Dogs howl at sirens because they are reacting to the noise. The sound of a siren is similar to that of an ambulance, which might make you stop and think about what it could mean if there were an emergency nearby. It’s possible for dogs to be scared by these sounds too, but more often than not they’ll start howling back in response ¦ or even barking excitedly ¦ as if they’re trying to say “I’m over here! I need help!”
Dogs can hear noises up to four times further than humans, so for some dogs it might get loud enough that they feel the need to communicate with whomever is making the noise. But not only are their howls more intense than ours, but also much more complex.
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We can assume that there’s a physiological explanation behind this since their ears are different from ours (they hear more sounds at once). So while we’re probably hearing just one sound coming out of the siren, dogs are actually listening to multiple sounds and overtones at the same time ¦ which is why they don’t seem able to stop howling like crazy when they hear them!
Some researchers think that these sounds may be similar in structure to those emitted by wolves, which may prompt dogs to react as if they were in the presence of a pack member. In their heads they’re seeing a fellow canine howling back at them and therefore becoming more excited by all the noise happening around them. So for dogs who are especially prone to socialization, it’s possible that this kind of response is rooted in anything from excitement or curiosity to fear ¦ but certainly not indifference!
One final thing about sirens: while it might be fun at first for your dog to get all excited when one goes off near him, you should keep in mind that some dogs become severely distressed by loud sounds like these. You’ll need to pay attention to his body language so you can determine if he’s fearful or just overly excited and playful. If your dog seems nervous or afraid of the siren, try to comfort him and get him away from it as quickly as possible. If you’re not able to calm his fear on your own, seek out professional help from a trainer who can teach you how to handle this kind of thing in the future.