From Jo Ann Mather

A hundred years ago, when I first started going to dog shows, I heard my first de-barked dog, a Collie. I was horrified! How could ANYONE DO that to a dog!?

Time passed, I got older, got more experience (and dogs!), and hopefully, a little wiser. I acquired a dog who barked ALL THE TIME, and whose bark was high-pitched enough that it would shatter glass. The writing was on the wall: I had her de-barked! My immediate reaction was: Why didn't I do this A LONG TIME AGO!

One dog can be trained (taught) not to bark excessively; possibly two dogs can be, as well. Any more than that, and you are getting into a "pack" situation, and it is very difficult to cope with the barking, which is essentially part of the pack dynamics.

De-barking is only "cruel" in that is it subjecting the dog to elective (on the owner's part) surgery, and exposing them to the risk that general anesthesia always entails. It does not affect the dog's personality or psyche -- they do not realize that they aren't making a lot of noise and are perfectly happy with their "squeak, squeak" or "huh, huh" noise that they make. The neighbors are happier -- they are not always having to listen to the dogs barking; YOU are happier, as you are not always yelling "SHUT UP" at the dogs; (as someone said, this doesn't work, anyway! and the dogs are happier as they are not always getting yelled at for something that they don't understand or see any problem with.

A de-barked dog CAN sometimes regain his/her voice, if they bark a lot and scar tissue forms. But usually the bark is not as sharp or high-pitched as it was originally. And many vets will re-do the surgery for nothing if the dog regains its ability to bark.

I am not necessarily advocating de-barking. Three of my girls are de-barked, but I got them when we lived in town and I had close neighbors to worry about. Semi is not de-barked, as I do want a watchdog, and if the puppy doesn't become too mouthy, she will not be debarked either. It is surgery under general anesthesia, and I do not advocate doing that routinely or as a matter of course. HOWEVER, it is infinitely preferable to:

  • getting turned in to Animal Control because your dogs are too noisy
  • always screaming at the dogs to "shut up"
  • having something unthinkable happen to your dogs because your neighbors are tired of listening to them.
  • using a "bark collar" -- (I understand these work, but only when the dog is wearing them. The one I saw this weekend was HUGE, and if I put it on Semi or Tonka, they would fall over sideways!)

Jenny's bark sounds like "SQUEAK, SQUEAK", and she is pretty much non-stop when she's excited. When I used to come home from work she would run around the house going SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK! I would say, "JENNY, BE *QUIET* and she would say, very softly: squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak!

Just my .02 worth. Do what you're comfortable with -- and sometimes what you have to do.



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