If your Labrador has been howling at sirens or thunder you might want to know why and what you can do about it. This post will show you common reasons why they do it and what you can do about them.
So, why does my Labrador howl at thunder? Possible reasons 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.
Your Labrador might do it for many reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the exact reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why your Labrador howls at sirens and thunder
Below are some common reasons why Labradors do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours has been doing it.
The reason why it does it could be that it is in its genes to howl in situations where there are loud noises. It could be the case that your Labrador does it due to an evolutionary trait getting it to let other dogs know of its location in the area. This is something that wolves and dogs in the wild are known to do.
Wolves and dogs, in the wild, will howl to tell other members of the pack where it is or to scare off other predators that are entering their territories. In the case of your Labrador, it might be the case that the howling is to alert other dogs or members of its pack of its location or to alert other dogs of possible danger. It could also be to warn others not to enter its territory.
A change in air pressure
If your Labrador also becomes 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.
Labradors 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
It might be the case that the pitch of the sirens or the loudness of the thunder gives your Labrador a fight or flight response where it becomes highly alert quickly in order to be prepared to take action if necessary. This would be more likely if your Labrador becomes anxious as well when it hears the noises.
How to get it to stop howling at sirens and thunder
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to stop doing it. You will likely find that a combination of them will work best.
Train it to associate the sounds with rewards
One option is to give it desensitization training which is where it learns to get used to hearing the noises.
To do this you could play with your Labrador while playing the noise using the speaker on your phone in the background. Doing this could help to get it to associate the noises with positive things.
Let it go to a quieter room
Another option would be to give it access to a room where the noises are not as loud. Doing so should help to reduce how anxious it becomes when it hears the noises.
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.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when trying to figure out why your Labrador does it.
If it always howls at high pitched or loud sounds
If it does not always howl at the sounds, it would help to consider what is different when it does not do 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
If your Labrador did not always howl at the sounds, it would also help to consider what else changed when it first started doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly it would be more likely to be because you started rewarding it for doing it or because other dogs started howling as well. It would help to consider what else changed when it first started doing it.
When training your Labrador it is important to be consistent with the training. If you only train it once, it will be unlikely that you will be able to get dramatic results. But if you train it consistently, over the course of weeks and months, you will be able to get much more noticeable results.