When Your Dog Starts Howling At A Siren, They Might Think They’re Chatting With A Fellow Dog

Reviewed by Dr. Katy Nelson

March 17, 2016

Does your dog serenade you with a flurry of howls every time an ambulance goes zooming by? Research says ancient, ingrained communication techniques may be the cause.


Wolves have long been known for their distinct howl that they use to relay messages to one another. A lone wolf or a pack of wolves may howl to signal to other pack members where they are, or to ward off rival wolves from entering their territory, for instance.

Dogs, like their wolf relatives, are also social animals that often communicate vocally by barking, howling, growling, and the like.


Both canine howling and sirens produce similar high-pitched sounds that may ultimately trigger the same methods of communication in your pup. In other words, if your dog howls at an ambulance, he might actually think he is communicating with another dog!


He could be saying, “Hey, guys! I hear you! I’m over here,” or maybe even, “Hey, back off! This is my house!” Either way, there’s a good chance your pooch is mistaking the big, whaling ambulance for a furry friend or foe. I won’t tell if you won’t!

Sources: Live Science,, UCSB Science Line

Featured image via Ed Biernan/ Flickr

Reviewed by Dr. Katy Nelson

March 17, 2016