Dogs sense that there is a threat nearby when they hear the siren of an ambulance.
It is very likely that many people have witnessed the moment when an ambulance passes by with the siren activated and the dogs, for some reason, begin to howl loudly. Some believe that it is due to the pain they feel because of the sensitivity of their ears, but in reality it is not so. This is related to the ancestors of the canines.
According to experts, there are several explanations why dogs howl at sirens. One is because they mistake the noise for other howls and take it as a signal for help from another dog, as happens with wolves, who howl when a member of the pack moves away from the group so it can find its way back.
Why do dogs howl at sirens?
1. The first theory would be that dogs mistake the sound of sirens for howls from other dogs, in the same way that wolves howl when another member of the pack wanders away from the group so that they can find their way back. What would happen to the dogs is that they would believe that the police or ambulance siren would be another dog trying to communicate with them.
2. The second possibility is that they detect a threat, i.e., they don't know that sound and howl to alert their owner that something is going on around them, so that they are forewarned. When the ambulance has passed, the dog will believe that the threat has gone away, will stop howling, and will continue calmly.
3. Contrary to what is believed, the sound of sirens does not hurt the ears of our dogs because, if it were so, they would hide and get nervous, as it happens when firecrackers sound.
4. Finally, if the dog's howling is persistent and occurs even when no siren is heard, it may be because the animal is feeling anxious about separation from the owner or is feeling bad. In that case, you should consider taking him to the veterinarian.
My dog keeps howling - what to do?
When your dog howls, always try to understand the cause of the howling. If you can't see the exact reason right away, check if your four-legged friend could be in pain, scared or uncomfortable for some other reason. If this is the case, try to help him and work on the causes.
If your dog is fine, there can be several reasons for his behavior. Most of the time, it is either dominance behavior or the desire for attention.
If your dog is howling to get your attention, you would do well to let him howl for a while without giving him any attention. You can also send him to his basket and move away until he stops howling. If he stops for a while, call him to you, play a round or praise him. This will teach the dog that howling is the wrong way to get attention.
If your dog's howling is excessive or disruptive, you may need to train it to stop. Try teaching your dog to "speak" or "quiet" on cue, and provide it with plenty of toys, exercise, and attention to help keep it from feeling bored or anxious.
If you don't understand exactly where the howling is coming from, quickly consult a dog trainer. That way, you can work on the cause of the yowling before it becomes an annoying habit.
Read also: How to train a dog to not bark at night
Now what does the howling have to do with the moon?
Nothing. The myth that wolves howl at the moon is more due to the habit of wolves to howl, especially often at night from a vantage point, resting their heads on their necks. The latter helps to get more air and makes the howl audible over greater distances. From the outside, it then looks as if the wolf howls at the moon. Numerous myths around the wolf and its representation in connection with witchcraft and sorcery have probably contributed their part.
Dogs howl for a variety of reasons. These can be positive or negative. Always look at the big picture to understand why your dog is howling.
If you want to break your dog's howling habit, it's best to start as early as possible and, if in doubt, consult an experienced dog trainer.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Start by teaching your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and down. This will help you to better communicate with your dog and establish a leadership role.
- If your dog is howling for attention, provide positive reinforcement when he or she is quiet. This could include treats, petting, or verbal praise.
- If your dog is howling out of boredom or frustration, provide him or her with more mental and physical stimulation. This could include increased exercise, interactive toys and games, and training sessions.
- If your dog is howling in response to certain triggers, such as sirens or doorbells, begin desensitization and counterconditioning training. This involves exposing your dog to the trigger in a controlled setting while simultaneously providing a positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise.
- Be consistent with your training and remain patient. Like with any behavior modification, success with breaking a howling habit will take time and patience.
Always rule out the possibility that the howling has medical reasons.