If your German Shepherd has been howling at sirens or thunder you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might howl at sirens or thunder and things that you can do to stop it.
So, why does my German Shepherd howl at sirens or thunder? Possible reasons are that it has sensitive hearing, there is a change in the air pressure or it triggers a fight or flight response.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why it does it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do to stop it from howling at certain sounds.
Why your German Shepherd howls at sirens and thunder
Each of the different reasons why your German Shepherd howls in these situations will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will mention some reasons why your German Shepherd might howl at these noises and what would make them more likely.
Wolves are known to howl to identify each other in the wild and this is a trait that present-day dogs might have kept from their ancestors. The reason why your German Shepherd howls when it hears certain sounds could be that it triggers an evolutionary trait causing it to identify itself to other dogs in the area.
Wolves, in the wild, will howl to tell other members of the pack where it is or to scare off other predators that are entering their territories. In the case of your German Shepherd, the howling could be to alert others of its location or to alert other dogs of possible danger. It could also be to warn others not to enter its territory.
A change in air pressure
If your German Shepherd also gets anxious when it hears noises such as thunder then it could be that it is because it senses a change in the air pressure. This is because it will warn it that there is a storm on the way and it might hear the low-frequency noises of the thunder as it approaches (source).
This would be more likely to be the reason if it starts to act differently before the thunder and lightning has even arrived. If it howls in this situation, then it could be doing it to get help from other dogs or to alert them to danger.
If your German Shepherd does get afraid when there is thunder or lightening then I have written more on why that might be the case here.
German Shepherds have better hearing than we do and they can hear higher-pitched sounds too. It could be the case that the high pitched sounds of sirens cause it to howl since it is of a similar pitch to other dogs howling.
It triggers a fight or flight response
The reason could be that it triggers a fight or flight response from your German Shepherd. This could happen due to the loud noises from the thunder and the flashes of lightning or the very high pitched sound coming from the sirens.
This would be more likely if it starts showing signs of being anxious when it hears the sounds.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid?
How to get it to stop howling at sirens and thunder
There are a number of things that you can do in order to get your German Shepherd to stop howling at loud or high pitched noises and to be calmer when it hears them.
Train it to associate the sounds with rewards
The first option you have would be to desensitize it to the noises and to get it to associate them with positive things. You can do this by playing those sounds quietly, in the background, while doing things that it likes such as playing tug of war with it.
Let it go to a quieter room
Another option you have is to get it to go into a quieter room or to try and block out the other noises when there is a sound that it does not like.
Reduce how anxious it gets
You could also do things to reduce its anxiety by giving it attention, distractions or you could give it crate training so that it has a safe area to go to.
I have written more on how to do this in this post.
Things to consider
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why it howls at sirens or thunder.
If it always howls at high pitched or loud sounds
If it always seems to howl at high pitched sounds then it would make it more likely that it does it due to the high frequency causing it to communicate with other dogs. However, it could still be the case that it causes it to get anxious especially if it shows signs of becoming anxious. If it does always get anxious then it would help to try to desensitize it where possible as mentioned above.
When it started doing it
If it didn’t always howl at these sounds it would help to consider what happened when it started doing it.
It might be the case that you rewarded it one time when it howled at the sound and it has now learned that howling at those noises gets it rewards. This would be more likely to be the reason if it does not show any signs of being anxious when it does it.
When training your German Shepherd not to howl or to be less anxious it is important that you are consistent. It won’t always be the case that you will be able to get the behavior that you want with just one training session. But, if you stick with it, you can get much better results over the course of days or weeks.
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