Should I Use a Bark Collar on My Dachshund?
Every now and then I get a message from a reader who is facing getting evicted because of their Dachshund’s excessive barking or who is considering surrendering their Dachshund to a shelter because of it.
They ask me, “Should I Use a bark collar for my Dachshund?”
My thoughts and opinions on bark collars have evolved over the years as I’ve learned more about dog behavior and training, and as more studies on punishment and dog behavior have come to light.
I used a bark collar on my first Dachshund Chester because I didn’t know anything about dog behavior or training and that’s what was recommended to me.
His barking reduced and eventually I just had to show him the collar to get him to shut up.
But I also think back on those memories in the context of what I know now, and some of what I saw during the time I used a bark collar on him breaks my heart a little.
But the bottom line is, I’ve seen a bark collar work, and I do think using one is a viable option if it’s a dire situation and all other options have been exhausted.
Read on to learn more about bark collars for Dachshunds and the pros and cons of using one.
What is a Bark Collar?
A dog bark collar is a device that is specifically designed to discourage a dog from barking.
It typically works by detecting the dog’s barking via microphone then emitting a loud noise, giving a mild electric shock (sometimes referred to as a static shock), vibrating, or spraying a deterrent like citronella oil.
The ones that administer a shock or vibration typically have multiple levels ranging from 2-7.
The one I used on Chester had a setting I could adjust to a higher level if it wasn’t working.
I’ve seen some bark collars that adjust the intensity automatically, thus starting at a low level and escalating to the highest if a dog doesn’t stop barking.
Some bark collars will administer the deterrent continuously until a dog stops (or doesn’t).
Some nowadays have a “safety” mode, where the collar will shut off after administering a certain number of corrections (7-15 on the ones I have seen), or will give the dog a break for minute or two and start again.
Twenty years ago when my first Dachshund was a puppy, people discussing a bark collar were referring to the type that emits an electric shock.
Although that is still what most people think of when you say bark collar, the other options are becoming more popular.
What’s the Difference Between a Bark Collar and an eCollar?
I want to take a minute to explain the difference between a bark collar and an eCollar for dogs.
Many people get these two devices confused, or don’t know there is a difference.
That used to be me but I’ve learned more about each of these over the last few years.
A dog bark collar is a device that is specifically designed to discourage a dog from barking.
It works by administering a deterrent when the dog barks.
This “punishment” is triggered by the dog themselves when they bark (although I have seen at least one model that had a remote so the owner could deliver the stimulation).
A dog e-collar, also known as an electronic collar or remote training collar, is a device that is used by an owner to train and control a dog’s behavior.
In my mind, I think of it as an electronic clicker that delivers a “stimulation” (dog trainers that use this technology don’t like to use the term shock) when the trainer chooses to apply it.
Summary of the differences
In other words, the punishment delivered by a bark collar is generally “administered by the dog to themselves” when they bark and it’s intended to punish the dog so they learn that barking is bad and stop.
While you can typically adjust the levels of shock delivered by a bark collar, there are few and there are big jumps in between levels.
An eCollar is controlled by the human using it as part of an overall dog training strategy (behavior modification).
It can be used to correct a wide range of behaviors, such as barking, digging, jumping, biting, and escaping.
The electric stimulation emitted from a high-quality eCollar can be adjusted in incremental levels (typically 1-100) to suit a dog’s sensitivity level.
Other Types of Bark Collars
Like I said, most people think of a “shock collar” when they are considering a bark collar.
However, It’s worth noting though that not all bark collars and e-collars deliver electric shocks.
Some use other methods such as ultrasound, vibration, or citronella spray to deter barking.
All three of these alternative types of bark collars are considered to be more humane than electric shock bark collars, as they do not cause discomfort or pain to the dog and they’re less likely to cause negative side effects, such as fear or aggression.
Also of note, some of these alternative types of bark collars make a warning beep or tone before the stimulation/punishment, so the dog can learn to respond to the beep alone as a cue.
Citronella Bark Collar
Citronella bark collars use a dog’s sense of smell to discourage a dog from barking excessively.
They work by releasing a burst of citronella spray, a strong-smelling odor that is offensive to a dog, near the dog’s nose when the collar detects barking.
The concept is that the unpleasant smell of the citronella will startle the dog and interrupt the barking, and the dog will eventually learn to associate the unpleasant smell with its barking and stop the behavior.
Studies by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine suggest that citronella oil bark collars might be more effective than electric shock collars (source).
However, it’s important to note that not all dogs are equally affected by citronella.
Some dogs may be indifferent to the smell, others may find it pleasant, and a few dogs may have a negative reaction to it since the citronella oil is toxic to dogs (the collars only contain a small, probably inconsequential, amount of the oil though).
Citronella collar side effects include a rash from topical exposure and depression, hypothermia, vomiting, and weakness if the oil is ingested.
If you opt to use this type of bark collar, be sure to monitor your pet closely for any reaction, be sure to clean the oils from your dog’s fur if they build up, and discuss the safety of citronella oil with your veterinarian if you have a pup with medical conditions such as breathing difficulties.
Vibrating Bark Collar
A vibrating bark collar is a type of bark collar that uses vibration to discourage a dog from barking excessively.
It typically works by emitting a series of vibrations at a specific frequency and intensity.
The idea is that the vibrations will startle the dog and interrupt the barking, and the dog will eventually learn to associate the vibrations with its barking and stop the behavior.
Some vibrating bark collars also have adjustable vibration levels, so you can choose the intensity of the vibration that is appropriate for your dog.
Ultrasound Bark Collar
An ultrasound bark collar works by emitting a high-pitched sound at a specific frequency and intensity when a dog barks.
The sound is usually above the range of human hearing (ultrasound) and is intended to be heard only by the dog.
The idea is that the high-pitched sound will startle the dog and interrupt the barking, and the dog will eventually learn to associate the sound with its barking and stop the behavior.
Some ultrasound bark collars also have adjustable sound levels, so you can choose the intensity of the sound that is appropriate for your dog.
Will a Bark Collar Stop My Dachshund’s Barking?
Whether a bark collar will stop your Dachshund from barking or not is a complicated question.
It depends on why your dog is barking, how long they have been in the habit, how sensitive they are to the stimulation, and the underlying cause of the barking.
For example, if a dog is barking due to boredom or lack of exercise, a bark collar may not address the underlying cause of the barking and may not effectively stop the behavior.
It also depends on which type of bark collar you use. Not all dogs will respond to the same negative stimulus in the same way.
Some dogs may be deterred by a bark collar right away.
However, I’ve seen many Dachshunds who ignore, or tolerate the punishment, and continue to bark their heads off anyway.
In most cases though, a bark collar will work.
The larger issue is the potential consequences, or side effects, of using one.
For example, if your Dachshund is constantly barking while you are away from home, the cause of your Dachshund’s barking is almost always separation anxiety.
If you put a bark collar on your anxious dog before you leave in order to stop it, the punishment could make your dog more fearful, more likely to bark, more anxious, and can lead to new undesired behaviors.
In the end, while a bark collar may stop your Dachshund’s barking in the short term in an emergency situation, you should also work on the barking issue through proper training and work to address the underlying cause of it.
What Else Can I Do to Reduce My Dachshund’s Barking?
Understanding why your Dachshund is barking can help you develop a plan to address the behavior.
There are several ways to help stop a dog’s barking without using a bark collar, including:
Training and behavior modification
Teaching your dog the “quiet” command, and rewarding them when they stop barking, can help to reduce excessive barking.
Teaching your dog to “go to your place” when they start barking can help teach them what to do instead of barking when they see something that irritates, frustrates, or upsets them.
Note that training a dog to not bark as much requires patience, consistency, and a commitment to changing the behavior, especially if you have an adult Dachshund with a long-standing habit of excessive barking
Consider consulting with a professional animal behaviorist or trainer to ensure that you are using the most appropriate and humane methods to address your dog’s barking.
Addressing the underlying cause of the barking
If your dog is barking due to separation anxiety, boredom, or lack of exercise, addressing the underlying cause of the barking can help to reduce or eliminate the behavior.
Desensitization and counter-conditioning
Gradually exposing your dog to the things that trigger their barking, and helping them to associate those things with positive experiences, can help to reduce or eliminate the behavior.
The “look at that” and “leave it” commands can be helpful here.
Changing the environment to reduce or eliminate the things that trigger your dog’s barking can help to reduce or eliminate the behavior.
This is sometimes referred to as “setting your dog up for success”.
For example, if your Dachshund normally rides in the car where they can see the things that trigger their barking, try placing your dog in a crate in the cargo area where they can’t see dogs, other cars, and people out of the window.
If your Dachshund barks at people walking by your house, close the blinds or put a plastic film on the window to obscure your dog’s vision.
If your dog is always barking at noises outside, leave a radio or TV on to help drown out the noise.
Rule out any potential medical or emotional conditions
If you suspect that your dog’s barking is caused by an underlying condition, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for an evaluation.
Some examples would be separation anxiety or an illness or injury that makes them irritable.
Sedate your dog
Now, you may be thinking, how is sedating my dog so they bark less any more humane than using a bark collar?
The key differences are that sedation has no possibility of being painful, is very unlikely to make a dog’s fear/anxiety worse, or lead to new behavior issues.
Mild sedation is best used in conjunction with one, or more, of the other methods above when those techniques alone are not enough and a fast solution is needed.
It’s also important that you discuss this option with your veterinarian before trying it.
What About Using a Squirt Bottle?
This topic is ever so slightly getting into the weeds in relation to this article.
However, after publishing this article, several people exclaimed they would never use a bark collar and/or they would proceed to tell me how evil they think bark collar are.
Several people followed that up with, “I use a squirt bottle of water”, truly believing that was a better option.
So I wanted to address that here.
Whether you choose to use a bottle of water to squirt your dog, or a can of pennies to make a loud noise, to deter them from barking, honestly, that’s really no different than using a citronella or beeping bark collar.
Squirting your Doxie with water, or making a scary noise, is punishment given for doing something natural and it doesn’t address the underlying issue or show a dog what to do instead.
In my opinion, using a squirt bottle is on par with the beep, citronella, or vibration bark collars.
I agree though that’s a squirt bottle is a less invasive option than the shock bark collar though, which may be what you think of first when you hear bark collar (a lot of people do).
But there is a problem.
Timing is everything
Here is where a bark collar is an advantage over those other two techniques – timing.
In order for your dog to associate the punishment with their action, it needs to be administered at the first sign of the undesired behavior or seconds after it begins.
Humans have delayed reactions and poor timing though.
That’s why clicker training was born – to help humans improve their timing because a click can be delivered quickly and accurately to mark a precise moment in your dog’s behavior.
Timing is the one place that a bark collar excels over the spray bottle or penny can method.
The bark collar detects your dog’s sound and delivers the punishment immediately so that your dog can better understand the behavior you don’t want them to do.
Can using a squirt bottle work to disrupt barking though? Yes, it definitely can.
I just want to be clear that, although it’s a different tool and administered differently, in dog training terms, it’s still a “punishment” focused training like a bark collar is.
Even though the use of bark collars is controversial, especially the ones that deliver an electric, or static shock, I’m not going to judge anyone from using them on their Dachshunds.
I do think they should only be used as a last resort under extreme circumstances, like facing eviction or the possibility of surrendering your Dachshund to a rescue, and in conjunction with a long-term strategy like training or behavior modification.
I would rather see an owner, and a Dachshund, stay in the home than be put in dire circumstances because the owner is afraid of the stigma associated with using a bark collar.
Remember though, Dachshunds were bred for hunting so barking, and alerting you to something threatening or stimulating, is natural for them.
Also remember that there are many reasons a Dachshund may bark excessively.
While it may be simply because they like doing it, there could also be other causes like underlying medical reasons or separation anxiety.
I think punishing your dog for barking under those circumstances is a bit cruel.
Also, it can backfire because the fear caused by punishment could cause more behavior problems than it eliminates.
Instead, if at all possible, exhaust all other options first, like training, addressing the underlying cause of the barking, desensitization, and counter-conditioning.
If you do choose to use a bark collar, I suggest using the least invasive type (vibration, citronella spray) first to see if it works before progressing to a static shock type.
Also, It’s important to use it properly, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take into account the temperament of your dog.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.