A Guide to the Controversial Bark CollarReading Time: 4 minutes
The topic of whether to use a dog bark collar in training is very controversial. Do anti-bark collars cause pain and discomfort to dogs? Are they effective training tools? Is there an effective yet humane element to this method of training? Read on for the answers to these questions and more!
A Tale of Two Training Techniques: Positive Reinforcement vs Balanced Dog Training
Positive reinforcement training techniques involve rewarding an animal when they respond to a request in the correct manner. For example, you ask Fido to “Sit”. He sits promptly. You give your excellent dog a treat!
This could extend to condition appropriate behavior even if it hasn’t been asked for. For example, you have stopped to chat with someone in the park. Ideally, you would like your pupper to sit calmly at your feet so that you can focus on the person that you are talking to.
You do not want to have to scout the surrounds for your errant hound every few seconds. If your pooch stays sitting at your feet, you can surreptitiously drop a treat in their direction every so often. In this way, you are rewarding them for appropriate behavior even though you didn’t give an explicit command to do so.
Balanced dog training combines both positive reinforcement training and corrective training. In other words, good behavior is rewarded, and undesirable behavior is corrected (NOT PUNISHED).
For basic obedience training, this should not be necessary, unless you have a particularly stubborn pup. However, in certain cases, balanced dog training is far more effective. If you are attempting to do some behavior modification for excessive barking, chewing, nipping, or running away, balanced training, with the help of an animal behaviorist, could be more effective.
Understanding the Controversy of Training Dogs with Prong and “Shock” Collars
If used incorrectly, dog shock collars can cause a great deal of harm and discomfort to a dog. When used in training, there is a greater chance of abuse. For example, the trainer can administer actual shocks as punishment or mistime the shocks. In turn, this could result in the dog associating this pain with people or certain experiences. This could lead to fearful or aggressive behavior.
If your dog doesn’t understand the method behind the shock collar and isn’t taught how to remove the pressure, the training tool will be of no value!
Prong Collars, Shock Collars, and Spray Collars: Not for People Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing!
There is more than one type of bark collar or dog training collar. The different types are suitable for different dogs and different situations. All types of dog training collars should only be used in conjunction with positive reinforcement training and under the supervisions of an extremely qualified dog trainer!
To work effectively and not cause harm to a dog, a prong collar (collars with metal or rubber prongs that tighten as the dog adds pressure to the leash) must fit correctly. Prong collars must sit high on the dog’s neck. This avoids any potential damage to the trachea.
If used incorrectly, dog shock collars or prong collars can irritate and inflame your dog’s skin. They can also cause your dog to become anxious, fearful, or aggressive.
4 Unacceptable Reasons to Use a Bark Collar on Your Dog
There are a bunch of reasons why not to use a bark collar on your dog. But, before we get into those: You should absolutely not attempt to correct your dog’s behavior using a bark collar if you have not spent time with a professional animal behaviorist.
- You should not use a bark collar to punish your dog. Only use the collar for correcting unwanted behaviors.
- Your dog should not wear the collar for extended periods of time.
- Do not make use of no-bark collars to stop your dog’s barking before you have made an effort to understand why they are barking. Excessive barking might be a result of separation anxiety or cognitive dysfunction. In these cases, correctly medicating your furry friend will be a much more successful and pain-free solution!
- Do not use a bark collar on a dog that lives with other dogs. The sounds of other dogs barking can trigger the collar.
In Most Cases, Positive Reinforcement is All it Takes!
Positive reinforcement makes use of reward-based techniques to shape and capture wanted behaviors, and to reinforce them to increase their likelihood.
In the case of nuisance barking, reward your dog when they are quiet. If your dog barks at something you deem unnecessary, call them back to you and get them to sit or lie down. Once they are doing this quietly, you can reward with a treat or two.
An easy and effective way to get your dog to bark less is to remove some of the triggers that cause nuisance barking. Does Fido like to stand at a gate or a window and bark at passers-by? Board up the gate or hang blinds or curtains in front of the window so that your pooch can’t see and be threatened by every being that walks past.
Some Dogs Simply Need a Little More Help to Understand Boundaries
The key to effective dog training is to react to the behavior immediately. If your dog does something right, praise and reward immediately. So that they know which action is praiseworthy. This is where clicker training comes in handy!
If your pup is doing something undesirable and you are at a distance a remote-controlled collar is useful. If they are barking at the neighbor’s fence and you are inside, an anti-bark collar could be an effective way of letting Fido know that that is not ok.
Here is a good analogy for dogs who need bark collars: If, say, a child is (correctly) diagnosed with something like ADHD, medication is a necessary tool to help them balance out. If that child is misdiagnosed, then medication certainly does more harm than good.
The same goes for our furkids and these collars. Only certain dogs, who really need them, should be trained with them. Anyone using a collar of this kind on a dog who doesn’t need it is not doing anyone a favor. At all.
From Snake Aversion Training to Hunting: In Some Cases, These Collars are Essential!
Do you live or holiday in an area that is also home to venomous snakes? Have you ever wondered whether there was a way to snake-proof your dog? Aversion training using a prong collar or electronic collar could be an effective way of doing so. However, a professional dog trainer must guide this training. If done incorrectly, you could teach your dog to fear the snakes and want to attack them if they cross their path.
How an Anti Bark Dog Collar Works?
Bark control collars are triggered by the vibration or sound of barking. To punish or distract the dog from it’s barking, the collar will either produce an electric shock, a blast of air, or an unpleasant noise or smell.
When and How to Use a Bark Collar Correctly: Ask a Professional!
Do not undertake to train your dog using a bark collar if you have no experience in the matter. There are other ways to modify unwanted behavior than clipping on a bark collar. Your dog must understand the training! They must understand how the bark collar works. They must also understand how to prevent or remove the unpleasant trigger. Only a qualified, professional dog trainer will be able to assist you in doing all the above in the right way.
Try it On Yourself Before You Try It On Your Dog!
Shock collars give your dog a signal by passing an electric current through metal contact points on the collar. This electric signal can feel like a mild tickle or a painful shock. So as not to cause harm or distress, it is very important to test the strength of the current before placing the collar on your dog.
More important: if you know how it feels you have a better understanding of what you are doing to your dog. It’s a good lesson trigger happy people from abusing the collar!
Types of Dog Collars Used in Balanced Dog Training
Have a look at the different types and discuss them with your trainer before putting it into your basket (and onto your dog)!
PetSafe Static Bark Control Collar
The PetSafe Static Bark Control Collar works by emitting an irritating static noise. The static correction increases up to 6 levels until your dog stops barking. No need to program this device! Easy to use!
PetSafe Ultrasonic Bark Control Collar
When triggered, the PetSafe Ultrasonic Bark Control Collar corrects nuisance barking by producing an ultrasonic tone. Humans can’t hear this sound, but your doggo will find it super annoying. The lightweight, waterproof receiver collar has an adjustable neck-size to fit dogs from 8 pounds and heavier.
PetSafe Elite Little Dog Spray Bark Collar: The Best Bark Collar for Small Dogs
The Pet Safe Elite Little Dog Spray Bark Collar corrects annoying barking by spraying a burst of citronella-scented spray. A cloud of citronella spray is a gentle way of deterring small dogs from unpleasant behavior.
Common Questions About Dog Bark Collars
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