If your dog has been howling at sirens, thunder or ambulances you might want to know why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog howl at sirens? Possible reasons your dog howls at sirens are that it is due to its ancestry, it does it naturally to communicate with other dogs or that it triggers a fight or flight response.
There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be a combination of factors. However, there are some things you can consider that will help you in figuring out the exact reason.
Why your dog howls at sirens, thunder and ambulances
Each of the different reasons why your dog does it will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will show you a number of possible reasons and what would make them more likely.
The cause could be that it is in its genes to howl when it hears high pitched noises like sirens. In the wild, dogs and wolves would howl to alert other dogs and wolves of their position and when they hear other dogs howling they would start to howl as well. This could be why your dog howls when it hears sirens.
A change in air pressure
If your dog also gets anxious when it hears noises such as thunder then it might be because it can sense a change in the air pressure. This is because it will warn it that there is a storm on the way and it might hear the low-frequency noises of the thunder as it approaches (source). This would be more likely if it starts behaving differently before the thunder has even arrived.
Dogs have better hearing than we do and they can hear higher-pitched sounds too. It could be the case that the high pitched sounds of sirens cause it to howl since it is of a similar pitch to other dogs howling.
It triggers a fight or flight response
The noise could trigger a fight or flight type of response in your dog that causes it to start howling. This would be more likely if it also starts showing signs of being anxious as well when it does it.
Related: Why is my dog so protective?
How to get your dog to stop howling at sirens, ambulances and thunder
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Train it to associate the sounds with rewards
One way to get it to stop doing it could be with the use of desensitization training. This is where you get your dog used to hearing the noise so that it becomes less reactive when it hears it.
To do this you could play the siren noises in the background using your phone and to play with or to train your dog while playing the noise. By doing so you should be able to get it to associate the noise with positive things.
Let it go to a quieter room
Another option would be to give it access to a quiet room so that it becomes less reactive when it hears the noise.
Reduce how anxious it gets
You could also do things to reduce its anxiety by giving it attention, distractions or you could give it crate training so that it has a safe area to go to.
I have written more about what you can do about it being anxious here.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider about your dog howling at sirens and other noises.
If it always howls at high pitched or loud sounds
It would help to consider whether or not it always does it. If it does not then it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
If it does only seem to howl sometimes it could be the case that it does it because it knows that it will get attention from you. If it only does it when there are certain noises it would also make it more likely that it does it to communicate.
When it started doing it
It would also help to consider when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly it could be the case that it learned that you give it extra attention when it does it or because other dogs started howling as well.