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My dog has been vocal for most of his life, and nothing I have tried has worked; including training (both reward and punishment), keeping him inside (he still barks at almost anything), and I have even tried using a citronella barking collar, which didn't do anything for the barking, he'd only eventually get annoyed at the collar and attempt to "scare it away" by barking at the spray. He has always found something to bark at, whether or not there is actually something there.

As I have said, the collar is a last resort, and I really don't want to use this improperly. He is primarily an outside dog, and I am away for most of the day, generally between 7am and 6pm.

I know this is considered inhumane, and I hate the thought of hurting my dog, but I need to stop, or at least reduce the amount that my dog barks.

So how should I use this collar?

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  • 2
    For what it's worth, my dog can also be quite vocal (she's a guarding breed after all): I've found that joining her briefly at the window and then very calmly walking away (sometimes first pulling the curtain across in front of her) immediately stops the barking—my guess is she just wanted to let us know about the "threat", and seeing that we have investigated and dismissed it satisfies her. After a while of doing that quite consistently, she now barks/howls a lot less: nowadays she'll just go to the window and make muted growling/barking noises which I'm quite happy to ignore.
    – eggyal
    May 21 '16 at 8:35
  • You shouldn't. It's not just that it's inhumane, the chances are extremly high that it won't work, and using it, risks creating a dog that bites as well as barks. To be honest, if you have a dog that is outside 7am-6pm, you can't train him and you don't like his natural tendency to vocalise, you would be better off looking for a new home for him. There is no magical device that will make your dog not behave like a dog.
    – Victoria
    May 24 '16 at 12:25
5

The preferred method really is: don't.

As you see, it doesn't work, and with any automatic system, it is doubtful what the dog associates the punishment with.

Have you tried training your dog to bark on command? Most dogs, once they associate the barking with a command, will reduce barking in non-command situations.

If that fails, or doesn't work well enough: does your dog have a safe spot he can retreat to? The idea is to redirect the "there may be a threat, I better bark at it" behavior to "there may be a threat, I'd better lie here silently and wait it out." But that only works if your dog has that safe spot.

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Have you established WHY your dog is barking? Is it anxiety, overstimulation, boredom? Is it barrier rage, territorial? Is it barking AT people/animals, or just kind of yelling at nothing?

You need to figure out the why--the fix is entirely dependant on that.

If your dog is food motivated, you might consider mixing some peanut butter or sweet potato puree (not pie filling--sweet potato only) into some wet food or Gerber baby food (stage 1, meat only, is my default), then adding some kibble to it, stuffing it in a Kong, and freezing it. Freezing it makes it last longer. The kibble makes it a little more interesting, and the peanut butter/sweet potato/baby food addition makes the treat higher value than regular food.

You can also try treat puzzles as a boredom buster.

Odds are that these won't work for a dog experiencing barrier rage or that is reactive to people/other animals. It also prob won't work for a dog with severe sep anx unless it's REALLY foody.

Again, knowing WHAT is causing your dog to bark would help.

Also, is your dog getting exercise time, with you? Do you take him for walks/runs? After rereading your post, it sounds like you might have gotten a dog that doesn't fit your lifestyle--he's high energy, and you aren't, or are too busy to give him the exercise he needs. What kind of dog is it?

Folks tend to get critters that look good, and figure they can train them into the perfect dog for them. I'm not sure you came to be the owner of this pooch, obviously, and will help you if I can, with more details. But most working class dogs (hounds and terriers, for example) are smart and high energy--meaning that they need to flex their brains as well as expell energy. I'm surprised you didn't mention problems with tearing up the yard.... Wish I could hear the bark so I could tell more what's going on 🙄

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Ideally, the collar should only zap the dog a few times. There's a warning beep before it fires; the dog should learn to respect that warning and still at the beep or before it.

In theory.

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