What is a Bark Collar?
A Bark collar is a mechanism attached to a strap that emits a static shock when triggered by the sound of a dog’s bark.
When talking about a bark collar or shopping for a bark collar it’s important to make the distinction between what is called a shock collar and what is called a bark collar. A bark collar is different from a remote training collar (commonly known as a shock collar). A remote training collar is activated by a remote operated by the dogs owner or trainer. While you can use a remote training collar to teach dogs to stop barking when a given command is ignored a remote training collar is only effective when the owner or trainer is in the presence of the dog. A bark collar’s function is to bring an end to unwanted barking while the dog wears the collar .
It should be noted that a bark collar won’t teach a dog not to bark. Rather a bark collar will teach a dog not to bark when it’s wearing the bark collar. With exception some dogs may curtail their barking altogether with or without donning the bark collar after some experience with a bark collar but that outcome should not be counted on as it is not the usual outcome.
Why would you want to use a bark collar?
If there are scenarios in your life when barking cannot be tolerated you might need to consider a bark collar. I’m going to lay out a few such scenarios for you.
The most common reason a person might need to use a bark collar is in a work environment. When interruption cannot be tolerated and all other avenues have been explored a bark collar might be your only option. This is the one and only reason I have personally felt I ever needed to use a bark collar as a permanent measure.
I lived in an environment where my guard dog’s barking could be heard from anywhere in the house and as such, engaging in a professional telephone or FaceTime conversation without an interruption was impossible. Barking to perceived threats was his job but unfortunately there was nowhere in that home environment where he couldn’t be heard or where he could not hear potential threats outside the home. So, whenever I needed to have an uninterrupted conversation I would put a bark collar on him.
Here’s another example of a workplace environment with a different aspect to it. One of my clients needs to take his dog with him to work but the dog is inclined to bark when my client leaves the dog’s presence. As you might imagine this is not suitable in an office environment when other people are present. In a case like this, a bark collar may be your best option.
Another situation in which it might make sense would be to prevent someone’s sleep from being interrupted. Particularly in the case of an infant or perhaps in the case of a night shift worker.
Prevention of a lease violation from a residential building may be another reason to use a bark collar. While it may not be the final solution particularly if the dog is suffering with anxiety it may be necessary for a time until better measures can take hold. A last mention about problems with neighbors. If you let your neighbors and building management know that you are making efforts in fixing the issue and to give you a few days to a week, they will likely be understanding.
Lastly, dogs that should not be getting worked up for their own health such as rescues undergoing heart worm treatment might benefit from a bark collar.
I need to add that you should limit a bark collar’s use to the minimum amount of time necessary and under no circumstances should they be left on the dog continuously.
How to use a bark collar?
While the use of a bark collar might seem rather straight forward it is best to engage in some preliminary work prior to leaving the bark collar on your dog outside of your presence.
I want to take a second to make you aware that dogs who have had little to zero discipline in the form of corrections may struggle to make the connection between their behavior and the correction emitted by the bark collar. That said I’ll talk to you about best practices in moving forward.
With your bark collar charged and turned on start on the lowest level of correction possible Starting with the collar dialed to the lowest level place the collar on your dog snuggly and then adjust the collar’s position to your dog’s vocal chords. Proper fit can’t be emphasized enough. If the collar is too loose it will not be able to correct the dog as the contact points will not make contact.
Once the collar is on the dog put your dog in a scenario that will naturally elicit barking while you survey their reaction. You might need to be creative. In a case where the dog only barks in your absence you may need to employ modern technology to capture evidence.
Depending on your dog’s barking triggers this experimental phase could take you less than an hour or up to a few days as they naturally occur. And just because it doesn’t seem to work during your first attempt after eliciting a bark doesn’t mean that the collar is not on the appropriate level. Give the experiment three different opportunities to allow your dog some time to make the connection and put a little time in between each experiment. At least 1 minute and up to 24 hours will suffice depending on your circumstances.
If after three good efforts the dog does not seem deterred you need to turn your collar up one level of intensity and try again. Repeat this process until you’ve found the lowest level possible that will deter your dog from barking.
A bark collar should be a last resort measure to curb unwanted barking following a good foundation of training and a consideration of alternative measures. If it is determined that a bark collar is the only answer, proper and conservative use including preliminary observation should help you to manage your dog’s barking when it is detrimental to you or your neighbor’s peace.