If your puppy bites, barks, or otherwise bothers you each time you're on the phone, immediately nip his behavior in the bud. Correcting his bad behavior while he's young means you won't have to deal with it when he's an adult. Although you might be tempted to yell at him to get him to stop acting up, understand that this only reinforces his behavior -- he's getting the attention he craves and thinks you're joining in on the fun. Instead, use clever tactics to teach your furry friend good manners.
Tip #1 - Put your puppy in time-out. Call your home phone with a cell phone to pretend someone is calling. Pick up the phone, and when your pet companion barks and bites you, say "ouch" and ignore him -- don't look at him, don't talk to him and don't pet him. If he stops misbehaving, give praise and dog treats to reinforce his behavior. If he continues barking and biting, say "ouch" a little louder, and walk out of the room with the phone, or ensure your pup is leashed and guide him to a pet-proof room for a time-out. After 30 seconds, reappear or take your puppy out of the room. With consistency, this teaches him that his barking and biting during phone calls gets him in trouble.
Tip #2 - Prioritize obedience training so you can control your puppy's behavior. In addition to basic commands, such as "sit" and "stay," teach your puppy the "quiet" and "leave it" commands. When your puppy goes into a barking rage, the "quiet" command can make him stop, and if he's about to bite you, the "leave it" command can prevent it from happening.
Tip #3 - Give your puppy a daily workout so he burns energy that he might otherwise use to bark, bite and misbehave. Take him for a walk so he can run, play games and interact with other dogs and people. Provide him with chew toys and food-stuffed dog toys for entertainment at home.
Tip #4 - Startle your puppy so he stops barking and biting. Partially fill an empty soda can with coins and seal the opening with sticky tape. Place the can within your reach near the phone. When you're on the phone and your pet companion acts up, throw the can on the floor in front of him. The noise and sudden appearance of the can will startle him and stop him in his tracks. Do this each time your puppy acts up, and over time, he'll stop misbehaving just to avoid the unpleasant consequence.
Tip #5 - Give your furry friend the impression that the ringing phone is no big deal. If your puppy gets excited and barks each time the phone rings, it's similar to the doorbell ringing -- he sees you going toward it and anticipates something exciting will happen. Call your home phone with a cell phone and pay no attention to the ringing -- just keep reading your book or watching television. When your puppy notices you're not excited and are ignoring the phone, he'll stay calm too. Practice this several times and eventually the ringing phone will not be exciting to your pup anymore.
By Kimberly Caines
The Humane Society of the United States: Barking: How to Get Your Dog to Quiet Down
ASPCA: Mouthing, Nipping and Play Biting in Adult Dogs
ASPCA: Enriching Your Dog's Life
Cesar's Way: How to Prevent Dog Barking
Doggy Woof: Why Does My Dog Bark When The Phone Rings?
ASPCA: Teaching Your Dog to "Leave It"
The Humane Society of the United States: Teach Your Dog the "Quiet" Command
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.