We receive quite a bit of enquiry from people who are curious about the different bark control devices that are available on the market and which might be best for their particular dog.
OK.. two things to remember right from the outset. Number one - dogs do bark! It is a completely natural part of their communication and behaviour… and number two – no bark control device is 100% guaranteed to work.
Dogs bark for appropriate reasons, such as when they hear an odd noise in or near the yard. We don’t want to curb this sort of barking. However, dogs sometimes develop inappropriate barking behaviour… as a result of boredom, loneliness, stress…or perhaps a little overzealousness in barking at any little sound in the neighbourhood.
Before buying a bark control device you should determine what sort of barker your dog is. This will assist you determine whether you need to do more than simply stop your dog from barking. For instance, if your dog is a boredom barker, could regular walks help? … or if your dog’s barking is a result of separation anxiety (as my dog was!) you need to do more than simply curb your dog’s barking – you need to work on the separation issue as well as the barking.
Although delivery of correction may be either automatic or manual (depending on the specific product), there are three basic correction methods used in anti-bark devices – TONE CORRECTION UNITS/COLLARS, STIMULATION COLLARS and CITRONELLA COLLARS. They all use the same basic principle – when barking is detected, the device activates to distract the dog. Your dog will then associate this correction with barking and learn to curb nuisance barking.
Let’s examine each in a little more detail:
TONE CORRECTION UNITS:
A portable device (ie may be collar or unit based) that, when the dog barks, emits a short, ultrasonic sound that dogs find unpleasant. The pitch and intensity of the tone increases if the dog doesn’t stop barking. Tone units are usually adjustable so you can allow your dog a set number of “grace” barks before correction.
Tone correction units are suitable for dogs of any age and can be quite effective for “beginner” barkers or puppies, but do need to be reasonably close to the dog to be effective. If using a portable unit in a large space such as a back yard, the dog can move away from the device, minimising or negating it’s effectiveness. (A friend of mine had a dog that would determine which side of the yard the device was on … then move to the other side of the yard to bark).
Adult dogs, or dogs that have well developed barking routines can readily ignore the sounds emitted from the device (even when collar based or standing right next to it!) Additionally, the correction tone can be triggered by other dogs barking within proximity of the unit.
Stimulation collars sometimes called “zap” collars, emit a static electrical impulse (a small static electricity shock) when barking is detected. Stimulation collars are quite effective on determined barkers and cannot be triggered by other dogs barking nearby. On the downside is the fact that, even though they are perfectly safe, many dog owners find use of stimulation collars quite distressing – particularly if their dog yips or cries in surprise when receiving a correction from the collar... and the zap can be painful for smaller dogs. Although the RSPCA do not endorse these collars, they can be an effective "last ditch" solution if you have a large dog that is a determined barker. Having said that, if you are thinking about using a stimulation collar you might consider visiting a pet store and asking to test one on your own skin first.. this will give you an idea of zap intensity, and give you the opportunity to decide if appropriate for your pet.
Citronella collars deliver a short burst of (harmless) citronella in front of the dog's nose when barking is detected. The smell of citronella, combined with the little "psst" of scent releasing act in combination to distract the dog & give him the message that his barking is not welcome! Like stimulation collars, the citronella collar cannot be triggered by any dog other than the one wearing the collar, and are also effective for beginner barkers as well as more determined barkers.
Where stimulation collars are better suited to large dogs, citronella collars are suitable for both large and small dogs, but should definitely not be used on dogs younger than 6 months old. Most commercial collar products are fully adjustable (check at time of purchase).
Although the most effective treatment varies from dog to dog, a study into barking behaviours conducted by Cornell University (USA) found Citronella Collars reduce barking by 88% compared to stimulation collars (44%) and tone units (12%). Consequentially, we stock Premier Pet Gentle Spray Citronella Anti Bark Collars (recognised as the world’s best selling anti-bark collar).
If you are interested in purchasing a Gentle Spray Citronella Collar please have a look at our current auctions… Alternatively, if you would like more information please email us and we will send you a free “Had it with Barking?” brochure.
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