You are out with your dog on a beautiful walk and suddenly you hear the sirens of an ambulance or fire truck. Your dog stops in their tracks, their ears perk up and they start to howl. Has this happened to you? Don’t be alarmed – it is common! What is the deal though? Why do some dogs howl at sirens while other dogs can ignore them completely?
According to research, the main reason why dogs howl at sirens has to do with their ancestry. Few people know, but dogs are descendants of wolves, and while it is not always apparent in their behavior and temperament, the connection is obvious when it comes to howling. Howling is a form of communication. Let’s not forget that dogs have a very sharp sense of hearing compared to humans. They can hear these high-pitched sounds from long distances. Experts believe that dogs hear the high-pitched sounds of a siren and think that it is another dog howling in the distance. Strange, right?!
Another reason why your dog may be howling at sirens has to do with protection. The sound of the siren may be something new, unusual, or even potentially threatening in their environment. Therefore, they may interpret the sound of a siren as a threat and howl to get your attention and make you aware of the danger. Some dogs can ignore the sound of the siren completely. Just like humans, no two dogs are the same. Some dogs hear sirens and feel an immediate need to respond. Other dogs may not feel the need, or they are comfortable in their environment.
What should you do if your dog continues to howl at sirens (or other high-pitched sounds)? No need to worry! Howling is a completely natural behavior for dogs and is nothing to worry about. If the howling becomes excessive, you can reward your dog anytime they hear a siren and don’t respond. It may take some time, but positive reinforcement and patience will go a long way!