The neighbors kitty corner behind my house recently got a German Shepherd that barks incessantly when they’re not home. It’s annoying and ironic because a couple of years ago they complained about my Doberman Missie’s barking and howling. Not in a nice way either. Thankfully, we have her barking pretty much under control at this point thanks to an anti-bark collar that has made her stop barking. But it took me a few attempts trying different products to see what would work for her.
Here is the journey that led us to the Dogtra collar. Some of the options I tried might work for you depending on the kind of barker you have.
The Gentlest Anti-Bark Option
Dobermans are working dogs and take their jobs seriously. Missie not only guards our home, but guards with gusto. She is an overachiever when it comes to patrolling and security. I hoped to find a solution that would be safe and gentle. I researched online an approach to stop barking with a citronella spray collar. That seemed like a good option and so I bought the Pet Safe Gentle Spray Bark Collar.
The collar somehow senses when the dog barks and then shoots a mist of citronella spray which dogs supposedly find foul. I’m sure this works well for people with less-intense dogs, but it didn’t work for Missie and I had to buy a refill canister of citronella quickly; each canister has between 300-400 sprays, so that will give you and idea of how frequently she barked in the span of a week or so.
One other thing to note was my dog smelled like a citronella candle when I’d bring her back in the house. That might have been helpful if we needed her to ward off all the mosquitoes (there really aren’t many in Southern California), but it didn’t solve the barking problem. I returned the citronella bark collar and moved on.
A Little Stronger Anti-Bark Option
I was bummed the gentlest collar option didn’t work for us, but thought I’d give one of those ultrasonic collars a chance. I purchased the Sunbeam Advanced Bark Control Collar. This one had three levels of sensitivity so I thought the strongest level might work with my Dobie. That’s the technology that is supposed to emit a high pitched sound, indiscernible to the human ear, but something that is annoying enough for dogs to stop barking.
This did not even phase my dog.
I guess I should have known this wouldn’t work because a different set of neighbors who live on another street, but also diagonally from us left a polite note in the mailbox and said they were doglovers, but it was getting hard to bear our Doberman’s antics. Apparently she would freak out, and dart along the fence line barking incessantly whenever they entered their own backyard. This despite the fact a 6 foot wooden fence separates our properties. She couldn’t see them, but she was not happy they were near her domain.
When we were invited to our neighbors’ to bring our dogs to get to know them, I noticed a fake birdhouse hanging from a tree that was near our shared fence line. The woman sheepishly said they bought the ultrasonic device to see if that would stop my dog from barking. It didn’t.
Now What Do We Do with our Barker?
At this point I was beside myself because keeping our dogs inside all day while we’re at work was not practical. Even though we have a doggie door, we also have a pool and a Golden Retriever. Tigger would undoubtedly go for a swim and and come back into the house soaking wet, and our Doberman would shoot out the doggie door to go bark at neighbors in their yards. We had to come up with a solution.
That’s when I started thinking about shock collars. I HATE the term. It sounds so inhumane. I hate the thought of hurting my dog. My sister had used one for training a very exuberant lab–she obviously didn’t think it was mean. A co-worker, also with labs, said she used them and they weren’t cruel. Then I started thinking about how horses can be contained with electric fencing and it’s kind of the same idea. They touch it once and won’t mess with the fence again. I’ve bumped into electric wire before and it reminded me of the pain you feel when you hit that spot on your elbow that really smarts–uncomfortable, but not the end of the world. That didn’t seem too mean, but practical.
I also thought about the possibility of us losing our dog. I don’t know the law, but the intensity with which the first neighbors I mentioned yelled at me when I was in the yard taking trash out made me think the wife would probably not hesitate to call the police. I had the name of a Doberman trainer in San Diego. I sent him a desperate email and he told me that most anti-bark collars don’t work on Dobermans but he’s had success with the Dogtra collar.
I was worried that the collar might electrocute my dog if she accidentally fell into our pool (she does NOT enjoy swimming–we’ve tried). Thankfully it’s a waterproof device (I called the company to clarify this point and was assured that the dog would not be electrocuted if she fell into the pool).
Dogtra to the Rescue
So we bought the collar, set it to the number 3 setting and put in on Missie. She barked at some point and we heard a slight yelp right afterward. She stopped barking. And since then, we’ve only had a couple more complaints from the first set of neighbors. The collar doesn’t work when you forget to put it on the dog (d’oh!) and it does need to be recharged occasionally. The user manual says once every 15 days–I probably do it once every three months. I forget to recharge it, but I suspect just the fact that she is wearing the collar (even if the charge is low) is enough of a deterrent to the barking.
A Few Quick Tips for the Dogtra Anti-Bark Collar
- You need to make the collar a bit tighter than it might seem. If the collar is too loose it will slip around the dog’s neck and it won’t be able to detect the barking.
- Also, make sure to clean it once in a while by wiping with a paper towel or rag. You might want to use a dab of dish soap to keep clean.
- You are not supposed to keep the collar on for more than 8 hours at a time. This is something we try very hard to adhere to, but sometimes we get home late and Missie’s had to wear it for 10-12 hours. She has shown no ill effects. (I would not recommend leaving it on more than 8 hours, but it’s nice to know our dog hasn’t had any bad reactions to it.)
I wish I didn’t have to use an anti-bark collar on our dog, but since she’s a vocal girl (with a pretty scary bark) it’s been wonderful to have peace with our neighbors and know that they can go about their business in the privacy of their back yards and not have a watchful Doberman’s barking protests.
Now if I could only get up the nerve to suggest to the German Shepherd neighbors that they should get an anti-bark collar for their dog. . .
Comments: Dog lovers, have you ever been able to get an incessant barker to stop barking? What did the trick?