It’s in the nature of dogs to howl. Breed, age, and disposition do not matter. Some dogs howl a little. Other dogs howl a lot, at anything, including sirens. Some even howl louder and longer over others.
Like many other canine behaviors, howling has origins. Fearful wolves in the woods howl to alarm their pack family members. The brave wolf howled to warn other wild animals away. Dogs still howl as a method of communication, not to notify you of their position or deter intruders. Because dogs are members of their human families, it is critical to comprehend what they are communicating when they howl.
Why Do Dogs Howl?
Like many canine behaviors, howling has ancestral roots. To tell other members of their pack family where they were, wolves in the wild would howl, signaling that they were in the area.
The brave wolves howled to warn other wild animals to keep away. Your dog may not howl to signal their location or deter intruders, but dogs still howl to communicate. Because dogs are part of their human families, it’s crucial to understand what they’re saying when they howl.
Among the primary messages a wailing dog can convey:
Dogs howl to show they’re alert and responsive to its environment.
Numerous dogs howl in response to certain, high-pitched howling shows that they’ve heard the sound and are ready to respond or willing to take part. They howl to signify they have heard the sound and are ready to respond or join in. When the sound stops, so will your dog’s howling (when you turn off the music, he stops singing along). This form of howling is usually not irritating unless the triggers are frequent and bother you or your neighbors.
They howl or bark for their human to locate them.
In the wild, some members of a canine pack remain at home while others scout the area for food. Howling is a kind of communication used by pack members to locate one another. The remaining dogs vocalize to indicate the location of the home base and to guide scouting personnel back to safety. After being left alone at home, a dog may bark in response to hearing you drive up to your house or spotting you mounting the steps in an attempt to guide you safely back to them.
Dogs are trying to drive away intruders that’s why they howl.
Some dogs howl in order to keep intruders away from their territory. Howling alerts incoming canines that a specific territory has already been claimed and outsiders are not welcome. Howling is an effective protective strategy that keeps prospective predators at bay. When a visitor approaches their area, dogs may howl in defense of their homes.
They are communicating with other dogs.
On the other hand, an arriving dog may howl to warn residing dogs of their impending arrival. This audible notification avoids an approaching dog from frightening the area’s current residents. Howling informs nearby canines of the impending shift in their environment.
Dogs howl when they want attention.
Howling can actually be a source of encouragement. Often, domestic hunting dogs are trained to emulate their wild predecessors’ howls. While your dog is not a hunter, he may become pleased if he discovers a new prize in his backyard. Whatever the reward, howling indicates that your dog is pleased with a new discovery.
Avoid eye contact and resisted the urge to approach a howling dog. Avoid petting or conversing with him, but also refrain from reprimanding him. As is the case with some children, some dogs will do anything for attention, even negative attention, and reprimanding your dog may exacerbate the situation. Provide him with the attention he craves when he becomes silent.
This is difficult to accomplish, even more so if you are concerned about disturbing your neighbors, but perseverance pays off. To assist your dog in ceasing his or her howling for attention, try rewarding only quiet behavior. Give him random hugs or treats when he is quiet, and refuse to give him anything he “asks for” by howling.
They can be nervous, so they howl.
To your dog, you are everything. They concentrate on your actions and emphasize your arrivals and departures. Sometimes they are so focused on you that they worry when you are absent. When left alone, a dog suffering from separation anxiety may cry.
Separation anxiety-related howling happens only when the dog is removed from its owner; therefore, as soon as you return home, the howling ceases. Separation anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, persistent pacing, inflicting damage to your furniture and flooring, and self-mutilation.
Some dogs who suffer from separation anxiety will respond well to activities such as chewing toys, playing music, or watching television. Others, however, require sessions with behavior medications and training in order to learn both the dog and owner’s techniques for dealing with the issue.
Dogs howl when they are hurt.
Certain cries are unavoidable. If your generally calm dog suddenly begins wailing, he may sustain an injury. When people are harmed, they weep, and dogs do as well. Dogs cry to express their distress. Consult your veterinarian to rule out disease or injury in your dog.
When dogs are trying to show you something, they howl.
Howling can actually be a source of encouragement. When dogs corner prey in the wild, they howl, and domestic hunting dogs are frequently trained to resemble their ancestors. While your dog is not a hunter, he may become pleased if he discovers a new prize in his backyard. Whatever the incentive, howling signals your dog is thrilled.
Why Do Dogs Howl in Response to Sirens?
You’re at home, spending some quality time with your family. You hear a faint siren in the distance; it could be an ambulance or a fire truck. Your dog’s ears pop up, jump off the couch, and begin howling.
Does this sound familiar? Because you own a dog who howls, you know that even sirens that are far away might trigger them.
But what’s up with that? Why do dogs howl in response to sirens? And, perhaps more intriguingly, why do some dogs become agitated by sirens and howl—while others ignore the sound entirely?
Dogs are sensitive to high-pitched sounds.
According to many dog experts, dogs perceive the high-pitched sounds of a siren as another dog howling in the distance. Thus, when your dog howls in response to a siren, they may believe they are hearing another dog in the distance—and are responding to information to that dog of their location!
Another reason your dog may howl in response to sirens is for protection. If your dog detects something new, unusual, or potentially dangerous in their environment, they may howl to alert you to the fact that something is wrong.
Because they have not become acclimated to hearing sirens, if the sound is unfamiliar to them, they may misinterpret the sound as a threat and howl in order to alert you to the danger. Dogs may howl because the sounds hurt their hearing, or they may hide their pain by hiding under furniture or fleeing the commotion.
Why do some dogs don’t howl and completely disregard sirens?
While howling at sirens is a common dog behavior, it is far from universal. While some dogs howl in response to every siren they hear, others ignore them entirely—regardless of how loud they are.
So what’s the deal?
There is no investigation or study to explain why some dogs have to howl in the face of sirens, while others react only slightly. However, what is the most likely explanation? Certain dogs simply exhibit different behaviors than others.
As with humans, no two dogs are identical. Certain dogs hear sirens and feel compelled to respond immediately with a nice, loud howl. Other dogs may lack this desire, possibly because they feel safe and secure at home and consider their humans to be their “pack.” Maybe they were descendants from wolves that rarely separated and didn’t need to howl to communicate. Or perhaps their hearing is less acute than that of other dogs, and thus they do not react as strongly to distant sirens.
Whatever the reason, some dogs simply do not react as strongly as others to sirens—and consequently do not howl. If your dog is not a howler, have no fear—this is perfectly normal (and, to be honest, it’s probably easier on your ears!).
Sirens and your dog: what to do?
Howling is a normal dog behavior. It’s normal for your dog to howl at sirens.
You may want to concentrate on modifying your dog’s howling if you find it excessive (and it is driving you mad!). The best method to cope with a howling problem is to teach your dog to remain quiet.
If your dogs begin to howl, ignore them. That howling won’t get your dog any attention.
Praise and reward your dog if it hears a siren but doesn’t howl. Your dog will gradually learn that remaining silent when a siren is heard is a shortcut to affection and treats—and will gladly keep the howls at bay.
If teaching them fails, and they continue to howl at every distant siren, you may want to consult a dog trainer. They can assist your dog to grow used to the sound of sirens and manage their howling.
Dogs howl to communicate, not to scare off intruders or to announce their whereabouts. They howl in response to high-pitched stimuli like sirens and music. They are howling because they have heard the sound and are ready to respond or join in.
If your dog cries for attention, don’t punish him; instead, reward him when he is silent. Dogs cry in response to sirens, while others ignore them. Some dogs are sensitive to high-pitched sounds, and others may be attempting to communicate with you. Dogs may also be looking for food or a new location to explore. Experts on dogs say that howling is an effective method for your dog to communicate with you.
While howling at sirens is common among dogs, it is far from universal. Some dogs feel forced to respond quickly with a nice, loud howl, while others completely ignore them. If your dog isn’t a howler, don’t worry—this is very normal.