Barking is a natural dog behavior, but excessive barking can be distressing to pet guardians and a nuisance to neighbors. One way to help curb your dog’s excessive barking is with the use of a bark control collar, although the use of this training aid is controversial in some circles. A bark control collar is a dog collar with a device affixed which provides an adverse stimulus when your dog barks. There are different types of collars, but the most common types are citronella collars and electronic collars.
A citronella collar works by startling your dog when he barks with a harmless spray of citronella mist. Most dogs find the smell unpleasant, and once the smell is associated with the barking, the barking stops. You can usually adjust the amount of spray the collar emits to suit your dog’s barking behavior and response.
Electronic stimulation collars stop unwanted barking with a small static correction. These collars can typically be adjusted to different levels of stimulation to suit your dog’s temperament. Many can be set to provide a warning tone or vibration before the stimulation is applied, or can be set to deliver only the warning tone or vibration only, without the static correction. Some of these collars are activated from the vibration of your dog’s vocal cords when he barks, while other models work with a remote transmitter that you control from a distance.
Before using a bark control collar, try to determine why your dog is barking excessively. Barking at certain times, such as to alert you to the presence of an intruder, is appropriate. If your dog is barking out of loneliness or from separation anxiety, those issues should be addressed. Bark collars are best used to control repetitive, nuisance barking. Because this type of barking is usually done out of boredom or habit, you should first see if you can reduce or eliminate your dog’s barking with proper training.
If you do choose to use a bark control collar to help train your dog, you should use the collar on the lowest possible setting that will correct the barking. After your dog becomes comfortable wearing the collar, turn it on at the lowest setting. If your dog continues to bark, gradually increase the intensity, while closely monitoring your dog to determine the lowest effective setting. Make sure the collar fits properly, and monitor for any signs of skin irritation around your dog’s neck. Be sure to remove the bark control collar when playing with your dog so he doesn’t associate exuberant barking during play with a negative response.