Excessive barking is a common problem among dogs, and it can be frustrating for owners.
When a dog barks excessively, it can disrupt the peace in your home, annoy your neighbors, and cause you to feel stressed and anxious. As such, it’s no surprise that many owners are looking for ways to control their dog’s barking behavior.
One solution that may come to mind is using a muzzle. Muzzles are commonly used to prevent dogs from biting, but can they also be used to stop barking? In this blog post, we’ll explore the effectiveness and safety of using a muzzle for this purpose.
Understanding Dog Barking
Before diving into the use of muzzles, it’s important to understand why dogs bark.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons. Some dogs may bark excessively due to separation anxiety or fear, while others may bark to get attention or out of excitement.
My coonhound, Shelby howling her little heart out.
The Main Reasons Dogs Bark:
At environmental triggers
Reactive dogs, and stressed dogs will tend to be louder than other dogs, but it’s important to identify the underlying cause of your dog’s excessive barking, as it will help determine the most appropriate solution. For example, if your dog is barking due to boredom, providing more physical and mental stimulation may be helpful. If the main reason your dog is barking due to separation anxiety, behavioral training and environmental changes may be necessary.
You can also use your dog’s body language to give you an idea as to what the specific situations are meaning, and whether the barking is fear, environmental, boredom or communication.
For example, I have coonhounds, they are loud dogs, and goodness only knows, sometimes it would be tempting to use an anti-barking device, or a muzzle to mute their barking, but I understand as a professional dog trainer that they are loud dogs, and sometimes that makes my german shepherd bark too! They’re not a bored dog, but they have simply found a critter, and are doing what they were bred to do.
But as pet owners, it can really bother us – and I get that! And as frustrated as we are a muzzle is never your answer.
Dogs who are naturally louder
Alaskan Klee Kai
American Eskimo Dog
You’d have to fit a muzzle really tightly to stop them barking… which really isn’t ethical
Types of Muzzles
They come in two main styles of muzzle: basket and soft muzzles (Emergency muzzles). Basket muzzles are made of rigid materials, such as wire or plastic, and have a basket-like structure that allows the dog to pant and drink water. Soft muzzles, on the other hand, are made of fabric and typically cover the dog’s mouth and nose.
However, to use a basket muzzle effectively as an anti-bark solution, you would have to fit it tightly to the snout of your dog, so tight that your dog’s snout cannot open, or can open minimally. However, most dog owners (and trainers) recognise that this is not ethical.
But make sure we get the right fit and pick the best muzzle possible if we do decide to muzzle train for the right reasons (and always with positive reinforcement!)
Can a Muzzle Stop Barking?
Muzzles can prevent a dog from barking by physically limiting the mouth’s movement (though it won’t stop them whining). It can work as a short-term solution – however you should not use a muzzle in this way. Muzzles are for preventing a dog’s ability to bite, not a bark. They’re worn for safety, not for silence.
While using a muzzle may offer short-term efficacy in controlling barking, it’s important to recognize that this method does not address the root cause of the problem. Failing to address the underlying cause could lead to long-term issues and a continued reliance on the muzzle.
Additionally, using a muzzle to control barking may cause discomfort and stress for your dog. The muzzle may restrict breathing and panting, which can lead to overheating and anxiety. It can also risk your dog choking on their own vomit as they won’t be able to expel it.
So, it’s important that we never use a muzzle to mute our dogs, and instead, we address the underlying cause of excessive barking!
Lucy sings the song of her people regularly, but we’ve resolved outside is okay to bark, and inside? Is not! And generally we’re quite consistent!
Safety and Ethical Concerns
Using a muzzle to control barking comes with potential risks and discomfort for your dog. Improper sizing and fitting can cause injury, while prolonged use can lead to stress and anxiety. It’s also crucial to consider the ethical implications of using a muzzle for this purpose, as it may not be the most humane solution.
When using a muzzle, ensure that it fits properly and does not cause discomfort or injury. You should also monitor your dog closely for any signs of overheating or stress. If your dog shows signs of distress or discomfort while wearing a muzzle, it’s important to remove it immediately.
How Do I Stop My Dog Barking Then?
As with everything in dog training, the best way to resolve your dog’s behavior is to address the root cause. There are multiple alternatives to using a muzzle for controlling excessive barking.
These include behavioral training, environmental changes, and addressing any underlying health issues. Behavioral training can help teach your dog to bark less and respond to commands, while environmental changes, such as providing more exercise and mental stimulation, can help reduce boredom and anxiety.
It’s also important to rule out any underlying health issues that may be contributing to your dog’s excessive barking. For example, if your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, your dog may be barking to communicate this to you.
The biggest thing? Don’t shout at them. Ironically it doesn’t do a single thing.
7 Steps To Stop Barking
This is all part of behavior modification, as general obedience training doesn’t tend to work. If you need help pick a certified applied animal behaviorist! Training sessions should be done in short periods of time and plenty of small treats.
Sensory restriction can help reduce barking by removing sight or sound triggers. Options include window frosting, curtains, blinds, or playing white noise or calming music.
Desensitize the trigger by rewarding your dog for remaining calm when exposed to the trigger from a distance, gradually decreasing that distance over time.
Ensure proper sleep and downtime for your dog to avoid overstimulation and excessive barking.
Increase mental stimulation through puzzle toys, brain games, and trick training to reduce boredom and anxiety-related barking.
Provide more exercise, especially for high-energy breeds, such as swimming, running, or hiking, to reduce excess energy that can lead to barking.
Train alternative behaviors, such as redirecting your dog to a specific location or action when triggers occur, to replace barking.
Reward quiet behavior by ignoring barking and rewarding your dog when they are calm and quiet, reinforcing the association between being quiet and being rewarded.
If you want more of an idea how to stop barking, read the full write up!
naturally, coonhounds are really quite loud – but it’s part of their charm?
Can I Use A Bark Collar To Stop My Dog Barking?
It’s best to not, bark collars are a punishment based method of dog training (whether that’s a nylon muzzle, an electric shock, ultrasonic emitters or a citronella spray, or even just a vibration) and aren’t required to teach our dogs when not to bark. Follow the tips above, and work on their emotional response, that’s always the best option for our dogs and their welfare. The good news is we don’t need to punish. We always want to create a positive association between your dog’s correct choices and minimise their opportunity to get it wrong.
Kindness Above All
It’s important to recognize that it may not be the best long-term answer. Addressing the root cause of the barking and exploring alternative methods is crucial for your dog’s well-being. If you’re struggling to find a solution, consider seeking professional guidance to ensure your dog’s health and happiness.
If you want a great muzzle for dealing with your dogs behavior, or as a training aid for an aggressive dog (or similar!) then go read my list of best dog muzzles.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!