People wonder if anti-bark collars are harmful or cruel. After all, you love your dog, so you don’t want to hurt your furry friend as you train them while using anti-bark collars.

Luckily, these collars remain a safe and harmless option for dogs. Most people think of anti-bark collars as shock collars, but this isn’t the case. While some bark collars do give off a slight shock, there are collars available that:

  • Vibrate
  • Release a scent
  • Emit a high-pitch sound

Read on if you think you want to use one. Doing so will help you determine if anti-bark collars are harmful to dogs and the options available if you don’t want to go with these collars.

What Are Anti-Bark Collars?

Anti-bark collars refer to devices designed to discourage dogs from barking. Traditionally, they shock the dogs whenever they bark. It does this by detecting when your dog barks, sometimes offering a warning, and then discouraging dogs from barking.

For example, some anti-bark collars will vibrate whenever dogs start to bark, distracting them. The collars can also play noises and perform other actions to stop dogs. Since the dogs don’t want to keep hearing the noise or feel the vibration, they learn to stop barking.

Types of Bark Collars

While you look into anti-bark collars, you need to understand the types available. It comes down to electronic, citronella, and ultrasonic bark collars, so you need to see which coll you think will help your furry friend.

Electronic Bark Collars

An electronic collar runs off electricity and uses it to stop your dog from barking. Most of these devices will vibrate to distract a dog. Some may apply a mild shock, though that isn’t the same as an electric discharge.

In short, it uses a physical distraction the dog can feel as a way to discourage barking. Usually, these collars will offer a beeping noise as a warning, so dogs know to stop barking before the shock happens.

Usually, you power these collars with a simple battery, so you can replace the battery whenever it runs low.

Citronella Bark Collars

If you don’t like the idea of electronic collars, you can go with citronella collars instead. The collar releases a flower scent to distract the dog whenever it barks.

The collars use a microphone to detect when dogs bark, so they’ll automatically release the scent as needed. However, you must remain mindful of the mic’s sensitivity since it may detect barking from other dogs or similar noises.

Otherwise, it works well since dogs won’t want to deal with the scent. If they start barking, the smell will work as a deterrent to get your dog to stop.

Ultrasonic Bark Collars

Sometimes, scents can annoy you or cause problems, so an ultrasonic bark collar might work better. The anti-bark collar uses a high-pitched sound instead of vibration or smell. Humans can’t hear the sound, so it won’t annoy owners while discouraging barking.

The sound works well since dogs will become distracted by it as the sound comes from their collars. They may stop barking since they don’t want to deal with the sound. Unfortunately, these collars usually run off batteries, so you’ll need to replace them as needed.

Do Bark Collars Really Work?

A lot of people wonder, “do anti-barking collars really work?” Well, you should know they work for most dogs. Since the dogs receive a sound or vibration whenever they bark, they learn to stop barking.

However, depending on the situation, your dog may bark anyway if they feel someone or something threatens the family. In addition, some people may find anti-bark collars more effective on certain dogs. For example, some dogs may ignore the bark collar and bark anyway.

Because of this point, you need to see how your dog reacts and determine if a collar will work for your situation. Generally speaking, an anti-bark collar will work, so you can try one if you think you want to use it.

Are Anti-Bark Collars Cruel?

If you want to know are anti-bark collars cruel, you can rest easy knowing they’re not. They can stop dogs from barking without causing them physical harm or problems. However, some people may want to train their dogs personally and get them to stop barking.

While training has its place and helps dogs build trust with you, an anti-bark collar works great. Based on your dog and environment, you can use anti-bark collars for multiple situations.

  • If your dog excessively barks at nothing and won’t stop.
  • Your area has too much noise and people, so your dog constantly barks at them.
  • Your dog keeps barking at guests and does so the entire time they visit.

Based on the situation, an anti-bark collar might work better for your dog, so use it while training your furry friend. Since collars aren’t cruel and won’t harm your dog, you can easily incorporate both and make adjustments based on your dog’s needs.

What Other Methods Can You Use to Stop Barking?

If you don’t want to use bark collars for dogs, you have multiple options to consider, such as the ones listed below.

  • Take your dog to behavior counseling.
  • Focus on training your dog to listen to your commands, including a command to stop barking.
  • Distract your dog with tricks and treats.

Even if you plan to use anti-bark collars, these methods can assist you as you train your dog. For example, behavior counseling can give you more insight to help your dog. On the other hand, specific training ideas will help you see what works for your furry friend.

However, sometimes your dog needs a simple distraction to stop barking. Try and see if you can distract your dog, have the dog perform tricks, and offer treats afterward. That way, your dog becomes so distracted by the treats they stop barking.


Most people don’t view anti-bark collars as cruel, so you don’t need to feel bad if you decide to use one. But, on the other hand, you need to think it over for yourself and determine if you want to use anti-bark collars as your main form of training your dog.

If you don’t want to use a collar, you can visit a veterinarian for advice on training your dog. Otherwise, you can use bark collars for dogs and keep visiting your vet when you need to help your dog. Then, you can minimize barking while keeping your dog safe and happy.

Dr. Erin Downes VMD

Dr. Erin Downes graduated valedictorian from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1992. She and her husband, Dr. Jay Rowan are the owners of Paoli Vetcare | Main Line Vet & Animal Hospital.