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If you have a dog with a barking problem, you may be thinking that neutering or spaying will help. After all, fixing a puppy can help with other unwanted behaviors such as marking in the house or aggression with other dogs. But will spaying or neutering stop your dog from barking?

Will my male dog stop barking after neutering?

Studies suggest that neutered dogs show more excessive barking than unneutered ones. This implies that neutering might not stop your dog from barking and could even make the behavior worse.

Studies on castrated Vizslas revealed that they have more anxiety and tend to bark more than intact males. In some cases, it even seems to increase aggressive behaviors and hyperactivity.

Theoretically, the research suggests that neutered male dogs’ lack of testosterone and other hormones could make them less confident and more prone to anxiety.

This doesn’t mean you should not neuter your dog, rather that you should invest as much as possible in confidence-building activities like socialization and training.

Keep in mind that while there may be a correlation between neutering and anxiety-related behaviors like excessive barking, this doesn’t make neutering the issue.

Dogs who are genetically inclined to anxiety, barking, or are bored and understimulated, will bark regardless of whether they are intact or not.

Furthermore, dogs primed to be alert watchdogs, such as Jack Russell Terriers, use barking as their primary means of guarding their territory.

This is instinctive more than hormonal behavior.

Furthermore, barking is a self-rewarding behavior. A stressed or bored dog can find a release in barking; this can be enough of a reward to keep them doing it. Or the “threat” they are barking at, such as the postman, leaves after putting the mail in the box. From a dog’s perspective, this can look like the barking worked to drive away the danger.

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It can also be a sign of anxiety, frustration, pent-up energy, or extreme reactivity to surroundings.

Therefore, it will take more than neutering for most dogs to stop excessive barking.

We’ve made a post about Border Collie’s barking, as they can be prone to doing so. The advice is also relevant to all dog breeds. Border Collie Barking: How to put a stop to it.

neutered dog

Will my female dog stop barking after spaying?

A female dog has different hormones from a male dog and unlike males, also has a heat cycle.

During the heat cycle, dogs are more prone to roaming, frequent urination, aggressive guarding, and irritability.

When a female is spayed these behaviors can decrease as their heat cycle no longer occurs.

However, there is also a decrease in estrogen and oxytocin. Both these hormones may have calming, anti-anxiety effects. Without them, other problem behaviors can occur.

In one study, spayed female German Shepherds showed increased reactivity when approached by strangers. And Labradors had an increased fear response to loud noises. Both such reactions can increase barking behavior.

The effects of spaying will ultimately depend largely on a dog’s personality and history.

So, just like a male neutered dog, a female spayed dog will be unlikely to bark less when spayed. And in fact, the problem behavior could become worse.

However, many anecdotes by owners suggest that they’ve seen very little change in their girl dogs after spaying.

It’s important to then know that if barking can’t be solved by neutering or spaying, then what can be done…

spayed dog

Steps to help dogs who bark too much

STEP 1

First and foremost, dogs who bark excessively are often bored, under-stimulated, and do not get enough exercise. Stepping up the exercise regime will help them settle down and resist the urge to bark at everything.

Exercise is the number one tool to help relieve dogs from the pent-up energy that pressures them to bark.

STEP 2

Shortly after exercise is playtime and activities. Play releases feel-good hormones to help them relax, and activities such as puzzle toys in the crate help keep their mind active. This way, they have something more interesting to do than bark.

You may also want to read our post 9 Awesome Puppy Indoor Games and Exercises, which can help with mental stimulation.

STEP 3

Obedience training is another crucial factor. Fully and properly trained dogs are less likely to be problem barkers. Likewise, adequately socialized pups are less insecure and prone to barking at new stimuli.

STEP 4

Controlling the environment is sometimes helpful. If a dog is used to barking through the yard fence at passersby, you can consider blocking them from that part of the yard.

However, investing time in reducing your dog’s need to bark is better for their mental health than just closing them off from their triggers. Making their world smaller isn’t the best option for their quality of life in the long run.

STEP 5

Finally, dogs left alone for six or more hours a day are more likely to be barkers. Limiting the time your dog spends at home alone can help this problem. But if it is inevitable, you need to help teach your dog how to self-soothe and be okay at home.

Part of this may be dealing with separation anxiety issues.

Another useful strategy is to implement crate and place training. However, these can only be effective if you use exercise and training first.

A tired dog is more willing to settle down for a few hours than one who is still physically and mentally alert and aching for something to do.

Will my dog stop barking at other dogs after neutering or spaying?

Neutering or spaying alone will not stop your dog from barking at other dogs. A dog that barks at other dogs is often displaying fear aggression. This anxiety and need to sound the alarm when they see another dog cannot improve by removing testosterone. This is particularly true when you picture it from a dog’s point of view.

If they see a dog on a walk nearby, bark hysterically, and then the dog passes by, the signal to your dog’s brain is that their barking was effective.

Unfortunately, barking at other dogs is not easily fixed. A pet parent will need to begin a committed obedience training and socialization program to build a dog’s confidence with other dogs gradually.

This gives a dog a new set of coping skills to deal with seeing another dog, and it can take time. But dogs are adaptable and behavior patterns can be shifted.

Understanding when your dog barks at other dogs is also crucial. Do they only bark through a fence or on a leash but then are fine when loose in the dog park? This may be fence or leash aggression that requires specific behavior modification.

Do they bark at any other dog no matter the situation? Does the barking turn to aggression, or do they run away if the strange dog approaches? Each specific set of circumstances will need a tailored approach.

Unfortunately, neutering or spaying by itself does not stop dogs from barking at other dogs.

pros and cons of neutering spaying

Does neutering or spaying a dog calm them down?

In many ways, fixing a dog does calm them down. The problem is that this is not the whole story. Research indicates that neutered dogs tend to be a bit more anxious, have more destructive behaviors like barking, and can even be more aggressive.

So what is happening here?

Well, neutering and spaying stops many problem behaviors related to hormones like testosterone. This means your males are less likely to:

  • Be aggressive or dominant with other males,
  • Hump a stranger’s leg,
  • Runaway looking for a local female on heat,
  • Or mark inside the house.

These are just some unwanted but natural behaviors common in intact male dogs. So life with a neutered or spayed dog is generally just easier, apart from being the ethical thing to do with a pet.

Fixed dogs are generally less energetic as they age and mature too. Fewer hormones to cause them frustration and increase their pent-up energy can make for an overall more easy-going dog over time.

However, the lack of these hormones potentially makes a dog a bit more vulnerable to fear and anxiety. This can play a role in problem behaviors like excessive barking or fear aggression, particularly in high-energy breeds.

This makes routine, training, exercise, and socialization extra important in these cases.

Essentially, dogs calm down more with age and maturity than because of neutering or spaying. Some dogs are naturally high-energy or highly strung and may need extra effort to help reach a calmer state.

Final thoughts

Desexing is an essential part of dog welfare. While it has many benefits for dog behavior, such as limiting marking, or male dog aggression, it is not a cure for all behavior issues.

Therefore, neutering or spaying is unlikely to do much to stop excessive barking. However, you can still take a proactive approach to excessive barking by using exercise, training, routine, and socialization.