Are Bark Collars Cruel – Pros And Cons Of Bark Collars

There are few things more frustrating as a dog owner than a dog who barks at just about everything and everyone.

Therefore, it’s understandable why many often feel the need to try different training methods from time-to-time to see if they can resolve the problem.  One of the most controversial methods that some dog owners look to use are bark collars.

Are Bark Collars Cruel - Pros And Cons Of Bark Collars

These devices have become increasingly contentious in recent years with many people, including animal experts, labelling the collars a form of animal abuse. 

With this in mind, our guide will take an in-depth look at why dog owners feel the need to use a bark collar, including all the information you need to know about three of the most common bark-prevention devices: shock bark collars, ultrasonic bark collars, and citronella bark collars. 

Why Do Owners Use A Bark Collar?

Dog owners use bark collars if their dog has a tendency to bark excessively at insignificant things, and basic training methods have failed to make a difference.

Bark collars are designed to negatively reinforce barking, and to over time, eradicate the behavior. 

However, the vast majority of dogs bark for a specific purpose, whether they’re scared of loud music nearby, or trying to warn their owners of a stranger approaching the front door.

Therefore, barking can usually be resolved without the need to resort to a cruel and inhumane dog collar. 

Nevertheless, they remain a common type of training collar that many owners use to correct bad behavior. We’ll now take a closer look at three of the most common types of collar, providing pros and cons for each. 

Shock Bark Collars

The first bark collar to explain in greater detail is a shock collar. These devices work by giving your dog a small electric shock when the vibration of a bark is detected. 

Shock collars can be controlled from a distance, so if your dog is barking or trying to escape, they can be given an immediate punishment (electric shock) which prevents future bad behavior. 

Pros

  • The strength of the electric shock can be controlled from a distance. This allows you to carefully adjust the shock so it’ll have the desired effect.
  • For example, too strong a shock can cause your dog to become fearful and stressed, while too little a response may be ignored. 

Cons

  • Shock bark collars attract significantly more criticism than any other type of bark collar.
  • The whole idea of administering an electric shock to your dog is seen as inhumane by many – especially considering that dog skin is different to human skin, so there’s every chance they feel the pain more intensely. 
  • Not only are shock collars seen as cruel, they’ve also been proven to increase stress, fear, aggression, and learned helplessness in dogs. What’s more, punishing their natural response to danger (barking), can lead to feelings of frustration and confusion. 
  • All of this explains why shock bark collars are banned in several countries across the world, including Australia, Germany, and Denmark. 

Ultrasonic Bark Collars

Ultrasonic bark collars come equipped with a microphone which emits a high-pitched sound that’s unpleasant and irritating to dogs. Due to the fact that this sound is so high-pitched, it’s imperceptible to humans. 

The noise of the collar is triggered by a dog’s throat vibration, and often by the bark itself.

Some ultrasonic devices come with two different tones – one to indicate negative behavior and another to reward positive behavior – but the vast majority of systems come with just one. 

Pros

  • As their owner, you won’t be able to detect the high-pitched sound your pooch is hearing from the collar.
  • While the idea of this may seem a little strange, it’ll cut down on the noise in your home and maintain some degree of peace. 
  • Furthermore, ultrasonic bark collars are great for helping to control your dog’s behavior, without inflicting pain on them in the same way that a shock collar does. 

Cons

  • Perhaps the most significant drawback of an ultrasonic bark collar is the fact that the devices can often be triggered by vibrations and sounds that aren’t barks.
  • For example, ultrasonic collars that are triggered by a barking sound can also be affected by other noise such as nearby music or a baby crying. 
  • If you want to reduce the chances of a false warning, you can invest in a newer, top-of-the-range model.
  • Just be mindful that most basic ultrasonic bark collars cost around $25-$50, while the more sophisticated and reliable models can cost up to $100-$400. 

Citronella Bark Collars

Spray collars work by releasing something unpleasant in the air near the dog’s face when they’re barking.

These collars have a microphone that can detect barking, which then triggers the release of the citronella fragrance into the air. Some spray collars also use lemon juice or water. 

Pros

  • If you’re working to a tight budget, there’s nothing to worry about as spray bark collars come in a range of prices.
  • While they’re proven to be highly effective, it’s worth noting that some dogs learn to jump back when they’re sprayed with the unpleasant smell. 
  • Nevertheless, even when this happens, the smell still remains offensive, and reinforces the negative barking behavior. 

Cons

  • If you’re looking for a more humane method of training your dog, spray collars may be a better option than shock or ultrasonic devices.
  • However, there are still some psychological side effects associated with spray collars and suppressing a dog’s natural impulse to bark. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Vets Recommend Bark Collars? 

Bark collars such as the three mentioned in this piece are considered by many as punishment devices. Vets and dog experts will avoid recommending these collars as the first choice or best option for dealing with a barking problem. 

This is especially true for barking that’s motivated by anxiety, fear, or compulsion.

There are far better methods you can use that will put your pooch at ease and make them respect your authority, without inflicting any kind of discomfort or pain on them. 

Do Shock Collars Have A Long-Term Effect On Dogs? 

There are several potential side effects of using a shock collar to train your dog. The electrostatic shock can cause long-term psychological fear, distress, and phobia. 

Furthermore, if you use a shock collar, it will habituate your pooch to pain. This can subsequently promote aggressive and fear-based behavior that they’ll look to use throughout their life. 

How Long Can You Leave A Bark Collar On A Dog? 

It’s advised to avoid leaving a bark collar on your dog for longer than 12 hours a day.

In addition to this, it’s better for your dog if you’re able to reposition the device on their neck every couple of hours. This helps to prevent excessive pressure on a particular part of their body. 

Daniel Johnson
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