Best Indoor Dog Bark Control & Deterrent Devices and Techniques
Some dogs are all bark and–well, that’s just it–all bark. While we love our dogs, incessant barking can be extremely annoying. Barking wakes the baby, gives you a headache, makes working from home more difficult, and scares guests. If you’re fed up with your dog’s barking, you’ve likely wondered what options work best for training a dog not to bark. These indoor dog barking deterrents and control devices can teach your dog the power of silence and put an end to your dog’s ceaseless barking.
Citronella Spray Collar
Citronella spray collars work by emitting a fine mist of Citronella toward your dog’s face when the collar detects your dog is barking. Why Citronella? Most dogs despise the scent of Citronella. This creates an adverse reaction. When your dog connects the spray as a response to their barking, they want to avoid the scent. The negative reinforcement of the Citronella spray trains the dog to not bark.
Pros: More humane than static collars.
Can be highly effective for many dogs.
Cons: These collar’s bark detection device is imperfect. I left my dog’s collar active for a car ride. That was a mistake. He stuck his head out the window and was subjected to repeated spraying.
Require refills, as opposed to recharges like other devices.
Studies show Citronella collars have limited efficacy, which means they can work really well for some dogs, but not all.
Ultrasonic Bark Control Devices
These devices emit a high-pitched sound as a response to your dog’s barking. The pitch of these devices is similar to a dog whistle: dogs can hear the sound but we cannot. The high pitch is unpleasant for dogs and therefore discourages them from barking. In the long-term, these devices prevent a dog from barking because they want to avoid triggering the sound.
Many of these devices can be placed on a shelf or surface nearby where your dog barks most frequently. You can also find handheld ultrasonic bark deterrents, which can be brought on walks or brought into the backyard.
Pros: These devices can be effective in conditioning dogs to not bark. They are easy to set up and don’t have to be attached to your dog.
Cons: The pitch, while supposed to be out of the human range of hearing it not always.
Some dogs learn to ignore or deal with the sound.
These also ‘punish’ all dogs in the vicinity, not just the barker.
Ultrasonic Collar works the same way as ultrasonic devices, but the microphone that detects the bark and the sound emitting device is attached to your dog’s collar.
Pros: They can be somewhat effective in preventing barking and breaking barking habits. The mobility of the collar prevents barking on the go.
Cons: Studies suggest that ultrasonic sounds create a stress reaction that can be considered inhumane by some.
Vibration collars like static collars and the Citronella collar detect barking through a vibration activated microphone. When the device’s sensor goes off, the collar vibrates. This vibration can be extremely annoying or confusing to dogs. It also disrupts the behavior, creating a negative connection between barking and the collar’s response.
Pros: More humane that vibration collars and citronella collars
Cons: Often less effective than training your dog not to bark using commands.
Static collars are often called “shock collars,” although most manufacturers consider this an “outdated” and hyperbolic term. How these collars work is they have two prongs that press against your dog’s skin. The prongs deliver a mild shock when the dog barks, creating a negative response to the behavior.
Static collars can be sensor-controlled or remote-controlled.
Pros: They can effectively stop your dog from barking and allow the dog owner greater control when their dog is showing overt signs of aggression.
Cons: Of all the aversive devices used to control barking, this is the most controversial. They are often considered inhumane. The negative reinforcement can make a dog fearful or change your relationship with your dog.
Spray Bottle or Water Gun
This technique is as straightforward as it sounds. When your dog barks, spray her with water. This breaks your dog’s attention and creates a negative response in relation to the barking. Many dog owners pair the spray with a verbal command like “Quiet,” so they can produce the same quieting effect and phase out the spray bottle or water gun over time.
Pros: Cost-effective with items you may already own. Considered more humane than many aversive devices.
Cons: Spray response must be prompt to be effective. You must be present to spray your dog.
Managing and Reducing Barking Triggers
Barking is a natural response for many dogs. It’s a way to protect their home and people. If your dog barks at triggers outside the window, you can successfully reduce your dog’s barking by limiting her exposure to barking triggers. You can do this by obstructing your dog’s view or playing other sounds that can block out triggering noises. Cover windows with obscuring film, bubble wrap, or pinned curtains. Play music or put on the television to drown out other sounds.
Pros: Humane and easy to do.
Cons: Some dogs will become determined to remove your screening device. Only works in the house. Some visual screens can be unattractive.
Good Old-Fashioned Training–Capturing the Quiet
Many dog parents have successfully trained their dogs to not bark. There are two techniques that dog owners use to do this.
The first is to teach your dog to speak then use this command to build the “quiet” command onto it. Tell your dog to speak, after his or her bark, say “quiet” then provide the treat when your dog stops barking. Repeat this until your dog stops barking on command.
The other method involves “capturing the quiet.” When your dog begins barking, ignore him or her. As soon as your dog takes a breath or a break in barking say “quiet” and provide a treat. This positively reinforces not barking while connecting it to a command.
Pros: Uses positive reinforcement. Effectively works to control bark long-term.
Doesn’t require expensive equipment.
Cons: It can be difficult to capture the silence and treating your dog at the wrong time may reinforce the wrong behavior.
More Training: Simple Negative Reinforcement
Some dogs do not respond to “capturing the quiet” training. These dogs can benefit from training with a slightly negative response to their barking. To try this technique, keep your dog leashed. When your dog barks, give the leash a slight tug. Try to be as prompt as possible. This is uncomfortable for your dog and breaks their attention. Over time, your dog will learn that barking will result in an uncomfortable tug.
Pros: Easy and doesn’t require extra equipment. Is more humane than aversive devices.
Cons: You must be present for the barking and ready to respond at all times.
Desensitization to Triggers
Desensitization reverses the positive response many dogs get from barking. For example, if your dog barks to scare off a stranger and the stranger leaves, your dog thinks they successfully scared the stranger off and protected their home. This results in a positive feeling in your dog’s brain.
To use desensitization for your dog, you must introduce the stimulus that makes your dog bark. For example, have a friend or neighbor walk into sight in your yard. Then before your dog barks or after your dog is finished barking, provide a high-value treat. When your dog barks, do not provide a treat–this will create a connection between the treat and barking. Repeat this a few times per session, gradually increasing the exposure time of the stimulus.
Pros: When done successfully, this technique can create a lifelong effect of not reacting to your dog’s bark trigger.
Doesn’t require expensive equipment.
Cons: Can take a very long time for a dog to not react to their trigger.
Which bark deterrent or technique works best for multi-dog families?
Training, vibration collars, and spray collars are best for multi-dog families with one barker or one dog that incites the others into barking.
Why did my dog begin barking more after we moved?
Dogs tend to bark more when they feel more stressed. A new environment may trigger this stress.
Why does my dog bark at strangers?
Barking is a natural response to scare off a stimulus that your dog perceives as a threat. Your dog likely sees strangers as intimidating since they are foreign to him.
What should I do if my dog doesn’t respond to any of the devices listed here?
Part of training your dog not to bark is understanding what triggers your dog’s barking. A trainer can help you better determine your dog’s barking motivation and an approach that will work for you.
My dog doesn’t bark enough to require intervention. What can I do to lessen my dog’s barking without training or devices?
Some dogs bark when they’re bored or have excess energy. Increasing your dog’s exercise and mental stimulation can reduce boredom barking.
Are there any negative effects I should be aware of regarding training my dog not to bark?
Yes. Growling and barking are a natural reaction for dogs when they feel fear or threatened. Barking can be a warning that a more serious response will occur if the threatening object continues. When some dogs are trained not to bark, this ‘warning’ goes away and can result in a dog that bites without any warning sign.
Additionally, aversive techniques and devices have been shown to make dogs more stressed and distrustful of their owners or the barking trigger. It’s important to recognize barking as a side effect of how your dog feels. Getting to the bottom of the cause of why your dog is barking is important for your dog’s wellbeing.