Ask Ethel: Cell Phone Ring Causes Dog to Hump!
–Switching My Phone to Silent
Sometimes we ask ourselves the wrong questions, SMPTS. You may never know the answer to why Eli humps your arm, but let's try to make some educated guesses and keep her from rubbing you the wrong way.
Boston-area dog trainer Bette Yip (CPDT) thinks Eli might be trying to get your attention. There you were one day, talking away on your cell phone, and for whatever reason, your Havanese decided to give the hump method a try – and it worked.
"It was something [SMPTS] couldn't ignore because it was so unusual and so bizarre, and then a behavior was born," Yip says. "It's very typical, while people are on their phones, for their dog to do whatever works to get their people to stop talking on the phone and pay attention to them."
So what now? Will your life be reduced to email communications only? Of course not. We can make this work.
First, keep Eli a safe distance away from you when you answer the phone. Put her in her crate, or behind a baby gate, or have her on a leash and step on it so that she can reach you. Next, teach her a cue that's associated with the cell phone. When you're not actually having a conversation with someone, call yourself and pretend to talk. Then, have Eli lie down in response. If she's done that, give her some treats or affection.
Hopefully, after lots of practice, Eli won't be humping anymore. Once you've successfully taught her a new response to your being on the phone, you'll both feel less violated!
Got a thorny pet (any pet!) problem that you can't figure out? Try Ethel – she'll do her best to help. Send your questions to email@example.com or send us a message on Twitter or Facebook.
Previously in Ask Ethel:
Why Does My Dog Want to Own Me?
Dog Barks at Everything
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