De-Barking and Other Methods
Dogs bark because we humans want our
dogs to bark. For years our domestication process and selective breeding has allowed our dogs to develop their
barking abilities. Wolves don't bark, so through genetic engineering and the selective breeding process, dogs these
days have the ability to retain juvenile characteristics. This is through the process known as neoteny.
Humans have chosen to retain the
infantile traits of wolves like large heads, flat faces, and large eyes and of course the ability to communicate,
barking. Barking was further developed in dogs in order to scare intruders or to help the master out (i.e. on farms
to assist in gathering the sheep).
Indirect intervention methods can be applied to stop persistent barking. These techniques
can range from spraying your dog with water while it is barking, to using noise producing devices such as "Dog
Stop" or "Barker Breaker," which emit loud or high frequency sounds that interrupt and deter barking. These devices
can be controlled by the owner, or triggered by the dogs barking. In the event your dog is resistant to these
behavioural modifications, more drastic action can be taken in the form of bark activated shock collars. This
device is particularly effective when barking occurs in the owner's absence. Shock collars, however, are
recommended only after other control measures have failed.
The key to solving the problem of
excess barking in your dog begins with an understanding of what is causing this behaviour. Once you have determined
a cause, you have a greater chance of choosing the most effective solution (e.g., more exercise) or behavioural
modification. Modifying such an instinctive and natural behaviour as barking can be difficult, and may require
considerable patience, time, and hard work. Solutions, however, are possible, and worth the effort.
If you happen to own a hard-core
persistent barker, use this method:
1. Vinegar-Water solution – mix a
proportion of 7/8 water & 1/8 vinegar together. Pour the mixture into a water pistol or what kids call “super
soaker” for longer distance shooting.
2. Aim and shoot at his chest
whenever he can’t stop barking even on your command. Dogs hate the smell of vinegar and would usually back off and
stop barking. He’ll even sneeze a few times. It’s harmless so you need not worry.
3. As always, praise him when he
If a dog barks excessively for no
good reason, well-known dog obedience instructor and author, Jerry Climer, suggests that you walk up to him and
close your hand around his muzzle; forcefully, but not enough to cause pain. Hold his mouth closed and command
“Quiet!” If he tries to break away, be more firm and forceful. Hold his mouth shut and snap your
finger sharply across his nose, commanding again “Quiet!” Once he has stopped the excessive
barking and is silent, praise him.
When training a young puppy not to
bark, place a short rope on his collar and let him drag it around the house. When he barks to alert you, let him
bark once or twice, and tell him he’s a good dog. Then use the command “Quiet!” in a firm tone, while at the same
time giving his rope a little jerk to startle him. Insist that he stop the noise immediately, and praise him the
minute he becomes quiet.
Whether training a grown dog or a
young puppy, discipline must be consistent in order to be effective. After the lesson has been learned, commanding
“Quiet!” will be enough to bring peaceful silence.
In some extreme cases, an electronic
bark collar may fail to produce results. If your dog happens to exemplify such a case, then a surgical procedure
called "De-barking" might provide you with a suitable alternative. A final resort to be adopted is debarking. This
will come into operation when all other behavioural modification methods have been tried. Further due to the
excessive barking, complaints from neighbours galore and particularly the dog's life in question, vocal cordectomy
(debarking) can be performed. This surgical procedure involves removal of all or part of the vocal
The surgery is fairly simple to
perform and your dog's barking will be replaced with "squealing" sounds. The surgery will not affect your dog
physically or psychologically as it will not make any difference to your dog whether it squeals or barks. However,
there are several drawbacks to surgery. First, the procedure is irreversible; and second, your dog won't be able to
alert you to intruders. If you are at your wit's end, when you have exhausted all others means, when you can no
longer face your angry neighbours, then surgery might be the best alternative to giving your dog away.
Debarking can be somewhat inhumane
because the dog is trained to let out a low, raspy bark which cannot be heard from more than a few feet away. If
you consider the process of de-barking your dog you must weigh the pros and cons. It can be beneficial in the sense
that your dog will no longer be the irritating dog on the block who barks at anything he sees but may be a problem
if the dog is in danger. As an owner you would want to know where the location of your dog was if it was in