Bark collars have come a long way since their inception, incorporating more sophisticated technology and higher-end features to improve their performance and accuracy in correcting dogs. In this first post in a series on bark collars, I’ll recommend good bark collars for your money and also where you can buy them (and it’s not at the big box in the local strip mall).
Do Bark Collars Work?
Yes! A bark collar isn’t very effective at teaching your dog not to bark generally, but it is very good at keeping your dog quiet while he’s wearing it. For people that have dogs that bark excessively, a bark collar can be the difference between being able to keep your dog or having to give him up, especially in the close living confines of modern cities and suburbs.
Sonic and Citronella Bark Collars — Don’t Bother
Forgive me for breezing past so called “sonic” bark collars and citronella spray bark collars. I do so because neither of them really deserve mentioning for my purposes. Sonic collars are gimmicks at best. And the citronella spray collars that CLAIM to be a more “humane” alternative to electronic collars are far from it in my opinion.
Not only does the noxious odor that is emitted linger far longer than the precise static pulse emitted by an electric bark collar, making it a poor substitute for the momentary electric stim., but a dog’s nose, which is between 1,000 and 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human nose (depending on the breed) is assaulted by the smell.
Or perhaps you’re the lucky owner of one of the few contrary dogs that like the smell; you’ve just purchased your dog an expensive “perfume” collar. There have also been cases of dogs that learn to empty the citronella cartridge, then walk to a new location (away from the offensive smell) and continue to bark unchecked!
That is why we’re going to focus on bark collars that actually work, the electronic “static pulse” (shock) variety. Sure, they’re a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for and it pays to make a little bigger investment in this training device for your dog.
Electric (Static Pulse) Bark Collars
Please note I don’t make any money off of your patronizing any of these manufacturers or the vendor recommended in this blog post. By all means, shop around online once you’ve identified the right collar for you and find the best deal you can. Without further adieu, here are the only candidates you should consider when shopping for bark collars:
SportDog No Bark SBC-10R Rechargeable No Bark Collar, around $100.00
Any higher end collar, like the SportDog No Bark Collar, is going to have some additional modes and functionality that you just won’t find on a bark collar in your local pet supply store. When researching collars, pay close attention to the modes and features as you may find that one particular collar stands out as a good option for your dog. SportDog No Bark features:
- Rechargeable battery
- 10 levels of stimulation
- Battery life indicator
- Patented “Perfect Bark” sensor system that delivers the correction only if both a vibration from the vocal chords and the sound of a bark is detected.
This collar has three modes of operation to fit different temperaments:
Temperament Learning: The collar automatically increases the stimulation level of the collar as your dog continues to bark. Once the dog stops barking the collar sets itself to that level.
Progressive Correction: Operates similarly to Temperament Learning, except the collar re-sets at the lowest level after 30 seconds of quiet, beginning there again if your dog starts up again. This is a more forgiving setting as it allows your dog to make the mistake of barking later and being gently reminded as opposed to being punished at the higher level immediately.
For dogs that simply “forget” themselves and bark but are otherwise fairly sensitive, this is a good mode. Dogs that are really committed to barking may require the Temperament Learning mode.
Direct-Set: Allows you to set the exact level of stimulation that your dog needs. All bark collars have this mode option. I’ll be covering the process of manually identifying the correct setting in my next post, Using a Bark Collar with Your Dog in 7 Easy Steps.
There is a lot of detailed information on this collar at the Gun Dog Supply website. They really do a great job of providing detailed information and specifications on a variety of different training collars and have great customer service when you purchase from them. You can also download the Owner’s Manual for the collar at their site.
E-Collar Technologies BarkLess BL-100 Rechargeable No Bark Collar, around $80.00
The E-Collar Technologies BarkLess BL-100 Rechargeable No Bark Collar has the following features:
- Two-hour quick charge lithium battery
- 4 stimulation levels
- Sleep mode to preserve battery life (awakens when it senses motion)
- “Vibration Sensor Technology” that activates only when your dog barks
- Quick release collar strap
A couple things that set this bark collar apart are the quick-release collar strap (as seen in the photo) and tone-only feature that could be used exclusively after training the dog using the tone + stim modes.
The nylon quick release strap is nice because, as I’ll explain in a future post, it allows you to quickly get a proper collar fit every time which is crucial if your dog is going to be successful with an electronic collar. Additionally, it helps you avoid any extra jostling or pressure on the dog’s neck when removing the collar. This is important because sometimes this type of interaction can cause a collar to stim., and it’s startling to you and your dog when the collar engages as you’re trying to remove it.
Besides a test mode and tone only mode, the Barkless BL-100 has 4 stimulation levels, each of which is preceded by a tone sound. You can manually set the collar to one of these levels once you identify which level is necessary for your dog, or set the collar to Auto Mode.
In Auto Mode, the collar automatically adjusts the stimulation level, starting at level 1 (preceded by tone) and gradually increases to level 4 (preceded by tone) if the dog barks within a 10-minute window. If the dog is quiet for 10 minutes or more, the collar adjusts back down to level 1.
The one drawback of this collar might be the fewer stimulation levels as each level represents a more significant jump than the 7-level SportDog profiled above. If you have a more sensitive dog, you may need the additional levels that are on the SportDog and Garmin/Tri-Tronics models.
The Owner Manual and some additional product specifications are available on Gun Dog Supply.
Garmin/Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter, between $79.99 and $99.99
For a long time, the Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter was the go-to collar for dog trainers. Everyone I knew recommended them above the competition. A few years ago, Tri-Tronics was purchased by Garmin, and as a result, their e-collar technology and available products have changed, sometimes significantly. As a result, the Bark Limiter is no longer the default recommendation, but it’s still a top bark collar.
A few of the features of the Garmin/Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter No Bark collar are:
- Rechargeable Lithium battery (Deluxe model only)
- Battery strength indicator
- 7 Stimulation levels
- Sleep mode (conserves battery life)
- Bark odometer (counts number of stims elicited by dog and can help you set the correct stim. level)
- “Advanced Bark Correction Technology,” meaning false corrections caused by external noises are virtually eliminated
The collar has three modes:
Vibration-only mode is just that, no electrical stimulation is emitted, only a vibration or buzz sensation. This feature seems sort of worthless on this collar. Presumably the vibration-only mode is not adjustable (as is the case on most remote training collars that have a vibe mode), so for a dog that doesn’t care, it won’t matter. For a dog that is terrified of the vibration sensation, it will be overwhelming. This type of feature absent the paired stimulation (as the E-Collar Technologies collar has) is sort of a throw-away feature, probably included inexpensively in order to make dog owners (or trainers) feel better about the collar.
Autorise stimulation mode automatically increases the stimulation level until dog reaches level that causes them to stop barking. It’s similar but different from the automatic modes previously described. This collar increases the stimulation by two levels at a time and gets two corrections at each level before it is increased. After the dog has been quiet awhile, the unit gradually lowers the stimulation one level at a time. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t appear to indicate the time period included for the escalation or de-escalation of the levels.
Direct Set mode allows the user to set the collar at one of seven different stimulation levels. More information on Gun Dog Supply.
Be sure to tune in for my next post as I continue to prepare you to safely and effectively use a bark collar with your dog. I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about dog bark collars, then give you 7 easy steps for using a bark collar with your dog.