Reasons to Throw Your Dog's Electric Bark Collar Away

Does your dog wear a bark collar? If so, it would make my day if you removed that collar right now and threw it into the trash can. It’s not necessary, may be harmful behaviorally and physically, and the behavior it is “correcting” has not been changed. The dog is still a problem barker. He or she may be a problem barker who is so harshly punished for barking that the behavior has been suspended, but if the punishment stops, the barking will start again. In other words, electric bark collars enable owners to fail to train their dogs, instead covering up the problem with harsh punishment.

Side Effects of Positive Punishment

Positive punishment is the addition of an unpleasant stimulus in order to decrease or eliminate a behavior. If you spank your child for crying, you are positively punishing the child. Similarly, by forcing your dog to wear a collar that shocks him if he barks, you are positively punishing the dog. Punishment, particularly positive punishment (as opposed to negative punishment by removing a desired stimulus), has behavioral side effects.

These side effects can include aggression, fear, withdrawal, unpredictability and even a near-catatonic state that occurs in some dogs when overwhelmed with punishing stimuli. Bark collars deliver positive punishment when a dog barks. Sometimes this works very well in terms of decreasing the unwanted behavior–the dog understands that barking will be punished by pain. But sometimes, even in dogs that have worn bark collars for years, it doesn’t work as well. A dog that is shocked by his collar for barking at a neighbor may associate the pain with the neighbor instead of with barking, and attack the neighbor next time he sees her. That’s just one of the many ways a bark collar can cause an unwanted behavioral side effect.

Physical Danger of Shock Collars

Would you wear an electroshock device around your throat if you had no hands to remove it, should it malfunction? When I worked at a chain pet store, I processed several returns of bark collars that had stopped functioning properly. Some of these ceased to shock the dog at all. Far more dangerously, others began constantly shocking the dog. Most bark collars adjust their intensity automatically, and when I tested the collars at a higher intensity, the shock was enough to nearly knock me off my feet. A broken collar can set itself to the highest intensity and shock a dog constantly. This could cause severe burns or, if the dog has a heart problem or seizure disorder, might even cause death.

Training Laziness

What’s that you say? There’s no danger if you don’t leave a dog unattended with a bark collar on? But if the dog isn’t unattended, why aren’t you training it instead of letting a harsh physical punishment do the “training” for you? Bark collars encourage owners to ignore the root cause of problem barking, rather than correcting the problem through training. A shock collar is a lazy owner’s best friend… until it either injures the dog, causes a behavioral problem, or simply stops working, at which point the owner will undoubtedly realize that no training has been performed.

Instead of shocking your dog, find out what is causing it to bark and deal with the root cause. In most cases, progressive desensitization, adequate exercise and proper socialization will correct problem barking.

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15 Responses

  1. jelenawoehr
    | Reply

    @PetLvr PetLvr [Blog] \ Reasons to Throw Your Dog’s Electric Bark Collar Away

  2. HART (1-800-HART)
    | Reply

    (new PetLvr post ).. Reasons to Throw Your Dog’s Electric Bark Collar Away: Does your dog we..

  3. No Bark Collars
    | Reply

    It just really depends on what kind of collars you will use.

  4. Thanks for the post. I used to use an electric bark collar on my dog, Cory. We stopped using it after he was diagnosed with canine epilepsy. Luckily we were able to treat it and he hasn’t had a seizure in over 5 years now. And he’s 13 years old!

  5. Dog Collar
    | Reply

    generally Electric Dog Collar use during the training session of small puppy.Now dog owner also have dog collar for their lovely puppy.they generally use when dog bark regularly.

  6. Geoff Wainwright
    | Reply

    Wow this is great I have a dog which has the same problem and i helped a LOT. Thanks!

  7. Mitchell Allen
    | Reply

    No, I don’t live under a rock. But I have never heard of these devices. They sound truly horrible to me – I personify most creatures, so this would be just like putting someone in chains.

    I’m guilty of having used a muzzle to achieve the same end, though. I hated to use it on our dog but my wife insisted that it was necessary.

    What’s your opinion about muzzles?



    • Jon Bork
      | Reply

      Most shock collars use a static electric type of charge, so i doubt they will cause any problems. Some people are just like the peta members and get all emotional. Sorry but i think this writing is full of it.

      • betty
        | Reply

        I agree!!

        • liz
          | Reply

          I agree as well. although I feel that maybe continuously shocking my dog could in fact cause a little stress, I just got my dog a bark collar to keep her from barking while I am not home, she barks because she misses me. She goes on 3 walks a day, has many toys, cuddles with me and blankets on the couch, and I am only gone about 2 hrs a day, she sleeps with me and goes everywhere with me. The dog I have is a daschund, dont worry I got a small dog capable bark collar. She barks quite loud for no reason and all the collar takes is one shock and then she realizes that she should not bark, she then goes and lays down and relaxes. I feel like for dogs such as mine, who are a little protective and have “small dog syndrome” these bark collars are perfect. I also had a doberman that every time he barked we hit a remote to give him a shock, and we will admit it probably did hurt, but eventually, and i mean like a week or two, all we had to do was show him the remote and he stopped what he was doing etc. The doberman became the best dog anyone could ask for. Although I agree, some people may abuse these devices and some people may not use them correctly, or some may use them on already emotionally and socially unstable pets, not all uses of these are completely inhumane or they would not be sold to the extent that they are and at the price they are offered.

          • garrett

            Shock collars are in fact, quite dangerous for dogs, emotionally as well as physically. This page didn’t cite a lot of stats but the figures are out there and they don’t lie. Many studies have been done to show just how harmful shock collars are. ( or for example or you can even google scholar search and see the studies first hand.)
            I would strongly recommend removing the shock collars from our dog and training them properly, your putting your dogs at risk for third degree burns, 100% rise in cortisol levels and seizures, among other dangers.

          • kim

            Liz, shock collars have been proven repeatedly to raise the stress levels in dogs. You say your dog barks because he misses you (which would indicate that he was experiencing stress to begin with) so your solution was to raise his stress levels even more. There is absolutely no way that this can end well.

            You claim that they are humane or they could not be sold freely and cheaply.
            So obviously handguns, knives, cigarettes, and whiskey have no dangerous side effects either. What a load off my mind!

  8. Shelby
    | Reply

    One should never resort to using shock collar in dog training for the very fact that it is cruelty animals, and that is against the law. There can be other ways of training your dog, using this type of collar seems like a sign of desperation to me.

    • garrett
      | Reply

      This types of collars are not against the law here in the US. Many types of cruel and dangerous items exist for sale for dogs and humans. As long as they make money they will be legal. Sad but true.

  9. Luci
    | Reply

    Thank You, Thank You so much for your website.
    I am heartbroken and in tears reading your information.

    A large dog who barks because his owners pay him no attention – except to feed him – so the dog barks because he’s lonesome and wants even a little attention from his “owners” who never even take him for a walk. He’s lonesome and bored, so he barks.

    Can you just imagine a horrible frightening scene of an intruder coming to the owners home, and the dog does not bark for fear of pain the owner brought on with that cruel Bark Collar – and unspeakable things happen to the owners?? The dog will now be afraid to bark for fear of pain.
    That’s frightening, and all because the owners were too lazy to spend any time with their dog and train him not to bark.
    If people don’t have time for their dog – they shouldn’t have one.

    People talk, and often use horrible language. Do they wear a “Talk Collar”? No – because apparently humans have “rights” to “speak”. A dog is supposed to have rights too … yeah???
    That’s sad because animals really have NO rights when you look at it very closely with a scrutinizing eye.

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