Humans are not the only ones whose lives are being transformed by technology. In these modern times, we live in there is a range of cool technologies that can help train your pets to behave in more appropriate ways. In this article, we will be looking at a piece of technology known as a bark collar to help you assess whether it could be a good option for your dog.
A bark collar is a type of training collar that is designed to quieten down dogs who bark excessively by negatively reinforcing the dog’s barking behavior. The negative reinforcement most commonly comes in the form of a low-level electric shock delivered to your dog’s neck when the bark collar detects the animal’s vocal cords are in use.
It sounds horrific and, indeed, many people consider it a form of animal abuse. A bark collar is a controversial piece of technology, for sure, but does it actually work, and is it humane?
There are a number of studies proving bark collars work and a seemingly equal number proving that they don’t. The problem is, a lot of these studies are biased. They are either funded by bark collar manufacturers or orchestrated by animal welfare groups. There have been no real scientifically-controlled studies to see whether this type of negative reinforcement can actually change an animal’s behavior. There is, however, plenty of anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of bark collars on product review sites.
The more troubling question is whether or not fitting your dog with a bark collar is humane. The electric shock delivered by the bark collar has been likened to the type of shock we humans get from static electricity sometimes, a gentle shock rather than a painful shock.
Now, regardless of the intensity of the shock, some people would still consider that a form of animal abuse and so there is a range of different types of bark collar available that don’t use electric shocks of any kind.
One such collar, for instance, is fitted with a small microphone and releases a fragrance that dogs find revolting as soon it detects your dog barking. The problem with this type of bark collar is that if the microphone is too sensitive and it picks up other nearby dogs barking, your pet could be punished with bad smells even though it hasn’t been barking. In that case, the negative reinforcement becomes useless.
Another type of bark collar available releases high-pitched sounds that are undetectable to human ears but unpleasant for doggy ears. As with the other two types of bark collar, the efficacy of ultrasonic bark collars is somewhat questionable. There is no definite proof that they work, nor whether they work less well, as well or better than the other two types of bark collar.
Ultimately, it is a judgment call. If your dog is barking there is usually a reason, whether it is because there are other dogs that they can sense nearby, a stranger in their presence or just to get attention perhaps. At the same time, there are dogs that simply love barking. That’s what dogs do. A bark collar is just one way of trying to quieten particularly noisy dogs down a bit.