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Does your dog howl every single time a police car passes by? And perhaps that's not the only sound that makes them suddenly go berserk — fire engines, ambulances or even your home's fire alarm can make your pet "yell" out at the sound, too. They howl and howl, and you just can't understand why such a well-trained dog suddenly acts so different. You may be wondering, why do dogs howl when they hear a siren? Or, do sirens hurt dogs' ears?
Let's dive in to understand your dog's insistence on howling when they hear sirens or similar sounds — and whether or not the sound is hurting your pet's ears.
Why Do Dogs Howl at Certain Sounds?
You expect wolves to howl. You know their sound, a long and loud piercing cry, from movies. But you were shocked the first time you heard your pet make a similar sound. You'd only heard them bark, so howling seemed so foreign to you. So, why do dogs howl when they hear a siren or similar sound? Well, it turns out there are many reasons why dogs howl. But when it comes to howling at particular noises, there are likely two main reasons: bringing the noise to your attention and verbally scaring the sound away.
For a wolf pack, howling sometimes occurs to determine the location of pack members. Other times, it's to discourage other animals from approaching. Or, it may be a way to alert the pack of something important nearby. Dogs may experience howling in similar ways.
If your dog howls at a loud sound, it might be to get your attention. In the case of an emergency vehicle siren or a home alarm, they may simply want to make sure you're aware that an abnormal sound is occurring so you can do something about it. However, they might howl at the siren, especially one that's on four wheels, as a way to verbally "chase" it away. If time after time, a dog howls at a siren which then gets further away — and therefore makes less noise — your dog will feel like their howling helped to discourage the siren.
Do Sirens Hurt Dogs' Ears?
Although dogs are definitely sensitive to noises, a brief exposure to sirens and similar sounds won't damage or hurt their ears. However, try to avoid exposing them to consistent, long-term noise pollution. If you do notice that your dog seems to wince in pain when hearing certain sounds, consider scheduling an appointment with their veterinarian to make sure they aren't experiencing any underlying issues.
Are Some Dogs More Likely to Howl at Sirens?
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what will make any given dog howl, but there are some breeds who are more likely to howl in general, including:
These breeds may be more prone to howling than others. However, that doesn't mean other breeds won't howl at certain sounds, as it's more than possible.
So, why do dogs howl when they hear a siren, and do sirens hurt dogs' ears? Now you know that they're either trying to chase it away or alert you of its presence, and you can feel safe knowing that the loud sounds won't cause any damage to your pet's ears, either.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.