It happens every single time. You’re sitting at home with your beloved pooch, when suddenly, you hear a siren outside. Your dog immediately hops up and begins to howl. Why do dogs howl at sirens as they pass by? Come to think of it, why do dogs howl when they hear music?
Learn about dog howling behavior and why your dog loves to howl at sirens and other loud noises.
Why Do Dogs Howl At The Sound Of Sirens?
Domestic dogs descended from wolves. The only way a wild dog could communicate with its pack was through its voice.
It was, and still is, absolutely essential to the survival of a wolf pack that wolves communicate with each other – to coordinate the pack, maintain social stability, and ward off any rival packs.1
These howls may sound simple, but they’re actually full of emotion, intention, and instinct.2,3
Dogs’ ears can hear a much greater range of sounds than humans – from the very high-pitched to the very low.
Dogs often bark quite low in pitch, but their howling is quite high in pitch. And emergency sirens, like police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, are also high pitched.
So, scientists believe that dogs respond to these loud siren noises because they think they’re communicating with another dog. Even wild coyotes howl at vehicle sirens.4,5
Reactions To Hearing Loud Sounds: Why Some Dogs Don’t Howl At Police Or Ambulance Sirens
All dogs, of all shapes and sizes, are genetically connected to wolves. This includes your tiny Chihuahua or your affectionate little Shih Tzu. But some dogs are definitely more vocal than others – especially hunting dogs.
Dog breeds that you’re most likely to hear howl are those that come from traditional hunting or herding backgrounds – retrievers, beagles, foxhounds, Alaskan malamutes, bloodhounds, German shepherds, Siberian huskies, or dachshunds.6
What About Canine Reactions To Hearing Music?
Here’s a really interesting fact that scientists have found: while not all dogs howl at sirens, music seems to bring out dog howling in almost all dog breeds.
It’s thought that hearing music incites a similar feeling to a wolf chorus – when pack members raise their voices together to unite as a family.
This wolf chorus promotes feelings of joy and belonging for the dogs in a pack. Music tends to do the same for dogs. A pack of wolves howl at different pitches and frequencies, much like you might find in a song.7
Experts have found that the type of music that most often appeals to a pup is music produced by wind instruments. Dogs also tend to love a long note.
Even more incredibly, a dog’s mood may be influenced by music (just like in humans). One particular study found that classical music appears to be able to calm a dog, while heavy metal exposure could encourage a pup to bark much more.8
Your Dog’s Behavior, Howling, And Anxiety: Know When To See Your Pet’s Veterinarian
Now, there are several other reasons why your dog may howl that have nothing to do with loud noises. Anxiety and injury or pain are two such reasons.
Sometimes, dogs howl out of loneliness. Man’s best friend is genetically a pack animal. They can get sad and lonely without interaction – with other dogs or with you.
This is most evident in dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. They may slip into whining and howling every time their owner leaves the house, continuing to howl for hours at a time.9 If you think your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, or any other kind of anxiety, talk to your vet.
You may also wish to speak to a professional dog trainer to teach your dog. A trainer can help to train your dog using positive reinforcement and obedience training so they won’t be alarmed when you leave your home.10
Pain And Injury
Howling may also indicate that your pet is in pain or sick. It’s your pooch’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If your pup suddenly starts howling, and it’s out of the ordinary for them, you should visit your vet for an examination.11
Dog Behavior: Raising The Voice In Unity
Howling is as natural as a dog’s bark. Dog owners shouldn’t be alarmed when this happens alongside loud noises – like emergency sirens or music. Your pet is usually getting great enjoyment from this experience and will return to being quiet once the sound stops.
Of course, if puppy howling is occurring without loud noises and is out of the ordinary for your pooch, talk to your veterinarian. You’ll want to ensure that your dog isn’t in pain or suffering from an anxiety-related condition.
And, if you’ve never heard a dog “singing” along to music, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there for your joyful perusal.
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