The incessant barking of a dog can be intensely irritating. Does your beloved little Bailey yap at the slightest sound, a dog passing in the street, or a knock at the door? Then you know what it is to want to pull your hair out over the noise. Many dogs use barking as an energy outlet, a warning, or simply to say, “here I am!” To Bailey, this is a communication tool, to you it’s simply annoying. So do you dare get an anti-bark collar to control her outbursts? It can be tempting to use one and it may seem like a quick fix, but there are plenty of things to consider before going that route.
How do Anti-Bark Collars Work?
There are a few different types of bark-correcting collars on the market. The kind that most people think of is a shock collar. This device will deliver a little jolt of electricity to Bailey’s neck each time she barks at a certain volume. Some will produce different levels of shock depending on the loudness of the bark. A citronella bark collar will spray some nasty citronella in Bailey’s face when she barks. She won’t like it; dogs hate the smell. Finally, an ultrasonic collar emits a high-pitched sound in response to a bark. You won’t hear it, but Bailey will and she will find it very annoying.
Benefits of Using an Anti-Bark Collar
While just about any problem behavior that Bailey exhibits can be corrected by a professional dog trainer, it can be tempting to buy a collar instead. They are certainly less expensive than a trainer and they will produce the desired effect much more quickly. The annoyance of a shock, screech, or spray of citronella can correct barking pretty efficiently. When Bailey realizes that barking creates the thing she doesn’t like, she will be effectively trained to not bark. Whether using any of the collars is cruel is an individual decision. What is certain is that none of them harm dogs. The idea behind the devices is to get Bailey’s attention rather than to hurt her.
The Downside to Anti-Bark Collars
So why shouldn’t you use an anti-bark collar to correct Bailey? It’s not very nice. The type of training that is involved with these collars is called positive punishment. Don’t be fooled by the word positive. This means that something Bailey does not like is introduced to punish her and to deter her unwanted behavior. While effective, it’s not a very pleasant experience for her. Most contemporary dog trainers use techniques that are described as positive reinforcement. That means giving Bailey something she likes to reward her and to encourage her good behaviors. It is a much nicer way of training and can be used to solve any problem. It may not be as fast, but positive reinforcement is just as effective, if not more so, than an anti-bark collar.
The deterrents used in collars are not physically harmful to dogs. Imagine you got a light slap in the face every time you said a certain word. That might give you an idea of what Bailey would be in for. A slap doesn’t cause you harm or injury, but it is unpleasant and could have psychological effects. If Bailey is getting shocked or sprayed on a regular basis, she could become timid and shy. In fact, she may even develop other undesirable behaviors like jumping, peeing in the house, or hiding as a result of the anti-bark collar.
Whether you use an anti-bark collar to help Bailey become a quieter dog is a personal choice. There are many experts and veterinarians who promote their use. On the other hand there are plenty of trainers and animal rights groups that believe they represent cruelty. Consider the pros and cons carefully and decide what will work best for and for Bailey.