Bark Control Collars: Are They Right For Your Dog?
For dogs, the most common form of communication is barking. Even the quietest of dogs bark when they need to; it’s in their nature. Unfortunately, some dogs belong on the other end of the spectrum and bark a lot, some, incessantly.
If you’re an owner of a dog that barks all the time, you probably find this behavior annoying. Safe to say, your neighbors probably feel the same way. Your first effort in curbing this behavior must be to identify the reason for your dog’s barking and train him to stop barking upon your command.
As you research ways to stop dogs from barking, you will likely find recommendations for bark collars. The following guide examines the different bark collars, how they work, and bark collar alternatives to help you decide whether a bark collar is right for your pet.
What is a Bark Collar? Barkless Collar?
A bark or anti-bark collar is a collar that can help teach your dog to stop his barking habits. As a training tool, a bark collar can discourage barking even when you aren’t around.
Today there are plenty of anti-bark collar options. Some run on standard batteries; some are rechargeable. Some may be waterproof, while others may not. And, some may automatically initiate, while others require involvement on the dog handler’s part.
How Do Bark Collars Work?
Bark collars work by emitting an unpleasant stimulus like shock, scent, or sound when the dog is misbehaving, including barking. You can control bark collars in a variety of ways. Some are remotely controlled by the pet’s owner through a wireless device, while others are managed automatically by sounds, like your dog’s bark or wireless triggers from an electric fence.
Do Bark Collars Prevent Barking?
This is an important discussion to have when you’re training your dog — are you looking for bark prevention, or are you looking to train your dog to stop barking when you issue a command?
Bark prevention means you’re training your dog not to bark, or you’re desensitizing him to things that normally trigger a barking fit.
Bark correction means you allow the dog to bark — say, when the doorbell rings — and when you issue a command, he stops.
How Long Do Dogs Wear Bark Collars?
Left on for long periods, a bark collar could irritate your dog’s skin, so it’s recommended you leave the bark collar on your pet for no more than 12 consecutive hours. For your dog’s comfort, it’s best to remove the collar while he’s indoors.
What Are the Types of Bark Collars?
While bark collars vary in features, and range in price, there are four main types: shock, vibration, spray, and ultrasonic. Each manages your dog’s barking differently.
Shock (static) collars
In some form or fashion, the shock collar for dogs has been around for decades. Today’s collar design has a couple of stainless steel contacts that rest against the skin of your dog’s neck. As your dog begins to bark, the collar detects vibrations causing the collar to discharge a short, low-level shock to your pet’s neck. If you need to adjust the impulse, most shock models have several sensitivity levels.
How does the shock feel? When describing the feel of the shock, some pet stores suggest it’s similar to shuffling your feet across a carpet then touching another person or something metal. Some shock collars offer additional features like warning tones or vibrations, while others work with invisible electric fences.
It’s essential that you purchase a shock collar that is calibrated to only respond to your dog’s barking, not irrelevant noises, like the barking of other dogs, otherwise your dog may receive additional impulses in error.
Like shock collars, vibration bark collars have sensors that distinguish the vibrations in your dog’s neck when he starts barking. Instead of a shock, this type of anti-bark collar sends a vibrating sensation to your dog’s skin. Vibration anti-bark collars feature multiple intensity levels that are adjustable.
Instead of using a shock or vibration, this newer kind of bark collar uses built-in sensors to detect when your dog barks, and they emit a scent, usually citronella or lemon in front of your dog’s snout. The spray is safe for pets, humans, and the environment but unpleasant enough for your dog that it will disrupt their unwanted behaviors.
Ultrasonic collars sense when a dog barks and transmit a high-frequency sound that is inaudible to humans, to stop his barking. Some ultrasonic collars also use vibration and can be controlled with a wireless device operated by the dog’s handler. Unlike the other anti-bark collars, the ultrasonic mode isn’t limited to a collar. Ultrasonic sounds used in dog training can be found in dog control monitor stations and handheld remotes.
Are Bark Collars Used for Other Dog Training?
Yes, certain types of bark collars can be used for other dog training. However, to be useful as a training collar, it must be controllable by the dog handler. Automatic bark collars are useless as training tools for behaviors other than barking because they are designed only to detect barking and emit an unpleasant stimulus.
What Are the Best Bark Collars?
Every dog is unique, as is your situation. Many factors determine what bark collar is best for your dog, such as size, demeanor, and temperament. You should also be aware of a collar’s features and limitations. Here’s a rundown of what we consider to be the best bark collars.
- Rechargeable: This type is ideal for a pet owner who doesn’t want to spend time and money replacing standard batteries.
- Remote control: Best for the pet owner who wants to have more control over when the collar delivers a stimulus.
- Waterproof: An excellent option for dogs who like to play in the water.
- Combination: An ideal collar may feature a combination of these design elements, such as a waterproof, rechargeable collar, or a bark collar that is rechargeable, waterproof, and is remotely controlled.
For more in-depth information on these types of bark collars, check out our post The Types of Anti-Bark Collars and How to Choose.
How Effective Are Bark Collars?
No training device is effective without a dog owner’s involvement in their dog’s training. Improper use of an anti-bark collar will prove ineffective at stopping a dog from excessive barking. However, if a bark collar is a part of a train-treat-repeat methodology, you should find success in changing your dog’s behavior.
- Even with your participation and proper training, there are other reasons why a bark collar fails.
- The underlying reason (territorial, fear, separation anxiety, etc.) your dog is barking has not been addressed.
- The collar may not be the appropriate size for your dog. A collar too big or too small can either result in under-correction or over-correction.
- The settings may not be appropriately set. Too high or low can also cause your dog to receive over-correction or under-correction.
- The device itself may be defective.
- Your dog’s breed barks more than others.
- Your dog may learn how to bark in tones or frequencies that a bark collar cannot detect.
Are Bark Collars Safe for Dogs?
Many pet owners worry about the safety of bark collars, as should be expected. The purpose behind an anti-bark collar is to interrupt a dog’s unwanted behavior, not to harm the dog; thus, the majority of bark collars are safe although some question whether they are humane tools for training dogs, especially shock collars.
Bark collars aren’t recommended for puppies younger than six months or dogs under eight pounds.
Are There Bark Collar Alternatives?
Yep! If you choose not to go with a bark collar but still want a safe and effective training tool that can help deter your dog from barking, consider the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool. This handheld device uses ultrasonic sounds (and infrared lights) to interrupt your dog’s barking so you can provide a command. The BarxBuddy never comes in contact with your pet and works up to a distance of 60 feet.
For More Advice on Dog Training
Learn more about the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training tool, which is designed to help you stop unwanted behaviors from your dog using a humane, safe and effective training device.