Impact of Classical Counterconditioning (Quiet Kennel Exercise) on Barking in Kenneled Dogs—A Pilot Study
Excessive barking is a major source of noise pollution in dog kennels and negatively impacts welfare. Because resources are often limited, minimizing barking in the simplest and most easily implementable way is imperative. This pilot study implemented a Quiet Kennel Exercise (QKE) that utilized classical counterconditioning to change the dogs’ negative emotional state (which can lead to barking) to a more positive emotional state. Therefore, barking motivation is reduced, so barking should decrease. This study aims to show proof of concept that decreasing barking through classical counterconditioning is effective. It was conducted in one ward of day-time boarding kennels at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Data was collected three times per day and included decibel readings, number of dogs present, and number of dogs barking during a 5-day initial baseline and 10-day intervention period. During baseline, people passing through the ward acted as they normally would. During intervention, passersby were asked to simply toss each dog a treat regardless of the dogs’ behaviors in the kennel. Descriptive results show improvement in maximum level of barking after QKE, fewer dogs barking over time, dogs barking less each time, and the most improvement noted in the afternoon.