PetMD Seal

Excessive Vocalization in Dogs



A plan must be created which is customized to suit your dog and your personal living conditions, your household, and the type of problem, being sure to attempt to resolve the underlying cause before behavioral modifications are begun.


Do not reinforce the vocalization. This includes punishing the behavior, which is still regarded as attention. Instead, positively reward your dog when it is calm and quiet and lead by example by remaining calm as well. Also, counter-condition your dog to calm down when stimulated. Training your dog to be quiet on command will be the priority.


To prevent your dog from becoming accustomed to the attention received by barking or crying, a quiet response can be reinforced using head halters, bark-activated alarms, bark-activated citronella collars, and disruptive devices such as alarms or water sprayers. Another method that has been used to some success is to desensitize the dog to the outside stimuli using food treats until the response threshold is very high. Becoming more attentive to the triggers that cause your dog to bark excessively will help you to distract your dog before it becomes excited or anxious.


Medications might be indicated if there is real anxiety, conflict, excessive responsiveness to stimuli or a compulsive disorder:


  • Benzodiazepines on a short-term or as-needed basis when situations of anxiety might be expected or for inducing sleep
  • Sedatives may be effective for tranquilizing the dog prior to exposure to stimuli (e.g., car rides, fireworks), but will not decrease anxiety and may increase noise sensitivity and vocalization in some dogs
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for long-term therapy for excessive and chronic anxiety, combined with behavior modification can be useful for some dogs
  • SSRIs or clomipramine may help when combined with behavior therapy for compulsive disorders.


Living and Management


The dog should be brought back to the veterinarian or to a behavior specialist to modify the program based on your dog's particular response. Obedience training, head halter training and quiet command training are often effective in dogs. Dogs should be habituated and socialized to a variety of stimuli and environments throughout development, including to other people and pets. This desensitizes the animal to novel experiences, reducing anxiety, and over-excitation.


See Also:



Related Articles

Aggression in Dogs Toward Familiar People

While some consider aggression to be normal behavior in dogs, it can be impulsive, unpredictable, and even dangerous. Aggressive behavior includes...