Most pet owners and trainers understand the serious danger of using shock collars on their dogs. They have tried several ways to find more humane alternatives. Just like any “get rich quick,” or “lose weight fast” tricks, these newer types of collars are not what they appear to be.
It’s tempting to turn towards these devices because they promise the same quick and easy results as a shock collar, and are marketed as “humane.” Even I once used a citronella collar, and here’s why I will never do that again.
Citronella Collars Confuse Your Dog, and Don’t Train Them
Citronella collars and e-collars are similar in their approach towards reducing or eliminating excessive barking. They detect barks with microphones or other sensors, and then release an aversive stimuli to deter future barking through negative reinforcement.
Citronella collars spray Citronella oil into a dog’s face when they bark. While the experience isn’t exactly painful, it is most definitely unpleasant. The intended effect is that the dog quickly learns to associate barking with citronella sprays so that the mailman won’t get barked at anymore. Unfortunately, these collars rarely work as intended.
Citronella collars deplete their stores of citronella oil fast, especially if the dog is a heavy barker. It only takes a couple citronella-free barks to undo all the work the collar has done to that point. A dog that receives random punishment for barks will only be confused, not trained.
E-Collars Can Cause Physical And Psychological Damage
E-collars are shock collars in disguise. They are supposed to emit a “gentle vibration” that is intended to catch the dog’s attention without harming them. But, this is only true of the lowest settings of the E-collar.
Inexperienced owners might crank up the dial when they don’t get the results they want at a lower setting. After being painfully shocked several times a dog will quit the unwanted behavior. It’s easy to mistake that for obedience, but really your dog is just terrified of you.
Whatever “humanity” the E-collar is striving for is lost once the dial is turned up. At higher levels E-collars administer painful shocks instead of “gentle” vibrations.The experience isn’t pleasant, to say the least.
Repeated shocks can actually worsen a dog’s overall behavior instead of improve it. They might not bark anymore, but these shocks can cause:
You also run the risk of silencing all barking, including the barking that is beneficial. A barking dog is one of the best deterrents of burglary, (would you take the batteries out of a smoke alarm?). A dog that has been subjected to these collars might remember the citronella or shock during a robbery and keep quiet the whole time.
While you may stop one troublesome behavior, you’ve create a host of other problems!
The Best Tool You Have Is Your Ability To Understand Your Dog
I know how frustrating it can be to deal with a dog that won’t stop barking. E-collars, shock collars, Citronella collars and other gimmicks seem to offer an easy solution, but it’s not worth the side effect of damaging your relationship with your dog.
What you need to understand is why the dog is barking. Dogs bark for all kinds of reasons, such as:
- Boredom and lack of engagement
- Wanting to play
- Anger or frustration
- Showing curiosity
- To warn you of danger
- To threaten intruders
Using these collars is like treating the symptoms of a disease, but ignoring the cause. If you can understand the underlying cause of your dog’s barking, then you can address that need for them and get rid of the excessive barks.
At DogBoy’s, we want to encourage our clients to trash the collars (the bad ones, keep the others on!) and make efforts to understand what your dog is telling you. Good communication and proper stimulation are the keys to a healthy and happy relationship with your dog.
If you need some extra help with excessive barking then come see us! Our training staff can give you the experienced help you need.
Sad Puppy by Ocean Yamaha
Puppy and Collar by Bad Apple Photography
Smiling Dog by m01229