How to Choose an Anti-Bark Collar for Your Dog
If, like countless dog owners around the world, you have a dog who just won't stop barking when it is told to, in spite of trying everything you could possibly try, then you have probably thought about using an anti-bark collar on your dog but have hesitated to do so because of their reputation as a cruel and inhumane form of punishment. While this reputation may have been deserved a few years back, things have certainly changed, and today, quality collars are made with a dog's comfort and safety first and foremost in mind.
Many people have reported that when used correctly from the start, their dog learned to stop barking after just a few uses and that their dog hadn't been traumatized at all. That was certainly true for my dog, an excitable Border Collie who just wouldn't stop barking when he wanted attention. We used a static pulse anti-bark collar for him and after just a couple of uses he learned to stop barking as soon as we put the collar on him.
Choosing Your Collar
Now before you rush off to buy one, let me just share a few bits of advice about what to look for in one because they're not all made the same and some are definitely better than others.
There are three varieties:
Types of Anti-Bark Collars
Static pulse collars
Sonic Collars: The Least Effective Type
Sonic collars work by emitting an ultrasonic sound that apparently only your dog can hear. When your dog hears the sound he stops barking. The sound is said to be unpleasant to dogs. These types of systems also come in stationary form, where you place them at certain spots where your dog tends to bark more, such as a gate or front door. These are the least popular systems because they're not as effective as the other two. My neighbours a few years ago (we have moved since) actually tried this sort of collar on their Golden Retriever for a while and then gave up because not only was the sound audible to humans (even though it claimed not to be), but also the dog would continue to bark through it.
Spray Collars: More Humane but Effectiveness Varies Greatly by Dog
Spray collars are probably the second most effective type of anti-bark collar and they work by emitting an unpleasant smelling spray towards your dog's snout whenever he barks. They usually emit a lemon or citronella based spray. These aren't always effective because many dogs learn to tolerate the odour of the spray and some even fall in love with it. Another couple of downsides are that anyone near the dog when the spray is emitted will also be subjected to the unpleasant odour and spray cans might need to be replaced quite frequently, adding extra costs to the initial cost of the collar. I've also read that the batteries run out fast and can be hard to replace and sometimes the spray devices leak.
Static Pulse Collars: Most Controversial but Also the Most Effective
Static pulse collars are far and away the most effective but they are also the most controversial. They work by emitting a static pulse to your dog whenever he barks and many people would have you believe that this is extremely painful and distressing to your dog. This may have been true several years ago when anti-bark collars didn't come with different levels of behaviour correction but it's certainly not the case today. In fact most of them come with several levels of correction that can be adjusted as necessary. Some of them even come with a warning beep emitted when your dog starts barking.
We used a static pulse collar on our dog and it was very effective.
Knowing What to Look for Could Save You Money
Once you've decided which type of anti-bark collar you want to get, you need to know how to choose a good quality one that will do the job and cause minimum fuss. Read on to learn what you need to know when buying an anti-bark collar.
- Check for an adjustable collar.
- Check that the sound is indeed inaudible to humans by testing it out at the store. If you can't do this, e.g. you're buing a collar online, check that it comes with a money back guarantee in case it's ineffective. If a collar isn't guaranteed for performance then I wouldn't buy it... it's a clear sign the manufacturer doesn't have confidence in their product.
- Look for an adjustable collar or one made for your dog's size. This is important because you want the spray going toward's your dog's nose, not his eyes or in some other direction where it won't be as effective.
- Look for a collar that comes with an all-natural spray or a low-allergenic or low-irritant spray. You don't want your dog inhaling toxic or irritating chemical fumes.
- Take your dog with you to the pet store to see if you can try the spray on him to judge his reaction; if you can't do this, find out if you can get your money back if the spray isn't effective on him.
- Look for one that comes with a warranty or even better, a no-satisfaction money-back guarantee.
The Collar We Chose
In case you're interested, we bought the Sportdog Rechargeable Big Large Dog No Bark Control Collar SBC-10R for our dog. It works very well on our dog who stops barking the instant he sees one of us coming with the collar in our hand.
Static Pulse Collars
- Get one that is appropriate for the size of your dog or one that is adjustable. It's a good idea to discuss this with the retailer you want to buy a collar from. Some are made for particular sizes; others have adjustable collars and come with different sets of probes or sensors for pets with thicker coats. Personally I preferred to buy one that was made for my dog's size.
- Make sure it has different levels of correction for dogs of different levels of behavior correction resistance. Depending on the size, thickness of fur and stubbornness of your dog, the level of correction might need to be increased or decreased. Always start on the lowest level and increase it until you find a level that is effective. Overtime, as your dog learns not to bark so much, you should be able to decrease it. Some static pulse collars have sensors that adjust the level of correction automatically and even remember the last level used before the collar was switched off. Our dog has quite a thick coat around his neck, but we only needed to use the lowest level of correction. Look for a collar that has at least 8 levels of correction. We bought one that has 16 levels of correction simply because he is such a strong-willed and stubborn dog and we didn't think that low levels of correction would be effective on him.
- Look for a collar that has a 'beep' function that acts as a warning to the dog. The dog will soon learn that if he continues to bark after hearing the beep, he will receive a corrective pulse.
- If your dog likes water or there's a chance he might be in the rain when wearing his anti-bark collar, you might want to invest in a waterproof collar so he doesn't get electrocuted.
- Look for a collar that takes either rechargeable or replaceable batteries and check that they actually come with the collar. Not all collars will come with batteries, so if you're buying one, make sure you'll be able to buy the batteries for it if they don't come with it.
- Look for one that won't be triggered by another dog's barking or similar sounds because you don't want your dog being repeatedly zapped if another dog is barking nearby. Such collars will usually state that their sensors will only be triggered by the barking of the dog wearing the collar and some will say that in order to be triggered they must be activated by sound AND vibration.
- Look for a collar that comes with a warranty or a no-satisfaction money-back guarantee.
You wouldn't be a caring pet owner if you weren't.
Using an anti-bark collar does not make you a bad pet owner and in fact you will find it will improve your relationship with your dog because a quiet dog makes for a happier you and when you're happy, your dog benefits too. Depending on which type of collar you use and when used correctly (according to user manual instructions) and only when necessary, these collars really aren't as bad as some people would have you believe.
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