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amy29

Debarking

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amy29   

Hi all

 

New member here, seeking some advice on something which I understand is controversial.

 

I have a beautiful, anxious 3 year old pointer x greyhound. She is a chronic barker and I am writing this in tears after receiving our third noise complaint - one at each property we’ve lived in with her. Each move has been aimed at finding a quieter, ‘trigger free’ environment for her however nothing is helping. She barks at any noise, a car door closing, an unfamiliar voice, cats, motorbikes, birds.. 

 

What I am wondering is if debarking a dog affects their mood or quality of life. Please see below for things we’ve already tried. Currently we put an electric bark collar on her (last resort as advised by council) but she yelps and it breaks my heart. She also still barks with it on, albeit maybe 30 seconds between barks. 

 

She is of average energy level and is exercised for a minimum of one hour a day. We have another dog too and the longest they’re on their own is about 6 hours. We always leave the TV on, back patio door open and antlers to chew on. It doesn’t matter whether I’m out or home, the barking happens. Even during the night. 

 

What I have already tried, in order: 

 

- additional exercise 

- sending them to daycare (she passes out from tiredness after, but still wakes up to bark if she hears something) 

- citronella collar 

- two way dog-cam where I can talk to her

- dog trainer 

- anxiety medication 

- electric collar 

 

I’m worried that the collar making her anxiety worse and it’s not even 100% effective. That’s why I’m wondering if debarking is somehow a better option. 

 

I love her so much but I even considered if her going to live with family friends on acreage would be kinder for her than debarking. But when we took her out there she barked even more at animals etc. 

 

Any feedback would help us. 

 

Thank you

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Snook   

I'm sorry your dog is so anxious and that both of you are feeling so stressed. Ecollars are not a good move for a dog with anxiety and will in all likelihood exacerbate her anxiety. I understand you're doing it based on advice from the council but please stop using it. 

 

When you say you've tried anxiety medication, was this under the care and guidance of a vet behaviourist or a general vet? Most vets know very little about these medications and it can time and trialling different medications and combinations of medications, before you find what works for your dog. I've been through this with my own dog (not the barking but other trauma related anxiety) and the first medication increased his anxiety dramatically and others either increased it or had no effect, until the vet behaviourist tried the combination he's on now. He also needed changes to how he's managed along with the medication, and most dogs also need behaviour modification training once they're stabilised on the medication (we didn't do this part with my dog for a combination of reasons I won't hijack your post to go in to). A regular vet wouldn't have known enough to be able to give us the help we needed. 

 

I can't give a lot of advice regarding debarking. My understanding is that it's cruel and it's also illegal in some states, so it's definitely preferable to solve the cause of the barking rather than debark a dog. At the same time, I realise you're on your third noise complaint and have been trying hard to work out and treat or manage the cause, so I'm really not sure what to recommend. I sure people who know more about the debarking procedure itself can offer a lot more on that front. I did want to at least respond to the ecollars use and talk a bit about the medication side of things, in case you have only seen a regular vet about medication. 

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Rebanne   

While I haven't debarked a dog I know dogs that have been done and they still remained the same. They don't seem to realise they are no longer making a large amount of noise and are happy to continue barking but a lot quieter. Most dogs still make some noise. 

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amy29   

Thank you both. 

 
Snook, our usual vet prescribed the Lovan and we did tweak the dosage up and down to no avail, over the course of about a year. I will ask if he can refer me to a vet behaviourist. 
 
The trainer I saw was a ‘force free’ trainer recommended to me by an anxious dog support group on FB. 
 
I agree with you re. the collar - I nearly cry every time I put it on. I refused to use one at our last two rentals and then moved house when a neighbour threatened to bait her. 
 
We only use it on the occasions where my sister or I can’t be home - we try to ‘cover’ the time as much as possible to be home with her and avoid having to put it on.
 
Which brings me to your reply Rebanne - that’s what I was hoping to hear, that hopefully they still think they’re barking but the volume is reduced. Her bark is SO loud - even with her inside I can still hear it clearly even as I walk up the street. 
 
I will still get a referral for a specialist behaviour vet first but knowing all my options definitely helps. 
 
Would still love to hear from anyone else with experiences.

 

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Dogsfevr   

Has she had her hearing tested ,Deaf or poor hearing dogs can be chronic barkers and people assume there triggered by noise when there reacting to other senses and insecurities.

I would be getting a Baer test done .

 

 

 

As for debarking we have 2 that came to us debarked .

it doesn’t work for every dog so finding a vet whose good at it a must .

Some teach themselves to bark again .

Our 2 can be heard but in very low tones ,given the choice they will bark all day  & we live on a property .

even if debarked it doesn’t solve the issue of what triggers the reaction from her but it will give you more sanity & lower your stress  & fears as no matter what a serial barker is a nightmare for neighbours  & its a nightmare for owners .
I would even consider driving to another state if a vet there can do it better .
As the council is already involved you have it easier in going down this path .

 

Edited by Dogsfevr

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asal   

frankly after looking after a friends dogs who were debarked, I agree with Rebanne, they still could bark just it didn't carry far ...didn't worry them at all.

 

So how anyone could say its cruel puzzles me, so many much loved dogs are put down now because so many vets refuse to do it ... seems to me the animal rights nutters have another win at the dogs expense.

 

people today have no tolerance to a barking dog anymore.

 

Another friend had the worst barker I ever knew, he seemed to love the sound of his own voice. didn't have a nervous bone in his body. In his case after being debarked he did get louder and louder over a two year period and being a big dog he really was a noise pain.. the problem of his constant barking was he landed a job at a car yard in an industrial area so no neighbours to complain, but these days there's not much call for that line of work anymore.

 

Good luck. I hope you find a solution

Edited by asal

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Is it banned or just impossible to find a vet who does it? 

 

I don't have first hand experience of having it done but we've had a few (small breeds) come in from pounds over time. They didn't seem to have a clue at all, I could still hear them it just didn't carry as far if that makes sense. They weren't silenced and definitely hadn't given up barking. 

 

Pro/con debate aside, what upsets me most is that people have to give up their dearly loved dogs because of barking, potentially to die at the pound or bounce to another home. :(  Very sad and imho very cruel for everyone involved imho. As Sydney gets higher density there will be more and more of this.

 

Asal, I had one AR woman tell me with a completely straight face that breeders use a coat hanger down the throat to debark. She really believed that.

Edited by Powerlegs

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Scratch   

I’d debark a chronic barker no problem at all. I’ve been around several dogs who’ve been debarked and yes they still make noise but it’s a raspy hollow version of their former bark. The dogs don’t seem to know that their voice is different and behave the same as before. Which is why if the barking is found to be anxiety based, that the dogs anxiety continues to be supported long after the bark is modified. 

From whhat I understand in SA at least it is not illegal, but you have to meet certain criteria. Ther are certainly vets in SA who will do the procedure.

 

unfortunately it’s an emotional topic but firstly find out the legal facts for whatever state you reside in. 

Personally as long as the dogs mental health is being supported it’s a no brainer. It’s people who think ‘the dog can’t expeess itself’ or other emotion charged BS. Things that will change are the dogs volume. And also stress reduction is reduced by default because every one around the dog is less anxious about the barking, and the dog isn’t having to be managed too quite the same level as before. In fact, the dog will be MORE free to express itself! 

 

links. All states would have similar information available. 

Vic

SA

Edited by Scratch
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Diva   
42 minutes ago, Powerlegs said:

I had one AR woman tell me with a completely straight face that breeders use a coat hanger down the throat to debark. She really believed that.

Slightly off topic, sorry, but that reminds me of the AR man who demanded to know if I had cut my dogs ears off. Or  had they already been cut off when I got them. It took me a while to believe his ignorance was genuine and he wasn’t just pulling my leg.

 

I have sighthounds with naturally rose ears, like greyhounds do.

Edited by Diva

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BDJ   

I  am sitting writing this listening to 'huff huff' coming from my suburban backyard at 7.30am on a public holiday - and neither Belle or I could care less :-).

 

The backdoor is open and 5 mins ago Belle was sitting with me (as my other dog is still doing) - then Belle heard something (or nothing) and ran out the back huffing.

 

Her voice sounds like a quiet cough - she can hear it, but it is very quiet so not offensive at all.  If it is late at night with no ambient noise, I can just hear it from the front of the house if she is in the backyard.  Noisy traffic, lawnmowers etc drown it out completely.

 

She is not an anxious dog, but is sensitive and 'soft' in temperament.  If she wasn't debarked, she couldn't live in suburbia, and even on more land, would be a wreck as she would constantly be getting told to be quiet - she seriously never shuts up, she makes her own stimuli if there isn't any :-).  She actually enjoys barking (or huffing) - in her case it is a joy.

 

But debarked, she is happy and healthy.  Her temperament is what it is, but she is never told to be quiet (or in anyway limited) - and she loves to bark:-)

 

I don't believe it should be the first solution (or even the second or third) - but when it is required, it is a blessing.

 

Find the right vet, ask plenty of questions, make sure they have a good success rate regarding the right volume - and then I recommend it.  You will be amazed at how much stress will be removed from you, your girl and the neighbourhood.

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7 hours ago, asal said:

So how anyone could say its cruel puzzles me, so many much loved dogs are put down now because so many vets refuse to do it ... seems to me the animal rights nutters have another win at the dogs expense.

agree wholeheartedly . 

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Snook   
9 hours ago, asal said:

frankly after looking after a friends dogs who were debarked, I agree with Rebanne, they still could bark just it didn't carry far ...didn't worry them at all.

 

So how anyone could say its cruel puzzles me, so many much loved dogs are put down now because so many vets refuse to do it ... seems to me the animal rights nutters have another win at the dogs expense.

 

people today have no tolerance to a barking dog anymore.

 

Another friend had the worst barker I ever knew, he seemed to love the sound of his own voice. didn't have a nervous bone in his body. In his case after being debarked he did get louder and louder over a two year period and being a big dog he really was a noise pain.. the problem of his constant barking was he landed a job at a car yard in an industrial area so no neighbours to complain, but these days there's not much call for that line of work anymore.

 

Good luck. I hope you find a solution

I think it's cruel when it's the first solution anyone tries, instead of putting in the time and effort to find out why the dog is barking and treat the cause instead. That's why I said that in this case, I could see that in addition to it being the third noise complaint, it was also clear that the OP had been trying multiple avenues to address the problem in other ways. Maybe I wasn't clear enough but I don't think dogs should be euthanised instead of debarked, I just think it should be a last resort instead of a quick solution for an owner to what may be a much bigger issue for the dog (and the owner in this case is obviously not making the decision lightly). 

 

Edit: it doesn't make someone an "animal rights nutter" to care about the welfare of animals. 

Edited by Snook
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Snook   

Here is an article on debarking by a vet local to me. I was incorrect about it being illegal but depending on the state, you either need to provide a stat dec saying you've tried all other avenues, or you need an order from the council. Some vets refuse to do the procedure. There is also a video embedded in the article that shows the effect debarking has had on a few different dogs. 

 

https://www.walkervillevet.com.au/blog/dog-debarking-surgery/

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Oh very sad the stress you are both going through :(

 

It is to your credit you have gone through all the traditional avenues to remedy this challenge  :) I would find debarking to be kinder on this dog than a bark collar and citronella collar - these are obviously not working and likely adding to the distress - and of course even after debarking continue to work to reduce the behaviour that leads to the barking and not just leave the bandaid to it. There's an underlying cause there somewhere.

I've known one debarked dog, and there was no change in him at all. His bark became a sort of husky harf harf harf sound. He was a small dog.

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1 hour ago, Two Best Dogs! said:

It is to your credit you have gone through all the traditional avenues to remedy this challenge.

 

Except she hasn’t by a long shot?

 

She’s only seen a GP vet and tried one particular medication. It’s possible that it wasn’t even a proper med trial, given that most GP vets have no training in behaviour.

 

There are many different medications that can be prescribed for anxiety disorders, including quick-acting ones that can provide rapid relief, while a long-acting one builds up in her system.

 

Amy, imagine being in state of constant distress due to an untreated medical problem and having someone gag, shock or spray noxious substances at you rather than relieving your suffering. It’s not a solution. You need to see a Behaviour Vet, explain the urgency, and try different meds. They will also review the behaviour modification plan.

 

I understand your fear and frustration. I too have a dog with anxiety (generalised anxiety disorder, noise phobias, and OCD). We have tried six or seven different medications, many combos and doses thereof, seen both a regular vet behaviourist and a registered specialist... and there are still many more treatment options we could try if needed. It’s not a case of Lovan or bust! Note that having to try as many as we have is uncommon, this is just to give perspective.

 

You appear to be in QLD? If I were in QLD, I would see Dr Nela Graham (Calm Companions) who travels to Brisbane periodically and also does Skype consults.

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BDJ   

I think there are two different situations in play - the anxiousness, and one of the ways it is being exhibited (barking).

 

Working on the anxiety is a must and is a long term management situation.  I don't imagine that anyone who has responded believes otherwise.

 

BUT - having a dog who continually barks to the point that three different sets of neighbours have lodged formal complaints, is an issue that needs to be addressed as well.  I would imagine having an owner who was (totally understandably) agitated with each bark would not create the calm environment that is right to help a dog relax.

 

 A barking dog can result in neighbour complaints (already happened x 3), council issues (already happened x 3) ,  being forced to move ((already happened x 2), PLUS worried about some crackpot taking matters in their own hand and opening a gate, poisoning a dog etc etc (already threatened).

 

And until the anxiety is controlled, it is difficult to identify the root cause.  The barking may be completely as a result of the anxiety, or it may also be a learned behaviour, or she may just be a noisy dog - or it could be a combination of all three.

 

Debarking is surgery - so it has the risks of every surgery - and as I said, should never be a decision made lightly.  However, my thought is that if it results in lowering the anxiety in the owner, the neighbours and the dog (no collars, no being told to be quiet etc), then it is not cruel when other things have been tried.  It will remove one part of a complex problem

 

 

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Hannah_C   

I'm so sorry for both of you.

You should probably find a good behaviorist near you to deal with the anxiety. I don't think there is any magic answer. We just kept trying every bit of advice until I found something that clicked with my dog. I know it is very frustrating when there's no instant effect, but they are worth the effort. Only after about two months of classes I was able to slowly wean my dog off the medication. I consulted multiple trainers and several behaviorists, and now we're fine.

Personally I would never have one of my own dogs debarked though I can understand why some people might be forced to consider it.
And I have a friend who has a much beloved Australian Cattle Dog who barks at everything all of the time. Her neighbors kept calling the police because of the nuisance barking, even when the dog was in the house you could hear him several houses away. Out of desperation to not have her dog get her fines or possibly be taken away she had her vet surgically sever his vocal cords. He still barks constantly but the sound is a very soft, vaguely duck quack.

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amy29   

Wow. Thank you all for more info and answers.

 

Papillon Kisses - as I previously stated my next step will be working with a vet behaviouralist. Thanks for the recommendation of Dr Graham.

 

Fingers crossed that some tweaking of medication and more training/support will help us.

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On ‎19‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 8:04 AM, Diva said:

Slightly off topic, sorry, but that reminds me of the AR man who demanded to know if I had cut my dogs ears off. Or  had they already been cut off when I got them. It took me a while to believe his ignorance was genuine and he wasn’t just pulling my leg.

I have sighthounds with naturally rose ears, like greyhounds do.

 

On ‎19‎/‎04‎/‎2019 at 10:09 AM, Snook said:

Edit: it doesn't make someone an "animal rights nutter" to care about the welfare of animals. 

True, but the nutters and the idiot fringe invite generalising and labels.  (Like the AR man who accosted @Diva - what was his god-given right to 'demand' anything about anything?) - the rent-a-crowd lot are having a very negative effect as they wilfully destroy businesses run by good caring animal owners for their own self importance and I certainly question whether it is animal welfare that drives them rather than using it to excuse their aggressive thuggery - giving the genuine people a bad name while they are at it.  

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