"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Bark Collar

– Posted in: Columns
Hi John:
My husband a I have a 15 months old Maltese name Kage. The problem is that he barks at everything and everybody inside and outside.  And his bark for a little guy is very shrill and loud, and is very irritating, not just to us, but neighbours as well.  People keep saying to get a ultrasonic bark collar but we do not want to do anything that is inhumane.  We would appreciate your thoughts on using bark collars in general.
Hi Sharon,
I’ve never known any ultrasonic barker to be deterrent enough for a persistent hard core barker.   I also don’t believe marketing hype regarding one type of collar being more humane then another. If any collar is going to work it has to cause significant discomfort; so if you’re told one collar is more humane then another they actually mean they (mistakenly) believe their collar is “less inhumane.” For ultrasonic collar the ears are irritated, nostrils and eyes in the case of citronella spray and static shock on the skin surface (like you get on a carpet) in the case of static (shock) collars. Each must occur in an irritating enough manner to motivate the dog to not bark. “Ouch!, My ears are irritated.” “Ouch! My nose and eyes are irritated.” “Ouch! My skin is irritated.”
Of the three as I say I’ve never seen or heard of much success anyway with the ultrasonic. Either way ears are pretty sensitive things for dogs. The citronella has always bugged me because they claim they are the king of humane anti-bark collars and yet the dog’s nose is its most sensitive organ and any dog around the barking dog pays the price as well. The citronella in the eyes can’t be any treat either. They work better then the ultrasonic for sure but not that great overall. Another problem is the limitation of levels of intensity. One size must fit all. Expensive too once you have to start paying for batteries and additional canisters.
The static collars are the scariest of the bunch but are the most effective in my experience. Whether warranted or not you’ll have to decide. They are effective enough that the manufacturers of the other types of collars spend a lot of time producing “studies” saying they don’t work and will wreck a dog. To anyone observing there’s no denying that it will be obvious that the dog didn’t like the static stimulation it receives once it hits the level that makes the offer that can’t be refused. Introduced correctly I’ve never had one not work nor have I seen one wreck a dog. When used incorrectly the dog won’t know how to solve the problem and they can shut a dog right down. Eventually the dog will figure out but I haven’t the stomach for it. Slow is better. The same is true of citronella collars but then again, used incorrectly any dog training tool can work against you.
The purely positive (PP) dog training bunch go purely and positively polemic at the merest hint that one would consider introducing static shock over injecting citronella up a dog’s nose or causing pain to a dog’s hearing. I’ve never been sure why everything considered the citronella collar gets a pass. They often ask, “How would you like it?” I believe I see the point even as they seem to miss it. I wouldn’t like it, so I’d stop barking. The dog isn’t supposed to like it. I haven’t met one of the people posing the question that actually tried it themselves. I have and many times and I can honestly say I didn’t like it, meaning it worked. In fact for me, on a level 4 out of 5 I chose not to speak. Later a  1 or 2 sufficed as I knew what lay down the road if I “barked”. This is much the same as most dogs. I’ve never known a dog that went past a 4 and most get it at a 2. My advantage is that I knew it was coming and why it was coming. The dog doesn’t have that information so the collar has to be introduced more slowly.  They (the PP) have studies as well which I’ve read and which are poor excuses for scientific research in my view as there seemed a bias going in and horrible structure in the study.
A legitimate problem with the static collars is that people put them on too loosely or leave them on too long and where the collar contacts the dog friction (not a burn from the collar; another piece of purely positive propaganda) can create hot spots. My biggest problem with the static collars though is that the instructions for the manufacturers aren’t sufficient for introducing the collar in increments to find the correct adjustable level to discourage barking. There are various levels of quality as well.
Personally I’m not comfortable with any of them if the dog owner is not taking into consideration solving the dog’s problem rather then just their own. I want to know why the dog is barking and deal with that as well or find away around it so the poor dog isn’t short circuiting mentally because he or she is stimulated but can’t bark it out. It is extremely rare that I’ve used a bark collar of any kind. I’m writing a booklet on the how-to’s but I’ve not had the time to finish it.
Regards,
John Wade
3 Comments… add one
Carol Wright

I have a little dog – most closely resembling a rat terrier and she is death on squirrels (not that she catches any!) but there are many trees and squirrels around so she is OFTEN barking a lot and it is a problem for a neighbor who works nights. Any suggestions?

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade

If you get the right bark collar match and introduce it intelligently you can fairly help the dog understand where it is erring.

John

Anna J. White

I have this same collar, and it seems to work on my dad’s dog. However, you have to be there and not keep it on the dog unless you’re there watching for things like “false positives.” Otherwise, it’s a great option.

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