I love both of my dogs. They go with me to work, they lay by me when I’m watching TV at home, and of course, accompany me on hikes and walks.
I was lucky enough to grow up with dogs so I’ve been exposed to their loving and weird ways over the years. Whether they nibble on you like you have fleas, chase their tails, or bark when someone hugs you, it seems like every dog has odd behaviors.
Taking care of your dog doesn’t just mean going for walks and making sure they have plenty of water, though. It also means figuring out what these weird behaviors mean and why your dog is doing them.
You don’t want your dog giving all the signs of a medical problem or something else serious and you not be able to recognize them.
So what about barking at the phone? Why does my dog howl when the phone rings? Like most odd dog behaviors, several reasons could be behind it. Your dog is likely howling when the phone rings for one or more of the following:
Why Does My Dog Bark When The Phone Rings?
Maybe you looked at that list and realized exactly what is going on with your best friend and why he howls when the phone rings. If so, that’s awesome. Skip down to the section about how to stop your dog from howling if you need more help.
If you still aren’t sure what’s going on with your pooch, keep reading. I’ll go into detail about the reasons your dog might be howling at the phone.
Annoyed By The Sound
There could be a couple of different things going on here. First, you need to understand that dogs have much better and more sensitive hearing than we do. This means that when your phone rings, your dog could be hearing sounds that are outside of our hearing range. These sounds might not be that pleasant for your dog.
The other thing about having better hearing than us is that the ringing (including the noises we can’t hear) may simply be too loud for your dog. If you have ever had a loud sound hurt your ears, you can imagine how it would feel for your dog.
No wonder it makes some dogs howl!
Whether it was done on accident or purpose, someone in your dog’s life may have conditioned your dog to start howling when the phone rings.
It might have started as a game or a way to get attention from whoever was on the phone. If every time the phone rang and your dog howled, you and you patted him on the head, he would probably start to associate the two pretty quickly.
There is also the possibility that someone was mean to your dog while they talked on the phone. Now, your dog is worried that whenever the phone rings, whoever answers it will be mean again. Unfortunately, not all dogs start their lives in the best conditions and this is a real possibility.
Feeling Left Out
As your dog’s owner, you’re his whole world. You mean everything to him and he wants to be with you as much as possible.
When you’re talking on the phone, he can’t be with you. All he knows is that every time the phone rings, you leave him alone and go talk to someone else. It’s enough to make a dog feel a little left out and bark for your attention!
Letting You Know The Phone Is Ringing
Dogs are helpful. In fact, my dogs are so helpful I wish I could train them to shovel snow off the driveway. I think they’d gladly do it. Dogs are also too helpful sometimes. They’ll run in front of you to lead the way and then stop to see where you’re going. Or they’ll help point out something obvious, like that someone is knocking on the door or that the phone is ringing.
I have actually heard of this being helpful at times though. Like if you misplaced your phone, your dog may find it and stare and howl at it as it rings from under the couch cushion.
Replying To The Phone
Sometimes dogs respond to other dogs’ howls, and sometimes dogs respond to inanimate things making noise. It’s just one of those dogs being silly dogs things. Fortunately, you can stop this behavior. Check out the section below for some ideas.
Picked It Up From Other Dogs
If you’ve ever had a dog for a while, and then gotten a second or third dog, you’ve seen how quickly they’ll mimic each other’s behavior. This can be especially true for puppies.
If you have or had another dog in the house that howls when the phone rings, your puppy is probably going to start doing it too. It’s just one more way for them to fit in with the family.
Dislike What Happens After Phone Calls
These days there are so many ways to communicate, it seems like talking on the phone is rarer and rarer. Perhaps you only communicate with one or two people via phone calls so your behavior after your chat is pretty easy to predict.
Maybe most of the calls you get are from your boss asking you to come into work on your day off, or from your significant other asking you to come over. Dogs are smart and if this scenario fits you, your dog likely knows that when the phone rings you’ll soon leave him home alone, which is something he doesn’t want. So, he barks and howls because he hates that dang phone and what it does to you.
Dogs can get anxious about all sorts of things. The reason may stem from one of the other reasons listed here, or it could be something on its own.
Your dog may be anxious about being left alone, or he may not like loud noises. If the phone ringing startles him, that could be another reason for the howling.
In any case, if you think your dog’s howling when the phone rings is due to anxiety, you should talk to your vet. They may be able to prescribe medication or give you some other advice.
How To Stop A Dog Howling At A Ringing Phone
It might’ve been cute the first time or two your dog howled when the phone rang, but now it’s just getting old. You may need to borrow someone else’s phone and call yourself for a while but with hard work and patience, you can train your dog (in most cases) to quit howling at ringing phones.
Modify Your Ring
As we discussed above, your phone ringing could annoy your dog or even hurt his ears. Luckily, it’s easy to modify our phone’s ring these days. With a push of a button we can turn the volume down and with a few more pushes we can even change the ringtone itself.
If you have success turning down your ringtone, you can try to gradually, over several days or weeks, increase the volume. Your dog might adapt to it if it is slowly reintroduced. Or, maybe you’ll find a threshold you can’t cross, but at least you’ll know how loud you can keep your phone without upsetting your good boy.
If you suspect your ringtone’s tune or volume is bothering your dog, try changing both of them. If the problem is your dog is annoyed or in pain due to your phone ringing, he’ll be grateful you did.
Use A Distraction
When your phone rings, instead of getting upset or frustrated with your dog, try to use it as a training opportunity. As soon as you hear the phone ring, give your dog a command he knows and obeys well, such as ‘sit’ or ‘lay down’.
As he’s completing the task you’ve given him, praise him and give him a treat. With time and practice, your dog will start to associate the phone ringing with good things happening, which will help reduce his anxiety about it.
The one problem with the method is that it must be done perfectly. You don’t want to reward your dog for howling at the phone, but distract him before the howling starts. If your dog thinks you’re rewarding him for howling at the phone it’ll encourage him to do so even more.
Try A No-Bark Collar
There are many devices on the market now that can help train your dog not to bark. These collars work by giving your dog a small shock or spray of citronella when he barks.
While these devices may seem a bit harsh, they can be very effective in getting your dog to stop howling at the phone. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and never leave the collar on your dog unattended.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the shock collars, though they do work. Another tip is that if you have children, avoid the automatic collars. Sometimes loud kids can set them off which certainly isn’t fair to your dog.
Give It Time
In some cases, your dog may just need time to adjust to the sound of the phone ringing. If you’ve recently gotten a new phone or changed ringtones, it may take your dog a little while to get used to the new noise.
Be patient and keep using positive reinforcement training, and eventually your dog will come around.
Reassure Your Dog
Sometimes some reassurance is all any of us need, including your dog. When your dog is howling at the phone, try to calm him down with reassurances. Some ‘Okays’ and ‘Good boys’ said softly and accompanied by soft and soothing pets can go a long way to calm down a riled-up dog.
Do Not Physically Punish
I’m a firm believer in not physically punishing a dog. Besides it not being humane, you usually won’t get the long-term results you want from your dog. As a result, if your dog is howling at the phone when it rings, I highly recommend you do not punish him.
The ‘Quiet’ or ‘Quit Barking’ Command
I talked about giving the ‘sit’ and ‘lay down’ commands followed by praise as part of a way to distract your dog. The ‘quiet’ command is a great one to use as well.
Teaching your dog the ‘quiet’ command can be very effective in getting him to stop howling at the phone, it will take some practice, though most dogs seem to pick it up fairly quickly.
To see how to teach your dog ‘Silence’ check out the video below
Training The Quiet Command Video Tutorial
Summary: Why Do Dogs Howl At Ringing Phones?
When a dog howls in response to the sound of a ringing phone, it can be due to many reasons including feeling left out, wanting attention, picking up the behavior from other dogs, or being anxious. One common reason is that the dog dislikes what follows phone calls, such as the owner abruptly leaving.
Dogs may also howl due to anxiety, especially if they are anxious about being left alone. If a dog’s howling at the ringing phone is due to anxiety, it’s best to speak to a veterinarian for help.
There are a number of methods that can be used to try and stop a dog from howling when the phone rings. One method is to use positive reinforcement training, which involves rewarding the dog for not howling at the phone. Another is using distractions, which can include rewarding tasks such as ‘sit’ or ‘lay down’.
As the dog becomes more accustomed to the sound of the phone ringing, it will start to associate those good things with the phone and will be less likely to howl. Another method is to use a no-bark collar, which gives the dog a small shock or spray of citronella when he barks. While these devices may seem harsh, they can be very effective in getting a dog to stop howling at the phone.
Try teaching your dog the ‘Quiet’ command, which will come in handy in many situations.
If the howling persists, you may need to consult with a professional trainer.