Creating kinder, gentler experiences for pets!



Need Help? 

Call 1-800-372-3706

Contact Us

Help is at your fingertips by library, email, and phone.




- Behavior Internal Protocol - 

Canine Inpatient BarkingTraining For Hospital Staff

Rolan Tripp, DVM


Differential Diagnosis of Hospital Inpatient Barking


1.  Sympathetic

Hears another dog barking

2.  Elimination                      

Requesting access to toilet area

3.  Solicitation                       

Asking for food, play or attention

4.  Excitement

Barking decreases after exercise

5.  Territorial

Short alert against intruder, then silent

6.  Threat                              

Warning; confused; fearful. Persistent

7.  Separation Anxiety

Missing human attachment figure


Inpatient Barking Protocol – Training For Vet Staff 
 Click Here for Presentation




1)      If time permits, initiate “Cookie Time” while boarded or day care. (e.g. 10 am and 4pm)  Go along each kennel and every dog gets a dog cookie 2x/day.  If already barking, partially open the kennel to try to get quiet, then give the cookie. (Giving the cookie teaches the dog that a person coming is a good thing, not an intruder.)  If the barking seems to be soliciting the cookie, then don’t reward solicitation barking with treats.

2)      Prepare frozen Kong Toys.  Recipe is at end of this protocol.

3)      To avoid nervous consuming, then need to eliminate, no food or water should be left overnight unless medical indication.  Leave food and water down during the day, unless dog repeatedly knocks it over. If so, leave it just outside cage, and this is a signal to staff to offer it and remove again often.

4)      Work with only one barking dog at a time - the lead (most vocal) barker.

5)      If every other technique below has not worked, and sedation is indicated, do not use a close mouth muzzle as this can be fatal from vomiting or overheating.  Instead, report unresponsive barking to the lead technician, who will discuss mild sedation with a veterinarian.  If any dog is sedated, give a copy of this protocol to the owner at departure.  This is evidence of effort trying to make the pet comfortable while staying with us.  (Record in pet’s record, and include copy of client form and protocol.)

6)      Note that any barking dog may have a combination of motivations for barking.  Use the following steps IN ORDER.


Strategy To Quiet A Barking Dog: (Underlined words refer to types of barking above.)

1)      Check that the pet has had recent access to food or water.  This barking may be a reasonable request for help.  This barking is soliciting life support.  If hungry, test by offering a food puzzle that will keep the dog occupied for some time.  If going through too many puzzles, then try a BIG meal, since that often initiates sleep.  Note it may also initiate the need to defecate.

2)      If the dog is barking only as a result of other dog’s barking, this is “sympathetic barking.”  Ignore this dog unless it becomes the lead barker.

3)      If possible, offer access to elimination outside existing enclosure.  If no other alternative, move to a different run (for this purpose, a run with urine of feces is preferable to give the dog the idea this is an OK toilet area), and if eliminates within 5 minutes, praise and return to the original clean kennel.  A dog forced to eliminate in its enclosure is losing its housetraining and is a disservice to the dog’s owner. If the dog is OFFERED elimination, doesn’t produce, and keeps barking, then it is not “Elimination Barking,” so move on with the differential diagnosis.

4)      Territorial barking always starts after an approach or sound and is very common.  Note how quickly the barking stops after starting.  If short, wait until barking stops, then give a cookie.  Back up 1-3 steps, then approach again and give a cookie if no barking.  Teach the dog that people mean cookies, not threats.

Try to get the dog to stop barking by opening the enclosure partially.  (Be safe!)  If the dog stops barking, give a cookie.  If it won’t accept a cookie, walk on leash to build confidence, and offer a tastier treat, like piece of hot dog.  If still too stressed to accept food, give mild sedation.If barking continues a LONG time after territorial stimulus, this dog is very stressed, so request mild sedation from the DVM or nurse in charge.


5)      If barking seems to be “Excitatory,” first limit visual stimulus.  Cover the cage or kennel, or move the pet.  Second, try a food filled Kong Toy (see below). Then consider a Citronella Collar (collar responds to barking with short spray of citrus smell)  Another alternative is to apply a “Gentle Leader” Head Collar or “Calming Cap”. (These 3 see   If not responsive, go to mild sedation. (e.g. Benzodiazepine, Ace, or Reversible Injectable) If an excited or soliciting puppy, use suspension technique for 5 seconds (Suspension means suspend the puppy in the air for 5 seconds), or use gentle lateral restraint to reduce arousal. For puppy consider a D.A.P. pheromone calming collar.  Can be moved from dog to dog, lasts 1 mo.

6)      If possible, try giving exercise.  Throw a ball, or vigorous 5 min leash walk to exercise and let off steam and possible elimination.

7)      Enclosure Size.  If a big dog, try putting into a crate-sized kennel, and cover the front.  If a small dog, it might be used to being in the yard at home.  Try giving an outdoor run.

8)      If separation anxiety, and if time and space permit, try to tether out of the way in treatment or at front desk near people.  Praise and food reward relaxed postures. Some dogs just want company.  Use water spray to discourage solicitation barking.If this is not possible, and the anxiety cannot be otherwise decreased, request mild sedation and document in medical record. Get DVM approval before using any Rx medications.  Offer the owner Benzo +/- Ace for future visits, and record in pet medical record.

9)    In threat barking, the dog is at the front of the enclosure, ears forward, very threatening.  If the dog is deemed dangerous by an experienced handler, use high dose sedation, but still be careful, since some dogs “suddenly react” while sedated.  Recommend behavior consultation to owner.   

Continuous fear threat barking is similar, but the dog is crouched at the back of the kennel, and ears and tail carried low.  If the dog refuses treats and continues to bark this also indicates the need for mild sedation.

Remember The Goal: Make This Experience As Dog-Friendly As Possible


Recipe for a Frozen Kong Toy to distract some dogs from barking:

Wash used Kongs with soap and water similar to food and water dishes.  When dry, stuff with canned food, and insert a Milk Bone or PupPeroni food treat “fuse” partially in, and partially out of the Kong, and FREEZE several. For dogs inexperienced with Kong Toys, the fuse is like, “low hanging fruit” because it is easy, and first captures their interest.  From there, we want them to have fun squeezing on the toy, and pushing some tasty food out as it thaws.  This is like a game, and gives them something to do instead of being totally bored.  Keep several prepared in the freezer, ready to go.  An alternative is to use peanut butter or “Cheese Wiz” from an aerosol can.

 Copyright 2000-Present - All Rights Reserved by
Rolan Tripp, DVM Susan Tripp, MS Animal Behavior Network