Its 3am, and a car alarm goes off – not great! But then all the neighborhood dogs start howling, and keep going well after the car alarm has stopped. It can be a very distressing time for an owner. Have you ever wondered – why do dogs howl at sirens?
Dogs are descendants of wolves, and as such some of these ancient instincts remain in them, such as the need to bark and howl at the sound of the loud noises.
Several animal behavioural scientists have found that the howling of wolves and dogs can be heard over extremely long distances. A common theory for this behavior is that dogs interpret high sounds as communication with wolves. Wolves tend to use howling to locate each other, and loud, persistent sirens can trigger this. Imagine how a squealing siren would affect a dog’s hearing.
Although sirens from emergency vehicles are the main impulse for howling dogs, researchers do not know why dogs howl. Some people think that when a dog hears a siren, it hurts its ears, but that is not confirmed.
Others have suggested that the siren could sound to the dog as if it were coming from a distance. In this scenario, the behavior could begin with a dog that believes it has heard another dog’s call and spread until the entire neighborhood is on fire and calls for long distances.
Another possible reason for a dog’s howling behavior is that the dog interprets the sound as a threat. A dog can interpret a siren from the police or fire brigade as the call of an unknown animal. It can howl to warn that danger is approaching quickly, or it can interpret the sirens of police and fire services as the calls of unknown animals.
The ear-splitting sound can be quite challenging for a dog at the best of times, but it has yet to be determined whether it can also cause the dog’s territorial instincts to kick in when it hears a threatening sound outside its home. Many veterinarians and dog trainers offer different explanations for why dogs are unimpressed by sirens, and there is little research on this behavior. Some dogs respond to a car siren with a howling sound, while others appear completely unaffected by the intrusive noise. A dog can protect itself and its family from a perceived danger with the sound of a car’s engine, even if it is not a real one.
Just like humans, dogs respond to different sounds, and they are born with different sounds, just like humans, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Have you ever wondered why you always hear more than one wolf or one wild dog howling? Now that we know why dogs cry at all, we can use this information to our advantage. If a dog hears another howl, it can start to imitate that dog to have fun.
In today’s world, these dogs don’t (hopefully) hunt, but we still have an innate pack mentality that forces us to respond to the howling of our brothers. As mentioned before, training a dog to perform this behavior on command is all about finding the trigger.
It is no different when a dog hears the loud sound of a siren on its own wall, but unless you have the context of an ambulance or fire engine, many will interpret it as howling.
The third reason a dog can howl is that the sound has triggered the animal’s instincts. Dogs start to howl sirens because they realise the sounds are not theirs. Many pet owners report that their dogs have howled over a siren, which sounds very much like a wolf howl when you think about it.
Others have heard howls of outrage about a dog singing something good, drowning out something bad or, if you’re not entirely sure, being drowned out by something worse.
There is, however, one theory that makes many dog owners doubt its validity: dogs seem to be in pain. For many years there have been theories that dogs howl because their ears hurt from above – howling sirens. If dogs can hear better, they can help people by alerting them to potential dangers that humans cannot recognize.
Also, most howling dogs do not seem to act fearful or hide, tremble or tremble, as they do for fear of the noise. By “howling” sirens, they can also express pain or even anger at a sound that hurts their ears, whether it is particularly loud or nearby.
When the siren dies off as soon as the emergency vehicle leaves, the dog may believe that the howling is responsible for calming it down.
To stop your dog from howling the sirens, you can make a simple change by thinking about whether they are actually howling to activate the alarm. If you pay attention to the howling of the dog and tell it that you are interested in it, the puppy can register that it gets your attention when it howls, and it takes this as a clue to continue howling in the future.
You can figure out how to stop your dog from crying by asking yourself, “Why is my dog crying?” Once you’ve figured out why the dog is yelled at, you can search it to find out if the siren is a human – noise made or not. Dogs do not know that sirens are a loud noise that frustrates them, so they probably interpret the high tone as the howling of another dog.