FREE dog training advice from a pro!

Bark Collar: Simple solution or waste of money?

Learn whether bark collars are safe and effective.

As Oscar Hammerstein told us, "Fish got to swim, birds got to fly." If he knew much about dogs, he probably would have followed with, "Dogs got to bark," because OH! how most dogs love to bark.

If you're reading this article, you're probably considering buying a bark collar, which means you likely have a dog that barks excessively — to the point that he's driving you, your neighbors, and even himself a little crazy. So, I'll go ahead and answer what I'd wager is the first question on your mind...

Do bark collars really work? Are bark collars safe?

Yes, bark collars do work. In fact, high-quality, static correction-based bark collars are very effective at stopping most dogs from engaging in out-of-control barking. So, if you've been unsuccessful in using other methods to break your dog's barking habit, a bark collar may be just what you need.

High-quality bark collars are not only effective, but also safe. Just make sure you buy a reputable brand from a company like PetSafe® or SportDOG®, and get a model that has the features I discuss in the next section of this article.

How do I buy the right bark collar?

There are lots of different bark collars available online and at pet stores, and the prices range anywhere from $30 to $150. So, how do you know which one to buy? Is there really a difference between the cheap models and the more expensive ones? In short, yes — when it comes to bark collars, you do get what you pay for.

Inexpensive bark collars generally correct a dog for barking in one of two ways: either by emitting a high-pitched sound or spraying a burst of citronella when the dog barks. If your dog is sensitive to noise, a sound-based bark collar may be effective, but in my experience that's just not true for many dogs — instead, they'll often just bark right through the tone. As for citronella-based bark collars, my biggest problem with them is that the correction lasts too long — the citronella lingers around your dog's sensitive nose, continuing to correct him for minutes at a time. On the other hand, bark collars that use static correction, like the one pictured at right, are super effective (it's the rare dog will continue to bark through a static correction) and the correction lasts for just a few seconds.

An even more significant problem with cheap bark collars is that they can be easily triggered by things other than your dog's bark. This means that they can correct your dog when another dog barks close to your dog (a big problem in multi-dog households) or even when a random sound occurs. So, make sure to look for a bark collar that's triggers only from a combination of sound (your dog's bark) AND vibration (from your dog's vocal chords).

How do I use a bark collar?

Using a bark collar is pretty simple — you just put it on your dog and let it do its job. At first, you should supervise your dog to make sure he's not too stressed; if he does seem unduly bothered, you can pet him a little to help calm his nerves. That's one of the nice things about a bark collar — none of the correction comes from you, you're just there to support your dog while he learns.

Unlike an electronic pet fence collar, which you should keep on your dog every time he is outside, you don't have to keep the bark collar on your dog indefinitely. You'll probably notice that once he has worn the collar for a few weeks, your dog's barking habit has diminished dramatically. At that point, you can remove the collar and use it only if your dog's barking begins to increase again.

REMEMBER: Check your dog's bark collar at least once a day to make sure the battery is charged and his neck isn't irritated.

Can I use both a bark collar and an electronic pet fence at the same time?

Lots of folks with electronic dog fences want to know if they can use a bark collar, too. In short, yes you can — just don't start training your dog with both products at the same time. Instead, first train your dog to either the bark collar or the pet fence; then, once he's got that down, you can add the other product. If you try to introduce both a bark collar and a pet fence at once, you will likely just stress and confuse your dog.

Copyright ©2009 -- All Rights Reserved. Reproducing any content on this site without written permission from the site owner is expressly prohibited.