A bark collar is a training tool that pet owners can use to train their dogs out of frustrating barking.
But like any tool, the effectiveness of a bark collar comes down entirely to how well it is used and how well the owner understands its intricacies. In this post, we are going to look at some pointers as to how you can get the most from one of these as well as whether you should use one at all!
A Bit About Bark Collars
Now of course the first question many readers will have is ‘do bark collars really work?’. Another big one is whether or not bark collars are humane and kind ways to train dogs, or whether they might in fact be distressing for your canine companions.
Both these pointers are really open to interpretation. But the first thing to consider is that ‘nuisance barking’ as it is often referred to, is actually much more than just a nuisance. While it might not sound like a big deal to have a dog that is a little ‘talkative’, the reality is that a dog constantly barking and making noise can be highly distressing. This can cause fall-outs with neighbors, it can distress other animals and in some cases, it might even result in your having to move or to get rid of the animal.
So in many case, it is an absolute priority to solve dog barking and in that case, a bark collar is just one of many options to try. And you’ll likely be willing to try anything! A dog bark collar works by emitting a high pitched noise when your dog barks, by emitting an unpleasant scent, or by delivering a small shock when your dog barks.
So Do They Work?
So, do dog bark collars really work? Some people claim that over time, a dog may become habituated to the scent or the noise and therefore begin barking again. Another complaint is that it is better to use ‘positive reinforcement’ (rewarding good behavior) rather than punishing negative behavior.
But the aim is not for the dog to permanently wear the collar, but rather for them to learn to stop taking part in the behavior. If wearing a collar like this for a short time can fix a behavior that makes your dog happier in the long run, then many people would consider this a worthy exchange.
How to Get the Most From Your Bark Collar
One thing to make sure when using bark collars is that you let your dog wear the collar for a while before you activate it. The objective is to prevent the dog from making a connection between the collar and the result. Otherwise, they will simply try to remove the collar!
There are multiple types of collar and one of the most effective things to do, is to consider the type of collar that will have the most immediate effect. While a scent can be useful, it can sometimes be a bit too slow to make the obvious connection between the barking and the outcome. A high pitched noise effects the same sensory channel and thus might be more effective. A training collar can also be used to deliver a small shock, which makes the job more hands on for you. This is useful for when you are awake but can be restrictive if you wanted to use it while you slept.
Make sure the bark collar is attached firmly but that it is comfortable. Ensure that it can be used as a regular collar as well.
Consider that not all barking is a ‘bad behavior’. Your dog has other reasons to make noise and you might not want them to get the loud noise or the shock when whining for instance! For this reason, you may want to consider learning when it is that your dog is prone to making the noise and what sets them off. Many dogs bark in the evening in the garden for instance. In this case, you can simply turn the collar on during those times to specifically target the naughty behavior.
Finally, make sure that you look for other ways to train your dog out of this behavior too. One approach to dog obedience training is to make the assumption that there is an underlying cause for all bad behavior. What is making your dog bark? Are they unhappy? Do they feel territorial? Try to look for triggers and potential causes and see what you can do to change this. Likewise, you can also use positive enforcement to reward your dog when they come in from barking or when they are quiet.
In other words, don’t just strap on the bark collar and forget about it – be sure to consider the role that your active training can still have.