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Why Do German Shepherds Howl At Sirens? 4 Explanations

Why Do German Shepherds Howl At Sirens? 4 Explanations

German Shepherds are vocal dogs. Not only do they bark a lot, but many of them also howl, especially at the sounds like police sirens, ambulance sirens, or fire sirens. What causes this? Why do German Shepherds howl at sirens?

Howling is one way some dogs, like German Shepherds, communicate. As well as barking, by howling, German Shepherds communicate with each other or want to say something to their people.

Once upon a time, when dogs lived in packs, they signaled their whereabouts to each other by howling. Since domesticated dogs don’t go hunting today, there are other reasons why German Shepherds still howl.

One of the frequent situations that will encourage this dog to howl is when it hears the sound of a siren. Let’s find out why this sound causes German Shepherds to howl.

Why Do German Shepherds Howl At Sirens?

All dogs in general might howl sometimes, but some are more known to howl often than others. Dogs that howl a lot are Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Beagles, and Coonhounds.

German Shepherds also howl, but not all of them. This characteristic is different for every individual dog, so, if you have a German Shepherd breed, you might hear it howl sometimes.

There are some particular situations when many German Shepherd dogs howl. One of these situations is when a dog hears fire truck sirens, or emergency vehicles sirens.

Let’s find out why GSDs howl at these sounds.

1. Sensitive Hearing

Dogs’ sensitive hearing is one of the most common reasons why German Shepherds howl at  sirens.

You surely know how sensitive our dogs’ hearing is. Your dog has probably reacted countless times to a sound a few moments before you even heard it.

Sometimes we don’t even notice some sounds, and our German Shepherds react intensely to them. According to some beliefs, a dog’s hearing is four times better than a human’s.

When an ambulance, or fire department, rushes past you, the sound of the siren will be very loud. Just imagine how loud this sound is for our German Shepherds!

Sirens can be so loud that it is sometimes even painful for dogs to hear their sound.

The discomfort caused by the sound of a siren in dogs will not be the same for every German Shepherd – some will just let you know that they heard the sound with their body language, while some dogs will howl loudly and for a long time.

2. Natural Instincts

As pack animals, dogs used to howl to communicate with other dogs. Our domesticated dogs are not like their ancestors, but, still, they have retained some of their ancestors’ behaviors.

When a German Shepherd hears a siren somewhere in the distance, he might conclude that some dog was trying to communicate with him. In that situation, your German Shepherd will respond by howling to what it perceives as the calling of its fellow dog.

No matter how tame our dogs are, some of their natural instincts have not completely disappeared, especially in herding dogs like the German Shepherd.

3. Guarding Behavior

The German Shepherd is always on guard. This dog’s barking is sometimes quite irritating, but sometimes it comes in very handy to warn you of a possible danger. The situation might be similar with the German Shepherd’s howling.

The German Shepherd takes care of its owners at all times. Any new appearance, new people, or new sound awakens in him natural instincts to protect his loved ones.

This could also be the reason why your GSD is howling at sirens. Some dogs will also perceive sirens as a possible danger, therefore, they will howl loudly to make them stop, and to let their owners know that some danger may be approaching.

4. Learned Behavior

If you live in a location that is near a fire station or near a hospital, sirens are something that your German Shepherd can hear quite often.

If your dog started howling the first time he heard the sirens, and this sounded interesting to you, you probably did not interrupt or distract him from howling.

In this way, many dog owners unknowingly encourage their pets to continue howling. For many German Shepherds, this can quickly become a learned behavior pattern – so you can expect your dog to howl at the sound of the siren every time he hears it.

This can become quite annoying over time for both you and your neighbors. Therefore, you should definitely think about the best way to stop your German Shepherd from howling at sirens.

What Causes German Shepherds To Howl?

The German Shepherd is a big guard dog, which means that he can howl to let people (and other dogs!) know that they are entering his territory. Also, by howling, the German Shepherd warns its owners of a possible intruder.

In some cases, German Shepherds do not have any particular reason for howling – they simply do this to attract the attention of their owners.

If your dog suddenly howls, and quite often, it is possible that he wants to show you that something is hurting him. Maybe your German Shepherd is sick or injured, so you should definitely not ignore his howling.

If the German Shepherd howls when you leave the house, or the neighbors tell you how intensively it howled while you were away, this could be a sign that your dog has separation anxiety.

Many dogs become anxious when they start to be separated from their owners, but with proper socialization, dog training, and an adaptation period, your German Shepherd should get used to spending several hours a day without you.

As you can see, there are many reasons that can cause a German Shepherd to howl. If you thought that this dog does this only because it comes from a wolf – things are not so simple.

Dog behavior is quite complex, and if you want to understand it, you have to know your furry friend very well.

How To Stop Your GSD From Howling At Sirens?

If your German Shepherd’s howling at sirens becomes too much to handle, don’t worry, since there are still some things you can do.

The first and most important thing of owning a German Shepherd (or any other dog breed!) is the basic obedience training.

Since the GSD is a highly intelligent and trainable dog, you will enjoy training him to learn many new tricks and commands. When it comes to stopping your GSD from howling at sirens, the most important command your dog should learn is the quiet command.

You can do this by playing the sound of the siren on your mobile phone or laptop while you are home with your dog.

If your German Shepherd starts to howl, tell him: Quiet!, and do it as many times as necessary so that the dog really obeys you. Don’t forget to use positive reinforcement as well – reward your German Shepherd with a favorite treat every time he responds to your quiet command.

Once the dog has mastered this command, there is a high probability that he will obey you and stop howling when he hears the sound of a siren in the distance during a walk.

Something that can also come handy to you in situations when your GSD starts howling at sirens is distracting your dog.

You can do this by passing him his favorite toy or ball; once you get your dog’s attention with something more interesting, he will forget about those annoying sirens right away!

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are known for their vocalization, so, no wonder many German Shepherd owners want to know why do German Shepherds howl as sirens.

This might be due to this dog’s natural instincts, their sensitive hearing, or due to their attempt to take care of their owners. If this happens only occasionally, it will probably not bother you so much.

But, if your German Shepherd howls loudly, and howls often, this might become an issue for both you and your neighbors.

Luckily, there are some steps you can take, like distracting your dog from the siren sound, or teaching it the quiet command.

If you try everything, but your GSD seems not wanting to give up on the howling at sirens, you can always contact a professional dog trainer. He will know what to do to teach your dog to stop howling.

We wish you best luck in preventing your vocal dog’s howling!

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