Recently, bark collars are blooming, shocking, spraying, beeping and vibrating, often with wireless remotes, apps or even sensors and algorithms that promise to prevent your dog from barking or doing what you do not like , But just because the technology is there, is it the right way to train your dog?
Shock collars have been around for a long time, and today they are often known for the friendlier euphemism of the "static collar". Whatever the name suggests, they deliver a surge of pressure to the skin around the neck of your dog when it barks, when you press a button, or when the dog crosses an invisible line that is defined by an electronic border marker.
We've measured some popular shockbumper collars and found that they deliver 20 to 90 volts AC to the dog's neck, but only at milliamps maximum current, to avoid serious injury. We do not know any rules for dog collars, so you have to trust that the one you choose does not lead to an inhumane jerk. Determining this is at best an inaccurate process, as evidenced by the warnings given in some operating instructions.
I tried a shock absorber collar with a strength on any scale from "0" to "99", and when I set it to "35" I had to drop it.
Vibration Collar uses a device similar to the vibration motor in your phone, which can vibrate when it is quiet. Obviously, the appeal here seems to be much less severe. This type of collar technology is perhaps the most analogous when you give your pet a touch or other tactile indication of what to do – or stop – by hand.
The most fascinating technology in dog collars is the spray collar. These spray a stream of lemonella or water in front of the dog's face, where it can hardly do otherwise than to get a full nose. These collars are amazing exploits of wireless electromechanics, and frankly, I imagined that I could hack one for purposes other than pets.
As with shock collars, we do not know what a dog experiences in a citronella cloud that he can barely escape. Frequently cited studies by Florida State University show that a dog has 10,000 to 100,000 times our odor acuity. That's why dogs can spy on cancer, which our comparatively stupid noses can not do. A spray of Citronella can be overwhelming for a dog.
Sound collars emit a beep or tone that is audible either to humans or at an ultrasound frequency that only animals can hear. The latter requires caution, since we can not determine how hard a charm is when it eludes our senses.
If this sounds like many collars to consider, you know that many of the ones we studied combine several of the above stimuli.
No matter how many times you need to toast your dog electronically, remember that it is not a remote-controlled toy. To understand where they might fit into the Dog Training Toolkit, I consulted Dawn Kovell, Marin Humane's Director of Behavior and Training, a respected animal welfare organization I volunteer in the San Francisco Bay Area ,
"We all want the miracle weapon to stop things that annoy us," says Kovell, "but punishment can affect your relationship with your dog, it can make your dog afraid of you instead of doing things, you want it to do. "
In the above video you can find more of my conversation with Dawn (and see that one of her dogs is very posable). In short, she encourages dog keepers to understand why a dog is doing something, and then seek a positive way to distract that impulse rather than suppressing it with electronic punishment.