Dog Training: A Bark Collar. Does It Really Work? - Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

bark collars don't workA man emailed me the other day complaining about his barking dog and was threatening to go to PetsMart to purchase a bark collar for his dog to stop the barking problem.

I am not a big fan of bark collars for number of reasons:

Most of them don’t provide a humane solution for barking.

Most use electronic stimulation or shock to stop the barking.  It works when it’s on the dog – not when it’s off the dog or when batteries run down while you are at work.

The dog could develop a negative association with whatever or whomever is around them when they get a collar correction.

If left on indefinitely, the contact points could cause irritation to the dog’s neck. Worse than that, I’ve actually seen some contact points embedded in a dog’s neck to the point of infection because the owner never checked the bark collar once it was put on the dog.

Anxiety and tension builds in the dog for no longer being able to do what it perceives as its duty or job – barking and scaring the bad guys away. This can cause other problems in your relationship with your dog.

You wind up not really fixing the barking problem – just masking over the barking dog problem.

Bark collars cost a lot of money.

Let’s take a look at some typical examples of barking problems. Aside from any bark-reduction training, it’s also crucial to address, if present, any underlying socialization deficits, lack of exercise, and impoverished environment (i. e. inadequate mental stimulation.)

More than 75% of the barkers that are kept in the backyard or on the porch are isolated to the yard or porch because of other problems they have presented, such as chewing or house-soiling.   In these cases, the underlying problem should be identified and corrected, at which time the dog can be readmitted to the house and the barking usually ceases.

Now lets take a look at a typical example of an inside dog who is alert barking at people who are just “walking by“outside the house .  It does take work or training but you begin to address the core or root problem producing a permanent solution

Here’s what I recommend as a better solution.
If the dog barks when the owners are at home, the dog should be immediately called to the owner on the first bark and very quietly told to sit.  If the owner knows that the noise causing the barking dog problem is nothing that warrants barking, the dog should be quietly released from its sit command and immediately recalled to the owner again, and the routine repeated until the dog settles down.

If the owner believes that an investigation is warranted, the owner should call the barking dog, require it to sit, then lie down, then sit again, then released, at which time the owner should go quietly to investigate the nosie.  If the cause for the bark is not warranted, the owner should quietly tell the dog again to sit, release it and return to former activities.

This teaches the dog that its bark is important, but that the owner is in control of the situation, not the dog.  If the dog starts again to bark during this procedure, it must again be called and the routine repeated.    When this is done consistently, the dog will soon begin to give a single alarm bark and seek the owner for further guidance.

If you have problems getting your dog to listen at first, put a leash or long line on your dog while in the house.  This allows you to use the leash to have your dog come to you by a gentle tug on the leash when you say come.

Don’t forget to give your dog plenty of exercise and work on simple come, sit and down three times daily – just for a couple of minutes . This will give your dog a sense of working for leadership rather than feeling responsible for it himself.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children.  And remember:  “Opportunity Barks!”

Jim Burwell