The Bark Collar. Hmmm. If you’re a fan of these dog punishment devices, get ready to disagree. As far as we’re concerned, they are only for those who bully and for people who don’t know any better.
The more we researched, the more annoyed we became about dog bark collars of any description. You can call them electric dog collars, shock collars, anti-barking collars, or those other words designed to make them seem friendly like ‘dog training collar’. Call them what you like, we’re against them.
- They either harm or irritate your dog
- They work against your dog’s nature
- Your dog has to endure needless stress
- They are totally unnecessary
That’s right, they are totally unnecessary. You don’t need to beat your dog into submission. There are far, far better ways to fix problem dog behavior.
Beware of Bark Collar Marketing
Don’t be fooled by the marketers. They like to use words like ‘stimulation’ to describe what the collar does. Wherever you see that word, substitute ‘electric shock‘ or ‘insecticide spray‘ or ‘ultrasonic squeal‘ depending on the type of bark collar.
Let’s have a look at each of these in turn.
The Shock Collar
Again the marketers might prefer electric dog collar, but let’s call a spade a spade. For this device to have any effect, it needs to hurt or at least really irritate your dog.
Otherwise your dog just keeps barking. Remember, your dog is a brave soul. He or she will endure quite a bit of pain or discomfort to keep barking, to keep doing their duty. From your dog’s point of view, they have really important reasons to bark. For them, the barking is right and it makes sense to do it. And that is a clue to how you can fix it without frying your dog’s neck.
The Citronella Collar
This one operates by spraying citronella as its ‘stimulation’ (punishment). It’s harmless they tell you; citronella is natural. Sure it’s natural – it’s a natural insecticide. Arsenic is a natural poison – just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you.
If that doesn’t bother you enough, read the side of a can and see what other nasty chemicals have been mixed in. It won’t be pure citronella. It will have been made even worse with additives.
We find this whole concept particularly cruel. A dog’s sense of smell is a delicate, highly sophisticated wonder of nature. How stressful for your dog to have that primary sense clobbered by a dose of pungent spray.
And again, your brave dog will try to do his duty despite these hardships, so he’ll suffer unnecessarily.
Can you see now why we’re so annoyed by bark collars?
The Ultrasonic Collar
These aren’t very common and don’t have a strong reputation for being effective. Of all the punishment methods employed, it seems this is the one that dogs can most easily ignore.
Automatic Barking Detection
At first, all these so-called dog training collars were manual. The dog’s owner needed to press a remote-control button to zap their dog.
We’re happy to report that most owners didn’t have the heart to persist doing this once they heard their dog’s first yelp. No one likes to hurt their dog no matter how frustrated they are with barking. So the devices didn’t work because people didn’t want to use them.
So what did the manufactures do? Shrug and walk away? No, they took the trigger out of the owners hand and built in automatic bark detection. If they could remove the dog owner’s guilt, just a little bit, they would sell more collars.
This automation has been implemented with varying degrees of success. A common problem is collars firing when another dog barks. How extra nasty is that, having your dog shocked when the neighbor’s dog barks?
Ever inventive, the manufacturers built in vibration detectors to work alongside the microphones. But still there were problems. So now some of them build in safety cut-outs to prevent ‘over-stimulation‘ (you know what that means).
All this technology! You can easily pay over $200 for a sophisticated bark collar. Such a waste! It’s all so unnecessary.
The Underlying Issue
You don’t use punishment to fix unwanted dog behavior. First you understand the problem, then you fix it using your dog’s own nature.
You see, dog’s aren’t overly complicated animals. It’s humans that mess everything up through poor understanding. It’s not your fault, you just haven’t been taught a better way. Most people make well-meaning mistakes all the time with dogs. As a dog owner, you need to change what you do so your dog can change too.
Your dog isn’t barking for fun. You don’t have a crazy dog. They are doing it as part of their role in your family. In a dog’s mind, the family is a pack and that pack has just two basic roles – the pack leader, and the rest.
Most serious barking problems come from dogs who think they are the pack leader. They are doing their job, protecting the pack, warning off threats, and calling the pack back together when they have wandered too far away.
Here’s a quick test:
If your dog is out the front pulling on the leash when you take a walk, you almost certainly have a pack leadership problem!
The pack leader takes their job seriously. If they need to bark they will bark. If, heaven forbid, some punishment device like a bark collar makes it too hard to bark, they suffer major stress. As far as they are concerned, the safety of their entire pack is at risk because they can’t do their job.
The Real Answer
Clearly, as dog owners, we all need to take the burden of pack leadership away from our dogs. It’s totally unfair to ask a dog to manage a household of humans!
There are a number of simple, subtle, and gentle things you must do to change the relationship. This is NOT physical domination of your dog. You don’t have to beat your dog in a fight! It’s all about winning your dog’s mind. We humans are, after all, smarter than dogs. We just need to make the right moves.
If your dog’s barking is so bad that you are even considering buying a bark collar, here’s the humane alternative you’re looking for.
For a serious problem, you must get serious help. We thoroughly recommend the teachings of Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer for this type of problem.
To get help urgently, follow the steps at the bottom of this article.
For those of you who don’t have a pack leadership issue but still have some barking troubles, we have more articles that can help. There are still little mistakes you could easily be making. Start here with this article on dog barking.
And finally, for those of you who perhaps don’t have any dog behavior problems at all but would like to learn a little more, help yourself to the FREE Video Series from Doggy Dan via the link on the right hand side.