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#StoptheShock: Positive Dog Training Without Shock Collars

positive reinforcement dog training

A campaign called “Stop the Shock” has been making its way through social media and email inboxes in an effort to educate dog owners about alternative and humane ways to train their pets. We love it! Positive-reinforcement training is exactly what we recommend in our “Train, Treat, Repeat” approach to dog training. More on that in a moment. 

Here is a short video message from Petco’s national dog training manager about positive reinforcement dog training:

What is ‘Stop the Shock’? 

Petco launched this campaign to promote healthy training for dogs that reinforce good behaviors through rewards, rather than punish dogs to stop unwanted (or bad) behaviors, also known as aversive training. The retailer offers in-store and online training classes that you can do one-on-one with your dog and a trainer or in a group setting. And, they’ve removed shock collars from their shelves, saying, “Petco no longer sells shock collars operated by a person with a remote in hand.” 

High fives and paws up to that.

High fives and paws up to #stoptheshock

The company went on to say that there are many alternatives to training dogs that don’t inflict pain or discomfort on them. Indeed, shock collars have been a source of controversy among dog lovers, dog trainers, and dog experts since they were introduced in the mid-20th century (according to this entry on Wikipedia).

That said, not all aversive training is bad, cruel or harmful. In fact, you can use certain devices to distract a dog (rather than punish) while they’re doing unwanted behaviors (barking like a banshee, for example) and immediately follow up with a verbal command (“quiet!”) and a reward (treats, belly rubs, kind words, and kisses).

Why Do People Use Shock Collars on Dogs?

Some people use shock collars to train dogs to stop unwanted behaviors, such as excessive barking, jumping on guests, and ignoring recall commands

They also use shock collars to train dogs to observe geographical boundaries in lieu of installing a physical fence or an electronic fence in their yards. The objective to shock collars is stimulus-response: the dog approaches a boundary, you use a remote control that zaps or shocks him through his collar, and he learns not to go there.

Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? The shock collar causes your dog to associate those behaviors with pain, discomfort and fear; it doesn’t teach her to defer to you for guidance. 

Even though some of the higher-end shock collars allow you to adjust the settings, we recommend against shock collars. Instead, opt for positive reinforcement training using our signature product, The BarxBuddy. By the way, the ultrasonic hand-held device nicely complements the expert training you and your dog learn from pet trainers at Petco. Here’s how it works…

How Ultrasonic Trainers Work with Positive Reinforcement

The BarxBuddy is a handheld device that never comes in contact with your dog. There is no collar or strap that your dog wears. It works by emitting a high-pitch tone when your dog does something annoying, aggressive or undesired, like barking excessively. 

As soon as your dog starts barking, you press and release the device. Make sure you are within 50 feet of your dog, for two very good reasons. First, the device works best when you are closer to the dog. Second, your dog will naturally look at you when he hears the sound. This is when you give a verbal command: “Quiet” or “Stop” or “Speak low.” 

The ultrasonic sound interrupts whatever your dog is doing, which is why it is very important to use it ONLY when he’s doing unwanted behaviors and NOT when he’s being a good dog. You might not be able to hear the ultrasonic tone but your dog sure does! Keep the device out of reach of children who might mistake it for a toy or flashlight!

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Do Bark Collars Work on Dogs (and Are They Safe)?

do-bark-collars-work-on-dogs

Does your dog bark way more than the shelter or breeder led you to believe? Does he bark at inappropriate times all day and night? If you are looking for tools and solutions to train your dog to stop barking, you’re probably finding a lot of information about bark collars, also known as anti-bark collars.

As training devices, all bark collars interrupt unwanted behavior such as barking so that you can redirect your dog. Each type of bark collar does so differently. Types of bark collars include vibration, static (shock), spray, ultrasonic, and combination. 

While they all resemble a traditional collar, bark collars emit some negative stimulus like an unpleasant scent, static shock, or high-frequency sound when your dog barks. 

To answer the question, “do bark collars really work,” the short answer is yes, they work if used properly. That said, some dog owners and trainers question whether anti-bark collars are humane, and they prefer other methods of dog training, which we’ll cover in the last section of this article. 

Do Bark Collars Really Work?

Yes and no. Yes, bark collars can curb unwanted behavior in many dogs, but that doesn’t mean bark collars work on all dogs. There are several reasons why a bark collar may not help stop your dog from barking. 

First and foremost, as the trainer, you must properly use the device. Failure to follow instructions on correct fit and position of the collar can hinder the collar’s usefulness, as can a lack of prompt corrections to your dog’s behavior. 

You need to understand the reason behind your dog’s constant barking. Whether it be the result of frustration, separation anxiety, attention-seeking, or merely compulsive barking, the underlying explanation needs to be resolved for a bark collar to be fully effective in ceasing your dog’s behavior.

With a commitment on your part to appropriately and consistently address your dog’s barking, and its underlying reason(s) through positive reinforcement (praise and treats) training — also known as the train, treat, repeat method of dog training — along with a bark collar will help ensure his relentless barking stops. 

However, a training tool, such as a bark collar, is only as good as the person using it and is meant to be used in conjunction with training techniques such as the train-treat-repeat approach.

Are Anti-Bark Collars Safe?

Most dog owners want to know if a bark collar is safe to use on their dogs. Anti-bark collars use an annoying ultrasonic noise (that humans can’t hear), a spray of citronella or lemon, or a quick electric shock or vibration that will cause your dog to stop in the middle of his barking. All of the interruption stimuli are brief and have no long-lasting effects. 

Based on the above, the answer to whether anti-bark collars are safe is yes, except, there are some cautions. Bark collars mustn’t be used for more than 12 consecutive hours as they can irritate your dog’s skin, nor should they be used while your dog is crated, asleep, or when he’s engaged in positive playtime activities.

Anti-bark collars are also not recommended for puppies younger than six months or dogs under eight pounds.

What Are Alternatives to Bark Collars? 

If you want to stop your dog’s barking but you’re not keen about trying a bark collar, or you’ve had a negative experience, there are alternatives called ultrasonic trainers or repellers. This type of device might be the right training tool for your dog and situation.

One such repeller is the versatile BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool. This handheld device never comes into contact with your dog and can be used at a distance of up to 40-60 ft. And, unlike many anti-bark collars, with The BarxBuddy, you are solely in control of when to emit the stimulus (ultrasonic sound). A quick press of the button and your dog will stop barking in seconds. When he does, it’s important that you immediately correct or redirect him with a command, followed by positive reinforcement, including praise and/or treat. 

While most bark collars are specifically designed to handle a dog’s excessive barking, ultrasonic trainers like The BarxBuddy can be used to help rid your dog of other behaviors such as chewing on furniture or jumping on people. Read our blog post on the best anti-bark collar and visit our site for more information on BarxBuddy and how it can help you change your dog’s unwanted habits for the better.

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4 Humane Ways to Control Dog’s Barking

Woman using humane dog training techniques outside

Barking is one of the most annoying behaviors that dogs have, but you can’t fault them for it. That’s how they communicate when (they think) something is wrong, when (they think) they need something, and when they’re excited about something or someone (you’re home!). 

How can you humanely stop a dog from annoying barking, or train him to bark when you want him to? If there are two things we want you to take away from this message it’s this: (1) yelling doesn’t work and (2) you must be consistent with your dog training. 

Why can’t you yell at your dog when he barks? When you yell, you confuse them. They may think you’re joining their fracas, or they may think you’re scary. Training a dog not to bark requires three things: Get their attention, let them know what you want them to do, and reward their good behaviors. We call it our train, treat, repeat approach to dog training.

We’ll explore four ways to train dogs to stop barking, including the use of humane anti barking devices. First, let’s explain what we mean when we talk about “humane” ways to train dogs. 

What Does ‘Humane’ Bark Control Mean?

Humane dog training techniques are methods that get your dog’s attention without hurting, scaring, scarring or harming them in any way. A humane approach to training dogs involves discipline without inflicting pain, force or fear. 

Which brings us to a common question dog owners ask about dog training collars … 

Are Anti-Bark Collars Humane?

We see these questions a lot: Are bark collars inhumane? Are bark collars mean to dogs? 

There are several types of dog training collars that shock, vibrate, spray or make sounds. If you are considering a training collar for your dog, make sure you understand the different types of bark collars, how they work, and what they’re like for your dog. 

  • Shock collars can be uncomfortable for dogs. You use a remote control to administer an electric shock through metal prongs. Some shock collars are auto-triggered by “invisible” fences prompts. 
  • Spray collars use a dog’s sense of smell to administer a citronella spray when they bark or do some other unwanted behavior.
  • Vibrating collars don’t use the same electrical jolts that shock collars do; instead, you use a remote control to send a vibrating alert to your dog through their collar. Some models allow you to control the speed and intensity of the vibrations. 
  • Combination collars include multiple methods to help train your dog — typically vibrations, shocks and sounds — which can be confusing to dogs if you don’t use them consistently or properly. 

The words “barking,” “humane” and “collars” seem to go together, which you’ll find as you search for information about the best bark collars and most humane ways to train dogs. Bark collars are widely used as bark deterrents, and like many dog training tools, they have advantages and disadvantages. 

Our first choice for correcting a dog’s behavior is ultrasonic training tools, which we’ll describe next followed by three other humane bark deterrents.

1 — Ultrasonic Training Devices

Ultrasonic dog training tools are effective, safe and humane dog barking solutions. When used properly, the handheld device never comes in direct contact with your pets, and the high-frequency sound won’t hurt. The ultrasonic training device distracts dogs from barking so that you can give a correction command and then reward their good behaviors with treats. 

Our BarxBuddy ultrasonic training product is incredibly easy to use. It is important to be consistent with the way you use any training tools and methods with your dog. They learn by simple, clear, consistent commands:

  1. Train: Every time your dog barks unnecessarily, press the ON button and then correct their behavior. 
  2. Treat: Reward the good behavior with a treat or a scratch behind the ear.
  3. Repeat: Be consistent. Do this every time; otherwise, your dog remains a confused pup.

It’s also helpful to have everyone in your household on board while you’re training your dog. Otherwise, they’ll quickly figure out who are the “top dogs” and who are the “softies” in your home! Some families order multiple devices, so each family member has his or her own, or so they can keep the training tools in the various parts of the home where their dogs dwell.

2 — Sound Aversion Dog Training

You may have had a friend advise you about something called “sound aversion dog training.” This methodology uses something like a homemade “coins in a can” dog noise maker, or by using a dog training noise app.

It works like this: Rinse and dry a soda can. Put a handful of coins in a can, seal the opening with duct tape and, when your dog starts the disruptive barking behavior, shake the can to startle them and get their attention. 

This method of sound aversion training is more humane than shock collars; however, it can be disruptive to everyone within earshot. Not only will you get your dog’s attention, but you’ll also get attention from everyone around you. 

Another important disadvantage of this type of training is that smart dogs will quickly associate the sound with the can, rather than the sound with the unwanted behavior. 

The BarxBuddy ultrasonic training device doesn’t bother you or people around you, and it doesn’t require a special app to operate it.

3 — Distraction Training to Stop Barking

Like many dog training methods, distraction training takes practice and patience. The theory behind this methodology is to give your dog something else to do that interferes with his barking. 

If he barks excessively when someone is at the door, toss a toy or a treat into his bed and say, “Go to your place.” If she barks at the neighbor kids when they’re playing outside, immediately bring her inside and give her something to do — a treat that she has to work for, retrieving a toy, or something else to keep her busy.   

4 — Treat-Reinforced Sit-Stay Training

This methodology reinforces good behaviors and builds on them as a distraction from barking triggers. It works like this: Take your dog for a walk or go outside to play. Keep treats on you at all times in a place where he can sniff them so he knows they’re there. Train your dog the sit/stay command and each time he does it, reward him with a treat. 

When someone passes by, practice the sit/stay command and praise and reward your dog when he’s done the right thing. Have a friend knock on your door and practice the sit/stay command. The theory is that your dog will watch you for commands when bark triggers arise. Eventually, you will need the treat rewards less often; he’ll learn your voice commands.    

Why is Your Dog Barking? Remove the Barking Trigger

No matter what method you use when training your dog to stop unwanted behaviors, first find out why she is barking. What is she trying to tell you? There are many reasons dogs bark: she’s alarmed, anxious or frustrated; she wants attention, food or help; or she’s in distress. 

Learn why your dog barks, so you can eliminate the things that trigger her and then teach her commands to let her know you’ve understood her message and that it’s time to be quiet. If she barks at passersby, cover the window or remove the trigger from her line of sight as soon as she starts barking, for example. 

Get her attention, reward her for good behaviors and be consistent. Train, treat, repeat. Here are four ways you can train your dog not to bark, using humane training techniques.