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Erik Peterson

Barking collars on BC...thoughts?

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Hello,

 

I have a BC puppy (just under 2 years) and am strongly considering purchasing a bark collar for him. He is an attention barker and has been kicked out of 2 day cares already. We are working with a profesional trainer and have spent a lot of money of trying to fix the problem rather than manage it. We've tried everything, too many tricks to list here, except an electronic collar. He has even emptied out the citronella collar. I was wondering if anyone else has used an e-collar on a BC and what the benefits/consequences are. Also, are there brands and/or model people could recommend.

 

Thanks,

erik

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First of all, should you be asking WHY the dog is barking?

 

Some BCs are barkers - that is true, but some (a lot more) bark because they they need more stimulation. Are you sure that your pup doesn't just need more mental/physical stimulation?

 

I would try finding out WHY the dog is barking before finding ways to correct the dog for it. You might find that you don't even need the collar.

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I agree with Kat and really try to pinpoint why your dog is barking and are you feeding into his attention getting schemes.

 

Also, have you considered teaching your BC to 'speak' while he is barking. He's offering the behaviour, give it a command and treat it. Eventually you can also then give the command 'no speak'.

 

That said, I have not used a bark collar, but I have used an electric fence zap collar on my BC. I taught her the boundries of our 5 acres and then put the collar on her. She didn't leave the area, no zap. So, I purposely threw a ball across the property line which she promptly chased. ZAP. That was the only and last time she has EVER crossed anywhere of our 5 acres rectangle property. She doesn't wear the collar anymore and will not chase ANYTHING across the line.

 

What does that mean? Well, that she learned very quickly that crossing the property is not a fun thing. :rolleyes:

 

It might be that your dog needs just a few zaps. DO be sure that if you go that route that you give your dog a command word to go with 'quiet.' You don't want him to have to wear it forever. It's just a training device.

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I agree with others, why is your dog barking?

 

I am strongly against any kind of "collar" that Zaps, sprays, shocks ect. They are not teaching the dog any thing except that when they do some thing that they do NOT know is wrong, they get shocked. And I really would not use one on a BC. IMHP.

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Having had a foster that would bark in certain situations and couldn't be trained to stop (I tried), I did start using a bark collar with him. If you are going to use a bark collar, #1 is to put it on him and WATCH how he reacts to a correction. Some dogs, BC or not, do not react to the shock well and will shut down on you (temporarily).

 

I had another foster that I tried it on once and after the fist time it corrected him, he would run into the doghouse out back every time I put the collar on him (they don't stay outside, don't worry). He's an example of a dog that the bark collar just doesn't work for.

 

The other foster would chase the other dogs and bark non-stop on their flanks until the other dogs would finally get fed up and just smack him one. So resorting to the bark collar in the end was really a matter of trying to stave off a fight from erupting.

 

Personally, I won't leave a dog in a bark collar full time. I just put it on during situations that I know the dog is prone to bark in. That way I don't have them accidentally correcting themselves for barking when it's allowed (playtime, etc).

 

If you get one, I'd recommend getting one that reacts to both sound and vibration, not just one or the other. Those are much more accurate and you don't get the mistake corrections (vibration only will sometimes respond to being knocked or if the dog runs into something, etc). Also, if you can find one that uses rechargable batteries...great. Mine uses expensive batteries ($10 a piece) and seems to run them down very quickly.

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I'm wondering why he got kicked out of daycare just because he barks? Thats a bit harsh. We have a few dogs at our daycare who will yap at you almost non-stop, and unless it causes any probs we just ignore it.

 

Also, make sure when you put the bark collar on him its not in a situation where he can relate the shock to some other stimulus, like the playfulness of another dog, or something. Some dogs are quirky and don't relate the shock to the bark, but instead they relate it to what they're barking at...caused a real ruckus for a friend of mine's ACD once.

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I'm of the oppinion that any tool is good or bad by itself, but as how it is used. Bark collars are not magical stick, but you have tried enough things to think that you are not asuming that...

 

I've never used bark collars, but have used e-collars and my advice is to let the dog wear it at least one week (off) before start using it to avoid that the dog associate wearing the collar and the zaps more than the barking and the zaps, as the case BayouBC described before.

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Originally posted by BayouBC:

If you get one, I'd recommend getting one that reacts to both sound and vibration, not just one or the other. Those are much more accurate and you don't get the mistake corrections (vibration only will sometimes respond to being knocked or if the dog runs into something, etc).

But in a day care setting that the OP is describing, wouldn't a sound activated one run a significant risk of the dog getting corrected because another dog off on a barking spate near him? I'd worry about that kind of unearned correction and be concerned it could lead to aggression in response to another dog barking.

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Wow, I don't know. I have one BC that would probably need Prozac if she got shocked by a collar. I'd never get another collar on her, I know that much. But then she doesn't bark.

 

My puppy, Faith, will bark when overstimulated or for attention. With her, I just either correct her with a "shhh" and re-direct her (for things like barking at the cat), or ignore her (for barking for attention). She's improved about 80% in the past two weeks.

 

I know you said you've tried lots of different techniques, but could you fill us in on a few things you have tried, so we don't repeat the same advice? IME, incessant barking is kind of uncommon in this breed. Do you have any idea what might have caused it to start?

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Originally posted by painted_ponies:

Wow, I don't know. I have one BC that would probably need Prozac if she got shocked by a collar. I'd never get another collar on her, I know that much.

The problem is barking can be incredibly self-reinforcing for some dogs. My sheltie is extremely soft and normally is crushed by a harsh word. Yet when it came to barking she was hard as nails. I was reduced to trying a no-bark collar because of her nuisance barking. The shock collar made only a minimal difference though the hot spot it started will still come back from time to time to haunt us for my cruelty.

 

What did work extremely well was positive reinforcement for stopping her barking when told to, then for stopping on her own. She will now come in the house without me calling when something gets her excited in the yard.

 

I also used negative punishment (time out) by bringing her inside when she barked too much. This combo of positive reinforcement and time outs quickly resulted in such improvement that my once recreational barker is now the quietest dog of my current three and the easiest to shush.

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With a bc , I think there are other ways . I would think that if this has been going on for a long time , it will be harder to undo , but still bcs to me appear like the kind of dogs who will understand most anything without the use of such a device ...Dogs will get a bit carried away when they bark , if not checked in time , they sort of get drunk on it and can't stop , especially if bored .

Tamyr used to bark at tractors or big lorries way on up on the road , I diverted her attention each time , she got used to it , and as someone said now when she's out on her own and feels the urge , she runs back home and knows that she'll get praised for not having even started ...but I admit I was always there when she did it to stop her , no correction , just divert her attention and do something fun or praise .

Now in your case the dog has auto enforced it for a long time . If you could try diverting its attention , and praise , and otherwise purposely ignore the barking when totally random , whilst praising whenever it stops ...

It does take time , you mention spending money on this , maybe try more giving more time and really focusing on just this for a while ...

I know it can be a pain , I've had other dogs who were prone to this , but I still feel a bc needs more subtle handling , I mean my dog would just go crazy if I were to put such a collar , I think it would be the first time I couldn't comunicate and handle her as I always do ...she might run away or something terrible , not knowing what to relate the treatment to but as horses do in case of terror , just run ...

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I'd agree to try other avenues first. However, I do have one BC who I use a bark collar on. She can be rather soft, but did fine with the collar. But, not every dog reacts that way & you can have problems if it is not introduced correctly. A lot of folks use the citronella collars. I actually use a regular bark collar. My favotie brand is Tritronics. The collars are more expensive, but they are very well made (which I think is VERY important for something like a collar). You can adjust the level from almost nothing up to a fairly strong amount. The collars work on a sensor that detects vibration in their vocal chords. They are not sensitive enough to go off if another dog barks & actually won't go off if the dog wearing the collars whines or other things - only if they bark.

 

I only used it as a last resort on my dog. I've used them for years on labs without problems, but most BCs are far more sensitive. If you decide to use one, I'd suggest getting some help from someone who is experienced with them & experienced at using them on more sensitive dogs.

 

Dana

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I would not recommend using an electronic bark collar in a kennel environment. I used one years ago with my GSD. He stressed when he had the collar on and would lay with his head against the gate and pant. The panting vibrated the collar enough to set it off. I stopped using the collar because of this.

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Thank you everyone for the quick and thoughtful responses. Some of the other techniques we've tried with the barking, to wit: ignore, leave the room, re-direction, pivoting, hand clap, verbal stop cues, book drop/loud noise, shake can filled with coins, etc. I've also tried occupying him with toy after toy, bone after bone, but he gets bored very fast. he is a very high-drive dog. I keep a floor cord on him to pivot him when the barking begins. I take him on 4-mile runs with little fatigue setting in. Or I take him on daily bike rides of 1.5-2 miles at fairly high speed. I have a very active lifestyle and he loves to participate. But trutfully, it's not enough to wipe him out.

 

I have been reading extensively, and spent money on individual lessons that tell me he is not physically tired enough and not mentally stimulated enough. Oh I should mention I also did a six week agility training course with him. But there's only so much time in a day where I work full time and when I get home, he barks because he is so stimulated (with excitement). It's hard to bring him down a notch.

 

I was thinking of the collar to help in the evenings when my wife and I try to relax. and I don't mean watch 6 hours of tv. This happens during dinner and discussion, when guest come over. It's really bad. I have no desire to give him up but this is my last resort. The collar, I am thinking, would be used only during the evenings. My neighbors have told me he is quiet during the day (he stays and sleeps in the kitchen) but when people are around, this switch goes on and his excitement skyrockets.

 

I would never use this at day care or in a kennel setting. It's for home use only. The funny thing is he does not bark in the car, nor on walks. It's strange.

 

That's really all I can think of. I appreciate people's response, and would love to hear more.

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I have a lab that acts much like yours - well only when he's out working/playing. He has so much drive and energy, on top of that, he is very very vocal. I started him in Search and Rescue where he gets to run and bark when he finds a victim. After we started that he's been a totally different dog. I also bonded with him more and that he listens to me and respects me completely. In the house, he's not allowed to speak unless I ask. He learned to behave differently in the house and outside. Someone mentioned earlier about teaching to 'bark' and 'quiet' commands. That helps a lot too. I did this in the early stage in the house. He got a lot of reward when he shuts up. When we are outside, I don't ask him to shut up because I don't want to discourage him from barking when he is working. I use re-direct by asking him to do a down if I want him to stop barking. It's harder to bark when a dog is in down stay. You also get its focus on you. Working on another command (sit/down/heel) first and use that to re-direct can work.

 

Since you said you were an active person, maybe you can look into trying out SAR in your area. There are many SAR teams in Oregon area and SAR dogs are much needed there. Running 4 miles and working 4 miles are totally different things.

 

Also, I would work on more obedience and control over the dog if you haven't done so yet. Most police dogs have so much drive that you wouldn't believe but they are also under control because of the obedience work. That can be your goal

Good luck!

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Maybe try more mental stimulation, teach him tricks, teach him to bark on command, and quiet on command, play hide and seek, etc. Do a bunch of short training sessions each day to work his brain. My limited experience is that you can not tire out a BC with just physical exersize, and he needs more mental 'work' with you, not just distraction of a toy or bone.

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Originally posted by Erik Peterson:

I have no desire to give him up but this is my last resort.

That being the case, check out The Husher

 

It may not be something that everyone would recommend, and I have no personal experience with it, but it was developed by a couple with 9 (I think) german shepherds who were court ordered to get rid of their dogs or move after a new neighbour moved in and complained about barking. I haven't been on the site for a while, but I believe that if you read all the information you will find that it is endorsed by humane societies and that it is a training tool that is often not needed long term. Good luck!

 

ETA: Sorry, I just tried to click on the link to make sure I had it right, but I can't get the website to come up, don't know what happened. I googled husher and found another site but it's australian. It's www.husher.com/au It didn't seem to want to load properly for me. Here's a link to some info about it, but it's not the company's home page, sorry. VetStop info The husher company is/was based in Ontario. Here's the contact info I pulled off of another site, but it's got the same website listed that I originally posted.

 

Husher International Inc.

10127 Marionville Rd., P.O. Box 272

Russell ON, K4R 1E3

 

Phone: 613-445-2986

Fax: 613-445-1698

 

website: www.husher.com

email: [email protected]

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i may have missed it and apologies if i have but what about a crate?

when he barks pop him in it and cover with a blanket, dont let him out till he is quiet.

brighid caught on real fast to that one!

i would just like to add an experience regarding my molly dog and electric shocks.

she got zapped by the lekky fence where i had my sheep and bolted. could not listen or think through fear the only thing she could do was run like lightning. i am still counting my blessings that she ran to my sisters house (nearer than mine) rather than to her home. my house would have involved 2 busy roads and our cul de sac, my sisters was 3 or 4 fields away and no road.

saddest thing was that although i was no where near her when it happened she was terrified of me for days, i have no idea why :rolleyes:

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Erik,

I've been thinking about this all week. I may have a solution for you and for me.

 

http://www.safeandsoundpets.com/index.html

 

My BC sounds a lot like your dog barking in response to sounds and the need to play. We're able to keep it to a manageable level with expression of calming signals, praise for calm, expressions of shock at her audacity to bark at 'us'!! and ignoring her, but she is extremely sound sensitive and we have lots of sound in her environment, table saws, vaccuums, airplane rides, coyotes, hawks etc.

 

I loathe to admit this but the most effective stop barking command I have found I try very hard not to repeat - it SHOULD not work and should not be used. I have been known in moments of utter Irish frustration to shout "Meg, Shut the 'bleep' up!" more than once this past year, and unfortunately it has worked.

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Erik -

 

I've successfully used a bark collar on my dog. She's a sensitive sort and it didn't seem to do the first little bit of mental harm to her and i struggled mightily with the decision to use it, as you have. I got the "Innotek Smart Dog No-Bark Rechargeable Collar" - it is a graduated collar. On the first bark, the correction is very mild (I tried it on my arm, it's hardly more than a tingle) and works up through 7 levels if the dog continues barking through the correction.

 

Try http://www.petedge.com/ for one, it runs about $70.

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I loathe to admit this but the most effective stop barking command I have found I try very hard not to repeat - it SHOULD not work and should not be used. I have been known in moments of utter Irish frustration to shout "Meg, Shut the 'bleep' up!" more than once this past year, and unfortunately it has worked. [/QB]

 

Believe me, I've wanted to say it before...maybe I should give it a shot. Thanks!

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Originally posted by donna frankland (uk):

i may have missed it and apologies if i have but what about a crate?

I should try this one again...it's been a while so maybe it would have an impact now. Thanks.

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Erik,

 

I think you have really gone out of your way to work on the barking. So I'm going to suggest a controversial possiblity that I'm sure will get a lot of hate mail. Therefore, note that I have not been to the Boards for over a month until today, and do not plan to come back for another month or two after posting.

 

I have been training and competing for 27 or so years now, and I had a dog that sounds like yours. He was an Aust. Cattle Dog who was highly aroused at all times. He barked absolutely non-stop whenever I was around him, though I was well-versed at removing attention, positively reinforcing absence of barking, etc.

 

In a car trip to visit my family--6 hours each way--this dog would bark once per second the entire trip. He would bark on the floor, in a crate, in a covered crate, in the front or back seats, with or without traffic around, when the car was moving or not. He would also spin/bark/bounce while barking. In short, he was hysterical. He would likewise be set off by the slightest noise in our apartment building, hotels, etc.

 

(This was a dog that got many hours a day of off-leash exercise, bike runs, agility training, sheep herding, etc.)

 

Over a 9 year period, I learned to startle awake whenever I heard a sound, just so I could clamp his mouth shut before he started in.

 

Before becoming a positive-reinforcement trainer, I tried shock collars, and he would bark right through the shocks. He could get off any muzzle on earth in seconds--no matter how tight. Citronella did not exist at the time.

 

At age 9.5, my vet suggested I get him debarked. I took him for his appt., then got traumatized by the idea and called to cancel. But it was too late--they had already finished.

 

He came home and I kept him VERY quiet for 2 weeks. (Cotton in his ears, disconnnected the doorbell, no guests, etc.). So no scar tissue formed. (Medically, he was up and around and cheerful 24 hrs. after the surgery). After two weeks of resting his throat, I could then let him bark his head off non-stop for the rest of his life, and nobody could hear a thing. The debarking job was absolutely perfect.

 

From that point on, he had the time of his life. He barked throughout obedience class, he barked at dogs on the agility course, he barked during his musical freestyle routine, he barked in the car, and barked at daycare, and barked at the dog park, and barked in the apartment and at motels. And it sounded like a gentle whisper. So his mom never again had to tell him to "BE QUIET!"

 

I just wish I had considered this surgery before my nerves were completely shot. To this day I STILL startle whenever I hear the slightest noise in the middle of the night.

 

For those people that intend to write hate mail... note that I am not into animal torture. I have been 100% vegetarian for the past 19 years... am active in our Humane Society and in fundraising for BC Rescue... and have been a clicker trainer for almost 12 years. So I don't take "cosmetic surgery" lightly. But my dog had no problem with it and came out much better in the long run. I think he would have chosen this over a life of shock collars, citronella, and lost opportunities to engage in activities that he couldn't do because he was barking non-stop.

 

I don't exactly want to say I wish this was more "popular," but I do wish more people knew of this option. It could save probably 10,000's of dogs each year that are surrendered to the Humane Society because their barking is causing problems with the landlord, etc.

 

Columbia, MO

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Originally posted by Shetlander:

quote:
Originally posted by BayouBC:

If you get one, I'd recommend getting one that reacts to both sound and vibration, not just one or the other. Those are much more accurate and you don't get the mistake corrections (vibration only will sometimes respond to being knocked or if the dog runs into something, etc).

But in a day care setting that the OP is describing, wouldn't a sound activated one run a significant risk of the dog getting corrected because another dog off on a barking spate near him? I'd worry about that kind of unearned correction and be concerned it could lead to aggression in response to another dog barking. I actually really wasn't thinking that they'd be using it at daycare. Would daycare's even allow a dog to wear a bark collar the whole time? I don't know.

 

But, that's part of why I said to get a collar the chooses corrections by both sound AND vibration, not just one or the other. With just sound, you can get incorrect corrections from another barking. With just vibration, you can get them from vibration other than barking. The ones that correct using both criteria are a little more expensive, but I think well worth it if it's correcting when it really needs to.

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We started using a bark collar on one of our 7 BCs when our neighbor's boyfriend threatened to call the police if the barking didn't stop. (He hadn't bothered to mention her barking when we were away until the day before I had to go back to work after summer vacation.) This BC got the same amount of exercise, attention, etc as the other 6, but had a high pitched bark that carried. She was kept in a crate in a room with the TV on when we were gone and still barked reactively... Dart only wears the collar when we're away from home and in our case it's been a life saver.

Barb S

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