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

“Why do dogs howl at fire trucks?” In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about why dogs howl at fire engine sirens, including (of course) how you can help get them to settle down. We’ll then teach you the simple command to stop your dog barking at fire trucks, and how to address their fear at its root.

Next, we’ll explain if your dog howling at fire trucks is due to noise phobia, and how to treat it if so. Finally, we’ll fill you in on specific information you’ll want to know, like the exact decibel level that is harmful to dogs, and the amount that’s being produced by fire truck sirens and horns. Keep reading!

Why Do Dogs Howl at Fire Trucks?

Why Do Dogs Howl at Fire Trucks?

Dogs howl at fire trucks primarily due to their reaction to the high-pitched siren sounds. These sounds can trigger a dog’s instinctual response to howl, much like they would to high-pitched noises in nature. It’s a form of communication stemming from their ancestral wolf behavior, where howling is used to locate and communicate with each other.

Why Do Dogs Howl at Fire Engine Sirens?

Dogs howl at fire engine sirens because these sounds are often within frequencies similar to those found in dog and wolf vocalizations. The sound of a siren can trigger a dog’s instinctual urge to howl back, which is a behavior ingrained in their genetic memory from their wolf ancestors. It’s a way of acknowledging the sound and, in a way, ‘answering’ it, much like they would in the wild.

Dog Howls at Fire Trucks: How to Calm Them

To calm a dog that becomes agitated by the sound of a fire truck, you can train them with a “relax” or “calm down” command:

  1. Choose a quiet, distraction-free area to start the training.
  2. Use a calm and soothing voice to give the command, such as “relax” or “calm.”
  3. When your dog is in a relaxed state, reward them with a treat or affection.
  4. Gradually introduce recordings of fire truck sirens at a low volume while giving the command. If your dog stays calm, reward them.
  5. Slowly increase the volume over several training sessions, ensuring your dog remains calm and responsive to the command before increasing the stimulus.

This training helps create a positive association with the sound and teaches your dog a desired calm behavior in response.

How to Stop Dog Barking at Fire Trucks

To train your dog not to howl at fire truck sirens, you can use the “quiet” command:

  1. Wait for your dog to start howling, then calmly say “quiet” and show them a treat.
  2. Once they stop howling to sniff or look at the treat, praise them and give them the treat.
  3. Repeat this process consistently, gradually increasing the time they must remain quiet before receiving the treat.
  4. Practice this command in various situations, gradually introducing the sound of sirens if possible, to reinforce the behavior.

This teaches your dog to associate stopping the howling with positive reinforcement.

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 Fire Truck: Is It Noise Phobia?

Dog Howling at Fire Truck

If your dog is howling at a fire truck, it might not necessarily be a sign of noise phobia. Dogs often howl in response to high-pitched sounds like sirens due to their instinctual background. However, if the howling is accompanied by signs of fear or anxiety, it could indicate a noise phobia, especially if similar reactions occur with other loud noises.

Noise Phobia in Dogs: What Is It?

Noise phobia in dogs is a condition where a dog exhibits an extreme fear response to certain sounds. This can include trembling, hiding, pacing, or trying to escape, along with howling or barking. Common triggers for noise phobia include fireworks, thunderstorms, and, in some cases, loud sirens like those from a fire truck.

Why Do Dogs Hate Loud Noises?

Dogs hate loud noises often because these sounds can trigger their instinctual flight response. Loud, unexpected noises can be perceived as threats, causing anxiety and fear. Dogs have acute hearing, making them more sensitive to loud sounds, and their inability to understand the source or purpose of the noise can lead to heightened stress and fear.

How to Treat Noise Phobia in Dogs

To treat noise phobia in dogs, it’s important to focus on behavior modification and creating a calming environment. Gradual desensitization is a key technique, which involves slowly exposing the dog to the noise at a low volume and gradually increasing it, while providing positive reinforcement to help the dog associate the noise with pleasant experiences.

Creating a safe space where the dog can go to feel secure during noisy events is also beneficial. This could be a quiet room, a crate with comfortable bedding, or a designated area with their favorite toys. Training your dog to go to this safe space when they feel scared can help them manage their anxiety during loud events.

Training your dog on commands such as “relax” and “quiet” can also be incredibly helpful in these situations. You can learn both now by going back to the first section.

It’s best to get this handled right away because doing so will also help your dog in other similar situations. You then won’t have to stress about things like your dog howling at ambulance sirens, your dog howling at police cars, your dog barking at semi trucks, or why dogs barks at garbage trucks.

In summary, while a dog howling at a fire truck might simply be a natural response to the siren, it’s important to observe if this behavior is part of a broader pattern of noise sensitivity or phobia. Understanding the root of your dog’s reaction to loud noises is key in providing them with the right support and treatment.

For dogs with noise phobia, implementing behavior modification strategies and creating a safe and comforting environment are essential steps in helping them cope with their fear.

Do Fire Truck Sirens Hurt Dogs’ Ears?

Why Do Dogs Howl at Fire Engine Sirens?

Fire truck sirens can be uncomfortably loud for dogs, whose hearing is more sensitive than humans. While occasional exposure to sirens typically doesn’t cause harm, prolonged or frequent exposure to these high-decibel sounds could potentially lead to hearing damage or cause anxiety and stress in dogs.

What Decibel Level is Harmful to Dogs?

The decibel level harmful to dogs is generally considered to be over 85 decibels. Dogs have more sensitive hearing than humans, and prolonged exposure to sounds above this threshold can potentially cause hearing damage. It’s important to note that the duration and frequency of exposure also play a significant role in the potential for harm.

How Many Decibels is a Fire Truck Siren?

A fire truck siren typically ranges from 110 to 120 decibels. This level is significantly above what is comfortable for dogs and can be startling or distressing, especially if the exposure is close and unexpected. However, short-term exposure to sirens as they pass by usually doesn’t cause hearing damage in dogs.

To learn two commands that will help calm and quiet your dog in this and other similar situations, go back to the first section now.

How Many Decibels is a Fire Truck Horn?

A fire truck horn can emit sounds in the range of 120 to 130 decibels, which is similar to the siren and equally as loud. This high decibel level is capable of causing discomfort to dogs, and while occasional exposure is unlikely to be harmful, repeated or prolonged exposure could be detrimental to their hearing health.

Ear Protection for Dogs: Is It Needed?

Ear protection for dogs in the context of occasional fire truck horns and sirens isn’t typically necessary. Most dogs will not experience harm from sporadic exposure to these sounds. However, if a dog is frequently exposed to loud sirens due to living very close to a fire station, or if they show signs of distress or sensitivity to loud noises, you may want to consider ear protection.

It’s also a good idea for dogs that accompany you in environments with consistently high noise levels, like certain work sites or events.

In summary, while the loud sounds of fire truck sirens and horns can be startling and uncomfortable for dogs, occasional exposure usually doesn’t pose a risk of hearing damage. Dogs have a more sensitive hearing range than humans, so it’s important to be aware of their reactions to loud noises and take steps to minimize stress and discomfort.

In situations where a dog is exposed to frequent loud noises, ear protection should be considered to safeguard their hearing health.

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