Anti-bark collars are punishment devices that shock, make an ultrasonic noise, or spray citronella when a dog barks. They are not good first choices for solving barking problems, especially when the barking is based on fear, anxiety or compulsion. Before using an anti-bark collar, you should consult with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a Veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. These should only be considered when all other methods have failed.
Teaching replacement behaviors may be time consuming, but ultimately it is the best way to encourage desirable behavior. Instead of responding to your dog’s vocal requests to play, for example, teach her to bring her favorite toy to you and set it on the floor.
More exercise: (helpful for all barkers) nearly every dog can benefit from more exercise, both mental and physical. A dog that has had a good workout will be less likely to be on alert for perceived interlopers or feel the need to pester you for attention. Take the time to wear your dog out every day with a rousing game of fetch or tug and get his brain activated by introducing mind-teasers like “find the toy” and hide-and-seek. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!
No matter why your dog is barking, some general training will help keep his mind occupied and wear him out. A tired dog is a happy dog. Regular walks in the morning can help, even just a 15 minute walk around the block is better than nothing. Two walks a day would be perfect. If you work long hours, consider a dog walker, doggy daycare, a play-date with a friend’s dog or asking a someone to visit in the middle of the day.
While industry claims that no harm is done to the dog, obviously the stimulus, or sensation, provided by the no-bark collar is not something the dog likes. If it didn’t hurt them, they wouldn’t worry about barking freely despite the consequences. That being said, we don’t know of any severe injuries or deaths caused by no-bark collars, and if the dog learns not to bark, it won’t be shocked anymore. We can’t help but wonder how this is restraining some of dogs’ natural functions, however, or causing undue stress and anxiety. Furthermore, consider the fact that in Europe, electric shock no-bark collars are illegal.
Teach your dog that when someone comes to the door or passes by your property, he’s permitted to bark until you say “Quiet.” Allow your dog to bark three to four times. Then say “Quiet.” Avoid shouting. Just say the command clearly and calmly. Then go to your dog, gently hold his muzzle closed with your hand and repeat “Quiet.” Release your dog’s muzzle, step away, and call him away from the door or window. Then ask your dog to sit and give him a treat. If he stays beside you and remains quiet, continue to give him frequent treats for the next few minutes, until whatever triggered his barking is gone. If your dog resumes barking right away, repeat the sequence above. Do the same outside if he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard.
If your dog barks all day because he is bored, try leaving him with puzzles or games that take a while to figure out in order to get to the treat. If the dog’s separation anxiety is intense, you may need to call on a trainer or behaviorist for more advice.
Try counterconditioning your dog. Counterconditioning is a common treatment method for dogs that typically involves training the dog to associate something fearful with a reward. In the case of separation anxiety, instead of fearing someone or something, the dog fears being left alone. To counter condition separation anxiety, you’ll need to train your dog to associate being left alone with something the dog enjoys (like treats).
Our senior Danish Dog Listener lives in Copenhagen. Down her street, every single house has been burgled, with one exception. That house is the one with Karina’s four Doberman living there. Now, I don’t know any burglars (I am not a ne’er-do-well) but I imagine that there are very, very few burglars who, upon seeing four Doberman running out into the garden and barking, will think to themselves, “I like a challenge!”
If you suspect that your dog is a compulsive barker, we recommend that you seek guidance from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist or a veterinary behaviorist. If you can’t find a behaviorist, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, but be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has education and experience treating compulsive behavior, since kind of expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these behavior experts in your area.
Giving Warning: Dogs bark to warn their pack of danger and to keep intruders away. Most creatures will think twice before approaching a dog that comes running up making loud barking noises. In nature, the bigger the sound, the better.
We took the steps of talking to our neighbor. They got some kind of a squirt collar for the dog when he’s left alone outside, and when he barks, it seems to have helped. A lot depends on how ignorant and inconsiderate your neighbor is. I’d start with trying to make contact and starting a discussion, explaining why it’s a problem. Try to enlist their help before indicating further steps might be necessary. You might be surprised. The ignorance may be that the owner had no idea the dog was doing that. If all fails, then you would be justified in involving the authorities.
Be assertive in your physical posture. Focus your body and calm energy on blocking the dog from the stimulus that seems to be causing the barking. Concentrate and remain calm to let your dog know that you are in charge and that the dog doesn’t need to worry about the stimulus.
Block scary sounds. Inexperienced pups hear lots of “new” stuff that may inspire barking. When barking arises from fear, the pheromone product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. may help relieve the angst. White noise machines are available to mask sounds, or simply turn the radio to a normal volume and tune it to static.
Once you determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources of the behavior. You also want to be certain not to inadvertently encourage the barking. Finally, give her better things to do besides barking.
“Debarking,” or cordectomy is an elective surgical procedure involving partial removal of a dog’s vocal cords. Debarking does not take away the dog’s ability to bark – it just makes it sound quieter and raspy (considered annoying by some). In this dog lover’s opinion, debarking surgery is unnecessary and unfair to the dog. Surgery and anesthesia are always risks, so any procedure that is purely for human convenience and does not medically benefit the patient or animal community should be avoided. In addition, excessive barking indicates an underlying issue that is usually behavioral. Surgery takes the noise away, but the anxiety, fear or similar problem remains unaddressed. Rather than debarking your dog, spend your time and money on training and/or visiting a veterinary behaviorist.
What a shame to see you suggesting cruel methods such as citronella collars. Punishing and/or scaring a dog for barking is cruel and does not address the root issue(s). You should be encouraging people to actually _train_ their dogs (using scientifically valid, humane, force-free methods).
Dogs engage in territorial barking to alert others to the presence of visitors or to scare off intruders or both. A dog might bark when he sees or hears people coming to the door, the mail carrier delivering the mail and the maintenance person reading the gas meter. He might also react to the sights and sounds of people and dogs passing by your house or apartment. Some dogs get especially riled up when they’re in the car and see people or dogs pass by. You should be able to judge from your dog’s body posture and behavior whether he’s barking to say “Welcome, come on in!” or “Hey, you’d better hit the road. You’re not welcome at my place!” If you’re dealing with a dog in the first category, follow the treatment outlined in this article for greeting barking (below). If you’re dealing with a dog in the latter category who isn’t friendly to people, you’ll be more successful if you limit your dog’s ability to see or hear passersby and teach him to associate the presence of strangers with good things, such as food and attention.