Why Do Dogs Howl At Sirens

Every dog owner has at one point been surprised by this peculiar behavior from their dogs. As soon as they hear the sound of a siren from a police car, ambulance, or fire truck passing by, their dog immediately starts howling and continues doing so until the siren has passed. Why do dogs do this?

Dogs howl at sirens mainly because of their wolf ancestry. Wolves communicate by howling, and since dogs have wolf DNA, the high pitch noise of sirens can trigger a howling response. Dogs also howl at sirens to alert you about the siren or to claim their territory. There are several other reasons why dogs howl at sirens, including…

6. They Are Scared Of Sirens

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Sirens are overly loud and, to some dogs, unusual. If your dog has never heard the sound of a siren before, the loud noise can easily startle them. When scared, some dogs display their fear through barking and howling, and therefore, the sound of a siren can trigger this response.

If your pooch is barking and howling at the siren due to fear, you’ll also notice other fearful signs like panting, pacing, and hiding.

5. They Are Offering Support To Other Dogs

The high pitch noise of a siren mimics the high pitch of a dog howl, and when they hear this sound, dogs will sometimes assume that the noise is coming from another dog who is in distress.

By howling back at the sounds of the siren, this can be your doggie’s way of telling the “other dog in distress” that they are ready to offer their support.

4. They Are Announcing Their Presence

Image from Darwin’s Pet

When dogs hear the sound of a siren and interpret it as the howl of another dog, they’ll sometimes respond with their own howl as a way of letting the “other” dog know that they are around. 

This is usually done in a non-threatening manner. It’s usually a dog’s way of saying, “I hear you’re around my neighborhood, and if you need a friend in this neighborhood, I’m right here, buddy.

3. They Are Claiming Their Territory

Sirens start off as a distant, almost imperceptible sound and grow louder as they approach. Your dog can interpret this as an approaching threat.

By howling at the siren, they are announcing that this is their territory and that whatever is approaching needs to keep off. The difference between claiming their territory and merely announcing their presence is that this kind of howl shows that they are ready to protect their territory.

2. They Are Alerting You That Something Is Going On

Image from Darwin’s Pet

Dogs know it is their role to protect us, and part of providing the protection involves alerting us of any changes in the environment that could be potentially threatening to them and us.

When your pooch hears the sound of a siren, they howl to let you know that there is something unusual going down that you need to be aware of.

1. They Are Exercising Their Wolf Instincts

Image from Darwin’s Pet

As descendants of wolves, dogs undeniably have some part of the wolf DNA in them. Since wolves communicate through howling, hearing the high-pitched sound of a siren can trigger their wolf instincts and drive your canine buddy to howl in response.

Moreover, a siren has a similar pitch to that of a howl. To your dog, howling upon hearing the siren does sound like the correct response and the right thing to do because this is ingrained somewhere within their DNA.

Is Dog Howling A Bad Omen? No, the belief that dog howling is a bad omen is nothing but a myth. This is based on the superstition that dogs howling at night means they are seeing some unseen spirits. People also believe when dogs howl at 3 am, it means that they can sense some evil spirits. However, all these are just beliefs, not facts.

What Are Dogs Trying To Say When They Howl? When dogs howl, they are just trying to communicate with other dogs. They could be announcing their presence to other dogs in the neighborhood, trying to locate a lost pack member, and so on. Dogs will also howl sometimes as an attempt to get your attention or to alert you about something.

Do Dogs Howl Before They Die? Some dogs will vocalize their pain by howling before they die, while other dogs will show other signs like elimination, loss of eye focus, odd breathing, and loss of interest in everything else right before they die. This will, however, depend on your dog as well as the reason behind its impending death.

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Pete Decker