We recognize as a dog owner, it’s your choice on whether to use an electronic training collar. With that said, BarxBuddy does not recommend using an electronic training collar for any reason. Why? Because we know there are better ways to address unwanted behaviors like barking. For this reason, we feel it’s time to talk about why electronic bark collars are a no-go for us and shouldn’t be for anyone.
What are Electronic Bark Collars?
Electronic training collars resemble traditional dog collars except for the electrodes that protrude and rest against the larynx area of a dog’s neck. These e-collars come in two styles: automatic and remote-controlled.
The automatic electronic anti bark dog collar detects vibrations in a dog’s neck when they bark and sends an electrical current (shock) through electrodes into the dog’s neck area. Adjustable settings on the collar control the intensity of the shock. Remote-controlled electronic bark collars work in a similar fashion, except a person is in charge of delivering the current and its strength.
Are Electronic Training Collars Bad for Dogs? Are Electronic Bark Collars Cruel?
At some point, these electronic training collars do stop a dog from barking.
Positive punishment or negative reinforcement (technical terms for how e-collars work) can curb behavior in dogs and other creatures, including us humans. For example, if someone smacked you across the face every time you reached for your favorite snack, eventually, you would stop grabbing for the snack. You experienced pain, confusion, anxiety, fear, and probably resentment for the person or thing that caused you such discomfort.
Delivering a shock to a dog’s neck is no different. Why must your pet learn a lesson from a painful experience when proven, effective, pain-free methods to reduce or eliminate negative behaviors exist. Not convinced? Here are several reasons pet parents should second guess using an electronic training collar:
- They fail to address the underlying reason the dog is barking.
- They can damage the skin.
- They can increase a dog’s fear and aggression.
- They can discharge a shock at inappropriate times (malfunction or poor timing with the remote control).
- They can punish a dog for appropriate barking (when alerting you of a threat).
- They don’t provide any positive reinforcement for good behavior.
- They are often misused for other behaviors like jumping and food aggression that the collar is not meant for.
Like our face-smack scenario, it will take several uses of an electronic training collar for your pet to quiet down while wearing it. This means your dog will have to endure the shock repeatedly.
It’s worth noting that manufacturers don’t typically disclose the electronic anti-bark dog collar’s amperage, which is what can cause physical harm. Instead, packaging may show voltage, which doesn’t necessarily correlate to the number of amps the device will deliver.
5 Alternatives to Electronic Training Collars
As pet parents, we understand your need to curb unwanted behaviors in your dog. However, there are plenty of other effective training methods to help you address your dog’s barking, and not instill fear into your pet, and improve the relationship between you and your dog. Like everything else in life, you have options.
Here are five types of training to consider:
Positive reinforcement: The foundation for positive reinforcement training is your dog will repeat a good behavior if followed by a reward. The minute you notice your dog displaying the desired behavior (like sitting quietly), immediately offer a reward (food-driven dogs favor a tasty treat). Commands should be short, like come, sit, stay, quiet. This method is often used in conjunction with other methods including BarxBuddy’s.
Train, treat, repeat: BarxBuddy’s training method requires you to use a handheld training device that emits an ultrasonic sound to stop your pet from an unwanted behavior like nuisance barking. As soon as your dog stops barking, offer a “quiet” command, praise, and a treat. Repeat the process if your dog starts barking again.
Clicker: Clicker training has similar components as positive and train, treat, repeat training methods. You use a clicker or whistle (any device that can make a quick, sharp sound) to mark the exact moment your dog completes a desired behavior and is rewarded. This is an effective method to shape new behaviors and add verbal commands. You must first teach your pet that the sound means a reward is quick to follow. To address nuisance barking, make the clicking or whistle sound the minute your dog stops barking, click and reward, click and reward your dog again immediately after he’s done eating and before he barks again.
Model-rival or mirror: The model-rival or mirror training method is based on learning by observation. You need a model dog to display the desired behavior. Any time your pet performs a good behavior exhibited by the model, offer a reward or a treat.
Relationship-based: Relationship-based training combines training methods to meet the needs of your unique relationship with your pet. You must understand your pet’s body language, what motivates him (attention, food, etc.), and how to meet his needs. Initial training sessions must be held in a controlled environment (like a quiet room) to limit possible unwanted behaviors. As your pet performs a behavior in a controlled setting, you can slowly increase the difficulty by introducing your dog to an environment with distractions like a park. Whenever your dog fails to perform a desired behavior, it is up to you to figure out why. Was it due to the distractions? Was he not feeling well? Maybe he couldn’t hear you or just was not in the mood for training.
Tips for Successful Training Without an Electronic Training Collar
Regardless of which training alternative you select to use, we’ve got a few tips that can help ensure success:
- Stay positive. Keep your outlook on the training upbeat. Remember, you and your dog are in this together and need each other to make it work.
- Practice patience. No matter what the package states, there are no magical fixes to changing a dog’s behavior. It takes time.
- Never yell at, scold or punish your pet as this can cause fear and increase unwanted behaviors.
- Distract your dog with busy toys or game time in triggering situations.
- Exercise your pet daily.
- Keep training sessions short and engaging to prevent boredom.
- Spend quality time with your pet to strengthen your bond.
In the end, how you train your dog is up to you. If you rely on an electronic no bark collar, we hope you second guess using it and opt for a kinder, gentler training method.