I have noticed it is almost infallible. My while-in-the-house-I'm-very-laid-back 6 y.o. Irish Wolfhound is now tuned into dying to go out if I'm on the phone. I swear, she can be asleep stretched out in another land, and as soon as I get on the phone, she is at the door, crying - I give her a "no" look and point back to her bed, and then she'll scratch at the door again.
I've been really set about not letting her out to avoid conditioning this, even though she scratches the paint on the door, and I'll even drag her back to her bed - fun while trying to keep the receiver squeezed between my shoulder and ear...
She is really a well behaved sweetheart, and very low key - except for when she's zooming around outside when we're out together which is fine. But she doesn't otherwise whine to get out at any other time. In fact, I've never had a dog who could "hold it" as long as she can, or who can be so stubborn about going out in bad weather. They're a lot like Greyhounds that way.
But tonight it is 30 degrees and pouring rain out, and both times I've been on the phone, she's been at the door within 60 seconds. I'm on a portable phone, not a cell. I wonder if there is some kind of frequency that triggers it? Although after the call is through, and I let her out the door, she's done her business both times... I've noticed this now for a couple of weeks.
Anyone else ever see this? Had labs for years and years and none of them ever did this.
At some point you probably unknowingly reinforced the pattern. Phone rang, coincidentally she asked to go out at the same time, or shortly thereafter. You let her out. It might have happened only twice, and now she has the pattern down. Classic conditioning at work. Bell rings, dog scratches at door, dog get attention, dog goes outside. Happy dog.
If it were me I would practice with some fake phone calls. Call your home phone from your cell or vice versa - either way, make sure she hears it ring. You pick it up and start talking. Just talk to yourself and laugh as if you were on a real phone call.
When she starts begging to go out, totally IGNORE her. Don't point or say NO or give her a look, or drag her to her bed, or anything. Do not enforce her demand for attention at ALL. Even negative attention is still attention.
Talk on the phone for 5 minutes, then say "Bye" and hang up. Don't even look at her. Go on about your business cleaning or watching TV or whatever. Then in another 5 minutes, get on the phone again.
Just keep repeating until she realizes that when you are on the phone, she gets totally IGNORED. No eye contact, finger point, head shake, NOTHING.
Normally I like giving lots of treats for good behavior but in this case, the only behavior to reward would be her laying on her bed quietly. And you don't want her to start begging for treats when you're on the phone either. If you try to reward her for laying on her bed, you will reinforce to her that phone rings = she gets food. So in this case I think I would choose to ignore her and not reinforce the behavior.
She will have to learn that begging to go outside while you're on the phone is a totally dead end.
It's an Irish thing. I'm sure of it now that you posted this. My Irish Setter does the same thing. Ha! She goes nuts if she sees me on the phone outside. I can be inside talking on the phone and she's fine, go out to the deck and she attacks the door like wolverine.
She also can hold it in bad weather. I swear she will hold it for 3 days if it is raining outside! She just stands there and blinks at me in the rain. She won't pee in the house but must have a bladder that takes up half her body weight!!
Seriously it's those weird Irish dogs. Sorry I can't be of any help other than to commiserate with you. They're Irish . . .. they're weird. There's your answer.
It's a household pet thing, particularly noticable when one is home alone. The talking into the phone without another person in sight disturbs some cats and dogs and others don't care one way or another; the ones with odd reactions think you are talking to them. Just attention seeking on their parts.
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Have you had the same reaction with a cell phone or one of the "old-style" phones that actually attach you to the wall? I'm wondering if you might be onto something about the frequency.
The reason I ask is because my dog Simon ALWAYS lets me know when my cell phone is about to ring a split second before it actually does. When he cocks his head and stares at it, ears alert, I know it's going to start going off. I've seen him do this when the phone is still in my purse - he'll suddenly fixate on the purse, and sure enough I hear muffled ringing a half-second later.
I wish I could talk on the phone like a normal person. I have to go into the bathroom with the cordless and shut the door. It's like having a bunch of toddlers.
My husband works from home. If he and I talk our mixed pack of two chi's and one old JRT are quiet. The nanno second he starts a business call the dogs will start whining. Kick them out of his office (they spend all day at his feet) and shut the door and one chi barks at him. It's all fun and games until someone in the conference from NYC says "hey, does anyone else hear a dog barking?"