It might seem like one of the easiest jobs as a pet owner to choose the right training collar for your dog, but learning how to train a dog with a bark collar effectively is something that requires a little planning and forethought.
Today’s guide highlights the various different types of training collar so you can make an informed choice. Additionally, we’ll show you how to get the most from these devices without causing your pooch any pain or discomfort.
First Thing’s First: Why Is Your Dog Barking?
Before you attempt to stop your dog from barking excessively, it makes sense to find out why they are exhibiting this behavior. Some common reasons for nuisance barking include:
- Warning of intruders
- Cry for attention
You should never use a bark collar – especially a shock collar – if your dog is fearful. If you notice your dog making a rapid licking movement from tongue to nose, this is a classic calming signal.
If you feel that your dog is barking due to stress, anxiety, or fear, using a bark collar is highly unlikely to generate positive results. Indeed, you are liable to find that your dog becomes even more scared. If this happens, you can expect one of two typical outcomes:
- Your dog becomes even more aggressive and jumpy.
- Your dog shuts down completely, exhibiting doggie depression.
In this scenario, it would be beneficial to engage the services of a positive dog trainer.
If you feel that your dog is bother for other and more benign reasons, there is a strong chance that a bark collar will pay dividends. Before you think about using the collar, though, we’ll show you the different types of collar at your disposal.
Which Type of Bark Collar Should You Use on Your Dog?
All bark collars operate on the same principles to prevent nuisance barking. All collars will detect vibration and/or noise, triggering a deterrent. The nature of this deterrent varies depending on the type of collar.
There are four main choices at your disposal:
- Shock collars: Shock collars have advanced since the crude examples manufactured in the 1960s. Modern shock collars deliver a mild electronic shock to deter nuisance barking. Many collars come with a choice of intensity levels. This type of collar is most widely effective since no dogs will appreciate the sensation of shocking.
- Ultrasonic collars: Dogs are highly sensitive to high-frequency sounds. An ultrasonic bark collar will emit a piercing sound undetectable to humans but decidedly unpleasant for dogs. These collars are typically inexpensive and they do not require refills, so running costs are low.
- Vibration collars: A vibration collar works on the same principle, but instead of a shock or an audible alert, they dispense a pulsing vibration. This sensation should be enough to temporarily distract your dog, and at the same time stopping him from barking.
- Spray collars: Spray collars detect nuisance barking and administer a metered dose of spray onto the dog’s nose. Sprays are usually citronella-scented liquids. Few dogs can tolerate the smell of citronella. These collars are not ideal for use when your dog is unattended as the spray may accidentally irritate his eyes, and you will not be around to intervene. Some spray collars will use unscented liquids. Most dogs dislike their snouts being wetted. One of the main drawbacks of this type of bark collar is that you’ll need to factor in the expense and hassle of spray refills. Beyond this, some dogs do not respond to this type of collar.
How to Get the Best Results with Bark Collars
Simply putting a bark collar around your dog’s neck and hoping for the best is not the optimum approach.
To get the most from your collar, you’ll also need to train him while he is wearing the device.
Here’s how you can do that:
- The bark collar you buy must fit your dog properly, or training will be completely ineffective. If the collar is equipped with contact points, these points must fit snugly so that the points remain in continual contact with your furball’s skin. If your collar is too loose, it will not work consistently.
- Next, familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual. This will help you to determine the optimum placement for your dog’s collar. You will find that some bark collars are activated by the vibration of your pup’s vocal cords when he barks, while others are sound-activated. The type of collar will impact placement for maximum effectiveness when training.
- Get to grips with the features and functions of the bark collar. Some multipurpose training collars are equipped with multiple methods of correction. These collars come with settings for beep only, vibration only, vibration then stimulation.
- Assuming that you have a bark collar that delivers static shock, you should always start training by using the lowest available level of stimulation. Your aim at first is to teach your dog how to understand the bark collar and how to respond properly. Don’t make assumptions based on the size and breed of your pooch and start out with a higher level of correction. You can always work your way up. Your goal when using a training collar is to use a level of correction that stops your dog from barking without triggering an overreaction.
- Set the collar to the lowest level. Then, expose your pup to a stimulus that typically causes them to bark – ringing the doorbell or knocking at the door, for instance. You should ensure that the distraction is sufficient that your dog will bark repeatedly. A stimulus that triggers a single bark may not give you the chance to get a proper read on whether or not the collar is working. The reason for this is that many collars allow for isolating barking, only triggering correction when barking is repetitive and could be considered a nuisance.
- Monitor your dog and see if he responds. If so, how does he respond? You should look out for any signs that your dog’s focus is interrupted. Does he pause? If so, this is the time for positive reinforcement. Praise and reward Rover while he is silent.
- If you do not see your dog react to this stimulation at all, increase the intensity by one level. Repeat the above process. It may be necessary to run through this process many times until you are confident that your hound is aware of the stimulation and distracted from barking without being caused any pain or discomfort. Adequate responses to the collar include pauses, twitches, or slight startles.
- Now that you have established an effective level of correction for your dog, it’s time to start putting the bark collar into practice in some closely supervised situations.
- Get your dog to wear the collar and periodically present him with situations in which he could potentially bark. Take your time and do this over the course of a few days. When you feel confident that your dog understands the collar and reacts appropriately, you can leave him with the collar around his neck unattended.
- Regardless of the type of bark collar, you should check your dog’s neck and skin regularly until you are confident that the collar is not causing him any irritation.
What Are the Drawbacks of Using a Bark Collar on Your Dog?
While bark collars can be a remarkably effective, they have some drawbacks, such as:
- Occasionally, dogs will learn to bark only if the collar is on, prolonging the use of the collar.
- Some dogs become depressed if they are unable to properly communicate or express themselves through barking.
- Using any form of punitive correction can trigger negative outcomes. If you put a bark collar on your dog when taking him for a walk and he is shocked each time he barks at another dog, this may lead Rover to associate punishment with other canines. If this occurs, you may end up with a dog who exhibits aggressive behaviors. This issue is even more challenging to treat than nuisance barking.
Using a training collar is no guarantee of stopping nuisance barking, but when used in the right way, there is a very strong chance of a positive outcome.
If you keep the above guidance in mind, you should have no problem finding the most suitable collar for the breed and temperament of your dog. If you start slowly, pack plenty of patience, and incorporate lots of positive reinforcement into training, you might be amazed at the results you achieve with a bark collar for Rover.
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