May 15, 2003 at 1:30 AM CDT - Updated June 20 at 3:30 PM
Guardian Anti-Bark Collar By: Amy Jacquin
Whether you own a dog, or live near someone who does, you probably know how annoying constant barking can be.
We've had quite a few people asking us to test a shock collar as a training aid to stop the barking. So we found the Guardian Anti-Bark Collar. But is its bite strong enough to silence a persistant barker?
"Hank" is a very active, 2-year old yellow lab mix... a big, bouncy guy who loves the sound of his own voice!
He's available for adoption at the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri. He's very energetic, so he needs a patient family with a fenced-in yard... one who will love, exercise, and train him.
Melanie Arnold is the Animal Care Specialist at the shelter. She's agreed to help us test the Guardian Anti-Bark Collar.
"It works off the vibration in its throat," she explains, after reading directions.
"This is so sensitive, if a dog lays down and it flops against the floor, will it go off?" Amy Jacquin asks.
"That's what I don't like about them!" Melanie says.
The Guardian beeps before it shocks. And each time the dog barks within 30 seconds of itself, the shocks get stronger... until it goes through all six levels. And if the dog continues to bark, a safety mechanism kicks in and shuts the collar off.
Melanie usually frowns on shock training, unless it's to break a dog of a dangerous habit. Barking is annoying, but not dangerous. However, she straps on the Guardian collar to see how effective it will be. A few minutes later, Hank is showing off his vocal skills at something outside the fence.
Hank continues to howl... long enough that the collar's safety feature kicks in and turns itself off.
"So now the collar is basically useless," says Melanie. "He's figured out it's only going to zap for a minute, and he's just going to go on with life."
Shock training is negative reinforcement, and most dog trainers will tell you positive reinforcement gets more results. But it takes time, and you've got to be as persistant as your dog!
So what CAN you do, to quiet a barker? First, make sure they're not bored.
"A tired dog is a good dog!" Melanie laughs.
Also, teach your dog basic obedience and tricks.
"I've had a lot of luck with teaching them to speak," she suggests. "That way they get to do something they like to do, and they'll actually learn to control that bark until it becomes something enjoyable to you, too."
A shock collar works like an invisible fence... wonderfully on some dogs, and obviously not very well on others! We won't flunk it based on one test, and give the Guardian Anti-Bark collar a D.