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How To Quickly Stop Dog Barking

By Dr. Andrew Jones

Dog barking is a very common behavior problem that causes serious grief for pet owners. It irritates the neighbors, scares away the postman, leads to neighborhood unrest, and occasionally lawsuits. In this article you will learn why dogs bark and the causes of inappropriate barking. You will find why the debarking surgery is never advised and is considered unethical. I will advise you on what not to do, then you will find the most important solutions to quickly stopping your dog’s barking at home.

Barking is a completely normal behavior; great for dog communication, guarding and protecting, but a big problem when it happens too much. Finding the cause of the excessive barking is key, as we can focus on this as well to help eliminate the problem barking. Some of the common dog barking reasons: play, giving a warning, from anxiety or fear, in response to the door bell, to keep visitors of your property, or in some cases just boredom. Some dogs will bark in confined spaces ( ie a kennel), being outside in response to other dogs, or just in response to environmental noise ( ie cars, people talking etc.).

Debarking,or ventriculocordectomy is a veterinary procedure in which the dog’s vocal chords are surgically removed. The procedure is outlawed as a form of mutilation in the United Kingdom and all countries that have signed the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals. The surgery carries risks, such as anesthesia, excessive bleeding, secondary infections and proliferation of scar tissue obstructing the airway. Barking is how dogs communicate, and this procedure deprives them of this basic means of expression. I fully agree with the European ban on debarking surgery, and advise that you never consider this unethical procedure as an option for your dog.

So what should you not do that most people do?

First quit yelling at your dog to ‘Stop Barking’ or ‘Be Quiet’; in fact this may actually lead to more barking. Your dog is getting attention when he barks, and some dogs find that this attention is better than non at all. Shock collars are painful, and can actually make your dog more aggressive toward the person or other dog that they may be barking at. Do not give your dog positive attention immediately after barking, such as saying ‘good dog’ when he finally comes after calling him for 10 times.

What works then to stop your dog from barking?

The most important way to start is to go back to dog training basics and teach your dog to come when called. Start when you can almost guarantee that your dog will come, not when they are barking. Begin anywhere with no other distractions, and use tasty treats as a positive reward. Always ensure that positive reward is given every time your dog comes when called, never anything negative. If your dog runs out after a neighbor barking, and will not come, go get him as opposed to calling to come at first. You want to set it up that every time you call, he comes, and then gets rewarded with positive attention, petting, and a treat.

The next step in using training to stop barking is to call your dog to come when they are barking. When he comes, give him positive attention and a treat; you want to pet him which will lower his anxiety, decreasing adrenalin which is part of the cause of the barking. Keep the pattern of call, come, praise give a treat, and pet him consistently every time there is barking you want to stop.

Keep your dog away from the places where he barks- in other words set him up for success. If your dog constantly barks when you leave him outside, then avoid these triggers by keeping him inside, especially while you are retraining. If the barking is in response to your doorbell, then remove the doorbell. Make it a priority to never let your dog bark constantly while being outside, and if the come when called command isn’t working, immediately bring your dog inside.

Adequate exercise is one of the big keys to resolving many canine behavioral problems; this gives your dog a purpose, and allows them to better regulate their own emotions. Incorporate the come when called training command while walking, and make it a priority to exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes twice a day. Have them retrieve or run as this elevated heart rate helps produce the calming, sedating hormones that can lead to less barking.

Bark spray collars, such as the citronella spray collar, can be helpful if your dog resists training, and is outside unsupervised for short periods of time (and still barks). The collar emits a spray of non toxic citronella in response to the noise of the barking, and causes most dogs to immediately stop. Some of the problem dogs at the animal shelter adjacent to my veterinary practice responded well to the citronella collar; it stopped their barking at the grumpy neighbor, and did not make them in any way aggressive ( except of course to that grumpy neighbor).

A type of therapeutic touch, called Tellington Touch may help your barking dog. The most effective area is the ear. Gently hold the ear flap between your thumb and forefinger. Gently stroke from the base of the ear to the ear tip; repeat the motion several times covering different sections of the ear. Use the same fingers to draw tiny circles at the base of the ear. Try both of the techniques on your dog when he is calm. If he reacts well, then try it the next time he is barking.

There are a number of over the counter anti-anxiety supplements. The most popular one is one called Calm Pet, which contains Melatonin, Kava Kava, St John’s Wort, Valerian and Chamomile. Use as directed on the label. Bach Rescue Remedy is a very safe alternative medication that may calm your anxious pet. Place 4 drops on your pet’s gums prior to leaving.

Dog barking really can be controlled, especially when you understand why your dog is barking. The causes are varied, but ultimately you must accept that it is a normal dog way of communicating; your dog just needs to bark when it’s appropriate. Debarking or ventriculocordectomy is a dated unethical veterinary surgery that can cause harm and should never be considered as an option. Go back to basic training, starting with teaching your dog to come when called. Consider the use of a citronella spray collar if your dog is outside unsupervised, then look at trying some of the holistic anti-bark options in conjunction with training.

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

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Topics: Dog Care, Dog Health, Pet Care, Pet health | 73 Comments »

73 Responses to “How To Quickly Stop Dog Barking”

  1. saintgoody Says:
    November 17th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I have a dog. My of way of stopping him from barking is simply calling his name and showing piece of bread that’s his favorite and He would surely come to me.

  2. Blackfoot Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Article is way incomplete.
    Neighbour’s dog barks continuously, with zero reason. I had to lodge a complaint to get them to take the dog indoors at night, so that we can get some sleep.

  3. jacks Says:
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    people must learn that all dogs are different and some will bark when there hungry and they need water to drink, or when they want attention to play and some needs to go for walks,
    Dogs just can’t be left out side and have no contact with people, If you have a dog Be there for them, and don’t crate them for 8 to 10 hrs a day, How you like to hold your pee or poop all day long, Its not fair to your dog to be stuck in a crate, Think of your pets ans part of your famuly, They also need love and attention, There like your children and they need to be played with toys and be walk and loved always, and show them you care, Because they care about you,

  4. DannyDix Says:
    December 30th, 2012 at 5:44 am

    We had a German Shepard next door whose main hobby was to sleep most of the day, then bark all night, keeping the neighbours awake. The noise was actually echoing off the buildings. At the end of my tether, I decided to front the owner. Nasty. No change. So next evening at around 11 pm as the hound tuned up for the nightly serenade, I blasted it over the fence with the portable fog horn from my boat. It’s tail got around the corner and out of site before it did. With the other neighbours blessing I kept it up all month until the dog miraculously moved on to presumably greener but noisier pastures elsewhere and peace reigned once more. Sorry, no finessing here.

  5. m_e_rowe Says:
    January 2nd, 2013 at 7:59 am

    I agree with everything in the article except for one thing. I do not agree with using food-treats in training dogs. Positive verbal reinforcement, and petting are all that is needed. By using food you are treating your pet to love food and you are just a conduit to getting food. — Unless you have a particularly stupid breed of dog, your dog does not need that kind of reward, and once trained if you do not give him/her a food reward the prior training is undermined. I believe in treats, given randomly or at an appropriate time before a long period of exercise … a run playing Frisbee, etc. So they have they have a boost of energy. — You want to develop the relationship between you and your dog not the relationship between your dog and food.

  6. Dick Says:
    January 12th, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Yeah, but you don’t explain how to stop an indifferent neighbors’ dog from barking!

  7. James Darle Says:
    January 14th, 2013 at 5:43 am

    Cut their vocal cords. There is no suffering involved in this. (No, really – there isn’t – please don’t anthropomorphise … cutting a dog’s vocal cords is not equatable with depriving a person of the power of speech.)

    Then they can bark as much as they like, and the neighbours’ life won’t potentially be made a living hell.

  8. MikeC Says:
    January 19th, 2013 at 6:01 am

    4 inch length of hose pipe up the rectum… Then they can get compression…

  9. SueA Says:
    January 31st, 2013 at 5:52 am

    Thanks for all the ideas. I have a B&B, a 6 year old rhodesian ridgeback and a 5 year old corgi. Both female and very loving and friendly. The Corgi greets all incoming guests with loud, excited barking, ‘talking’ and whining. She also runs alongside our gardner ‘chatting’ up at him constantly – at full volume. She is clearly communicating with people but very loudly. I don’t want to stop her excited chatter and interraction but would dearly love to turn the volume down! I have tried the spray of water (no success), the high pitched collar (no success), calling away (no success), holding the nose (no success). No point in going to get her as she runs faster than me and hence another game and frustrated guests waiting for me to return to them! I am now going to try the can with pebbles. If there are any more suggestions (NO SURGERY OR CRATES!) I would be grateful.

  10. kym Says:
    February 2nd, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    my dog Bruno, he’s very ferocious but the only way to get him to stop barking is by calling him and treating him with food! he’s loves that and so he’ll stop barking! easy as ABC!

  11. bark control Says:
    February 2nd, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously
    know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving
    us something informative to read?

  12. Lydia Grace Says:
    March 5th, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Baxter is a big dog and when I go to get him to bring him in during a barking episode, he growls and bares his teeth at me. Other than this, he’s a great dog. Affectionate, funny and friendly to all who live here except when he’s in this “stranger danger” mode. He barks and tries to get to strangers, other dogs, cats especially. I don’t want to give him up, but nothing we have tried has worked. Training as described, bark collars, (don’t even faze him) good-behavior rewards. You just never know if he’s going to ignore a stranger on a walk or if he’s going to go ballistic.

  13. amd Says:
    March 20th, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Does anyone know if the electronic bark deterrents work? I have seen them advertised a fair bit, apparently if a dog barks they let out a sound that the dog hates and so it discourages them from barking. The ads say you can use it outside and point it towards your neighbour’s yard, but you can get them for inside too. You can make the sound audible or inaudible to humans.

    If this worked it would be perfect because frankly most people with noisy dogs just absolutely don’t care. If they did, most dogs would not be noisy. Yeah, yeah, you’re the exception, we’ve head it all before.

    Don’t leave a dog home alone all day and absolutely DO NOT cage it up. If you cannot spend plenty of time with a dog – which is a pack animal – don’t be selfish enough to buy one. Or at the very minimum buy two so they have company. All a dog does all day long is wait for its pack leader – its owner – to come home. Buy buying one and leaving it home alone all day you are condemning it to a life of miserable loneliness, which is why it barks and drives the neighbours mental. But, anyone selfish enough to care so little about an animal’s wellbeing and mental state obviously won’t care about their poor neighbours either.

    It has been proven that noise pollution sends the BP skyrocketing, makes people very anxious and leads to health problems including heart issues and stroke. This is not a small isse.

    Anyway, as the fault almost always lies with the owner, if these electronic things worked it would bypass the lazy, selfish owners completely and provide respite for people who are being made actually ill by the constant noise.

  14. JohnD Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 5:27 am

    Apparently, if you insert a length of hosepipe into its rectum with a few inches protruding, the dog will be unable to bark due to lack of compression.
    Of course, I haven’t tried this myself.

  15. Roger Kovaciny Says:
    March 29th, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Our dog barked at the doorbell. Looking at things from her point of view I just said “Thank you, Nipper!” She immediately stopped.

  16. Stef Says:
    April 17th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Meh. The article could be interesting, but I didn’t bother to read it because of that stupid screen-blocking advertisement. I only closed the ad so that I could post this comment.
    I won’t be coming back to this site. Why do you have to make your ad so annoying? If I see your book in the store, and remember the ad, I will NOT buy it. In-your-face advertisement DOES NOT WORK.

  17. Dr Amit Goswami Says:
    April 20th, 2013 at 3:43 am

    there is a dog in my house he start barking any time without any reason even when i come to the home he barking but when i speak something give them some time to play then he calm. but next day he repeated same procedure. how would i do.

  18. Liz Says:
    August 6th, 2013 at 7:08 am

    There is a spray you can buy that is simply compressed air and when the dog is barking, you simply press the button and the container lets out a hissing noise, similar to a hissing snake. It doesn’t harm the dog and contains nothing more than air. Works, too!

  19. susan freiman Says:
    September 13th, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Bach remedies contain nothing but water and a bit of alcohol. What is your evidence that it is effective to stop barking? Rescue Remedy makes people think there is a calming effect, and calming the people makes the dog calmer.

  20. temarah Says:
    May 12th, 2014 at 2:16 am

    My dog has recently moved houses from my fathers house to my dads best friends house who happens to live next to me so I walk her twice a day and spend over 4 hours with her so she is not alone all the time but when I go home she barks on end for like 3 hours and it only the second day. She is a husky x border collie. And is 2 years old. I need help fast because everyone wants to complain to the council already because she also howls all day long when I’m not home. Please someone I need help

  21. mary carey Says:
    April 22nd, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I have a friend who has 3 dogs who the minute the house is empty and they have gone to work these dogs bark and bark non stop. They are on their 3rd and final warning now, and its either the dogs go or they sell the house.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

  22. Maryl Says:
    May 8th, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I CANNOT believe you could be dog lovers here and even discuss putting something up a dogs rectum or cutting it’s vocal chords some of you are truly cruel and I can only hope you are not an animal owner. Please stay away from animals and practice your weirdness on people who can defend themselves. Thank You.

  23. Don Juan Says:
    January 25th, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    i have a barking dog. My neighbor has been complaining allot. the other day i saw him throw something over the fence. I went and grabbed it and it was a dog treat with a white pill inserted inside. I had it analyzed and it was melatonian. Can i prosecute since melatonian does not harm dogs.


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM
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