You and your pooch are sitting on the couch on a quiet afternoon enjoying reruns of “Lassie.” Then, you hear it coming closer and closer; the wail of a siren. Now, it’s no longer a quiet afternoon because your faithful friend has decided she’d like to howl along with the siren. Kind of a duet. But then, all the other dogs in the neighborhood join in and it’s a full chorus! So, why do dogs howl when they hear sirens?
It all starts with the wolf. As you may know, dog’s ancestors are wolves and wolves use howling for long-distance communication. Wolves, like dogs and coyotes, are social animals who live in packs and they howl together. Howling likely tells other packs that they are healthy, alive and living in a certain area. Also, a wolf who is separated from their pack might use howling to find his relatives. You might call it a form of natural GPS. In addition to howling, canines also use barking and growling to communicate.
Thus, researchers believe that when a dog hears a high-pitched sound such as a siren, she’s communicating with another dog. Is it a friendly howl? Maybe it is and your dog is just saying “hello.” But you may have noticed that as the siren sound fades, your dog stops howling. Kinda like she thinks she has told that other dog where to go and was successful in making that dog go there!
Not all dogs howl at sirens and there hasn’t been any research to determine why this is so. Maybe some need that connection to what they think are other dogs and some just don’t
Does it hurt?
You may have wondered if the siren sound hurts your dog’s ears. Well, as we know, dogs have pretty darn good hearing and it’s much better than that of humans. They can hear very high-pitched sounds that we can’t (think dog whistle). Their hearing range extends up to 45 hertz and ours only to 23. But, veterinary behaviorists point out that most dogs don’t run and hide or show other indications of pain upon hearing sirens.
So if you think your dog is saying “Ouch, that really hertz” it probably really doesn’t.
One other possibility to Consider
In your house, you’re the pack leader. So, whenever there’s anything crazy happening like a siren, maybe your dog just wants to communicate to you that there’s something big going on out there!
Why do dogs howl when they hear sirens? However you look at it, it’s probably a way to communicate.
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