Courtesy of mykomushroom / TikTok
When you first see those images of "quiet ears" for dogs, they might seem like a good way to help your dog relax or keep her from barking. The small hoods that slide over your dog's head even look incredibly cute—just witness this dog and his Eeyore-style ears, a partnership that's yielded millions of views on TikTok.
Dogs, however, need their ears to both hear and stay alert, so it's generally not a good idea to cover them up, says Daily Paws Pet Health and Behavior Editor Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, RBT. Plus, she says, covering the ears might stress dogs out even more.
If hoods like these Eeyore ears stop a dog from barking, Bergeland says it's likely because the dog is stressed—rather than that the ears relax him. Plus, it probably won't stop him from barking out the window in the future.
"There is no data to support covering a dog's head or ears to make them calmer," she says.
RELATED: Does My Dog Have Anxiety?
How to Stop My Dog from Barking
The solutions for helping your dog stay calm range from extremely simple ones to strategies that will take a little time and training. Either way, you don't need quiet ears.
So, if your dog is barking at something, the first thing to try is to keep your dog away from it. Does she bark out the window? Close the blinds or curtains or block off the area so she can't get there, Bergeland says. It could be that easy.
The key is to identify why your dog is barking. (You'll want to make sure you're not the one who's reinforcing the behavior.) If you know what's behind it, you'll know when to step in. That's when you can distract your dog or teach them a new behavior, using positive reinforcement methods, naturally. You never, ever want to punish your dog. She doesn't know she's done anything wrong by barking. It's a natural thing for her.
For all you need to know about your dog's barking—and how to sometimes prevent it—read our guide here.
Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty
How to Ease My Dog's Stress
Quiet ears probably won't calm your dog down, either. But you have other options. If the thunderstorm or fireworks outside are giving your dog anxiety, you can fashion your dog a safe space somewhere in your house, Bergeland says. You can maybe even equip the room with a white noise machine, drowning out the stressful noises while still allowing your dog to hear (unlike if he's wearing the quiet ears or hood).
You can also try some counterconditioning and desensitization, Bergeland says. Counterconditioning is the way you can replace the fear or anxiety your dog is feeling. For example, if your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, you can give her a treat when she hears a thunderclap. Over time, she'll theoretically associate feeling good—yummy treats will do that—with the thunder.
Desensitization entails exposing your dog to the stressor over a gradual amount of time—think playing low-volume thunder noises when your dog is around, slowly increasing the volume as she gets used to it. Eventually, you'll hopefully reach full exposure with your dog, who will ideally be less afraid or stressed.
Both strategies require time and commitment, and are best started with the help of a pet behavior professional. But they're better than pulling a hood over your dog's head, which might only serve to make your dog confused and afraid.