Dog training: How to control excessive barking
Working at dog-friendly offices for all of my career has had its pros and cons. I feel so lucky to be able to bring the pups with me so they don’t have to stay home alone all week while I work full-time. However, this also means they hang out with dogs at my office on an almost-daily basis, some of which are not always trained the same way I train my dogs.
At my last job, Chibi picked up reactive barking to knocking and loud noises from one of the other dogs there. I started working there when she was only 2 years old. For the first two years of her life, Chibi was virtually silent. I would get a chatty growl here or there, but after I started bringing her to this new office, things quickly changed. Every time someone would walk into the office and open the front door, one of the other dogs at the office would go crazy, barking and charging towards the door simultaneously, often exciting all of the other dogs at the office and getting them to join in.
Dogs are smart. They learn from each other extremely quickly… both bad and good behaviors included. Plus, any Corgi owner knows: the breed loves to bark. So Chibi added to her already chatty personality this reactive barking that started driving me crazy when I had her at the office. She also started barking reactively to people knocking on the door at home.
I started looking into ways to curb this behavior and train Chibi not to be so reactive. We brought a trainer to the office who taught us how to look at your dog’s body language and catch their attention before they start barking like crazy and losing their mind.
One of the hardest things about excessive barking is getting your dog to snap out of it and pay attention to you. Often times, it’s hard for them to hear you because they’re barking so loudly (especially if there are other dogs joining in).
So when I heard about PetSafe®’s Spray Bark Collar that uses citronella to deter barking, I started researching if that could be an option for Chibi. The collar detects the sound and vibration of a dog barking and emits a spritz of citronella to deter the barking.
Citronella is a plant-derived, natural ingredient commonly used as a mosquito repellent. We’ve actually used it during outdoor agility and dog training classes to prevent the dogs from getting mosquito bites during the summer, and we’ve used it on ourselves for the same purpose when traveling abroad.
PetSafe’s bark collar is battery-powered and rechargeable and works by housing a cartridge full of citronella spray inside.
The collar activates only when Chibi barks. No other noises or other dog’s barking will cause the collar to accidentally spray. It should be positioned so that when sprayed, the citronella creates a light mist in the region around the nose/muzzle.
I’ve given myself a few spritzes just to see what the experience would be like for my pups. Then, we tried it out on Chibi and within minutes, she realized that she would get a spritz of citronella every time she barked.
For us, the collar works really well now when we go to the office. If it’s a day where there are presentations or vendors visiting and I know I need Chibi to be on her best behavior, she’ll wear the bark collar for a few hours.
She’s already learned that wearing the collar means she has to be quiet — sometimes she does a very quiet “whisper” kind of bark with it on. If she does bark loudly, the collar stops her from continuing on for too long and redirects her attention. I can then reward her for being quiet and give her a treat for paying attention to me, rather than losing herself in the black hole of endless barking.
Of course, this collar is not a one-and-done training solution. You definitely shouldn’t leave it on your dog at all times. In fact, PetSafe’s instructions say to avoid having your dog wear it for more than 12 hours at a time.
There are definitely specific use cases that could benefit from a tool such as this collar. For us, it’s specific times at the office when Chibi needs to be on extra good (quiet) behavior. For others, we’ve seen it work well to train dogs who are reactive on walks not to bark and lunge at other dogs passing by.
Positive reinforcement is always the best technique for training good behaviors in dogs. If your pup has a specific behavioral issue you want to work on, talk to a trainer to work out a plan and see if using this kind of spray bark collar could help you in your training goals!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of PetSafe. The opinions and text are all mine.