No matter how much you love dogs, you have to admit that they can be incredibly annoying at times. Excessive barking is at the top of the list of Things Your Dog Can Do to Make Your Life a Living Hell. Not only is it one of the most common problems dog owners face, but it’s one of the most difficult to solve.
Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue.
If you haven’t been paying attention, anti barking devices have come a long way since they were first introduced years ago. If you got burned buying one of those crude early products that did nothing but eat batteries, you might want to take a look at what’s on the market nowadays. The technology has improved, and the techniques have gotten a lot more creative.
So, what’s the best anti bark device? It depends on the dog’s personality, what triggers his barking, and lots of other factors. Here are four options that take very different approaches to the problem.
PetSafe Deluxe Outdoor Bark Control
Cleverly disguised as a bird feeder, this system is designed to deter barking by emitting an ultrasonic sound that dogs find unpleasant (humans can’t hear it at all).
It activates whenever it detects barking nearby. The dog becomes startled by the sound and stops barking immediately. Over time, this also trains them not to bark in the first place.
One of the big selling points of systems like this is that they work on other people’s dogs. So, if the dog next door is always barking at you when you’re in the backyard, putting up an ultrasonic anti barking system might be the perfect solution (it sure beats getting into a fistfight with your neighbor).
Unfortunately, as the customer reviews show, dogs seem to have very different tolerance levels for this sort of thing. As a result, these systems typically work exactly as designed – or not at all.
GentleSpray Citronella Anti-Bark Dog Collar
Shock collars have been around for a long time, but a lot of people just aren’t comfortable with the idea of zapping their dog via remote control (go figure).
Spray collars like this one work on the same principle, but take electricity out of the mix. Instead, this collar squirts a citrus solution in your dog’s face whenever he barks. Gradually the dog begins to associate his excessive barking with getting a snout full of nasty citrus.
One downside of collars like this is that they tend to be bulky. Small dogs (you know, the kinds of dogs that do most of the yapping) might not tolerate having the spray cartridge around their neck all the time.
Manners Minder Remote Reward Behavior Training System
If the last product is an alternative to the shock collar, this is its polar opposite. This treat dispenser works via remote control, allowing you to distract your dog with perhaps the only thing that can take his mind of barking – food. This is ideal if your dog tends to freak out around company, as you can easily get him out of the picture when he starts to get overly excited.
You can also use this gadget for more general dog training. It comes with a DVD that gets rave reviews from customers.
Premier Bark and Activity Counter
This device doesn’t actually deter your dog from barking, but it could give you some key information on what sets him off. It attaches to your dog’s collar and functions as a surveillance device, recording barking and other activity even when you’re not around. You can then connect the device to a computer and get a detailed chart showing what your dog was up to at any given time.
What sort of insight could you get from this intel on your dog’s daily routine?
Well, if your dog doesn’t bark at all when you’re gone, that could be a sign that he’s doing it for attention. On the other hand, if he barks at various times throughout the day, it could be a territorial issue triggered by people passing by the front window. If he does it right after you leave, perhaps it’s separation anxiety.
You get the picture.
As cool as these gadgets are, they’re not for every dog. First of all, barking is normal canine behavior – it’s one of the ways they communicate. Unless the barking is truly excessive, you might want to adjust your expectations or find a low tech way to deal with it.
Secondly, you might want to consider whether your dog’s barking is just a bad habit, or a symptom of some other problem. By barking, your dog might be trying to tell you he’s bored, anxious, or upset for some other reason. If you can fix the root problem, you might have a quieter home and a happier dog.