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Debarking a Dog: What Is It and Should You Consider It?

Debarking is a major surgical procedure.

Debarking, which is also called bark softening or devocalization, is a surgical procedure that removes some of a dog's vocal folds. The procedure results in a softer bark.

Why Is Debarking Done on Dogs?

Debarking is done as a way to end problem barking in a dog. The procedure is sometimes performed if a person is considering euthanasia or abandonment of a dog that barks at inappropriate times, intensities, pitches, or to comply with local noise laws.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Barking is normal for dogs. They do so as a way of communicating. Dogs may bark as a greeting, warning, method of defense, or out of fear or excitement. Sometimes, dogs have an increase in their barking behavior if they are suffering from a medical problem such as senility.

Dogs may bark excessively because they haven't been trained well, are bored, don't have enough social outlets, are fearful of certain stimuli, have separation anxiety, or are territorial.

Does Debarking a Dog Work?

Debarking a dog will likely decrease the noise associated with a dog's excessive barking, but it will not do anything about the reason the dog is doing so in the first place. It is a symptomatic approach to solving an inappropriate barking problem rather than one that's aimed at resolving its cause.

Dangers of Debarking a Dog

Debarking is a surgery performed under general anesthesia, so there are risks involved inherently in those procedures.

Pain is present during the recovery period from debarking surgery.

Because debarking is performed on the vocal folds in a dog's throat, bleeding and swelling carry risks for choking, gagging, aspiration pneumonia, and airway swelling that may dangerously affect breathing.

Long-term risks of debarking include the formation of excessive scar tissue in the area which can cause a dog to have chronic coughing, difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, and exercise intolerance. These conditions may require more surgery.

Many dogs that undergo debarking surgery eventually recover a normal or near normal bark. This may occur within months of the surgery.

Because of the significant risks of debarking surgery, along with the pain and high failure rate associated with it, it is not recommended by most veterinarians. In fact, the procedure is considered inhumane by many people, and it is legally restricted in several states.

Problem Barking in Dogs

If your dog is barking inappropriately, there are many ways you can modify his behavior. Take a look at the thorough article, "How Do You Stop a Dog From Barking?"

Check with your veterinarian or a canine behavior specialist for more recommendations specific to your dog's situation.

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