What Dogs Think When They Howl At Sirens

Reviewed by Tasmai Uppin

June 14, 2017

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We’ve all been there—you’re hanging out at home, just minding your own beeswax, when an ambulance or fire truck zooms by. As soon as they hear the wail of the siren, your dog runs right up to the window and hooooooooowls at the top of their doggy lungs. What gives? Why do dogs greet a hostile, piercing siren with the enthusiasm of a kid greeting the ice cream truck?

Well, there’s a couple reasons for your pup’s howlin’ good time. Let’s review!

Dogs are social animals, and howling is one of the many ways they talk to their fellow pups. From a distance, a siren sounds a bit like a dog’s howl. So your dog’s ancestral instincts kick in! Like a wolf after the hunt, they howl back: “Hey you need help getting home? Follow the creek!” or “Back off buddy, this is MY neck of the woods!”

You might even notice your neighbors’ dogs howling along too– this is the dog equivalent of a text chain blowing up. “Hey R we goin 2 the dog park later? / im still at Moms / ok cool ill b there soon just gotta finish dinner w/ dad”

“Yeeeesh would somebody turn off that racket!”

Dogs, as we know, have incredibly sensitive hearing. They can hear high pitched sounds up to 45 Hertz, compared to humans who can only hear 23 Hertz. So a dog hearing a piercing siren might be saying, “Yikes, that really Hertz!” (you are so welcome, everybody.)

Veterinarians, however, aren’t quite convinced. After all: dogs don’t tend to run & hide or tuck their tails when a siren screeches. They might even run *towards* the siren, which suggests that they’re maybe not so scared or annoyed.

“Captain Mom! Get your butt over here!”

You’re your dog’s pack leader. So when some big, crazy unexpected event happens—like, say, a screechy siren– your dog springs into duty to alert the Alpha. Sometimes, they might not mistake the siren for a dog’s howl at all- they just know that something crazy is afoot, and the boss needs to hear about it.

Funny enough, as the siren passes into the distance, your dog might even think their howling made the siren go away! Whether they’re thinking “The threat has retreated!” or “Ah good, the pup found her way home!” your dog is quite possibly patting herself on the back for their heroic and helpful howl.

So next time you hear one of those irksome sirens, and your dog simply INSISTS on getting involved, remember! They’re just trying to help.

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Reviewed by Tasmai Uppin

June 14, 2017