Why Do Dogs Howl at Ambulance Sirens? (+How to Stop!)

“Why do dogs howl at ambulances?” In this article, we’ll teach you all you need to know about why dogs howl at ambulance sirens, including (of course) how you can help them to calm down. We’ll then explain the easy command to stop your dog barking at ambulances, and how to treat their fear at its root.

Next, we’ll cover if your dog howling at ambulances is because of noise phobia, and how to treat it if so. Finally, we’ll fill you in on why dogs howl at high-pitched sounds, the exact decibel level that is harmful to dogs, and the amount that’s being produced by ambulance sirens and horns. Keep reading!

Why Do Dogs Howl at Ambulances?

Why Do Dogs Howl at Ambulances?

Dogs howl at ambulances primarily in response to the high-pitched sirens. These sounds may trigger a dog’s instinctual communication behavior, similar to how they might respond to other high-frequency sounds in their environment. This behavior is rooted in their ancestral traits, where howling serves as a form of long-distance communication.

Why Do Dogs Howl When They Hear an Ambulance at Night?

Dogs howl when they hear an ambulance at night likely due to the amplified effect of sound in the quieter nighttime environment. The distinct high-pitched siren of an ambulance can resemble certain frequencies found in dog or wolf vocalizations, prompting a dog to howl in response. It’s their way of acknowledging the sound and can be seen as a form of ‘answering back’ to what they perceive as a call.

Dog Howls at Ambulances: How to Calm Them

To calm a dog that becomes agitated by the sound of an ambulance, training them with a “relax” or “calm down” command can be effective:

  1. Begin in a quiet, comfortable setting and wait for your dog to be in a relaxed state.
  2. Introduce the command, such as “relax” or “calm,” in a soft, soothing tone.
  3. When your dog responds and exhibits calm behavior, reward them with a treat or affection.
  4. Gradually introduce recordings of ambulance sirens at a low volume while issuing the command. Reward your dog for maintaining calm behavior.
  5. Slowly increase the volume over time, reinforcing the calm behavior with rewards.

This method helps associate the sound of ambulances with a positive, calm response.

How to Stop Dog Barking at Ambulances

To train your dog not to howl at ambulance sirens, the “quiet” command can be helpful:

  1. Wait for a moment when your dog begins to howl at a siren, then calmly say “quiet” and show them a treat.
  2. When they stop howling and focus on the treat, praise them and give them the treat.
  3. Repeat this training, gradually increasing the time they must remain quiet before receiving the treat.
  4. Practice in various scenarios to reinforce the command, eventually introducing controlled siren sounds if possible.

This training encourages the dog to associate stopping their howling with a positive reward.

But while these will help to calm and quiet your dog, you’ll still need to treat their underlying issues with anxiety and obeying your commands.

And until you do that by addressing these problems at their root, any positive changes you see will only be temporary.

“Okay, how do I make these changes last?”

By getting your dog to truly choose to follow your direction, that’s how. I tried many times to write out how you can do that before deciding it made more sense to just link you to the free video series that explains it better than I’d ever be able to.

The series is by a man named Dan who is one of the world’s leading dog obedience trainers. In it, he teaches you how to put an end to things like your dog howling at fire truck sirens and all other misbehavior using his fast and easy-to-follow methods.

In the first video, Dan will reveal to you why the two most common methods of dog training only doom you to failure. You can watch the video now by clicking here. Follow the proven system he’ll show you in his series and you’ll never have to spend another second worrying about your dog barking at fire trucks ever again!

Dog Howling at Ambulance: Is It Noise Phobia?

Dog Howling at Ambulance

When a dog howls at an ambulance, it might not necessarily indicate noise phobia. Dogs often respond instinctively to high-pitched sounds like ambulance sirens by howling, a behavior rooted in their ancestral traits. However, if the howling is accompanied by signs of panic or distress, it could be an indication of noise phobia, especially in a dog that reacts similarly to other loud sounds.

Noise Phobia in Dogs: What Is It?

Noise phobia in dogs is a condition characterized by an extreme fear response to certain sounds. Unlike a simple startle reaction, noise phobia can cause significant anxiety and stress in dogs. Symptoms can include excessive barking or howling, trembling, hiding, and in severe cases, panic and attempts to escape. Common triggers include thunderstorms, fireworks, and loud sirens.

Why Do Dogs Howl at High-Pitched Sounds?

Dogs howl at high-pitched sounds like ambulance sirens due to their innate communication instincts. These sounds can trigger a dog’s ancestral behavior, reminiscent of howling to communicate with other members of their pack in the wild. The high pitch of an ambulance siren might mimic certain natural frequencies that dogs respond to, prompting them to howl in reply.

How to Treat Noise Phobia in Dogs

Treating noise phobia in dogs involves behavior modification and creating a safe environment:

  1. Behavior Modification: Gradual desensitization is a key technique. This involves exposing the dog to the noise at a low volume, gradually increasing it, and providing positive reinforcement to build a more comfortable association with the sound.
  2. Safe Space: Create a comforting area in your home where your dog can feel secure during noisy events. This might include a quiet room, a special crate, or a spot with their favorite toys and bedding.
  3. Training: Teaching your dog commands like “relax” and “quiet” can help them learn to control their reactions to stressful noises. You can learn both now in the first section.

It’s best to get this handled as soon as you can, because doing so will also help your dog in other similar situations. You then won’t have to worry about things like your dog howling at fire trucks, your dog howling at police sirens, your dog howling at semi trucks, or why your dog barks at garbage trucks.

In summary, while your dog howling at ambulance sirens doesn’t necessarily mean they have noise phobia, it’s important to observe their overall behavior for signs of distress. Understanding why your dog reacts to certain sounds and providing them with the right support and training can help manage or alleviate symptoms of noise phobia.

Creating a safe and comfortable environment, along with consistent behavior modification techniques, can significantly improve the quality of life for a dog with noise sensitivity.

Do Ambulance Sirens Hurt Dogs’ Ears?

Why Do Dogs Howl When They Hear an Ambulance?

Ambulance sirens, with their loud and high-pitched sound, may not necessarily hurt dogs’ ears, but they can cause discomfort, especially if the dog has a heightened sensitivity to sound. While brief exposure to sirens as they pass by is unlikely to cause hearing damage in dogs, their sensitive ears may find the noise distressing or alarming.

What Decibel Level is Harmful to Dogs?

The decibel level harmful to dogs is typically above 85 decibels. Dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, so prolonged or repeated exposure to sounds above this level can potentially lead to hearing damage. Additionally, loud noises can cause stress or fear in dogs, even if they are not at a harmful decibel level.

How Many Decibels is an Ambulance Siren?

An ambulance siren can range between 110 to 120 decibels. This range is well above the threshold that can be uncomfortable for dogs. Although occasional exposure to these sounds is unlikely to cause hearing damage in dogs, the loud noise can be startling and may cause anxiety or stress.

How Many Decibels is an Ambulance Horn?

An ambulance horn typically emits sound at about 120 to 130 decibels, similar in volume to the siren. This level is high enough to be potentially disturbing to dogs. Consistent exposure to sounds at this decibel level could pose a risk to their hearing health, but occasional exposure is generally not harmful.

Dog Ear Protection: Is It Necessary?

Ear protection for dogs in the context of occasional exposure to ambulance horns and sirens is generally not necessary. Most dogs will not experience harm from sporadic exposure to these sounds. However, if a dog is frequently in an environment with loud sirens, such as living near a hospital or often being in busy city centers, then considering ear protection might be beneficial to prevent stress or potential hearing damage.

In summary, while ambulance sirens and horns are loud and can be unsettling for dogs, they are unlikely to cause harm unless the exposure is frequent or prolonged. Understanding that these sounds can cause anxiety or stress in dogs is important, and taking steps to minimize their distress is helpful.

For dogs that are regularly exposed to loud siren noises, using ear protection can be considered to safeguard their hearing and comfort. Training your dog on commands like “relax” and “quiet” can also help them in these situations. Learn both now in the first section.

I’m sure you’re ready to get started now that you have all of your questions about your dog howling at ambulances answered, so I’ll let you get started. Good luck, and thanks for reading our article “Why Do Dogs Howl at Ambulance Sirens?”

The Author

KB Williams

KB Williams

Hey there! I'm a dog behavior expert and lover of travel. Since 2016, I've been sharing my knowledge of dog training and behavior while exploring the Pacific Northwest with my two rescues.