Did you know that dog citronella collar is one of the hottest bark control products on the market?
According to the scientific study conducted at Cornell University most dog owners were happy with these collars and liked it better than other types of bark collars for dogs …and that set me off to find out why.
What was intended to be a short trip took unexpected turn.
Finding the complete information about these collars wasn’t that easy.
Most of the reviews I found, consisted mainly of a product photo, few product features (usually presented in bullet points) and large “Buy Now” button.
We Wanted To Learn More…But
We wanted to know more about these miraculous bark collars for dogs that “stop excessive dog barking overnight” but could hardly find any information beyond the usual price tag and few bullet points. No claims (such as a safety claim) were independently verified.
And it was very disappointing to say at last. I wanted to learn how to stop dogs from barking but DID NOT WANT TO JEOPARDIZE THE SAFETY OF MY PET!
There was only one way to move forward: to roll up our sleeves and go for work. And we are glad we did it!
We learned a lot about spray collars from many different sources such as EPA, ASPCA, Professionals in the field of dog health and dog training and regular folks who have been using bark collars for dogs for some time.
And now we will share with you all what we found out, from very basics all the way to explaining the science behind the success of these spray collars.
The Basics: What Each Dog Owner Ought To Know…
Here we will cover:
- What is citronella collar?
- How Does It Work?
- Why Is Dual-Bark Detection Important
- How Safe Is It For Dogs?
- Is Spray Dog Coll
What Is The Citronella Collar?
If you take a look at the picture at the beginning of this article you will notice a small container. That container has a spray valve at the top (along with a fill port).
It is also equipped with a bark sensing unit (in older models only microphone but new models come with modern dual detection sensor that discriminates our dogs bark from the external noise)
How Do Spray Collars Work?
The best part is: it is fully automated! That’s right! Each of the above operations is fully automated (except for remote trainers). When dog barks the sensors picks up the barking and immediately activates the spray dispensing unit. This interrupts our pet’s negative behavior each and every time our dog barks.
What Is And Why Is Dual-Bark Detection Important?
Duel-Bark Detection is currently the most reliable bark detection technology. It utilizes both; the vibration from vocal chords and the sound from the bark. This will ensure that our dog will be punished only when he barks and not for the external noise coming from other dogs, which was the case with some of early models equipped with the microphone only.
But …Is It Safe For Dogs?
So, this brings us probably to the most important question: Is it safe for dogs or not? If you have spent a few minutes online searching for any model, you may have noticed that all advertisers advertise heavily that these collars are safe.
Now, we wanted to independently verify that citronella oil is safe for dogs so we checked out what EPA says about it. At their website ( http://www.epa.gov) EPA writes:
In studies using laboratory animals, Oil of Citronella shows little or no toxicity. The only concern is skin irritation. Because some products are applied to human skin, EPA requires proper precautionary labeling to help assure safe use.
But, we wanted to find out also what ASPCA thinks about it and found out this warning:
Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products out of reach. If ingested, they can produce stomach irritation in pets, and possibly even central nervous system depression.
So, while citronella oil is safe the citronella candles are not.
How Effective Is It?
Finally, let’s find out do spray collars work, after-all most manufactures claim that citronella dog collar is the most effective bark control collar. Pretty bold statement but we found some evidence to back it up.
Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, May/June 1996 reported findings of the scientific study at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, NY.
It was found out that citronella spray was more effective than shock collar. As per study, overall 88.9 % of dog owners reported satisfaction with spray collars.
It needs to be pointed out that part of the reason for this may be in the fact that this collar affects four out of our dog’s five senses:
- Our Dog Hears It
- Our Dog Sees It
- Our Dog Smells It
- Our Dog Feels It
But…There Is More To It!
Consistency & Timing Are Very Important
Imagine: You come back home from work and your neighbor complains that Fido was barking like insane. You go inside and start yelling at Fido as forcefully as you could. What result would you achieve? The only thing Fido may have learned is that you have a bad day and it is not a good idea to be in sight when you come back from work.
The fact is, dogs learn by building the association between the behavior and the consequences. But in order for dog to understand what behavior has earned him the consequence it must take place immediately (of just a few seconds after) when dog is doing the unacceptable behavior.
Let’s say, Fido barks and immediately receives a spray of annoying citronella. He does it again and …there it is again…so, Fido learns very quickly that barking is not good since it earns him always that annoying spray.
In order for this method to be any effective it has to happen consistently over the time and spray collar does the both very effectively!
OK…How Much Does It Cost?
Nowadays, everybody and his brother sells some kind of citronella collars. And that’s good thing.
The price range for some basic models such Premier Spray Sense goes as low as $ 35.99 to about $ 99.00 for more advanced models such as Spray Commander.
For more details about who has the best prices online check the top of this page.
How To Use Spray Collars And Have Amazing Results?
When it comes to using these collars we have a few options. First we can do what most dog owners do: put the spray citronella collar on our pet and let this collar do the rest.
Interestingly enough, the collar does pretty good job itself and most dog owners are very happy.
But…There is a much better option. If we put just a little effort we could be light years ahead of the crowd. Here are the steps:
Introducing The Collar To Our Pet
First we need to be careful and avoid that our pet associates the collar or a spray of citronella with us. Therefore we will have our pet wear citronella collar for several days without using it or without giving any verbal command.
All we want to accomplish here is to give our pet some time to get used to a new collar. When our pet has accepted collar we are ready to move to next step.
Setting The Stage
We have to be creative here. First we will have to decide what trigger(s) will be used to get our dog to bark. In addition we should have some of our dog’s favorite treats.
To ensure that dog responds well we should schedule our session before dog’s meal time. One of the most common scenarios involves having somebody knock at the door and we will use it in this example.
Ignore The Barking
As soon as our dog barks the citronella collar will emit a spray of citronella. Most dogs will be startled and will stop barking.
It is important that we do not say anything until our dog stops barking.
But as soon as our dog stops barking we should use some verbal command such as “Good Quiet” and give him his favorite treat along with a lot of praise.
A few things happen here. First, our dog learns that barking earns him an annoying spray of citronella while being quiet earns him his favorite treat. In addition, we condition our pet that verbal command “Good Quiet” means “food is on the way”.
This is the same principle that Pavlov applied during his famous experiment when he rang a bell before feeding the dog. Pavlov theory was that if neutral stimulus was presented to dog along with unconditional stimulus it will become conditioned stimulus.
That’s exactly what happened. The dog responded to ringing the bell by salivating. It was clear that dog had associated the ringing of the bell with the food.
Repeat The Steps
Before we repeat these steps we should give our dog some time to go back to pre-trigger state. It usually takes a few repetitions for our dog to start building the association between the barking and spray of citronella.
Bringing It To The Next Level
When we have made some progress in our training (when our dog doesn’t respond at trigger with barking or barks only once and stops) it is time to move to the next step.
At this time we want to introduce new verbal command to our pet. For this example we will use “Quiet” but you can substitute it anything else as long as you stay consistent.
The ultimate goal here is to have our pet respond to our verbal commands so we do not have to use collar any more at all.
Just as Pavlov rang the bell just before presenting the food to dog we will say “Quiet” command just before we set off the trigger.
Keep in mind that if our pet barks he will get a spray of citronella and soon our pet will link the “Quiet” with spray of citronella and will respond the same way.
If our pet barks after we give “Quiet” command we should wait until he becomes quiet and reward just as in the first stage. If this is the case it means that our pet needs more training and we should go back to first step of the training.
Stand-Alone vs. Citronella Remote Training Collar
- Stand-alone spray collar and
- Remotely activated spray collar
As the names already suggest, the main difference lies in the way this collar is activated.
While so-called stand-alone citronella spray collar is fully automated (will detect barking and emit a spray correction) the citronella remote training collar is activated manually (via remote control).
When do we need remote training collar?
Remotely activated collar is very useful to those dog owners who would like to bring their training to the next level. It is well suited for overall pet’s education and many problem behaviors (such as jumping up on people, running away, not coming when called, chewing and many more) could be corrected.
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