Why Do Dogs Howl At Sirens – How To Deal With Howling Hound Frenzy

By Michael Tarran

October 6, 2020

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Its official - sirens have some kind of evil power over dogs.

Well, most of them since some are so lazy that they hardly even notice them passing by. Anyhow, every time a fire truck or an ambulance is passing by, their ears perk up, their heads go back, chin goes up in the air, and they start huffing in anticipation.

And then there it goes a frenzy howling marathon. Literally, it seems like there is no end to it. They won't stop howling until the sirens are so far away that we do not hear them anymore. But, oh they do, they really do.

But why is this so common behavior for almost all dogs? If you ask yourself why do dogs howl at sirens, you will find the answer in this post so read on.

So What Does It Mean When A Dog Howls?

So why do dogs howl at sirens? The answer is ancestry.

Remember, dogs are descendent of no less than wolves. And how wolves communicate - by howling, of course. Did you ever hear wolf barking? Neither did I.

Yes, your dog is so cute, cuddly, fluffy, and fuzzy now, but in reality, he is a beast, and their natural instincts will still appear from time to time, which will make them howl like mad at emergency vehicle every time they pass by.

Like I said, wolves use howling as a form of communication, and since wolves and dogs have a sharper hearing sense than us humans, it is only natural that they can hear high-pitched sounds from long distances. That means howling of dogs is a normal way of communication between them.

When the wolf gets separated from its pack, he will howl (high-pitched sound) to communicate with the rest of the pack and find the way back to them.

Even though your dog is not a wolf pack member, his DNA is still programmed to react on high-pitched sounds by howling. So there is nothing weird going on when your dog howl when he hears siren since he might think he hears a dog howling in the distance.

I mean, ain't that cute or what? Your little buddy is responding to an SOS of another doggo to let him know where the safe haven is.

Why do dogs howl at high pitched sounds?

Okay, there is one another reason why dogs howl at sirens. Its protection. When your dog senses something completely new and unusual, he might see that as a potential threat, so they may use howling as a way to warn you that something isn't right.

So in case your dog is not used to hearing sirens that often, he will interpret that sound as a threat and howl to get your attention so you, as his pack member, can be aware of the potential danger that is near.

If you notice that your dog is howling at more than just sirens, these problems might occur:       

  • They need your response – If your dog howls every time when you give them attention, the chances are that they learned to use it to get what they want.  Kids throwing a tantrum are equal to dogs that learned to howl until they get the desired result.
  • Separation anxiety – For sure, you have heard dogs who howl all day; they are likely prone to separation anxiety, so they will howl as a way to deal with stress and fear. This is very common among dogs that are home alone most of the time. These dogs will also bark excessively, destroy furniture, and pee and poo to demonstrate how unhappy they are.
  • Injury or illness – When your dog starts howling more than usual, and that has nothing to do with sirens, have them examined by your veterinarian since he might be experiencing some pain.

Do sirens hurt dog's ears?

Many people think that dogs howl at sirens because the sound hurt their ears, but that is completely untrue. If your dog is experiencing pain, he will also show other signs of distress like hiding under furniture, tucking their tail between their legs, or simply running away for the sound that bothers him/her.

How do I stop my dog from howling at sirens?

why do dogs howl at sirens

We already elaborated how howling is a completely natural behavior in dogs, but the problem is that your neighbors might not have a lot of understanding of it. If your dog occasionally howl at sirens, that is okay, and there is nothing to worry about.

The problem occurs when your dog's howling becomes excessive. This will even bother your ears. When that happens, it is time to work on correcting the behavior. How can you do that? Well, the best way is to discourage your dog from howling and encourage him to stay quiet.

You will easily do that if you ignore it completely. This way, you will show your dog that the howling isn't going to get them any attention.  Every time they hear the siren, and they do not respond with howling, reward, and praise them to encourage them that this kind of behavior is good.

It will take some time and a lot of your nerves, but eventually, your dog will learn that staying quiet when they hear a siren is a highway to affection and treats. Of course, there are possibilities that training them on your own doesn't work that well, so you may want to consult with dog trainers or animal behaviorists. They will, for sure, get the non-stop howling under control.

Why Some Dogs Ignore Sirens Completely?

Howling in dogs is normal behavior, but it's certainly not universal. Some dogs howl at absolutely every siren they hear; other dogs will barely notice them or even ignore them completely no matter how loud they are.

So what's the deal? Is there any rational explanation for this?

The truth is that there are no two dogs on Earth that are the same, and they all have different behavior patterns. Some will hear sirens and feel the urge to respond with a nice, loud howl immediately. Other dogs just simply don't feel that need since they are safe and sound in their cozy bed surrounded by their human pack.

Maybe their hearing isn't as sharp as in other dogs, so naturally, they don't have a strong reaction to sirens in the distance. So do not worry if your dog isn't a howler; there is nothing to be concerned about since everything is fine with your bestie.

Final Thoughts

why do dogs howl at sirens

Internet is full of cute vids of breeds like malamutes, huskies, foxhounds, and beagles that howl at sirens of an ambulance or police cars like there is no tomorrow!  Those are real paw patrol, let me tell you! And yes, howling dogs can be an adorable way of them showing off their personalities, as long as they do not howl excessively since that will for sure bother you as well as your environment.

You are the alpha; you are the pack leader, so make sure that you as a dog owner do not encourage this howling behavior since it will make your life a living hell. Spend enough time with your pup since dogs are social creatures just like we humans are. Take him to walkies, and when you need to leave him alone for a couple of hours, make sure you leave him to be with his favorite toys so he won't feel that much alone.

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Michael Tarran

About Me

I'm a devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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