Why Do Dogs Howl At Sirens And Bells? 5 Interesting Myths And Facts

Dogs howl at sirens and bells for several reasons, for one, the members of the canine population are regarded as social animals and they communicate with their fellow dogs (whom they see as their pack members) with the howling sound. You will agree that when you hear the sound of a siren from a distance, it does sound like a pup’s howl. Upon hearing this, the canine’s ancestral instincts will immediately kick in and in the same way as a wolf on the prowl, the dog will howl back. Below are more detailed facts on why dogs howl at sirens and bells.

Why Does My Dog Howl at Sirens and Bells?

The reason dogs react to the sound of bells and sirens is all due to their ancestry. Dogs originated from the wolves, which are known to live in packs, and whenever pack members need to be split into factions and spread out, they resort to howling to locate each other. By howling, these separated pack members can communicate their respective locations to each other, even when the distance is far-flung.

Since canines have no idea of how a siren is supposed to sound, they would always interpret the sound of a cop car as their normal howl; there is also the possibility that these pups consider the siren as the signal of an abnormal occurrence in their vicinity; thus, they want their pack leader (the dog parent) to be in the know.

As opposed to popular belief, dogs don’t howl because the siren noise is jarring on their delicate ears; otherwise, they will likely exhibit other behaviors like taking to their heels and going into hiding.

The more dogs howl at sirens, the more they may be compelled to keep on exhibiting the behavior. The reason may be because pups that howl and then observe the sound drifting far from their location may start to associate the disappearance of the siren sound with their vocalization. In the future, the pups will probably remember how they scared off an interloper with their howling sound and repeat the same thing.

Dog Breeds That Howl At Sirens

Dogs howl at sirens
Dogs howl at sirens and bells for interesting reasons – source

As discussed above, all pups are genetically linked to the wolves, from your friendly little Shih Tzu to your tiny Chihuahua and the gigantic Irish Wolfhound. However, there are canines that vocalize more than others – this is particularly true with hunting dogs. The canines that are most likely to howl are the ones that emanated from a herd or traditional hunting background. They include the likes of Siberian huskies, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Dachshunds, Beagles, Retrievers, Bloodhounds, Foxhounds, including several other northern hounds and breeds.

Why Do Dogs Howl At Night?

We have established why dogs howl at sirens, but you must have observed that they also howl at night time too. When darkness falls, dogs resort to the howling sound to communicate with each other. In humans, sound reception is lower compared to the canines, the human ear may not pick out the sound of other dogs howling, but it is quite easy for dogs. They use sound for effective communication, or perhaps to find their way home when they have wandered off.

My Dog Doesn’t Howl, Here’s Why

Some dogs may howl at sirens and bells, but many others appear to be completely unperturbed by the disturbing noise. It is not easy for us to determine the exact number of breeds that howl at cop cars against the ones that don’t since very little research has been conducted in that direction. However, submissions from professional dog trainers and vets have thrown some light on the subject.

In the same way as humans, each dog is a unique individual with its respective personality, fears, and quirks. For example, a dog that has a confident and extremely secure demeanor is likely to ignore the intruding sound and continue with its activity without being provoked. However, the pups that are naturally submissive and nervous will likely react to any loud and interfering noise with howling and barking.

So, if your pooch doesn’t howl, it may be because of one of the aforementioned reasons and not because they are abnormal or because something is wrong with them.

Interesting Myths and Facts About Dog Howling

The most common myth about canine howling is that they are unconsciously conforming to the behavioral patterns of their ancestry (the wolves). Other facts about howling include:

It’s Territorial

One reason dogs may howl is to define their territory. Just like a typical wolf would react in the wild, a dog howls to warn marauding pups to keep off from its space. Howling is sometimes used as a form of defense mechanism in dogs.

Used as a Means of Communication

Communication is another reason dogs howl; wolves in the wild also resort to it to bring home a lost pack member. Though your dog may not be missing one of its pack members, it still howls to reach out to canines outside. Dogs often resort to howling because that form of vocalization carries further than all other canine sounds like a growl, bark, and whine.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs that are left alone for long periods take to howling to show their anxiety. Once their caregiver goes to work, they start howling, believing that those sounds can bring the person back. They also do it to show how much they miss your presence as their pack member. Dogs that show signs of separation anxiety also display other bad behaviors like digging, pacing, and chewing.

Read Also; How long can a dog go without water and food before dying?

Howling and Attention seeking

There are dogs that simply howl to get attention in a bid to communicate a need like a thirst, hunger, and boredom. The dog just wants to reach out to the owner. If you notice that your pooch is always howling to get attention, you can try giving a positive response to that need rather than reprimanding the poor dog. Besides, you can reduce the howling by spending quality time with the pooch.

Sick or Injured Dogs Resort To Howling

Howling may also be a sign that your furry friend is sick, or has sustained an injury. If that is the case, you will have to book an appointment to see the vet immediately.

Upon hearing the howl, pet parents should keep an eye out for signs of serious distress. A distressed dog may be lying down in an awkward position, standing, or hunched over. Just take it as a cue to look for any unnatural sign.

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