Our last article ranked some of the dog breeds that are known to bark the most—though, that is a hard thing to say for sure since all dogs bark! That doesn’t change the fact that people love ordering and ranking things for fun. Yet, we want to drive home the point in this article that despite the temperament of a particular breed, a big part of a dogs’ behavior is how they have been trained. You can hardly blame a puppy for being unruly when it hasn’t been trained properly, that’s a failing of the owner. The older a dog becomes, the more difficult it can be to change their habits—just like people. Some owners are driven up the wall by their dog’s barking and hear about bark collars as a form of passive training. This article discusses that training method and if it even works!
Why Dogs Bark
We addressed this last time briefly, but let’s look at it from a more behavioral perspective as opposed to a general one. There are many reasons dogs bark but the most inappropriate kinds are relegated to a few categories:
- Attention-Seeking Barking. Attention-seeking barking is something that is okay in small amounts but can become a problem if your dog is constantly barking for attention despite the fact that they’ve been walked, fed, played with, etc. If you indulge this too much, it can lead to an unhealthy attachment to you and the reinforcement of negative behaviors—which leads to more barking. This type of barking can also become a precursor to the next point.
- Separation-Anxiety Barking. This type of barking is the kind that causes many owners to consider a bark collar in the first place, as they can’t control their dog while they’re gone from home.
- Boredom Barking. Boredom is a strange word for it, it’s more like dogs being unable to deal with lack of stimulation. A puppy should be trained on how to handle its time alone by playing with toys or resting. Dogs that expect constant attention will also not know how to handle their alone time away from the owner, even if the owner is in the home.
Bark Collars: Do They Work?
There are roughly three types of bark collars.
- Citronella Bark Collar – This collar sprays your dog with an unpleasant smell when they start barking.
- Sonic Bark Collar – This type of collar sends out a high-pitched noise that deters barking when it is triggered.
- The Shock Collar – This collar sends out a small shock upon triggering.
Needless to say, many people are highly against shock collars (they are also illegal in Europe) but will use other types of collars that are far less severe. The most commonly used collar type is the ultrasonic collar, since it’s the least cruel and just makes an annoying sound every time your dog barks.
Bark collars are widely considered to be a last resort, and ineffective due to how many ways the collar can fail or the dog can become aware of the collar and revert their behavior when it is taken off. Even more importantly, if barking is a result of negative emotions such as anxiety or fear, bark collars can make the problem worse—leading to a cascading effect of negative associations with the collar and the owner.
That being said, sometimes they do work. The only way to know is to give it a trial period, but it’s far better to consult training professionals and work to train your dog be more independent and get rid of any reinforced behaviors towards barking. In many cases, excessive barking was somewhere down the line, accidentally or intentionally encouraged.
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