Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens?

Why do some dogs howl at sirens?

Have you ever been near a dog when a police car or ambulance goes by, sirens blazing, and the dog begins to howl along? Perhaps your dog howls when he hears a baby cry or your friend's dog howls when someone plays the guitar. Many people think dogs howl when they hear these noises because the sounds hurt their ears, but is that really the case?

Dogs Howl Because It's in Their Genes

Our pet dogs today are distantly related to wolves and coyotes, and they howl because it's ingrained deep in their brains to do so. Howling is a way for members of a pack to communicate over a great space. They also howl to let members of other packs know they're getting close to or have entered another pack's territory.

When a dog howls because he hears a siren or other related noise, he is probably triggered because the sound reminds him of the howl of a pack member. He's simply responding to the howling the way his brain is wired to.

Can Howling Indicate a Problem?

If your dog always howls in response to a high-pitched noise, it's likely that he thinks he's responding to the howl of another dog. However, if your dog begins howling or otherwise vocalizing when there is not an inciting noise like that, you should pay attention because it might mean your dog is hurt or upset. Dogs may howl, yip, whine, or growl when they are stressed or physically injured.

Of course, some dogs are just more vocal than others, and they might howl routinely as a way of communicating with you. Northern breeds like huskies are notorious for liking to "talk." So this is an area where you will need to know your dog's personality and respond if his vocalization is out of the ordinary for him.

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