Can Dogs Hear Telephones?

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Introduction

It is no secret that dogs have an incredible sense of hearing. In fact, canines can hear more than four times better than humans. This explains why Fido often barks at 'nothing' when they are honing in on a sound that is far beyond our hearing ability.  

In order to understand what sounds (such as a ringing phone) your dog can hear, we must start with the specifics in regards to your dog's ears. Dogs can hear frequencies much higher than humans, which is why they have a hard time with loud sounds and noises. While the human range of hearing is between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, a dog's is 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz.

We've certainly come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell created the first telephone in 1885 (hello, smartphones), but taking a look back in time will help us better understand what - and how - dogs hear. 

Signs Your Dog Can Hear the Telephone

Not only are dogs able to hear a much wider range of sounds than we can, but their ear structure also plays a role in their ability to hear. While a human has ears placed flatly on the sides of the head, dogs have ears on the top of their head. 

Most breeds have erect ears (as opposed to floppy), which allows them to detect noises from much further away. Dogs' ears also operate independently from one another, meaning they can use one ear to listen to sounds from a specific direction, while the other ear is keeping tabs on what's going on right in front of them. Their ears are constructed of 18 tiny muscles, all of which work together to help them detect and interpret sounds. 

This is important because both the structure of their ears and the frequencies they can hear play a role. When it comes to a ringing phone, you will likely notice different behaviors. Some dogs don't blink an eye when the phone rings, which doesn't necessarily mean they aren't hearing what's going on. 

Many dogs have a negative reaction to the phone ringing, which could be due to the high-pitched sound or a negative association. If your dog can hear the phone ringing, you will probably know it. They may bark, wag their tail, leave the room, jump around, or act in many other peculiar ways. Each dog is so unique! 

Body Language

Here are a few signs your dog can hear the phone ringing:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Listening
  • Raise ears
  • Ears up

Other Signs

These are other signs your pooch can hear the phone ringing:
  • Circling the room
  • Seeming overly anxious and bothered
  • Not being able to calm down
  • Not leaving you alone

History Behind Dogs Hearing the Telephone

The first telephones in America were thought to operate on the common frequency of 20 Hz, but they typically range between 15 and 68 Hz. 

This means that dogs can most certainly hear the phone ringing, although they may not know exactly what this strange noise means. 

In addition to hearing better than we can, dogs can hear sounds an estimated four times farther away than we can. This is why your dog may start barking and go running for the door, seemingly out of the blue. 

Science Behind Dogs Hearing the Phone Ring

The more we learn about our canine friends, the better prepared we are to provide them with a happy and full life. By educating yourself about their hearing, you will be far less confused by their behavior and reaction to different sounds, like the phone ringing. Many dog owners report their dog barking, circling, and whining whenever they hear the phone ring. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't a protest to those long phone calls with Grandma, but rather an associative behavior.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to how your dog interprets a phone ringing, but many believe the ringtone can trigger something unpleasant that happened in their past. If your dog starts to act crazy whenever the phone rings, there's a good chance they are associating the sound with something.

 On the other hand, dogs also know that when you talk on the phone, you are less likely to pay attention to them. Once they figure this out, the ringing phone becomes their worst enemy! Our canine pals are far smarter than we often give them credit for, so next time Fido is upset or starts barking when the phone rings, consider how loud that noise is to them and what they thing it means. 

Training Your Dog to Hear the Telephone

If your dog appears to be sensitive to the ringing of the phone, it may help to work on desensitization. Dogs are sensitive, intuitive creatures that have a very acute sense of hearing, which can be both a blessing and a curse. 

Before you do anything, start by calling yourself a couple times and pay attention to Fido's reaction. If your pup starts barking or circling the room, it probably means the sound is too high and is bothering them. With today's many wonderful advancements in technology, we are able to change the volume and frequency of cell phones, making them easier to hear - for humans and dogs alike.

Try turning the ringer volume down and then call yourself again. If your pooch doesn't react, you've landed on a frequency that is much more pleasant to their sensitive ears. This is a good place to start and will provide you with invaluable information in regards to your pup's sense of hearing. 

How to React if Your Dog Hears the Phone Ringing:

  • Turn down the ringer.
  • Watch their behavior and make note of any changes.
  • Talk to your vet about what you can do.