Has your German Shepherd howled at a siren? It can be very entertaining to watch but quite often hard on the ears as a German Shepherd's howling isn't always very tuneful. Does your German Shepherd raise his muzzle in the air, close his eyes, and let out a howl every time he hears a fire truck siren wail? They often do and when they hear patrol cars or any other type of siren too. Has it made you wonder if it's just something German Shepherds do, or if other breeds do it too? Howling at sirens is a real canine curiosity. So why do German Shepherds howl at sirens?
The Root of the Behavior
All dogs, not just German Shepherds, have a lot of different ways they can communicate vocally and howling is just one of them. You could say howling is a part of the canine vocabulary. It has just as much meaning as any word you'll find on the pages of a dictionary. You could even consider howling to be a sort of doggy telegram. Howling is a dog's way of communicating long distance. When dogs were still pack animals and lived out in the wild back of beyond, they needed a means of being able to find each other in acres of forest or over large spreads of open countryside. You've probably had the opportunity to notice since the sound of a dog's howling really carries and it doesn't need the wind behind it either. Their acute sense of hearing can focus on the whereabouts of a howl and then track it down if they need to. If they were separated from each other, it was one way the pack had of keeping in touch and then reuniting.
Similar to how wolves still do today. When a dog hears what he interprets as a howl even if it has been generated by mechanical means, he feels compelled to answer. Much the same as we do when the phone rings. Guaranteed, if your German Shepherd starts howling at a siren, he heard it a long time before you even noticed its approach. You have probably, quite innocently, acknowledged what he's doing. Your German Shepherd or any other breed of dog, in fact, is quick to notice which of his actions get your attention. If he howls when he hears a siren and you speak to him, even if it's just a quick what are you howling at question, he's going to be more than happy to let you know when he hears another one even when its more than ten blocks away.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you live in a busy urban neighborhood with a lot of other houses close by, your dog's howling is probably not going to go over well with your next door neighbors. If you live close to the fire department or the local police station, things are going to be a hundred times worse. Your dog could be howling day and night. You are not going to get any sleep and neither are the neighbors. Apart from probably giving him a sore throat, howling too much can also turn into a compulsive behavior over which your pup will have no control.
We, as pet owners, often do things with our dogs on the spur of the moment without considering the consequences. We do it because we think it is just a bit of innocent fun. If you happen to howl along with your pup, because you find it amusing, well, he'll just consider you're answering him back. He's just doing what comes naturally and he'll continue for as long as you do. It could turn into a very long doggy-style conversation which will eventually end up confusing your dog and leaving him feeling pretty perplexed when no other pack members appear for a canine reunion.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your German Shepherd has developed the habit of howling every time he hears a siren and you don't know how to stop him, consider consulting a qualified dog handler. They will be able to teach you the correct methods and techniques to prevent him from continually impersonating a fire truck. If your dog is not a habitual howler but has suddenly started, you might want to consider taking him to the vet's for a checkup. Dogs can sometimes howl if they have hurt themselves. So if you think your pup might have injured himself somehow, you will need to get him medical attention straight away.
Yes, it is true, German Shepherds love to howl at sirens. Your dog may think the fire truck is communicating with them and then again they might not. Because their wailing is not always particularly soulful, you might want to think about enrolling him in some music lessons where they may teach him to sing operatic arias instead.