Physiological Reactions to Spray
The citronella spray may be effective because it is an extremely unpleasant experience for dogs: Dogs may have between 220 million and two billion olfactory neurons (the sensory neurons lining the nose) but humans have only 2-5 million them (Stafford 2007). Some dogs vomit when the smell is discharged because it so strong and unpleasant to them.
A dog’s nose: Notice the physical differences between his nose and your nose? Imagine the physiological differences! Our sense of smell is not the same as a dog’s sense of smell
The pain a dog experiences from a shock or the unpleasantness of a spray, can result in redirected aggression and the dog may become anxious and fearful. Pain is the primary eliciting stimulus for aggression (Johson1972).
The anti-bark collars are prone to misfire (Polsky 1994). A noise from the surroundings, or a dog growling can activate the device. This can lead to disassociation, which can cause increased anxiety, confusion, and aggression.
Lesions can develop on the neck if a collar is too tight or has been on for too long. The lesions result from the mechanical abrasion of the electrodes rubbing the skin (Polsky 1994).
Denying a Nature Behaviour
Barking is a very common and natural behaviour for a dog. Barking can be a reaction to something, a method of communication and expression. Anti-bark collars deny the ability of a dog to live in a nature way.
Dog barking is common, natural and has a purpose. This dog is barking for attention!
Ignoring Underlining Issues
Anti-barking collars do not encompass the effective training technique of teaching a more appropriate behaviour to replace the undesired behaviour of barking: dogs are simply punished immediately after barking. Dogs’ barking may be motivated because they are anxious about something. It is cruel and will only worsen the fearful temperament of a dog if the barking is motivated by anxiety, such as separation-anxiety or an obsessive-compulsive behaviour (Stafford 2007).
If the motivation for barking was identified, and the owner was willing to address it (through therapy, training and/or management modifications) then anti-barking collars wouldn’t be necessary. Punishment alone is not the best way to treat barking. It is cruel and will only increase the fearful behaviour of a dog if the barking is motivated by anxiety, such as separation-anxiety or an obsessive-compulsive behaviour (Stafford 2007).