The Reasons Dog Whistles Can Make a Dog Cry

Dog whistles can make dogs cry because:

Dogs respond to whistles instinctively or because the sound hurts their ears. Whistling is fine unless you forget how powerful dog’s hearing is.

The sound is okay for you, but your dog will hear higher and lower sounds, and at much greater volume. The key is watching your dog’s response to noise.

Ever noticed how some dogs cry when you whistle near them, or how they react to certain noises? If you’ve wondered why or considered whether it hurts them or not, I’ll help you figure it out.

 Some dogs are talkative and will howl when you sing or whistle. Other dogs may be scared or in pain. Let’s explore this important subject because your dog may be trying to communicate with you about noise.


Dogs Have Very Sensitive Hearing

The most common answer to the question wondering if whistling hurts dog’s ears is, their hearing is so sensitive, it hurts because they hear things much louder than we do.

Of course, there are a lot of variables to that, and I’ll go through them as we progress. There other things to consider though.

If you stand near a dog and use a high pitched pea whistle or silent dog whistle, it will aggravate your dogs hearing. It may not hurt your ears, but we have much less sensitivity in our ears than dogs.

Sometimes using a natural ‘pursed lip’ whistle will hurt your dog’s ears too because it is likely the volume that hurts their ears, rather than the frequency. This is why you blow a silent dog whistle lightly. You can’t hear how loud you’re doing it, but it may be agony for your dog.


Dogs React Differently to Sounds Than We Do

Have you ever been sitting quietly with your dog, and they suddenly perk their ears up?

They react to a noise they consider loud, even though you didn’t hear anything. That’s because a dog’s hearing is multiple times the hearing capability as humans.That’s why dogs often run away from vacuums and sudden noises like fireworks. They’re not only afraid or confused; they’re acute hearing causes pain.

Other noises can make a dog howl, even though they aren’t in pain. An example of that would be a siren. It’s not so close that it causes pain, but the noise of the siren can cause anxiety or fear. The howl of your dog may also be a genetic response.

When their wolf ancestors were lost or separated from the pack, the group howled to let the lost member know exactly where they were. The noise led them home. When your modern pooch hears a whistle, siren, or high pitched noise, it may howl because they think someone is calling to them.

They may also think something is up, and they are letting you know about it. They could continue to howl until you respond in some way to them.


Dogs Hear More Range of Noise Than Us

Dog’s hearing ability is very impressive. The Hertz range they can hear is much broader than ours. A Hertz measures the frequency of sound, so the higher the frequency, the higher the pitch is. This is a comparison of how well you hear frequency versus your dog.

FREQUENCY MAX20,000Hz65,000 Hz

As pitch or frequency increases, we stop hearing the sound, but dogs continue to hear well above our ability.

Dogs also have the ability to hear much quieter sounds. Volume is measured in decibels. As sounds get lower in decibels, we can’t hear them anymore. Dogs continue to.

Zero is the limit of the low sounds we can hear. Anything below that, dogs will hear and often respond to.


Your dog hears sounds much lower than you, much higher than you, and all sounds are amplified.This is why we have to be so conscious of volume, pitch, and the length of noises we make like whistling or subjecting them to noises in the environment.


Howling is Different to Crying or Whimpering

As we’ve already identified, a howl is often a natural response to noises your dog hears. Crying and whimpering is different and indicates pain or fear.

 If your dog howls they are communicating to you,either as  a call back to the noise,ortotalk to you in response to the noise.

If they cry or whimper, the sound is causing them pain or fear. Usually body language confirms how dogs feel. Often they will cower, shake their head, or show other signs of discomfort.


Learning What Your Dog Says Helps You Know if Noise is Hurting Their Ears

We all know dogs are intelligent and very good communicators. Sometimes we don’t pick up the message, so it pays to learn what they’re telling us. This makes it much easier to know if noises are hurting them or they are just talking to us.



Considered a communication method by dogs. If your dog is responding to whistling, sirens, or any other high pitched noise, it is likely calling out or letting you know something is up.



Your dog will often whimper or yelp when in pain. If it is doing this in response to loud noise, they are probably in pain.

Imagine someone blowing a trumpet loudly, right next to your ear. If the noise is prolonged, you wouldmove your dog from the noise or makethe noise to stop.



This is often the most common response. It can mean your dog is afraid, alerting you to something, is bored, or distressed. It can also mean the noise is causing them pain, but not to the point of yelping.



This is a warning that your dog might get violent because something is concerning them. Don’t ignore growling as it is the prelude to your dog taking matters further.

It may mean the noise is making them angry because it’s painful. Do what you need to do to stop the noise, or move your dog away. Be very wary of a growling dog, even your own.



This is a deep-throated bark that goes on for a long time. When dogs chase their prey, they make baying sounds. They also bay when challenging an intruder. If they make baying sounds in response to noise, your dog might be challenging that noise.


You Must Protect Your Dog’s Hearing

Dogs have such good hearing, it’s very easy to cause long term damage. This is especially so if your dog is exposed to sustained, loud noises, sudden sharp noises, or high pitched bursts.

Do everything you can to prevent hearing loss in your dog. Here are five tips to help:

  1. Prevent any exposure to loud or sudden noises, so be wary of taking your dog to work or spending time in a noisy environment. Remember, if the noise hurts your ears, it hurts your dog’s ears much more.
  2. Have your dog’s ears checked regularly by your vet.
  3. If you have children, let them know not to scream or make loud noises near your dog’s ears.
  4. A healthy dog is less likely to develop avoidable ear problems. Feed them with balanced, high quality meals and keep them fit with regular exercise.
  5. If you suspect your dog may have hearing problems, don’t wait;see your vet as soon as possible.

If you have your dog in a noisy environment, you need to protect their hearing with doggie muffs, similar to earmuffs you would wear.


You Can Still Use a Whistle Around Your Dog

Dog whistles are a useful tool when training your dog, and if you are aware of the pain you could cause by incorrect use, you will be much better equipped to use one.

Knowing that your dog will hear the pitch and volume when you can’twill make you very conscious of your technique.

Using an audible whistle takes control on your part as well. Your dog will still get a piercing noise, even if it’s bearable for you.

Like anything, technique is key. As long as you don’t blow extremely hard, for long periods of time or right next to your dog’s ears, the whistle won’t hurt them.


It’s All About Being Sensible

Whistling and other sounds may make dogs howl at times. It is usually a natural response, but be aware of your dog’s communications. You’ll see the difference between a natural response and one of pain or fear. Dog’s are individuals like us, and sometimes a whistle may hurt them, and other times it may not bother them at all. Keep an eye on your pooch’s body language and be mindful of their super hearing.


Writer: Craig Taylor

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