried to train the dog to bark if someone rings the doorbell. In the future, your dog will likely bark at any person (friend or stranger) that touches the doorbell because that’s what it learned to do. If you’re not an experienced trainer and unsure where to start, it might be better to get a dog trainer. 

The Thing About Belgian Malinois And Barking

Here’s a thing about Belgian Malinois: this dog breed has been bred to be vocal by barking. They use barking and howling to communicate with their owners, especially during a herding job. The Belgian Malinois is one of the herding dog breeds; they bark a lot compared to other breeds because of their herding genes. 

When the demand for herding dogs had waned throughout the years, the Belgian Malinois breed found its new home: military, police, and others for guarding jobs. With their high trainability, confidence, and loyalty, Belgian Malinois had been used for guarding, protecting, and other security work. And just like herding, working as a police dog requires communicating with barks. 

The amount of barking or howling might be “extreme” for some breeds but perfectly normal with Belgian Malinois. With their good hearing, they are naturally tuned to their vocals, and hence, they can create noisier howls and barks than other dog breeds. 

Unfortunately, this is also the reason why Belgian Malinois is one of the commonly returned breeds in shelters due to unwanted barking or howling. Before you get a pup with this breed, make sure that vocal dogs are okay for you. 

How Can You Stop A Belgian Malinois From Howling?

Just like any other dog breed, the Belgian Malinois is not for every person or family. These dogs need an active lifestyle and a robust routine to look forward to every day. Otherwise, the causes mentioned above might cause the dog to manifest barking or howling problems. 

Fortunately, there are some options to stop dogs from doing excessive barking. Here are some of the methods you can try to stop your dogs from howling excessively. 

1. Know The Reason For The Barking

There’s always a reason behind a dog’s behavior, especially on problematic ones such as excessive howling or barking. In most cases, the reasons stated above are the culprits for your dog’s behavior. The owner must find out what motivates the dog’s behavior and remove it. 

A good example of this case is when a Belgian Malinois reacts to a specific sound like a phone ringing. In this case, the owner might want to consider replacing the ringtone to avoid triggering the dog to howl or bark. 

The action needed to stop an undesired behavior in dogs largely depends on what’s causing it. Knowing what triggers the dog to act aggressively will help find out the best remedy for it. 

2. Make Your Belgian Malinois Work

The lack of activity and tons of pent-up energy often spells trouble for working dogs like Belgian Malinois. Dogs can be destructive and compulsive when they have loads of energy to spare, but no activity lets them use it. 

Try to find a way to insert a tiring activity into your dog’s schedule (for example, jogging or running with you.) A tired but contented dog will behave well and will less likely develop destructive behaviors. 

3. Ignore Your Dog

Of course, ignoring your dog is not something that you must always do. But this method can help in teaching your pup what behaviors are not going to be rewarded. By ignoring your dog while barking unnecessarily, you’re setting up a rule that this kind of behavior is not rewarding. 

During their vocal tantrums, the owner must try not to talk to the dog or even look at them. Completely ignore the dog and avoid giving any sign of attention. When they finally ceased their howling or barking, give them a gentle pat and a treat. 

Take note: Belgian Malinois are highly trainable, but this doesn’t mean that they can get this training right on the first try. The owner should be patient until the dog learns the trick and get the message. 

4. Make The Training Rules Consistent

Some owners would just throw in some treats to make the dog shut up and be quiet. But this is a conflicting training rule and must be avoided at all costs. Training a dog works by giving rewards to your pup once a particular behavior or task is achieved.

If you’re handing out a reward after a certain command, your dog will be encouraged to repeat a behavior in the future. 

Take note: giving attention to bad behavior (regardless of it being negative or positive) is still attention. It’s better to ignore your dog while it’s misbehaving completely. Not getting attention can help in making the dog realize that particular behavior is not worth repeating. 

5. Redirect The Stimulus

If ignoring your dog is not working, the next best thing is to redirect the stimulus. For instance, if your dog has the urge to bark non-stop, try to make it interested in another activity instead. Let’s use the phone ringing sound as the stimulus. You can train your dog to go outside if it hears the ringing sound.

This method will take more effort, but it can become more effective in the long run. 

6. Barking Training

This method is the hardest to accomplish. After all, barking is an inherent behavior, and dogs will bark when they get threatened or feel that they’re in danger. However, with proper training and the right methods, your dog can and will stop barking at your command. 

To start, the dog needs to learn what “bark” means when they hear it. Use the stimuli that trigger your dog to bark. Once they’re barking, say the word “bark” (or something similar) aloud and praise your dog when it associates the action to the command. When successful, your dog will understand that the “bark” command means making a sound or bark/howl. 

Once they understand what you meant when you said “bark,” you can use other negative commands like “stop that” when they start to bark or howl on their own. If successful, they will recognize what you meant and will stop barking. After successful training, don’t forget to reward your dog after the session. 

How To Train Your Belgian Malinois With Peace Of Mind:

If you haven’t trained your Belgian Malinois properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases, it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your Belgian Malinois completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT. 

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)

What Should You Avoid Doing? 

1. Using Punishment

Punishment is not always an effective way to stop your Belgian Malinois from barking or howling excessively. This is especially true if the barking trigger is due to separation anxiety or if your dog feels unsafe. Instead, try your best to determine why your dog is barking and create a long-term solution out of that. 

2. Avoid Encouraging Bad Behavior

Some owners will encourage their dogs to do destructive behaviors like barking on strangers or barking at other animals. This might look cool at first since the Belgian Malinois is an intimidating breed. The bad behavior will likely come back at you and bite you in the future. 

For instance, if you encourage unnecessary barking or howling, your dog will do it again due to a rewarding experience. Breaking a bad habit is more challenging when the behavior offers a rewarding experience in the past. 

3. Forcing Muzzles

Using a muzzle or a husher to fix a dog’s barking problem is like using flex tape to seal a broken water tank. It can help keep your dog from howling when you’re near for fear of getting the muzzle again. But this doesn’t really fix the real reason why the dog is doing the behavior.

The dog will howl and bark again when you’re out of sight. 

Also, a muzzle is not an ideal dog training tool since it completely covers the mouth. Dogs use their mouth to regulate their temperature by panting. Using a muzzle will prevent your dog from effectively cooling itself down, as well as from drinking or eating. 

4. Shouting Back

Yelling back at your dog while it’s barking or howling will not yield to anything productive. The only result of this action is that your dog is now making the noise with you. Even if you yell louder, the dog will not know what you mean by “shut up” or “be silent.”

That’s unless you can train it to understand those commands. As mentioned before, the dog needs to understand what does the command “shut up” means. With proper training, you can teach your dog to react to your commands and stop barking. Don’t forget to throw in some treats after each successful training outcome. 

5. Hurting Your Dog “To Teach A Lesson.” 

And lastly, don’t try to punish your dog by hurting it. It doesn’t solve any behavioral problems and will only learn to fear you. Physically hurting your dog will only help to build anxiety or other unhealthy dog characteristics. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Belgian Malinois Vocal? 

Yes, Belgian Malinois is a vocal dog breed, which might not be ideal if you’re living close to other people. The chances of a Mali dog howling and barking loudly are on the range of “more likely” to “high.” They bark or howl loudly when they want to communicate something with their owner or other dogs in the pack.

Belgian Malinois use their loud barks to impose authority while herding sheep. 

Are Dogs Happy When They Howl? 

Howling is an inherent part of a canine’s genes, and it’s an embedded behavior to both dogs and wolves. In the wild, canines howl to ward off possible threats and to communicate with other pack members. In domesticated dogs, this type of behavior gets repeated when encouraged.

Hence, dogs would howl a lot if they see their owners happy and if they get rewarded with attention. A howling dog is more likely a dog that wants your attention. 

Final Thoughts

Howling and barking are a part of every canine’s genes. It’s an inherent behavior that Belgian Malinois and other dogs have and do. These behaviors are usually the traits that let your dogs communicate with you and the other pack members. It is also their way to let other pack members know that they need help or if there’s a nearby danger. 

Unfortunately, this can become a destructive behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, or other bad stimuli. By proper training, the owner can stop this behavior from manifesting. If the barking, howling, or other aggressive behavior is too much for you to handle, consider getting help from a professional dog trainer.