are bark collars cruel

Are Bark Collars Cruel?

As a pet owner you definitely love spending time with your canine buddy. Their innocence and playfulness can easily win our hearts. And, the sound of your dog’s bark can ease out your nerves after a hectic day at work.

But what if the barking is excessive to a limit where it crosses the point of being natural and playful? This is when you might wish to turn to a remedy and the choice that seems the most obvious is a bark collar. The purpose of a dog bark collar is to prevent your dog from barking excessively.

However, this has been a subject of controversy as dog lovers are not in favor of these collars. So, in this article we we will explore the pros and cons of using a bark collar and if it is really cruel to do so. 

Why Are Bark Collars Used?

There are many reasons as to why a dog can bark more than normal. They might want to have a taste of what you are eating or they might simply be too excited to see you. In some cases, a dog can bark relentlessly because it might feel that there is a danger lurking in the surrounding.

But, if a dog barks constantly, then it can become a problem for the owner as well as other people in the vicinity. This is when the use of bark collars can come in handy. They are effective in controlling a dog from barking constantly.

Types Of Bark Collars

Depending on the situation, there are different types of dog collars that you can use for controlling excessive barking. Let’s take a look into the different kinds of bark collars and how they work.

1. Spray Collars

Spray collars, also known as citronella collars emit air or citronella when your dog barks. The emission prevents the dog to bark further. These are relatively safer bark collars as there is no pressure applied to the neck of your pet. But on the downside, they might not be as effective. When the noise of the bark is high-pitched, they sometimes don’t get activated through the sensor. Also, if your pet is surrounded by other dogs and they bark, it can get triggered unnecessarily and cause an unwanted disturbance.

2. Ultrasonic Collars

Ultrasonic collars emit an ultrasonic sound to distract your dog when it starts barking. It is not audible to the human ear. When your dog barks, the sound, and vibration of its vocal cords cause the collar to get activated. Such collars usually come with batteries that are long-lasting and those you can replace.

Personally, I do not mind to use this whenever needed or at least to train the dog because it does not hurt your dog physically. Yes, some people will argue ultrasonic sound is bad and what not. But, there is no solid proof, plus the thing is, in every day modern life, we are blasted with so many different signals and sounds that we do not even know. So, I would not worry too much to use one of this.

But, as a dog lover I would not use an ultrasonic dog collar regularly. Just use when needed to correct the unacceptable behavior. That’s it, plain and simple!

3. Shock Collars

Sock collars emit an electric shock as soon as the dog begins to bark. There are sensors attached to the collar that activate the shockers on detecting a barking sound. The current ranges from a tickling sensation that is mild to a more intense shock. They are used during training as well as with fencing or pet containment systems. Using a shock collar during training is one of the most controversial uses of this method. If the trainer or owner misuses it for punishment or uses shock at the wrong time, a dog can associate shocks with people or certain experiences. All this doesn’t account for successful training. Moreover, they can also cause inflamation to your dog’s neck.

Features Of Anti-Bark Dog Collars

There are usually three types of sensors that activate these collars and get them in the active mode.

1. Activation Via Sound

When the sensor attached to the collar detects the sound of the bark, it gets activated. For dogs who whine or howl, this kind of collar is perfect. But on the downside, it also gets activated when other dogs bark.

2. Activation Via Vibration

For dogs who growl before they enter a full-fledged barking mode, collars that activate through the vibration of the vocal cords. Before a dog can start barking, the sensors detect the growl and the collar gets into action.

3. Dual Activation Collars

Collars that activate by the vibration of vocal cords, as well as the sound of a bark, are known as dual activation collars. If you have more than one dog, these collars are great as the sound of one dog’s bark won’t trigger the collar of another.

Pros of Anti-Bark Collars

Just like everything else in this world, bark collars have pros and cons of their own. If you are teaching barking etiquette to your dog, a bark collar can help you train your canine buddy by giving mild discomfort when the barking goes out of limit. This will make the dog realize that it’s time to stop barking. When this continues, it will automatically train your dog not to go over the board with barking.

1. Safety

What worries most dog owners is the safety factor. The good news is that in most high-end anti-bark collars, there is an option to adjust the intensity of the shock. This makes sure that the discomfort is mild and not unbearable.

2. Remote Control

If you require to set the collar from a distance, the remote control can help you adjust the settings without being in close proximity to the dog.

3. Automatic Turn Off

If the dog is barking for an amplified period, the automatic turn off settings will curb the shock. This might be an indication of some other underlying issue you need to deal with.

4. Safety With Freedom

For keeping your dog safe, you can’t leave him unattended outside your property. Shock collars tech your pet to stay within the boundaries, simultaneously enjoying his freedom.

5. Quick Results

Shock collar training gives faster results as compared to regular training for barking etiquettes. It takes only a few shocks to correct an unwanted trait in most cases.

Cons of Anti-Bark Collars

Tagged by many as inhumane, anti-bark collars come with their own set of cons.

1. Added Expenses

Having a pet isn’t exactly cost-effective. But when the owner decides to use an anti-bark collar, the expenses can further increase. On average these collars cost somewhere around $25-50. High-end brands offer more features at a rate that can cross $100-200. Besides the cost of the collar, if you are using spray bark collars, you have to refill the canister every time it empties out.

2. Compromised Effectiveness In Some Cases

Your dog may continue barking if it senses a danger despite having a bark collar on. Even though this scenario is rare, it is still plausible.

3. Wrong Triggers

If your dog is surrounded by other dogs that are barking, it can wrongly trigger a spray bark collar and cause unnecessary discomfort to your dog. A trained dog accustomed to getting sprayed on barking too much can get confused as to why it is being punished. This can disrupt the training and can negatively impact the behavior of a dog.

4. Negative Reinforcement

Most pet owners prefer reward based positive reinforcement methods to train their dogs. Using bark collars can nullify the strategy and risk creating a negative environment for your dog. Even if you are controlling the intensity of the shock, you can’t put a full stop on pain.

Are Bark Collars Bad For Dogs?

Bark collars are not bad for dogs as long as the person handling them has proper knowledge of its features. Not all bark collars are bad for the dog, In fact, a little bit of stress can cause the dog to behave appropriately. It can make training easier if the person handling the process is well-versed with the features and functioning of the dog collar.

Are Bark Collars Mean?

Whether bark collars are mean or not certainly depends on individual perception. Some people outrightly consider the use of such collars to be mean on part of the owners. On the other hand, there are others who believe that there is no harm in adopting a little strict approach to control excessive barking in dogs.

Are Bark Collars a Good Idea?

Only if a dog owner knows how to properly use a bark collar, it’s a good idea. The condition is that the person has to be completely aware of the functionality of the collar so that they don’t hurt the dog unintentionally. Now, you might be wondering about all those dog owners who have stated that they had an unpleasant experience with bark collars. The plausible explanation is that they got stuck with a wron product or they didn’t know how to use one.

Are Bark Shock Collars Humane?

Most dog parents consider their furry friends as their own family. The use of something even mildly painful as bark collars are inhumane for them. After all, anyone can accidentally mishandle the tool and cause severe discomfort to the dog. In some cases, if owners don’t understand the working of bark collars, they can end up causing irreversible damage.

How To Use Dog Bark Collars

Use a bark collar as a deterrent to a behavior that is negative instead of using it as a punishment. When your dog receives a mild jolt of discomfort after repeating a certain behavior, it will cease to do so. After some time, the constant reminder won’t be necessary. You can adjust the intensity of the shock or vibration according to the behavior you are trying to control. The intensity also depends on the stage of training your dog is in.

Managing Dog Barking With Proper Training

Dog bark collars are devices meant to help you manage dog barking, not to deliver magical results overnight. Combined with appropriate training, you can get your pet to change its ways. Let’s take a look as to how you can effectively train a dog to prevent extravagant barking.

1. Teach Your Dog To Bark

Since you are trying to stop the barking, this might sound absurd. But before you move on towards making your pet quiet down, it is important to teach your dog to bark on command. Once your dog barks on your command, treat him with his favorite snack or toy.

2. Teaching Your Dog To Stop Barking

Once you have taught your pet to bark on command, it is time to do just the opposite. When your dog is barking continuously, treat him as soon as he stops for a moment. Bring a treat near a barking dog and as soon as he stops to sniff, feed him the snack.

3. Ignoring The Barking

This step is easier said than done. As soon as your dog starts barking, ignore. DO NOT react or give any sort of attention even if the barking increases. Control your instinct to yell to quiet him down. As soon as you give a reaction, it will indicate that barking is a way to catch your attention. Even if you react after an hour, the next time your dog will bark for more than an hour to grab your attention. At some point, your dog will tire himself and stop barking. As soon as it happens, treat and pamper him to show that when he stops barking, it will get him a reward.

4. Provide Adequate Exercise

Depending on the physique and age of your dog, make sure you are getting him adequate exercise. Lack of physical activity can build up frustration that your dog can later release in the form of barking. Using some interactive toys and playing catch would do the trick for many breeds.


It is useful to know that a bark collar may seem like the only solution to compulsive barking, but there are other options out there that can help in curbing this behavior. Like understanding dog psychology facts and finding out why your dog is barking in the first place? Are there any underlying problems? You might want to investigate those as well or talk to your vet.

As far as dog collars are concerned, there are numerous options that you can use combined with training tips to find a solution to the problem of too much barking. Since there is no shortage of options when it comes to bark collars, you have to decide first then try and test them accordingly. For instance, if you think a shock collar is cruel, then do not use it, rather go for a vibrating collar instead. As long as you take good care and make sure you get what you want for your dog, bark collar can be a pretty useful tool.

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