Anti-bark collars are punishment devices and are not recommended as a first choice for dealing with a barking problem. This is especially true for barking that’s motivated by fear, anxiety or compulsion. Before using an anti-bark collar, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer for guidance.
As an example, think about barking when left alone. A dog that is very loud when left isn’t making a noise because he or she is being spiteful or wants to get you in trouble with your neighbours. The vocalization is an expression of the dog’s fear, loneliness and sometimes even panic. By strapping a device such as an electric shock collar to an upset dog, you don’t do anything to make them feel safer or more comfortable when left on their own – and what’s more, the pain confirm their fears that being left means horrible things happen to them (painful electric shocks occur every time they bark).
If you have a nervous dog, time and patience is key! The overall goal should be to get your dog comfortable around the things that is making him nervous. If you can get a nervous dog to play a game of tug-of-war around things that seem to make them nervous, then you off to a great start! But, most dogs don’t play when they’re nervous, so having high quality rewards nearby can help. This will slowly help your dog associate something great with things that used to make him uncomfortable. Over time, (sometimes a long time,) you should begin seeing improvements.
Separation anxiety (SA) is manifested in a number of behaviors, including nonstop hysterical barking and sometimes howling. This is a complex and challenging behavior both to modify and to manage, as true SA is a real panic attack in response to being left alone; the dog truly cannot control his behavior. SA usually requires the intervention of a good positive behavior consultant, and sometimes pharmaceuticals.
Dogs naturally lose old or damaged hair by shedding. Although shedding is a normal process for dogs, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season-many dogs develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. Dogs who are always kept indoors, however, are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year.
Your dog might be barking in greeting if he barks when he sees people or dogs and his body is relaxed, he’s excited and his tail is wagging. Dogs who bark when greeting people or other animals might also whine.
Boredom: The bark of a bored dog sounds like a dog that barks just to hear her own voice. Though it tends to be annoying, it is also kind of sad. Bored dogs often bark to release excess energy, and sometimes bark out of loneliness. They usually need an activity and perhaps even a companion.
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Incidentally, while I was at the home of the 30-minute barker, he started to do his thing. I casually called out “Thank you”, and he trotted back into the living room and sat down. This was quickly followed by two thuds as the owners’ jaws hit the floor…
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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.
There are all sorts of devices that claim to stop barking. Most of them are some sort of collar that offer a negative response when a dog barks, such as an electric shock, a spray of citronella or a burst of static electricity. Talk with a trainer or behaviorist before considering one of these devices. If used incorrectly, they can cause more problems. For example, if your dog gets shocked every time he barks at a neighbor, he could associate the pain with the neighbor instead of the barking.
You want to try to block the dog from hearing the sounds. Since you obviously cannot sound proof your entire apartment, a great solution is to buy a fan and leave it on. In most cases this is more than enough to distract the dog and the sound made will stop him from hearing what happens on the outside. If this fails, you can turn on your radio and leave it like that when you are not home. The dog will be intrigued and can often remain near the radio and listen to what is said there, with zero focus to the outdoors.
The secret to stopping the behavior is therefore to never give in. The worst thing that can be done is giving in some days and resisting others. This puts the dog on a ”variable schedule”. What this means is that if the dog barks and gets fed one day and not the next day, the behavior of barking only puts more roots because it works in the same way as ”playing the lottery”. People get hooked on playing the lottery because of the variability of it. Slot machines are based on this principle.
Crate training your puppy. A puppy barking in his crate may stop if covered with a cloth sheet so he is not stimulated to bark by what he sees. With a cover over it, the crate also feels more like a den and hence more secure. Some puppies will stop barking if allowed to sleep in their crate next to the owners’ bed, or with a belonging that smells of the owner or their siblings. When your puppy is in the crate do get to know the sounds he makes and unless it is an emergency for the bathroom do not go and open the crate or let the puppy out when the puppy barks. If you do he will learn to bark demanding to be let out and in this way tell you what to do. Sometimes a squirt bottle of water can be used to direct a spray at a puppy that barks in the crate but I have seen dogs that enjoy this too and make a game out of it. Plus, it can make quite a mess.
A variety of devices are designed to teach dogs to curtail barking. Most often, these are collars that deliver an unpleasant stimulus when your dog barks. The stimulus might be a loud noise, an ultrasonic noise, a spray of citronella mist or a brief electric shock. The collars that deliver noise are ineffective with most dogs. One study found that the citronella collar was at least as effective for eliminating barking as the electronic collar and was viewed more positively by owners. Virtually all dogs become “collar-wise,” meaning that they learn not to bark while wearing their anti-bark collars but revert to barking when they’re not wearing them. Collars that work on a microphone system to pick up the sound of a dog’s bark should not be used in a multidog home because any dog’s bark can activate the collar.
I would suggest speaking to a professional, who can come to your home to see and assess the behavior, otherwise there’s too much guesswork involved. And it will likely require some specialist knowledge and training to correct.
You don’t seem to understand that some people have dogs they didn’t get as puppies. Some dogs require special training like this just like people do. Not all dogs can be trained to not bark incessantly. Lucky you if that has been your experience.
Barking can be a nuisance both for you and your neighbours. It can also be a sign that your dog is bored or anxious. There are a number of solutions for barking dogs that avoid the use of punishing anti-bark collars and will help you to achieve peace.
1. Stress/Separation Anxiety. The dog is distressed because of circumstances. The most common is Separation Anxiety. In this instance most owners do not even know they have a need to stop dog barking as they have never heard it.
Instead of a no-bark collar, why not try training your dog traditionally, using voice and hand commands? This would help with other training issues that your dog might have, such as obeying commands, potty training, and playing well with other dogs at the dog park. Issues such as those are not at all solved by putting a collar on the dog that harms him when he barks. You will find that a lot of the issues you might have had with your dog are solved with the proper training regimen early in life. You can read up on the best new training methods in books or training manuals, enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend, or hire a personal trainer for a few hours per week if you cannot afford training school.
The first two categories are definitely the most common types of dog barking. The first, separation anxiety, obviously occurs when you are not around. The second category may occur when you are home but will also occur when you are not. In most cases the territorial barking probably increases as you are not there to stop it and the dog may become more defensive when you are not there. Obviously to stop dog barking when you are not there is a far more difficult proposition.
I realize that shock collars can work to correct a barking issue. However, they’re a negative Band-Aid people employ instead of training their dog. It’s much better for both parties to address the underlying causes of the barking instead of shocking them for unwanted behavior.