Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens?
22 May, 2017
dogs howl at sirens

We’ve all heard the sound.  An ambulance or Fire Truck drives by with the sirens blaring and suddenly your dog starts to howl.  And then it can even become a medley of other dogs in the neighborhood, howling along making it sound like a symphony.  So the question begs, what prompts some dogs to howl at sirens while others could care less?

Dogs, descendants of wolves, could just be howling out of instinct

The sound of howling dogs may remind us of wolves in the wild, calling to one another.  Wolves use howling as a way to communicate with one another and to help other wolves find them. Since our beloved dogs are descendants of wolves, they may be expressing this instinctual behavior when prompted by the sound of a siren.

Dogs might howl at sirens as a way of communicating

As social pack animals, dogs could very well be responding to a siren as a way to communicate! Some animal behaviorists and researchers think that that howling can be heard by dogs from a long distance makes it a good way to communicate. They can’t use phones, after all!

When dogs join in the howling, it is a sign of their pack mentality

Some dogs will only howl in response to a neighbor’s dog. The joining in on the chorus can be attributed to our dogs’ pack mentality.  It is similar to dogs barking when they hear other dogs barking and is sometimes known as ‘the contagious’ effect.  Dogs might even join in when feeling another dog is scared or threatened as a means of protection.

Dogs are ultrasensitive to sounds which is another reason they might react to sirens

Just as with people, a dog’s hearing depends on his age as well as breed. Dogs hear higher frequencies which is why ultrasonic signals like training whistles can be heard by only dogs.  And, most dogs can hear those sirens from miles away. While we humans might just tune it out, a dog’s ears will perk up and sometimes join in the medley.

Not all dogs react to sirens because, well, each dog is different

Every dog is different and some might feel the need to connect with the sound coming from the sirens because it is their duty to talk to them!  Other dogs might feel like we mostly do and ignore it.  Some people put their hands over their ears when hearing a loud noise and some don’t.  Dogs are just the same and some howl at sirens and some dogs don’t feel the need.

The next time you hear your dogs’ howling at the sirens, you can rest assured they aren’t in pain or angry, but just trying to join the activity!

Like this article?  You might want to know how to keep your dogs entertained (besides howling at sirens!)


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