Have You Ever Wondered - Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens?

Have You Ever Wondered - Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens?

Author WDF Staff


Dogs can act weird sometimes, and their behavior can seem really strange if you don’t know the reason behind it. One of these odd behaviors can be howling. If you ever noticed your dog howling when sirens go off, you probably stopped and wondered, “Why do dogs howl at sirens?” We can tell you honestly that we were instantly interested in why it happens the first time we heard it. Here is what we find out?

Why do sirens set off dog howling?

Imagine just laying at home, enjoying some well-deserved downtime. Suddenly, you hear a fire truck or an ambulance in the distance. You notice your dog’s ears perking up, and they start howling. That can be confusing, and you are baffled by your dog’s reaction. Naturally, you want to know more about why dogs howl at sirens.

The answer to dogs howling at sirens lays in their ancestry. They might be obedient, cuddly, friendly pets, but they were once pack hunters in the wild. Dog’s ancestor is the wolf, and howling was one of the main ways of communicating. Dogs and wolves have better hearing than we do, and they can hear high-pitched noises in the distance. If one wolf got separated and need to find its way back to the rest of the pack, they would start howling.

lab howling

Dogs do the same when they hear sirens in the distance. They hear a high-pitched noise they interpret as another dog howling at them. However, they can’t tell the difference between a siren and other howling dogs. Howling is in the dog’s DNA. It is their natural response to howl at other howling dogs. To our dogs, sirens are nothing more than other dogs trying to communicate with them.


The second possible reason dogs howl at sirens is for protection. They hear something they are not used to; something strange and potentially frightening. Your dog might howl back at you. They might want to let you know they hear something scary and make you aware that something is not quite right. It is your dog’s way of protecting and warning you.

How come some dogs ignore sirens?

Dogs are different in the same way each of us is different from others. While howling at sirens is common among dogs, not all dogs do it. Unfortunately, there weren’t many studies dedicated to studying this behavior. We might never know the exact reason, but some educated guesses why some dogs don’t howl at sirens are;

  • Not concerned with other dogs howling
  • They feel safe and comfortable at home
  • Don’t need to use howling as a way of communicating
  • Have bad hearing
  • Descendants of wolves that didn’t howl

Want to know more about howling? Check out this article - Dog howling.

golden howling

What to do about dogs howling at sirens?

While howling can be adorable and slightly funny, some dogs can be prone to doing it too often. If your dog howls every now and again, it is nothing to worry about. However, if they do it too often, you should know how to discourage that behavior and encourage them to be quiet. The best way to do that is;

  • Ignore your dog while they are howling. Make sure you don’t encourage that behavior by responding to your dog’s behavior. They want your attention, and if you deny them that, eventually, they will learn to stop doing the thing that doesn’t get them any kind of reward.
  • Use distraction when you hear sirens. When a siren starts wailing, you can distract your dog with their favorite toy or treats. The dog’s attention will be entirely on you, and they will ignore the siren going on in the distance. Every time they don’t howl at sirens, make sure you reward your dog with loads of praises and treats.

Keep in mind that howling is a natural and instinctive behavior. It might take some time until your dog learns to stop howling at sirens.

World Dog Finder team

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