› Bark-Softening

Is Surgery For Bark-Softening Humane?

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This is a hot topic, especially for people who have never come across a dog that has had the procedure. Fingers start wagging, accusations start flying, emotions run high. Sometimes, I think I’d rather discuss politics or religion.

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The first variation of the surgical intervention to eliminate the problem of a noisy, barky dog is what I’ll discuss here.

Yes, my adults (presently all of them) are bark softened.  Why? Because I choose NOT to stop raising shelties, and I presently live in suburbia, the land of “SHHHHHHH!”

Will I move to a more remote place so my future dogs can bark freely without the bark-softening surgery that muffles their sound?

FOR SURE! That’s what I’m searching for now. 

But understand, there are breeders I know who have 8 acres of property and that still isn't enough to satisfy some of their neighbors. 

But in the meantime, I and other breeders of barky dogs like the Sheltie, rely on the surgery as part of normal care to maintain peace in the neighborhood.

For those of you who feel the dog should be controlled through non-surgical means,  see my discussion on anti-bark devices as ways to stop your dog from barking.

hush barking dogs

Dog Whispering

It is a relatively simple procedure where the dog is anesthetized and small portions of their vocal cords are removed. 

This allows the dog to still make noise, just not the high pitched shrieking sounds that can travel long distances.

After the surgery, there is little or no “recuperation time”. The dog is kept quiet for the next 24hrs after which they return to normal activity the next day.

The procedure DOES NOT alter the dog’s personality, DOES NOT cause pain, (there are no pain receptors in the vocal cords) DOES NOT alter the dog’s ability or desire to communicate with other dogs or humans. They are happy, healthy and unaffected by it.

Here is a rather balanced article on bark-softening surgery. And another article by a long time Sheltie breeder (not me!) on controlling barking dogs.

For those who say it is not medically necessary, you are right. But it is a socially responsible thing to do when dogs irritate humans by their behavior.

Performing socially necessary procedures is pretty common in this country. I would ask you look at the spay and neuter procedure which is also NOT PERFORMED FOR MEDICAL REASONS but primarily to prevent unwanted pregnancies. That is a social issue. 

The spay and neuter surgery is certainly more invasive and creates so many more medical problems for our dogs than it solves.

There is another surgery that I would NEVER have one of my dogs undergo ever again. That is the debarking surgery which is much different than the surgery I just described.

What About Puppies?

Generally, puppies less than 6 months old should not have the procedure because they tend to re-grow the vocal cords and would just have to have it re-done later in life.

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