Stop Bark Collars: Why Negative Reinforcement Won’t Stop Your Dog’s Barking

There are plenty of ways that people have developed to train
dogs, including negative reinforcement methods such as stop bark
collars, shock collars,
choke chains
, and more. Have you ever noticed, though, that
correcting, chastising, even physically punishing your dog to try
to stop
the barking
isn’t working?
Ever wondered why that is
?

First off, Stop Bark Collars or No-Bark Collars are a very
controversial tool, but a fairly common one. People use these
collars in an attempt to stop their dog any time their dog barks,
especially when their dog has a history of excessive barking. When
their dog barks, they punish it with a shock, a high-pitched sound,
or an unpleasant odor.

Anti-Bark Collars

There are three main types of no-bark collars: static shock,
citronella and ultrasonic. All three collars
fit snugly against your dog’s neck when they are fitted
correctly. It is important both for safety and for proper training
that the collar is fitted by a professional or by an experienced
dog owner.

All three of the bark collars have a nylon collar which fits
similarly to a regular nylon dog collar. At the front of the
collars there is a mechanism which releases the deterrent of
choice, this mechanism fits against your dog’s throat so that the
vibrations caused by nuisance barking can trigger the
mechanism.

The Ultrasonic Collar

The ultrasonic dog collar (some are just sonic collars)
mechanism sends out a very high pitched and unpleasant sound which
is intended to deter nuisance barking. Ultrasonic Bark collars can
be a particularly difficult thing to fit to individual dogs and it
is recommended that you discuss which bark collar is right for you
with your veterinarian.

The Shock Collar

The shock collar mechanism that sits against the dog’s throat
sends out a static shock that travels down two metal prongs that
touch your dog’s neck when your dog barks or does something bad.
The shock in some of these collars begins with a small shock which
increases in intensity up through a variety of levels as your dog
continues his nuisance barking. You can personally test the shock
collar on your hand before using it on your dog if you are worried
about the intensity of the shock.

If you are unwilling to experience the shock, then you
shouldn’t be subjecting your dog to it.

The Citronella Bark Collar

The citronella collar mechanism sends out a citronella spray
liquid when your dog begins to nuisance bark. For most dogs, the
scent of citronella spray is unpleasant and will deter any further
barking.

Are They Safe? Are They Ethical?

While industry claims that no harm is done to the dog, obviously
the sensation provided by the no-bark collar is not something the
dog likes. If it didn’t hurt them, they wouldn’t worry about
barking freely despite the consequences. We can’t help but wonder
how this is restraining some of dogs’ natural functions or
causing undue stress and anxiety. Furthermore, consider the fact
that in Europe shock collars are illegal. Also, consider that if
shock collars are used on large breeds to stop barking, they can
cause serious damage to small dogs.

Some studies suggest that the electric current from the shock
collars for dogs results in aggression, stress or persistent
anxiety. How severe the effects of the bark control collar actually
depend on the trainer and the environment in which the collar is
used. There are documented cases of serious skin damage to small
dogs.

Matthijs B.H. Schilder and Joanne A.M. van der Borg studied

behavioral effects of electric shock collars
and came to the
conclusion that shocked dogs showed more stress-related behavior
than the control dogs — dogs controlled via human discipline
instead of no-bark collars — the shocked dogs connected their
handlers with getting shocks, and may even connect orders given by
their handlers with getting shocked.

What does this mean? Schilder and Borg conclude that, while they
have not proven that the long-term welfare of the shocked dogs is
affected, it is clearly under serious threat.

In all actuality, the best way to train your dog is
through positive reinforcement.

The no-bark collar has received quite a few critics whose points
should be brought to light. Bark collars, while they discourage
problem barking can also discourage all barking in some more
sensitive dogs. On the topic of sensitive dogs, it is also true
that some dogs can be particularly sensitive to one type of bark
collar or another, so it is recommended that you discuss all of
your options with your vet prior to using a bark collar.

For some dogs, the shock collar is too painful, while others
seem to be unaffected by it. The citronella collar can cause some
dogs to roll on the floor and try to disguise their scent with
citronella. And for other dogs, the ultrasound noise does not deter
the dog from barking, so it really is beneficial to know your dog
and options when using a bark collar.

 

Positive Reinforcement

When people talk about positive reinforcement dog training, they
sometimes refer to it as positive dog training, force free dog
training, clicker training, even science-based dog training. Some
of these terms relate to a wider dog training philosophy as well as
a specific method, and those philosophical and ethical issues are
important. But positive reinforcement is also a technical term with
a specific definition.

What is positive reinforcement? Positive reinforcement is a very
effective way to train dogs (and other animals). Positive
reinforcement means adding something immediately after a behavior
occurs that makes the frequency of the behavior go up.

Technically speaking, the term breaks down into two parts.
Reinforcement means the behavior continues or goes up in frequency.
(If the behavior went down instead, it’s not reinforcement). And
positive means something is added.

For example, you ask the dog to sit, the dog sits, and you give
him a treat (something is added). The dog is more likely to sit
next time you ask (the behavior was reinforced).

Sometimes people make the mistake of calling the moment when
something unpleasant stops positive reinforcement. It’s not. For
example, some shock collar trainers pretend that when the electric
shock stops, it is rewarding for the dog. It is not. Relief is not
the same as a reward.

Remember too: positive reinforcement means something has been
added. Stopping something is the opposite of adding something.
It’s worth being alert to this because there are many weasel
words used in dog training and there’s a lot of erroneous dog
training information on the internet. Because there is no
regulation of dog trainers, this is unfortunately something dog
owners need to be aware of.

Clicker Training Your Dog

Clickers are used to mark the moment the dog is doing the right
behavior. It’s very quick, so it buys you time to get the treat
out and give it to your dog.

Some people absolutely love using a clicker. They also think it
helps improve their technique (perhaps because they are paying
close attention to when to click, and not to move before then).

Some people really don’t like the clicker. They find it clunky
and awkward or too complicated. Luckily for them, there is a study
that found using a clicker versus a verbal marker or no marker at
all (just food rewards) didn’t make much difference to training
success.

Another study compared the use of a clicker (and food) versus
food only in a 6 week trick training course for novice dogs. People
in both groups said the training was fun, and there were no
specific advantages or disadvantages to using the clicker. Of
course, it may be different if used over a longer period of time
(e.g. at competition level). A lot of trainers enjoy using clickers
because it allows them to be more precise with the positive
reinforcement.

The most important thing is to use food rewards to train your
dog. If you try the clicker and like it, that’s great, and lots
of people do. But if you don’t like it, don’t worry about it.
Just keep using food.

Why Negative Reinforcement Doesn’t Work

Look. We get it. You probably don’t enjoy negative
reinforcement. Chances are that you don’t like shocking your dog
with an anti-bark collar. Some people, however, are more used to
old training methods that rely more on punishing bad behavior than
building trust to promote good behavior. Negative reinforcement is
really detrimental to your dog’s training, and it’s less
effective than positive reinforcement. Here is a list to help you
understand from your dog’s point of view.

  1. It is his instinct

Barking is canine instinct. Imagine going your whole life
without speaking, or communicating with those around you. I have
always thought of the sacrifice monks must undergo to take a vow of
silence. I, personally, could never go more than a day or two
without speaking to someone or something. Actually, I think a day
of silence would be difficult.

Yet, somehow, we expect our dogs to be silent. Dogs communicate
with each other by barking. This is how they warn other dogs or
members of their pack that something dangerous may be afoot. This
is how wild dogs and wild dog packs maintain on survival. Your dog
may be a pet and part of your “human” pack, but he is still a
dog, and he still has canine instincts and need for
communication.

Total silence is difficult if not impossible for some dogs.
Instead, we can teach
him WHEN he can use his vocalizations with this
and what is
appropriate to communicate.

  1. He is rewarded by other dogs in the neighborhood

Remember how I discussed earlier how dogs communicate with each
other by barking? It is true. If you leave your dog outside for
extended periods of time, he is likely to find other outside dogs
to communicate with for entertainment purposes. Ever heard stories
of people in prison communicating with each other but never truly
being able to interact personally?  They get to know each other,
share stories, and even warn of coming guards.

Dogs create similar relationships with dogs in the
neighborhood.  You can often hear them vocalizing amongst
themselves and carrying on “conversations” if you will.

  1. You bark with him

Oftentimes when we constantly yell at our dogs, they think we
are chiming in or barking “with them”. Someone walks past your
window and your dog begins to bark. You, as a human, know there is
no real threat, so you become increasingly irritated. I mean, why
would he bark at the 92 year old neighbor getting her morning
paper?

So you yell back at him. “Shut Up!!!”  “Be Quiet!!!!”
“No Bark!!!” Let us remember, he does not speak English and
therefore doesn’t understand the meaning of your words. He only
FEELS YOUR FRUSTRATION And HEARS YOU YELLING

Both sound exactly like what he is doing. Take a step back… do
you sound like you are “barking with him”? In order for dogs to
understand that being calm is the way to handle a situation, you
must in fact, lead by example and be calm!

Be calm, be quiet and teach your dog to understand and respect
your “quiet” command.

  1. You are painfully inconsistent

Most often when I talk to people who are
infuriated with their dogs’ barking,
I find that they are
painfully inconsistent in their teaching or “correcting”. You
may or may not chase your dog down to teach him to be quiet during
the day. Quite frankly, a lot of dog training depends on when it is
convenient for the human.

Are you busy, can you go to him and work with him? Will you
correct it? Will you ignore it? This often depends on what you are
doing and how motivated you are to get up. It also, often, depends
on how long it takes for you to reach the point of “irate”.

One night you may become irate after a dozen or more loud barks,
but sometimes perhaps after a particularly bad day, you might
become irate after 5 loud barks. How is your dog to judge how
serious you are if your seriousness fluctuates? This is a lot like
parenting. Some days you are a more patient parent than other
days.  Some days you are easily irritable.

However the difference is that most children are able to reason
and notice the subtle differences; dogs however are not as adept at
reading and understanding our human ways of communication and
therefore unless you are consistent they have difficulty
learning.

  1. You want him to bark sometimes

You Want Him to Recognize a Bad Guy

Again, this is an inconsistency. You don’t know how often I
hear owners tell me that they
don’t want their dog to bark
.

But… they do want their dog to scare away strangers. Once
again, I will point out that dogs don’t have a lot of powers of
human rationalization and understanding. At the very core, I do
believe that most dogs will defend their owners in times of
threat.

Thankfully, however, those moments are few and far between. We,
as humans, get more uptight about possible negative human
interaction than most situations warrant. But we still want to feel
like our dog is “protecting us”. The irony is, that unless you
have your dog’s voice and bark under your control, you can’t
have both.

You can’t have a dog that is quiet when the UPS man or mailman
comes and then have a dog that “recognizes the bad intentions of
a burglar”. Dogs are not predisposed to recognizing the intricate
details that we as humans think we recognize (usually until the
moment of aggression by the human). Understand that your dog is a
“dog”, a canine that speaks a whole different language and stop
expecting him to miraculously recognize the good or bad intentions
in a human.

And, let me be the first to tell you that having a dog that
loves everyone and doesn’t bark is much better than the
alternative of having a dangerous dog that hates everyone! Don’t
try and create a monster simply because you want to feel protected.
Instead, learn to control your dog’s bark so that you can use it
to your advantage, while still having a dog that is safe with
people.

  1. You realize shock collars don’t work

Tufts University did a study many, many years ago (1996) about
the legitimacy and effectiveness of bark collars; shock collar vs
citronella collar. And, the study showed that barely over 50% of
dogs were affected by shock bark collars.  Many of the dogs in the
study just braced and barked through the shock. Yet, 90% of the
dogs who used citronella collars learned not to bark.

Why?

Because the spray of citronella, combined with the sound and the
smell was repulsive to dogs; AND the collars were consistent. The
collars (as long as they were filled properly, the battery replaced
and used consistently) were consistent with the dog’s barking.
The collar doesn’t have “moods” where sometimes it takes more
barks to set off the collar.  The collar is consistent. 1 bark =
one spray; every time! These collars are very consistent if used
appropriately and regularly for long enough to break the original
habit.

 

What Is The #1 Way To Stop Your Dog’s Barking?

The number 1 way to stop your dog’s barking is actually to
learn to be in control of his mouth and his barking. When I teach
my dog to bark on command, I can teach my dog to be quiet on
command.

When I have control of my dog’s mouth or “barker” I can
tell him when to bark (let’s say I am scared of a person
approaching) and I can also tell him when not to bark (let’s say
I don’t want him to bark as I sign for the UPS package I am
receiving.

Teaching him to control one of his instincts, allows him to use
it but also allows me to use it appropriately. I don’t expect my
dog to be quiet for the rest of his life. I expect him to bark when
I tell him to bark when I allow him to, and be quiet when I
request. This provides a simple balance to a difficult problem!

========================== The 6 Reasons Punishment Can’t Stop
Dog Barking

 

correcting your dog for barking isn't working, reasons dogs bark , puppy screams in crate, stop dog barking, puppy crying in crate for hours

 

Have you ever noticed that correcting, chastising, even
physically punishing your dog to try to stop the
barking
isn’t working?

Ever wondered why that is?

Here is a list to help you understand from your dog’s point of
view.

1. It is his instinct

Barking is canine instinct.

Imagine going your whole life without speaking, or communicating
with those around you.

I have always thought of the sacrifice monks must undergo to
take a vow of silence.

I, personally, could never go more than a day or two without
speaking to someone or something.

Actually, I think a day of silence would be difficult.

Yet, somehow, we expect our dogs to be silent.

Dogs communicate with each other by barking.

This is how they warn other dogs or members of their pack that
something dangerous may be afoot.

This is how wild dogs and wild dog packs maintain on
survival.

Your dog may be a pet and part of your “human” pack, but he
is still a dog, and he still has canine instincts and need for
communication.

Total silence is difficult if not impossible for some dogs.

Instead, we can teach
him WHEN he can use his vocalizations with this
and what is
appropriate to communicate.

2. He is rewarded by other dogs in the
neighborhood

Remember how I discussed earlier how dogs communicate with each
other by barking?

It is true.

If you leave your dog outside for extended periods of time, he
is likely to find other outside dogs to communicate with for
entertainment purposes.

Ever heard stories of people in prison communicating with each
other but never truly being able to interact personally?  They get
to know each other, share stories, and even warn of  coming
guards.

Dogs create similar relationships with dogs in the
neighborhood.  You can often hear them vocalizing amongst
themselves and carrying on “conversations” if you will.

3. You bark with him correcting your dog for barking isn't working, reasons dogs bark , puppy screams in crate, stop dog barking

Often times when we constantly yell at our dogs, they think we
are chiming in or barking “with them”.

Someone walks past your window and your dog begins to bark.

You, as a human, know there is no real threat, so you become
increasingly irritated.

I mean, why would he bark at the 92 year old neighbor getting
her morning paper?

So you yell back at him.

“Shut Up!!!”  “Be Quiet!!!!”  “No Bark!!!”

Let us remember, he does not speak English and therefore
doesn’t understand the meaning of your words.

He only FEELS YOUR FRUSTRATION

And HEARS YOU YELLING

Both sound exactly like what he is doing.

Take a step back… do you sound like you are “barking with
him”?

In order for dogs to understand that being calm is the way to
handle a situation, you must in fact, lead by example and be
calm!

Be calm, be quiet and teach your dog to understand and respect
your “quiet” command.

correcting your dog for barking isn't working, reasons dogs bark , puppy screams in crate, stop dog barking, puppy crying in crate for hours

 

4. You are painfully inconsistent

Most often when I talk to people who are infuriated with their
dogs’ barking, I find that they are painfully inconsistent in
their teaching or “correcting”.

You may or may not chase your dog down to teach him to be quiet
during the day.

Quite frankly, a lot of dog training depends on  when it is
convenient for the human.

Are you busy, can you go to him and work with him.

Will you correct it?

Will you ignore it?

This often depends on what you are doing and how motivated you
are to get up.

It also, often, depends on how long it takes for you to reach
the point of “irate”.

One night you may become irate after a dozen or more loud barks,
but sometimes perhaps after a particularly bad day, you might
become irate after 5 loud barks.

How is your dog to judge how serious you are if your seriousness
fluctuates?

This is a lot like parenting.

Some days you are a more patient parent than other days.  Some
days you are easily irritable.

However the difference is that most children are able to reason
and notice the subtle differences; dogs however are not as adept at
reading and understanding our human ways of communication and
therefore unless you are consistent they have difficulty
learning.

5. You want him to bark sometimes

correcting your dog for barking isn't working, reasons dogs bark , puppy screams in crate, stop dog barking, puppy crying in crate for hours

You Want Him to Recognize a Bad Guy

Again this is an inconsistency.

You don’t know how often I hear owners tell me that they
don’t want their dog to bark.

But….. they do want their dog to scare away strangers.

Once again, I will point out that dogs don’t have a lot
of..

Source: FS – TheDogTrainingSecret
Stop Bark Collars: Why Negative Reinforcement Won’t Stop Your Dog’s Barking