Does a Shock Collar Stop Dog Barking as Advertised?

One dog training method is to use a shock collar to stop dog barking. The idea behind the shock collar is that it delivers a shock to the dog when he barks, but some owners aren't sure if the shock collar works (at least, well enough to make shocking their dog worth it).

Proper Training

The shock collar or electronic collar, much like an underground invisible fence system, relies on the use of shocks to change the dog's behavior. An important step is to "show" your dog how the training aid works. The shocks need to be properly timed to coincide with the negative behavior. For example, a brief shock should be given immediately after the bark (not after thirty seconds to one minute).

The dog needs to learn to associate the electrical shock with the negative behavior. This is called positive punishment, because a stimulus is added to minimize a behavior to be reduced (the barking). Associating the shock with the behavior leads the dog's brain to (avoiding shock) reduce barking. If the shock is given too late or too early, the dog will not be able to associate the shock with his bad behavior. This may lead to other behavior problems such as aggression, fear and wetting. The dog may even avoid the trainer as he associates the shock with the trainer.

Improper Use

Shock collars need to be properly fitted to the dog. The level of electronic stimulation is varied by the trainer. The lowest level possible that elicits the proper response from the dog should be found before training begins. Higher levels will not make the dog respond quicker. Improper use of a shock collar can lead to wounds and pain. The collar and the skin beneath the collar should be inspected frequently for damage. Wounds can quickly occur and lead to infection.

There are other collars which detect sound and vibration on their own eliminating the need for a human to control the shocks. These have been found to be an effective way to reduce barking. Another option is a collar which sprays an unpleasant scent when a dog is behaving in a negative manner.

Shock collars can be an effective way to train a dog to stop barking. However, it is only one part of the training program and should only be used by an owner trained in its use.