Barking can be a very challenging behavior for pet parents to tackle. It can be a source of frustration for us and for our neighbors and can, unfortunately, put a strain on our relationships with those neighbors, someone we’re dating, friends we would like to have over, and even with our dogs! Barking dogs often end up on the street or in shelters because many people find this a difficult behavior with which to deal. Barking is how dogs naturally make noise and communicate certain emotions, but it can be loud and obnoxious and annoying to we humans listening. Especially when it happens all the time. Your lab may be vigilantly and dutifully keeping the neighborhood cats from attacking your house, and he does not understand why you are not grateful and proud of the job he is doing.
Training your dog is a very important part of dog ownership. You should not rely solely on products for training! You must be willing to put in the time and effort daily with your dog for effective training.
That being said, barking can be a very difficult behavior to train out of a dog with solely positive reinforcement. This is mainly because many people simply don’t know how to train their dogs correctly with positive reinforcement, and some dogs take much longer to train than others. When this happens people tend to become frustrated or believe their dog simply can’t learn to stop barking. This is where the products I discuss below will come in very handy. I have used and recommend all three of these products to aid in the training process:
1. SportDog Training Collar
I have been using these training collars with my dogs for a few years now. I usually use them for off-leash recall training purposes, but I have found that training collars can be a very effective bark deterrent as well. I know that there is a debate out there about the use of training collars since they usually give off a short pop of static (not a “shock”). I personally find them to be a wonderful product as long as they are used correctly. My dogs all respond very well to the very lowest setting on the collars, which is “vibrate”, where there is no static at all. Most dogs will respond to vibrate or one or two levels above that. If you feel uncomfortable with this, I suggest that you try it on your own hand or arm first so you know what your dog will be feeling!
The main use of a training collar should be to interrupt our dog’s thought process when she is performing a behavior we want her to stop-such as barking at someone walking past our window. The point of the collar is NOT to punish our dog for every behavior we dislike, but to train her instead. The collar should only be on a dog for training purposes-not all day every day! These collars must be taken off of our pet every night or after training.
The best part about this SportDog Training Collar is that it can be controlled remotely. Instead of the collar reacting directly to the vibrations of your dog’s bark, you control when your dog is corrected from afar. This means that it is not only effective for barking, but also for other behaviors we would like our dogs to stop, like jumping or scratching at doors. Also, more than one collar can be controlled by one remote! For barking, I simply press a button on the controller, the collar is triggered, and my dog reacts (or stops reacting) because she loses her train of thought and looks around to figure out why her neck just vibrated.
2. Pet Corrector by The Company of Animals
This product is relatively new to me, as I have been using it for a few months now. Pet Corrector is a canister of compressed gas that makes a loud hissing noise when you release it. Short bursts of this noise have been the most effective barking deterrent for my dog, Fitzgerald. Until I started to use this product, Fitz was a terrible backyard barker. He barked at neighborhood cats, people walking past the fence, birds, anything! I would have to bring him in quickly or yell to get him to stop barking, which is, frankly, embarrassing.
Since I have started to use this canister when Fitz starts barking, this behavior has stopped 99% of the time. It works in the same way as training collars because the object of this product is to interrupt your dog’s train of thought so he stops barking! If Fitz does bark at someone, I don’t even need to use the canister the way it was intended anymore-I just need to pick it up. Fitz hates the noise it makes and he will immediately calm down, stop barking, and instead just stare at whatever was upsetting him quietly.
On the downside, I think this product will only be effective on some dogs, and I got lucky that Fitz is one of them. Annie, Skeeter and some guest dogs I have been dog-sitting have had very muted or no reaction to it at all, although some other guest dogs have responded well. If it does work for your dog, it’s a great product, cost effective, and it’s small and easy to carry with you wherever you may bring your dog.
3. PetSafe Outdoor Bark Control
This is the newest bark control product I have tried. This unit actually sits in the yard facing the direction from which barking may be coming. When a dog barks while he is in the range of this product, a microphone inside will pick up the bark and an ultrasonic sound is emitted. Dogs can hear this while humans cannot, and it is very effective in encouraging your dog to quit barking.
I placed two of these units in my backyard about a week ago. One facing my back door and another facing out into the yard, near my fence, where people are most likely to walk past. While Fitz, my worst barker, is doing much better with the use of the Pet Corrector canister, my other two will still bark in the backyard sometimes. I also have lots of doggy clients over at my house all the time as a pet-sitter, and I have to say that these units have been working very well! They were easy to set up and my dogs have been acting very well-behaved when they are near them. This can also be effective in stopping your neighbor’s dog from barking-FYI. It has a range of up to 50 feet!
All three of these products have been very helpful with barking at my house. What have you done to prevent unwanted barking with your dog? Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!