Bark Collars - are they legal

Are Bark Collars Good for Dogs?

What is a Dog Barking Collar?

A bark collar is a specific type of training collar that is worn by a dog with a tendency to bark excessively. It is designed to negatively reinforce the barking behaviour and, over time, cause the dog to avoid that behaviour. They are designed to detect your dog's barking sound and the vibration through his vocal cords before the stimulation is activated.

Myth: bark collars don’t hurt dogs
It is a myth that bark collars don’t ‘hurt’ dogs. In fact, many dogs develop neck lesions if their bark collar doesn't fit properly or has to be worn for a long periods of time. Also, some electric models emit high-intensity shocks that cause real pain to the dog. These type of ‘shock’ barking collars have been classified as ‘cruel’ and specifically banned in the UK and other parts of Europe. However, there are still some states in Australia where the shock collar is legal. For more information, on barking collar legality by state, click here.
There Are 4 Main Types of Barking Collars
  1. Electric shock Collar: This is generally used for more ‘stubborn’ dogs. This collar causes an electric shock to your dog when he/she barks, according to the vibrations in their neck.
  2. Citronella Collar: It’s true that most dogs don’t like the smell of citronella. This collar emits a citronella smell when your dog barks. Like the shock collar, this is another form of negative training. Although it is generally considered more humane as the element of physical pain is removed.
  3. Ultrasonic Collar
  4. Vibration Collar: Similar to the others, emits a vibration to your dog when vibration in the throat is detected. This is supposed to cause the least amount of discomfort. But leaves specialists wondering whether it actually works over the long term, or just temporarily distracts your dog.

Is a Barking Collar Safe to Use?

According to the RSPCA, barking collars are cruel. As discussed, they can cause sores on your dog. Physical pain is an extreme method of negative training.

Further to this, experts say the negative training can actually heighten anxiety in your dog and increase their confusion. Instead of learning what are acceptable behaviours, shock collars for dogs teach them that they are helpless and disempowered. This can lead to depression, anxiety, or, even worse, aggression. Aggression is a common side effect to bark collars. This occurs because the anxiety and pain the dog feels when shocked or choked is often associated with whatever the dog was focusing on at that instant rather than their own behaviour.

Myth: shock collars cause brain damage

Despite speculation, there is no proven evidence that shock collars cause brain damage in users.

Shock Collars Can Do More Harm Than Good

There are so many side effects to your dog wearing a barking collar, above what you are trying to do: which is train them out of barking. Cathy Madson, owner of Preventive Vet says using a barking collar of any form does not tend to be successful because it is reactive and doesn’t address the underlying cause of the barking. The most common causes of barking are easily explained. They are:

  • barking caused by anxiety;
  • barking cause by confusion;
  • barking caused by boredom; and
  • barking due to a genuine fear of danger.

It is likely that your dog is barking based on one (or a mix) of the above. Instead of putting a bark collar on your dog to stop them from barking, it’s important, for your dog’s wellbeing, to actually get to the cause of the issue. In essence, putting a barking collar on your dog is like putting a band-aid over a broken bone. Barking collars simply suppress unwanted behaviour and don’t actually teach the dog what you would like them to do.

Pro-Training Tip: Positive Reinforcement is a Better Training Technique than a Shock Collar

Training a pet to behave can be challenging, but don't let the project get the best of you. A new study has found that yelling at your dog, and using other kinds of “aversive training” — like negative reinforcement — “can have long-term negative effects on your dog's mental state,” according to Science Alert.

Positive reinforcement training uses a reward (treats, praise, toys, anything the dog finds rewarding) for desired behaviours. Positive reinforcement clearly defines and communicates desired behaviours while strengthening the relationship between performance and recognition. Because the reward makes them more likely to repeat the behaviour, positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog's behaviour. Aversive experiences are more likely to lead to negative emotional states and, therefore, negative associations. Similarly, because punishment-based training focuses on teaching a dog what not to do, they're often left confused and uncertain about what they should do in a given situation. Positive reinforcement is better for your dog’s mental welfare, and to be frank, it’s also a far more enjoyable experience for you.

The Golden Rules of Dog Training

Did you know, ‘making it an enjoyable experience’ is one of the 5 golden rules of dog training, according to the k9 academy of USA, here are the other 4:

  • #1. Get to know your dog.
  • #2. Make it an enjoyable experience.
  • #3. Consistency is vital to your training success.
  • #4. Learn when to call it a day.
  • #5. Avoid punishing your dog at all costs!

The data on dog training overwhelmingly points to the fact that positive training will be better for you and your dog in the long run. Barking collars on the other hand, are one of the most common forms of negative training.


A Note on Puppy Training

Unruly puppy? Puppy won’t stop barking, crying, biting, having accidents?

Don’t forget, training takes time! Your puppy isn’t going to be a pro at ANYTHING overnight. Stop comparing yourself to the other dog mums at the park who brag about how far along their puppy is in training. Instead, remember the 333 Dog Rule: Whether you rescue an older dog or a puppy, a lot of dogs tend to follow the 3-3-3 rule when getting acclimated: 3 days of feeling overwhelmed and nervous. 3 weeks of settling in. 3 months of building trust and bonding with you.


A safety message

It’s our view (and the view of countless experts in training and vets), that negative training and, in extension, barking collars, are detrimental to your dog’s health and your relationship with your dog. Consider whether your dog is barking at home when you’re away. A barking collar will not fix this, as it is not recommended that your dog wear a collar around the house. Collars should be removed when not in use, especially for fluffy dogs. One of the most common areas for matting in fluffy breeds is the neck area – ESPECIALLY for hypoallergenic breeds that has fur that continues to grow, rather than shed. The most common example is any breed that is crossed with a poodle (Cavoodle, Cockapoo, Labradoodle, Groodle).  Matting is uncomfortable for your dog and can pose a safety risk if you try and hack at it yourself with a pair of scissors. Groomers advise specifically against this as they see SO many injuries from the owner trying to cut matted areas themselves. This can be deeply distressing for your pet. So, remove your dog’s collar and DON’T put them in a barking collar.

Instead of a barking collar, get your dog a nice lightweight ST ARGO collar. If you're dog's barking, consult your vet or a trainer & check Youtube for positive dog training tutorials. We advise against a barking collar.

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