Are Electronic Bark Collars Cruel?

An electronic collar can be a great training tool to help you deal with a non-stop barker. But unless you use them correctly, some electronic bark collars can cause a serious injury to your puppy or dog.

While barking is a normal part of your dog's vocal vocabulary, it is also true that too much barking may create havoc in your life and the life of your neighbors.

As much as barking was prized in the past for deterrence purposes, modern life has changed our views on yappy behaviors in man's best friend.

Indeed, excessive barking is one of the most common problems dog owners face when living in close-knit communities.

If your dog's barking is affecting your neighbors and you are starting to get noise complaints, you may be desperately looking for solutions to reduce Rover's vocalizations.

If you have already tried several methods to put a stop to your dog's cacophony of howls, barks and whines, you may want to learn more about an electronic bark collar.

What is an Electronic Bark Collar?

An electronic bark collar is a device that is worn by a dog for the purpose of curbing excessive nuisance barking behaviors.

Once activated by the dog's barking, electronic bark collars deliver a timely static correction. The purpose of these collars is to allow the dog to associate the barking behavior with the correction so to reduce such barking behaviors.

How do electronic bark collars work?

The best electronic bark collars work by detecting a dog's barking through vibration and sound sensors. The main purpose of these sensors it to distinguish your dog's bark from other external noises such as other dogs barking or a car passing by. This helps avoid "undeserved" corrections.

Bark Collar

Dog owners concerned about the use of shock in bark collars may be interested in learning that not all bark collars use shock.

Types of Bark Collars

There are several different types of bark collars on the market. While electronic bark collars are the most popular, there are also bark collars relying on other types of corrections.

For instance, citronella bark collars icon work by delivering a mist of citronella when the dog barks. These collars are often preferred by people looking for a more humane option. However, consider that should the liquid stored in the canister run out, your dog will no longer have anything to stop the barking. Also, new spray canisters must be purchased to replace the empty ones, and this can turn costly in the long run.

Other alternatives to electronic bark collars are ultrasonic and sonic bark collars. icon These collars work by emitting an ultrasonic or sonic tone correction upon detecting the dog barking.

Some bark collars also work by using vibration. As with an electronic bark collar, this type of collar also necessitates battery replacement.

How to Choose a Bark Collar For Your Dog

Once you have selected the type of bark collar that best meets your needs, your next step is to start shopping for one.

Since your dog will be wearing the bark collar around his neck, your first step will be choosing the most appropriate size for your dog. If you own a small breed, get a collar intended for small breeds. And if you own a large breed, don't bother with small dog shock collars. For example, you wouldn't want to use a bark collar intended for the Chihuahua on a large breed such as the Saint Bernard.

When it comes to batteries, most electronic bark collars use a 6 or 9 volt battery. Since replacing this battery may get expensive in the long run, you may want to consider an electronic bark collar that uses rechargeable batteries.

There are also different options when it comes to the delivery of the correction: some bark collars automatically activate when the dog barks, while others are manually activated by the owner. Several offer both options.

There are generally several different levels of static corrections to choose from according to the dog's response. Many bark collars also deliver a warning beep before the static correction is delivered. This, with time, gives dogs the opportunity to self-correct and respond to the beep alone so the static correction will no longer be needed.

Some dog barking collars are meant to deliver correction progressively. What this means is that the intensity of the correction will gradually increase if the dog continues to bark. However, most electronic bark collars have an automatic shut-off safety feature. For example, should the dog bark about 15 times within a 50 second period, the collar will shut off and reset a few minutes later.

Is a Bark Collar the Right Choice for You?

Determining if an electronic bark collar is the right choice for your dog depends on a variety of factors.

You will need to investigate why your dog is barking in the first place. Bark collars should not be used on dogs barking because of separation anxiety. In this case, the barking is a symptom of an anxiety disorder. Suppressing this type of barking may lead to replacement behaviors such as self-licking, chewing or other destructive behaviors.

As a general rule of thumb, if your dog is barking due to fear, aggression or a compulsion-based disorder, it would be best to consult with a qualified behavior consultant.

Also, if your dog's barking stems from frustration deriving from a lack of exercise or mental stimulation, it is ultimately your responsibility as an owner to ensure your dog's needs are met before investing in a bark collar. Suppressing the barking and failing to provide outlets for such needs does not address the underlying cause of the dog's vocalizations. This may lead to problematic substitute behaviors which may be even more annoying than the barking!

So when should dog barking collars be used?

Generally, the best candidates for a bark collar are dogs that engage in excessive alarm or attention-getting barking. These forms of nuisance barking appear to respond well to the use of a bark collar. Perhaps the best way to determine if a bark collar is right for your dog is to learn the pros and cons of using such devices. As a general rule, use bark collars only if nothing else works.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Bark Collars

If you are considering a bark collar but debating on it, this list may help you validate the pros and cons. Making a good choice, however, ultimately depends on the underlying causes of barking, your dog's temperament and the correct timing of the corrections if you are operating the electronic bark collars manually. If you are still unsure, consult with a reputable dog trainer or qualified behavior consultant.


  1. Bark collars using static stimulation are effective and work quickly
  2. Looking for the cheapest dog shock collars? A Petsafe dog training collar icon can be purchased for under $60!
  3. They are also considered safe and not painful when used correctly
  4. They may offer the ultimate solution when neighbors are complaining
  5. When dealing with sensitive or stubborn dogs, the level of correction may be adjusted accordingly
  6. Because bark collars work remotely, dogs tend to not associate the correction with the owner
  7. Electronic bark collars have become more and more sophisticated and accurate in discriminating noises so your dog does not get an undeserved correction


  1. The use of shock remains a subject of controversy between dog owners, trainers and animal advocates
  2. While bark collars are generally safe, some sensitive dogs may not react well to this form of correction
  3. Your dog may associate the static correction with other stimuli rather than the barking behavior
  4. Dogs may revert to annoying barking behaviors when the bark collar is taken off
  5. When used to control barking, dog training shock collars should be accompanied by a behavior modification program
  6. As with citronella bark collars which run out of spray, electronic shock collars may not activate if the battery has discharged
  7. While injuries derived from a bark collar are mostly due to misuse, there is a small chance of them causing an injury even when properly used

Final Thoughts...

Barking is a natural part of a dog's repertoire of communicative means. However, there is barking and there is excessive barking...

It is up to you to recognize the underlying cause of the barking behavior and determine if there are any solutions to the problem. When it comes to risking losing your dog due to noise complaints, electronic bark collars may really make the difference between keeping or surrendering your four-legged best friend.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to modify your dog's behavior.


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