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Surgical Debarking

Surgical debarking, also known as a vocal cordectomy, is sometimes used as an intervention for chronic barking.

In a cordectomy, a veterinarian either makes an incision in the dog's throat or enters through his mouth, and cuts away the animal's vocal cords. Working through the throat provides the surgeon with a superior view, which allows him to remove more of the tissue. Hence, you are likely to get better results with a throat procedure.

You will probably find that neither approach results in a completely quiet dog, however, because eventually, enough scar tissue is likely to build up in the animal's throat to allow him to produce at least a hoarse, husky approximation of a bark.

To be sure, after the operation your dog will still bark just as much as he ever did. However, the sound can be expected to be both softer and lower in pitch.

That should at least improve the situation since the sound will not carry as far, and most people report that the new, muffled bark is more tolerable. It bears saying, however, that more than a few people report that they find the new bark to be more grating yet.

The vocal cordectomy as a treatment for chronic barking is extremely controversial, and all the experts seem to agree that, since any surgery is inherently traumatic, it should be used only after every other intervention has failed. So you don't want to even think about surgery until after you have first tried everything else.

In fact, so many veterinarians eschew the vocal cordectomy that you might have to look around a while before you are able to locate one who is willing to perform the operation, should you decide to go that route.

If you live in the United States, you can learn whether the cordectomy is permitted in your state and, perhaps, secure a referral to a local vet by contacting your state veterinary association. If you live outside the U.S., you may be able to secure a referral by simply typing the words "veterinary association," along with the name of your nation, state or province, into your favorite online search engine.

The Dog Science Network also sponsors a course in dog training, featuring a free workshop in canine
, as well as an advanced course in obedience training, street safety, and watchdog work.

This page is part of Section One:
the Your Dog section of