Does hearing a siren cause your dog to join in and howl at the moon? It’s not exactly peaceful, is it? So why do dogs howl at sirens, and what can you do about it?
In this article we’ll be delving into why dogs howl, reasons why dogs howl at sirens, if sirens might be hurting your dog ears and whether some dogs are more likely to howl at sirens than others. Of course, we’ll also give you our tips to stop your dog howling at sirens.
If you’re looking for support and advice with training your puppy or dog, then look no further than the Zigzag app. It has everything you need from learning about socialisation and habituation, to toilet training, life skills and obedience training, all served up at the time you need at most, and based around your dog’s breed type. There’s also a team of professional dog trainers on hand to help you along the way, and they’re available 24/7 via our in-app chat.
Why do dogs howl?
Howling is a form of vocalisation and a way of communicating, both with us, and with other dogs. Howling is usually a response to something, to sound the alarm or communicate feelings, be that distress, anxiety or excitement, it’s also a breed trait in certain types of dogs.
5 Reasons why dogs howl at sirens
The reasons that dogs howl are varied, from being scared and worried, joining in with the noise, feeling startled or alarmed, as an instinct, or even just for fun! Here’s the top 5 reasons that dogs howl at sirens.
- Feeling frightened of the siren
Sirens can be loud, unpredictable and also change pitch as they go past. This sudden noise can scare your dog, causing them to howl.
- Your dog sounding the alarm
Your dog may interpret the siren sound as something you really need to know about, and can’t possibly hear without them howling!
- Communicating with other dogs
When dogs hear a sound in the distance, some may use howling as a way of letting other dogs know. This phenomenon is called social facilitation.
Even though it’s a long time since dogs were domesticated, many of their instincts remain. Hearing a loud, shrill tone like a siren may prompt your dog to join and also howl.
- Howling might be fun!
For some dogs howling, or barking is a self reinforcing behaviour and something they really enjoy doing! So, given the opportunity many dogs will enjoy the howling, this happens even more if you join in!
Do sirens hurt my dog’s ears?
Yes, any loud noise like a siren can hurt your dog’s ears! A dog’s hearing is more sensitive than a human’s too, so they can hear those sirens even louder than we can! It’s no wonder they are scared of loud noises like fireworks, really.
Are some dog breeds more likely to howl at sirens than others?
Yes, some breeds of dog are more likely to howl at sirens. While, there are always going to be variations and individual personalities within a breed, we can make some generalisations and their likelihood to howl at sirens.
Everyone knows a husky loves to howl don’t they? Yes, they don’t need much encouragement, so will likely howl at sirens more than other dog breeds.
Read all about Huskies in our guide to training a Husky puppy.
If you have a Beagle, then you know they love to bark and howl, and that this type of howl is known as ‘baying’. They really enjoy being vocal and telling everyone about those sirens going past! They really do think they are saving your life!
Read more about Beagles in our Beagle training guide.
Another baying hound! Yes, Bassets have a loud and melodic voice, and they’re happy to shout about it. Don’t be surprised if your Basset Hound ‘sings along’ to the sound of sirens.
Bred to seek out badgers, these pocket rockets have a large and loud howl, and they are pleased to use it! Yep, they’ll have a great howl at sirens, and they might also bark at visitors at the front door too.
Learn more in our Dachshund training guide, or our guide to how to stop your puppy barking at thin air!
How to stop your dog from howling at sirens
If your dog is howling at sirens, and it’s becoming a bit too much, it’s worth teaching them to be quiet and lessen the howling with training. Try our training tips to help your dog stop howling at sirens.
Don’t join in
It’s so tempting to keep telling your dog to ‘shh’ but for your dog it can be rewarding and feel like you’re joining in. Shouting at them, can also make them feel like they were right to be scared and will lead to more barking
Give them something else to do
Read more about using management techniques with your dog in our article how to help your dog get it right with dog management.
Use sound muffling
Dogs who howl at sirens, can often do it as it’s so different to the peace and quiet they’ve been used to. Use a white noise machine, or play music so that the siren noise isn’t so sudden and jarring.
Teach them a quiet cue
You can teach your dog to speak, so that they can bark on cue, but you can also teach them to be quiet when asked. Do this with treats and positive reinforcement training, so you can calm them down and ask them not to howl.
Desensitise them to noises
Lots of dogs have problems with sirens and other loud noises like fireworks, but you can use gradual exposure with desensitisation and counter conditioning to lessen their reaction over time.
Reward them when they’re quiet
Too often, we forget when our dog’s been good and hasn’t howled at sirens and then react or only notice when they do something we don’t like. If your dog doesn’t howl at sirens, then reward them! They’ll learn that not howling, and being quiet will be a good thing to do.
Seek out the help of a trainer
If things are a bit much, and the howling at sirens is causing you distress, then it’s worth talking to a dog trainer to provide you with some personalised support. You can talk to a professional dog trainer in the Zigzag app, and they’ll be sure to give you some tips.
Changing a dog’s behaviour takes time and patience, and teaching your dog not to howl at sirens is no different! Dogs howl at sirens for all kinds of reasons, from fear and anxiety, to just enjoy a good ‘Awoooooo’. With consistent positive reinforcement training, you can change the association and have your dog being quiet, don’t worry!
If you have a shouty dog, or a vocal pup you can learn more in our articles how to stop your puppy from barking, how to stop a puppy barking at night and help why is my puppy barking at everything. You’ll have peace and quiet in no time!
Download the Zigzag app for more help with a howling puppy, or a barky dog! We have structured lessons to help prevent boredom, learn new tricks, as well as important life skills. You can talk to our professional dog trainers 24/7 via our in-app chat about any of your puppy woes and worries too. Give it a go, and let’s get going with training your puppy.