Excessive barking is a common complaint among dog owners. Dogs bark for many reasons, including boredom, breeding, temperament and environmental noises. The behavior may occur only when the owner is away or when the owner is home. Which remedy works best is dependent on the cause of the barking. Regardless of method chosen, the owner must use it consistently to see the best results.
Behavior modification is useful for dogs that are barking in response to outside activity or from boredom. There are two main methods of behavior modification. The first involves consistently telling the dog "no" immediately after the barking behavior. This can include a sharp tug on the leash if the dog is currently wearing one.
The other main method of behavior modification is to replace the barking with a preferred activity. Toys and treats are most often used as it is impossible to bark while licking or chewing.
This method causes an unpleasant consequence for barking behavior. This method is particularly useful for dogs that bark when their owners are not at home. A spray of citronella fragrance is emitted when triggered by the dog's bark being picked up by a microphone on the collar. The scent is unpleasant to the dog due to his sensitive sense of smell; yet is not unpleasant to most humans. The microphone must be set correctly to ensure that the spray occurs only when the dog barks.
Shock collars work in a method similar to citronella collars, emitting an electric shock as opposed to a blast of fragrance. The intensity of the shock can be adjusted to an appropriate level for each dog. These collars are beneficial to owners who are not at home when the dog is barking. As with citronella collars, the microphone sensitivity must be set so that only the dog's bark causes the shock.
Vocal cordectomy, or debarking, is the surgical removal of part or all of a dog's vocal chords. This is done only in extreme cases of excessive barking and only after all other methods have failed. An extreme measure, this surgery is usually only performed if the dog's life is in jeopardy.