Your partner or friends might moan that they feel ‘phubbed’ when you ignore them to fiddle with your phone.
Phubbing or phone snubbing is being blamed for a rise in anxiety and depression in dogs over the last five years.
They don’t understand why we’re messing with our phones rather than playing with them or giving them feedback when they turn to us for help.
Amber Pickworth, a behaviourist with nationwide animal clinic The Vet, explains: “I’d urge people to put their phones away when they’re with their dogs.
“You might think you’re spending quality time with your animal when you take it for a walk, but the minute the phone comes out, the dynamic changes without you even realising it.
“Dogs are pack animals and they take their human protectors as pack leaders.
“If we’re not giving them feedback they panic. They don’t understand why you’re not responding.
“If you’re walking down the street and your dog sees a cat it will look to you for guidance as if to say, ‘Can I..?’
“And because you haven’t given a response, as you’re engrossed in your phone, the dog simply goes ahead and does what it wants.
“It needs reassurance from you to say either ‘yes it’s okay’, or ‘no, stay here’. If you don’t provide that input you’re making it anxious and also asking for behaviour issues in the long term.
“After all, as the saying goes – a dog might be a small part of your world, but you’re their entire world.”
Amber working in her surgery at The Vet in Nottingham.
We spend two hours and 24 minutes on our smartphones on average each day, up 400 per cent from 2011 when it was just 31 minutes.
If we’re walking and talking our dogs get confused as they think we’re talking to them, and if we’re arguing, they fear they are being reprimanded.
I’ve seen my dog Daisy feel phubbed when I’ve been chatting while out walking, particularly if we’re playing with her ball.
If I’m staring at my phone and not throwing it quick enough, she’ll jump up and down and bark.
She does the same if I’m on my phone at home too – not ideal when I work from home and have to interview people.
I usually give her a treat to keep her happy or work in another room.
It’s not just dogs though, cats and rabbits feel the same too.
My brother John says his rescue cat Bowie hates it when the iPhone comes out. He said: “He sits in a sulk facing the wall if we try to take his photo.
“We have to catch him unaware and he always looks glum on photos.
“If we’re on our phones he’ll go in the hall and scratch away at the carpet and meow until we turn our attention back to him.”
Helen Gilbert who runs relaxyaselftohealth.co.uk says her house rabbit Freddie hates her chatting on the phone too.
She said: ”The tantrums always start. He’ll stamp his feet, headbutt my shin and tug the curtain before chewing everything in sight just to teach me a lesson.
“I’m not talking about a terrible teenager but my house-bunny who inevitably gets jealous when I’m on the phone catching up with a friend.”
So how can we help our furry friends?
For Helen and I, working as writers from home means we can’t avoid being on the phone in front of our pets.
Amber says to look out for signs of stress, such as pacing and yawning and use phones in a different room.
Make sure dogs get the exercise they need and think twice about ‘babying’ dogs.
She added: “Many dog breeds need lots and lots of exercise and stimulus if they’re going to remain happy and content.
“If you collapse into the house after a busy day and stare at your phone rather than playing with it or taking it for a walk, it will quickly become bored.
“We’re either completely ignoring our dogs or spoiling them with constant attention.
“There’s a view that a dog should be a dog. It should be fed in a bowl and it should sleep in a crate downstairs.
“But it could actually be in their best interest not to be pampered and treated like a little person.”
Are you worried your pet is stressed? Read How Reiki can de-stress animals and help them heal…