Many dog specialists will advise against resorting to a bark collar. It is highly suggested that you first put time and consideration into training your dog not to bark; this often yields favorable results. Some dogs, however, bark excessively and disruptively, despite training. Such a situation may call for a bark collar. A dog barks for different reasons, whether it is for attention, directed at a stranger, or if they feel their life or the owner’s life is threatened. In any of these instances a bark collar can be used to keep the dog from voicing excessively. If your dog has become a nuisance, i.e. scaring children or bothering neighbors and passersby, a bark collar may be a welcome remedy.
Bark collars generally come in two varieties: Citronella and shock, both having their own advantages and disadvantages.
The citronella version is considered a safe way to keep a dog from barking. When the dog barks, the collar is triggered and a small mist of citronella is dispersed in the direction of the dog’s nose. The scent of the citronella and the hissing noise when the spray is released is generally unpleasant to dogs. After this occurs a few times, the dog learns that the mist is a result of the bark, and the behavior of excessive barking should desist. The citronella bark collar is seen as a more humane way to get a dog to stop barking; it has also been shown to be twice as effective as a shock bark collar.
The shock collar is thought to be an unnecessarily aggressive approach to stopping a problem. This type of collar works in the same fashion as the citronella collar, except that instead of the spray, the dog receives a shock. Your dog will learn quickly that the shock is related to the bark, and the behavior will stop. Some models emit a standard shock, while others increase the voltage as the dog barks more. Many people see this as inhumane because it inflicts pain - imagine being a young child and whenever you cried to get your way, mom or dad pulled out a stun gun. Shock collars also are not always as effective as citronella collars.
If this approach does not work and there are really no other options, surgery may be a last resort. Debarking operations are considered even more inhumane to the animal than the collars, and most veterinarians will not suggest the operation.