Dog owners, there’s nothing worse than a badly behaved pup. Whether he’s peeing on the carpet or jumping on guests, untrained behavior reflects badly on you and can make a guest’s visit unpleasant, even if it’s just the mailman.
Bark collars, also known as training collars, no-bark collars, and anti-bark collars, are used when trying to break a dog of the bad habit of excessive, unwanted barking. Some types of anti-bark collars are referred to as “shock collars,” which is a term more appropriately used when speaking of outdated collars that deliver a painful shock and/or collars used to keep a dog within a certain area (like a backyard). However, there is a type of no-bark collar that uses an electrical “shock” called a static correction collar (discussed below). Keep reading to learn more about the different types of bark collars and how they work along with specific reviews of some of the best bark collars on the market.
How Do Bark Collars Work?
All dogs are different. That’s why there are so many types of bark collars on the market. Think about it: you wouldn’t want to use the same type of corrective stimulation on a German Shepard as you would a poodle.
Types of no-bark collars include electric stimulation (static), vibration, spray, and ultrasound.
Static correction collars, while commonly referred to as “shock collars,” do not actually shock the dog. The sensation they deliver is not painful. Static collars are a safe, mild, and effective way to train dogs when used correctly. Many static collars include a beep option to warn dogs of imminent static. The sensation surprises and distracts dogs to stop the barking.
Static correction is a harmless, humane way to train your dog. They work using contact points/probes that deliver a gentle electric stimulation to the dog’s neck. The terms “shock collar” and “shock” are outdated, usually referring to pain-causing collars that are rarely used today.
As the name implies, a vibration option collar starts to vibrate when it “hears” your dog barking. The sensation is sort of like holding a vibrating cell phone. The effectiveness of vibration collars is debated, but they clearly work better on dogs with short hair.
Citronella spray collars utilize a small reservoir of citronella liquid, which is sprayed in mist form around the dog’s face when activated. The mist, combined with the unpleasant smell, surprises the dog to deter unwanted barking. Spray collars are most appropriate for shy, timid dogs with moderate barking. Aggressive, intelligent dogs will learn how to empty the collar’s reservoir. The biggest downside to citronella collars is that they require frequent maintenance and, of course, you’re going to have to deal with the smell of citronella.
Ultrasonic collars emit a high-frequency sound that your dog can hear (but you cannot). This screech is uncomfortable and will make most dogs stop barking. The biggest disadvantage to this type is that most of them go off when nearby dogs bark. In addition, some dogs become accustomed to the sound and eventually learn to ignore it.
Static Correction for Small Dogs
To correct barking in small and medium-sized dogs, we recommend the Elite Little Dog Bark Control by PetSafe. As exemplified in the picture at left, there are several “skins” available to change the color of the collar (generally sold in black).
It’s important to be careful when purchasing shock collars for small dogs. You must make sure the product is designed for little animals – if not, the static correction may be too strong for your little pup.
PetSafe utilizes nanotechnology and nylon web to make the anti-bark as small, lightweight (5 ounces), and comfortable as possible. The Elite fits necks up to 16 inches and is appropriate for dogs weighing between 8 and 22 pounds. This product is water resistant (but not waterproof).
Elite, which is available on Amazon for $88.25, has 10 levels of correction. Shock (static) will start at the weakest level and increase until barking stops. The battery-operated, 3-volt Elite requires no programming and is able to remember which level is needed to stop barking. Patented technology ensures that your dog’s bark is the only thing that will trigger the shock.
The Elite collar was designed specifically for small dogs and the shock sensation was designed to startle, not to hurt. Elite includes a safety shut-off feature that will activate if the dog barks more than 15 times during a timespan of 1 minute and 20 seconds.
PetSafe urges dog owners not to use a no-bark collar unless your pet’s barking is excessive. It’s also important to consider your dog’s temperament and to try and discover the reason for the barking before you decide which to purchase. Never leave a no-bark collar on your dog for more than 8 hours at a time.
What Do Customers Think?
Users consider the Elite effective and easy to use. They noted in particular that only the sound of their own dog’s bark triggers the static correction. They appreciate the collar’s automatic calibration and safety shut-off feature (described above).
Keep in mind that all dogs are different and some are more stubborn than others. The Elite, however, worked quickly in most cases to stop excessive barking in small dogs. The best part is that users can tell this collar doesn’t cause pain.
While not really a downside, some users complain that since the Elite remembers the correction level it has used to stop your dog from barking (even when turned off), it can’t be used to train multiple dogs. However, if you look in the manual, you will find instructions on how to reset the device back down to level 1.
The Elite fails to work when worn improperly. Make sure the collar fits snugly around the dog’s neck.
Static Correction for Big Dogs
Attain a quiet, peaceful household with the PetSafe Big Dog Remote Trainer. One of the most effective collars for big dogs, this anti-bark collar is much more complex than the previous product. This product comes with a remote control, a test light, and a dual charger and can be used to correct behaviors including:
It can also be used to teach commands such as heel, come, stay, and sit
This waterproof type is activated using a remote control and can be used from up to 100 yards away (perfect for off-leash training). Using the remote, the owner can send a tone or static correction to the collar. In addition to the tone (beep), there are 16 shock levels (with a +2 boost option).
This lightweight, nylon collar fits necks up to 32 inches and is appropriate for dogs weighing more than 40 pounds. A light will indicate when batteries need to be changed (purchase includes (4) 2032 coin cell replaceable batteries). You can purchase PetSafe’s collar on Amazon for $100.08. PetSafe urges customers to turn the product off when not in use to save battery life.
What Do Customers Think?
Customers love the “beep” option. Many people use the tone and then the static. Eventually they only have to use the tone and the dog will respond.
“Thanks to PetSafe Remote Trainer, I have a completely different dog than what I have been dealing with for the last 2 years,” says one reviewer with a previously hyperactive dog. “I would recommend it to any pet owner who needs this form of training when their dog simply chooses NOT to listen, EVER.”
Those who purchased this product advise holding the button down for a full second to ensure the static correction is activated. Some users thought it wasn’t strong enough. “If you have a dominant dog with a high prey drive, save your money for something stronger,” says one disappointed customer.
If the collar isn’t working, it may be because the electrodes aren’t in contact with the dog’s skin. Move excess hair out of the way when putting on the collar and make sure the device fits snugly. Customers advise reading the entire instruction manual before using the collar.
Vibration + Shock Mode Options
With a rechargeable LCD remote, the Esky EP-R300-C1 training collar is reasonably priced at $34.99. A best seller in Amazon’s pet supplies category, the Esky collar is easy to use and provides high-quality comfort for dog and owner. Esky provides lifetime support, a 12-month replacement warranty, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The EP-R300-C1 gives the owner complete control during the training process with 100 different levels of vibration and shock in addition to the beep/tone feature. The remote’s bright LCD screen makes it appropriate for nighttime training.
The EP-R300-C1 is an upgraded version of a previous product that includes improved charging and new color options. This product is water resistant but not waterproof. Purchase includes:
- Adjustable belt
- Collar receiver
- USB charging cable
- Test bulb
- Metal probes (set of 2)
- Warranty card
What Do Customers Think?
The biggest complaint is that the collar is too big to fit small dogs.
Users love the bright orange remote because it is easy to find if dropped in the grass or lost in the house. In addition, the receiver charges quickly.
Customers who don’t like the idea of yelling at or shocking their pups turn to this product for effective training. And it works! As one satisfied customer explains:
“The vibration gets our dogs attention every time without hurting or scaring him. The mailman comes and pup goes bonkers? – jumps on guests or on the kitchen counter? – steals socks or gets distracted on a walk? The vibrating collar gently interrupts the behavior while he’s in the act so I can give him a command he actually listens to.”
For just $32.48 (on Amazon), you can purchase PetSafe’s GentleSpray anti-bark citronella collar. Widely considered the most humane approach to dog training, citronella spray works to fight bad behavior by affecting four of the dog’s five senses: he feels it, hears it, smells it, and sees it.
State-of-the-art technology combined with modern electronics allows this no-bark collar to detect barking. Using a vibration sensor and a tiny microphone, the collar “hears” your dog bark and releases a painless burst of citronella mist. When used consistently, it should take only a few days to curb excessive barking. Product features:
- Appropriate for dogs at least 6 months old and at least 6 pounds.
- Collar is made of comfortable nylon material
- Purchase includes attachable spray device, 6-volt alkaline battery, 3 ounces of spray (300 bursts), and instructions
- Collar fits necks up to 20 inches
- Spray is harmless to dog, other pets, and family
- Collar needs to be refilled after 25 bursts
- No returns
What do Customers Think?
While some users noticed the collar over-activating (in response to other things such as sneezes and scratching), others found that GentleSpray worked effectively to stop barking.
One reviewer noted that it worked very quickly, after two or three barks. As a bonus, the citronella mist will keep mosquitoes away. Very quiet barking does not activate the collar, so if the dog figures this out he will still be able to communicate and express himself without bothering others.
Downsides include collar size; it is too big to fit tiny dogs. It also does not activate for very high-pitched barking. Users stress the importance of turning the collar off when not in use to conserve battery life.
Of the products reviewed above, I would highly recommend the Esky EP-R300-C1. It is inexpensive and it has the capability to beep, vibrate, and zap. For big and/or aggressive dogs I would definitely go with the PetSafe Big Dog Remote Trainer. This type of dog needs a harsher sensation to stop bad behavior, especially if that dog has a strong hunting instinct.
Based on my research, spray collars are the least effective and require the most maintenance. If you simply can’t abide the idea of using a no-bark collar, click here for alternative solutions, consider a training school, or check out the Dog Whisperer. If you need a new hobby after successfully training your dog, click here to learn about one of the hottest outdoor “toys” for all ages.