2004_06_ask_barking_dog.jpg

Can you train a dog not to bark?
Jimmy, Inwood

Mister Softee isn’t the only target of Mayor Bloomberg’s new campaign to get New Yorkers to bring less noise and more shhhhhhhh. Fido, too, is on the list of so-called quality of life offenders. So Gothamist has been wondering: how can you get a pooch to zip it?

Dog owners might scoff at a ban on excessive barking. After all, you can’t police your dog’s every yip. But if your dog is barking for 5 or 10 minutes at a time without stopping, this is a problem for your dog -- as well as your sleep-deprived neighbors.

It’s possible to help your canine companion become less vocal. Dogs bark for many reasons: because they sense an intruder; while playing with other dogs; or simply out of excitement. Barking like this usually subsides fairly quickly. But dogs who bark excessively for long periods of time are often bored or seeking attention. If the barking occurs while you’re at home, yelling at the dog won’t help. There are numerous suggestions on how to quiet a dog, such as gently saying “quiet”, squirting the dog with some water, or purchasing a special “no-bark” collar, which uses a humane spritz of citronella (the collar sprays when the dog barks, discouraging him by starling him. Dogs also dislike the scent of citronella). Gothamist does NOT recommend “de-barking” surgery, which many veterinarians consider inhumane. You may also want to consider a professional dog trainer or taking your dog to obedience classes. If you get reports that your dog is barking while you’re away, make sure he has plenty of toys to keep him busy while you’re not home. Try hiring a dog walker or placing your dog in doggie day care.

If you suspect a dog is barking excessively because of abuse, contact the ASPCA at 212-876-7700.