Ask the Vet Archive

Your chance to ask Dr. Mindy Cohan, VMD, our resident pet health expert, what's on your mind!

Topic: Barking Dogs

Question from Shellie in Elkton, MD:
I have a two year old lab who barks all the time! He barks when he wants to play ball, go out, or just looks at us and barks. I have tried a squirt gun, but he loves it! Any suggestions?

Answer from Dr. Mindy Cohan:
Constant barking can certainly be an annoying trait of dogs. There are some measures that can be taken to help diminish this behavior. First, never shout "shut up" or "be quiet" as your dog is barking. Your loud voice will only provoke more barking. Instead, whisper "hush" to your dog.

If your dog has not attended obedience training classes, please enroll him. At home, it will be very important to work on the "come" command. Asking your dog to come to you will hold his attention. Repeat this exercise over and over. Each time he obeys the command, praise him with words and treats. When he starts to bark, use the "come" command to divert his attention. When he comes to you, again, give him a treat and say, "Good boy." This will take lots of patience and practice, but should hopefully help.

I am not a fan of shock collars to deter barking. I have had good feedback regarding citronella collars. These collars spay a citronella mist when the dog barks. The aerosol is not harmful to your dog and it is often enough to inhibit barking.

Keep in mind that labs are very active dogs. They require a lot of exercise and play time. Increasing your dog's exercise can also help solve the barking problem. Be sure to provide plenty of toys. The more preoccupied your dog is, the less he will bark.

Posted November 17, 2006

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