Post # 1
My furbaby is a bundle of joy and also a bundle of trouble. He is fear aggressive, which means that he barks…and barks…and barks…when he comes across a new situation where he is unsure. We met with a trainer yesterday who I really liked and has a proven method that works (I am just not sure I agree with the method). Other trainers wouldn’t work with us and I am not giving up my dog. Please don’t suggest that.
The trainer feels that if we take the bark away from my dog, then his aggression will stop (he doesn’t bite anyone or even try to, he is just annoyingly barky at other dogs and even people he doesn’t know). He will growl and act very threatening even though his bark is worse than his nonexistent bite. He asked if he could put a bark collar on furbaby and I was extremely hesitant. I will fully admit that I cried.
Anyway, the collar has 9 levels and the first level feels like a cell phone vibration (I felt it myself first). The ninth level hurts like fuck (I did not want to feel it). I allowed it to go on my dog because nothing else is working and it’s getting to a point where we can’t bring him anywhere because people are scared of him and he won’t listen (he even had to leave daycare and won’t play nice with others). I don’t want this situation to escalate so we needed professional help.
The collar went to level one and furbaby didn’t yelp but he did look quite surprised (insert me crying). However, all it took was level one. He didn’t bark again and hasn’t barked since. The trainer was so happy it “worked” but I just feel like it didn’t “work” because all it did was scare him. I am at a total loss because everything we tried wasn’t working :- Anyway, we are doing 3 months of training with this guy and he wants us to get a bark collar and prong collar.
Thoughts? Experiences? Please don’t insult me, I am doing my best here.
Post # 3
Have you tried counter conditioning and desensitization? In my opinion, scaring a dog that is already barking out of fear is the wrong approach.
Post # 4
@Westwood: No, I am not familiar with either of those methods. I will look them up. I don’t want to scare him, but I also don’t want him to bite people, bark at people, be antisocial with other dogs, and make it so we can’t take him anywhere. He is a huge part of our lives and we want him to be included in everything…but his behaviour just won’t allow it sometimes.
Post # 5
@MrsPanda99: the collar is conditioning your dog, despite what many ppl believe furbabies are still animals, this is how they learn even humans learn this way… If u touch something hot it has repercussions. The collar isn’t hurting the bby just startled him
Post # 6
@MrsPanda99: awwwww, don’t cry about it.
Some dogs are Barky McGrumpersons and if you think about it in terms of behavior….thats bad.
You wouldn’t tolerate a kid that screamed and threatened people just because they were strangers…would you?
So why would you tolerate that from a dog?
Curbing barking behavior can be tricky, some breeds are more vocal than others and every dog is different….you’re not a bad person for using one, I had a miniature schnauzer that was so barky and loud that the collar was the ONLY thing that curbed the behavior….and she didn’t even have to wear it that long, once she learned that the barking was unwanted behavior and was the only reason the collar existed…she quit.
Post # 7
@MrsPanda99: we had a bark collar for one of our dogs years ago. It did NOTHING. That goofy dog just barked through the discomfort. Every member of my family tested out the collar before we put it on my dog. We all wore it and yelled so we’d know what she was getting into. The advertisement on the collar suggested that it was similar to a dog being nipped in the neck by another dog when it was barking- like an alpha dog changing the behavior of a submissive one.
If the collar works, try it out for a while longer, Then try weening your dog off of it and see what happens.
Post # 8
@MrsPanda99: I don’t see what the problem is, if the dog isn’t barking, then he’s doing the right thing. It’s supposed to scare him, so that way he knows if he barks, it will shock him and he doesn’t want that to happen..so he won’t bark. Eventually he will just not bark at all for fear of being shocked and you won’t even need to leave the collar on him.
Post # 9
I’ve used a bark collar and found it worked quite well – it was only occasional use and if I need it now I use it without the battery – a “dummy” collar. The dog doesn’t know the battery is out!
Post # 10
@MrsPanda99: We use an e-collar with our one year old Vizsla. I will premise by saying we don’t pretend it’s a bark collar or call it anything than what it is. We don’t use it for teaching him – it’s used to re-inforce behaviour that he has learned previously (through positive reinforcement).
You did the right thing by putting it on yourself and stimulating, as you should know what it feels like. I put mine on my arm every few days and stimulate at different levels to make sure it’s working correctly. The e-collar we use has 10 stim levels, I start feeling a vibration at levels 3-6 (very tolerable), 7-10 not so much fun. I will note that I have never gone past level 6 when training with our pup.
I too was very hesitant about using one, not because of the stigma, but I really thought it would hurt my pup. One thing your trainer failed to do was introduce the collar to your dog correctly. Ours wore his for a month on outings without ever turning it on. After a month of getting used to it, we transitioned to him wearing it while on a 6 foot leash and did basics – sit, stay, down. We used treats as well as stim, but kept the stim at around level 3. I will say he was confused as hell in the beginning because the vibrating feeling is NOT natural to the dog. He’s not feeling discomfort, he’s feeling uncertain.
After a few outings with it on, we moved to a check cord so that he would be free to roam, but we could still correct at the same time. The point of doing this is to show the dog that his options are to obey, or stim. Once the dog learns that he is in control, ie, he can turn the stimulation off when he obeys the command, you will find that you don’t even have to stim anymore. It’s CRUCIAL to use it correctly. You’re not trying to hurt your dog or confuse him.
Also, do not feel guilty about using a valuable training tool. When used correctly, it can save your dogs life.
Having said all that, I don’t agree with using it to prevent your dog from barking due to fear. Do some quick googling on what can happen when fear aggression is treated with an e-collar. Have you tried any other techniques? Is your dog well socialized?
Post # 11
Problem with bark collers is that it only treats the symptom of the problem. Your pup is fear-agressive so a good trainer should address socializing him, rewarding him when he is approached by strangers and other dogs to make a positive association.
While your dog may not bark anymore, he is still fearful and may resort to biting or other aggressive behavoirs instead of barking.
Before I learned all of this, I put a bark collar on my furbaby. She was smart and realized that the shock only came when she wore the collar so if she didn’t wear it, she would still bark. You cannot leave the collar on for more than a couple hours or he will develop a skin rash from the contact. I couldn’t just punish her for barking, I needed to address the reason why she was barking.
Post # 12
Dogs learn with conditioning, and there’s nothing wrong or mean with that. I’ve had dogs and cats my whole life and I’ve seen litters twice a year since I was born. Moms teach puppies to play nice by biting and making them hurt. If it’s working, go on. Try not to feel guilty!
Post # 13
@MrsPanda99: One of my best friends has a little dog, Oliver, who was an absolute terror. Running around, jumping, barking non stop. It became difficult to deal with when she had her first baby, but when she had her second a few months ago, they finally bought a bark collar.
And? He’s a different dog. It worked WONDERS. She was the same as you – cried the first few times she could tell he got zapped. But now his entire demeanor has changed, even when he doesn’t have the collar on. Honestly, they can’t believe they didn’t get one sooner.
Post # 14
There is a huge difference between a dog who is just barking for the heck of it, and a dog who is barking because he’s afraid.
I would highly recommend finding a POSITIVE based trainer in your area. Counter conditioning and desensitization should be the first thing done when a dog is misbehaving out of fear. Not physical punishment. This trainer sounds very old school. Yes, his methods may work, but it’s because your dog is afraid of you/the collar. As another poster said, this can lead to disastrous results in fearful dogs.
What your dog is doing right now is giving you a warning – I’m uncomfortable and I want that thing/person to move away (bark bark bark). When you shock him for barking, you’re basically telling him you don’t want that warning. Next time, he may just be silent until the person is close, and then bite them out of fear when he can’t take it anymore. Just what you want, right?
Or he may simply become even MORE fearful of that thing, because now it’s shocking him every time he sees it. Wouldn’t it be better if the scary thing gave him a treat every time instead?
You may also have to accept that your dog just can’t do everything you want to do. Dogs are individuals and not all of them enjoy crowds of people, other dogs, etc. My own dog had some reactivity as well, but with a lot of training and hard work he is great about 90% of the time now. He still has some outbursts, but they are much better managed.
I would highly recommmend Patricia McConnell’s books – I believe “The Cautious Canine” and “Fiesty Fido” are both geared towards reactive dogs.
Post # 15
@MrsPanda99: My sister used one on her dog! It worked wonders. Don’t cray and don’t feel bad.
Think of this: Once he knows not to bark, without that hysteria going on, he’s going to be able to quietly see that it’s actually not that bad of a situation and he’ll gain confidence.
I don’t think they are for every dog. I know that my dog is much more sensitive and would not do well with that. But some dogs, that’s just the best way. As humans, we all learn differently, why would dogs be any different?
Hang in there!!
Post # 16
I would look for a new trainer. You say your dog has fear aggression, what has your trainer recommended to help build his confidence? Or did he just go straight to the shock and prong collars to control the symptoms of your dog’s fearfulness? Please tell me this trainer doesn’t recommend alpha rolling as well…
If your dog is fearful and uncomfortable in certain situations, shocking him when he barks isn’t helping anything. You are just giving him something new to be fearful of.
Where in Canada are you? Unfortunately there are not many veterinary behaviourists in Canada, but if you contact one they may have recommendations for local trainers that could more appropriately address your dog’s needs.