Friday, March 9, 2012
My dog Phoebe was not nearly in the incessant barking category, but she did have a flair for belting out a series of random barks at random moments, usually serene random moments during which a loud bark would make your head explode. In addition to shattering your skull, her random bark-fests have resulted in dropped dishes, ruined phone calls and nearly gave one of my friends a heart attack as a raucous ruff pierced through the cool morning air.
Using a bark correction collar had always been in the back of my mind, yet it stayed in the back. It’s not like neighbors were complaining or calling the police. Nor did Phoebe have a high-pitched, yippy bark that always sounds like a Yorkie being skinned. I just didn’t really have the $100 to shell out for the dinky electronic contraption that typically comes in the most hideous colors.
My guy agreed to pay half. I no longer had an excuse. We ambled on over to Pet Smart.
Our choices were not that vast, especially since the store associate pointed out the citronella spray collar was one big joke. That left us with the shock collar. But just don’t call it a shock collar. This PC climate demands we refer to the battery-operated correction device stimulus collar or, better yet, a gentle electronic modification unit. One of the descriptions even went out of its way to tsk-tsk the folks who still call it a shock collar:
The training collar that stops annoying, excessive barking the humane way (often incorrectly referred to as a shock collar), this collar uses safe but effective static correction.
Hey, what happened to the “gentle” as part of the description?
In any event, the humane static collar was our only option and, as expected, it did not come with rhinestones or in black. The collar was available in a hideous royal blue or an equally hideous cheap-hooker red, both of which would clash garishly with her brown leather collar studded with Swarovski crystals.
Red was the one that fit the dog’s weight. Kiss the classy crystal look goodbye when nestled next to a garish hooker hue.
But we need not have worried about the effects of the collar when it came to fashion, as the collar never made it around the dog’s next. It barely made it out of the box.
Once we returned home and let the dog sniff the box, she put her ears flat like she does when she knows I have the monthly flea treatment packet behind my back. Once we pulled it out of the box to check out the detailed instructions, Phoebe ran out the doggie door and hid in her backyard igloo house.
We did not hear a peep out of her for at least two days.
The thought is she had evidently been exposed to the humane stimulus collar in the past and rapidly remembered its results. She had had two prior homes before I adopted her, after all. Although her adoption paperwork did not come out and say loud, annoying barking was the reason she was back in the shelter, I did have an inkling something was off when she came with a 50-percent off coupon for dog training classes.
She excelled in the classes when it came to “speak.”
The collar went back the store, the money went back in our pockets but Phoebe has not gone back to her annoying bark fests. The mere sight of the collar alone appears to have done it. Therefore, I highly applaud and recommend this gentle electronic modification unit.
Even if you do have to go so far as to put the collar on your dog, or even take it out of its child-proof plastic casing, the enclosed instructions help ensure your dog remains safe. One note warns against submerging your dog in the ocean while wearing the collar, as water and electricity tend not to mix. Another points out you should not play with your dog while she’s wearing the collar.
The manufacturer is not worried the collar may break, malfunction or get caught on a wayward squeaky toy during a romp time, but is instead worried about the psychological ramifications the situation may have on your pet. If your dog is wearing the collar during play and she begins to bark during the play, she may get shocked and then associate having fun at playtime with something negative.
This may lead to a larger host of issues down the line with your pooch thinking all good things are bad and all bad things are good. There goes your new shoes, which are apt to be chewed up in a jiffy. There also goes the same type of warped thinking that turns people into serial killers.
So try the collar during training, and not during play. And don’t leave the thing on all day and all night but rather for short spurts. One bark fest while wearing the collar may be enough to silence your dog. Or, if you’re really lucky, your dog merely catching a glimpse of the package may be enough to bring you peace.