Credit: Tommy Daspit

Is a bark collar the right choice?

My husband finally agreed to the thing he swore he'd never agree to. After months of my tireless campaigning, and even shamelessly using our children as ambassadors for the cause, he relented. He agreed to the act of getting a dog. Now, understand that my husband is not a heartless ogre. He literally will not even harm a spider that is sitting on our window sill. In fact, I finally overruled him on the whole pest control issue after we were being overrun by creepy-crawlies. He didn't want to exterminate them, because bugs are God's creatures too. (Yes, I'm serious, he actually feels sorry for the insects) So, he's not a bad guy, not a hater of animals. We have cats and we have guinea pigs. He just absolutely did not want a dog. Why? Because dogs bark.

Our neighbors have these two weenie dogs that bark from midnight to 11:59 p.m. every day. They bark at everything that moves and everything that stays still. For two years we have listened to these creatures croon, doing nothing but further cementing the idea in my husband's mind that dogs are nothing but incessant noisemakers. I argued that those dogs were atypical, that not all dogs bark as much as those beasts. And so, when he finally waved the white flag and conceded to us getting a pooch, he had only one condition. The dog could not be one of those yappy barkers. No problem. There were plenty of dogs who don't bark much at all. 
My Craigslist add was clear. "In Search of Small, Fluffy Dog, Must be Small, Must be Fluffy, Must not bark much. Mutts ok." The "small, fluffy" criteria was my doings. I just have a personal penchant for the small fluffies. The bark part was, of course, to live up to my end of the no-bark bargain. The very next evening, a lady responded. She had a Yorkie/Maltese mix (a Morkie) that she needed to rehome because she worked all the time and didn't have time to spend with her. She sent me a picture of the cutest fluffy face I had ever seen. I called her immediately. "Does she bark much?" I asked her. I was assured she did not. 
45 minutes later, we had a dog. She barked a lot on the way home, but I told  my husband she was just excited. Six hours later, the dog still had not shut up. She had not taken a single barkless breath. She wasn't even upset or nervous acting. She was happy and loving and sweet. She just would not shut up. And not only did she bark incessantly, it was the loudest, shrillest noise I'd ever heard an animal make. That night, we tried everything to get her to hush. We put her in her crate, she barked. Out of her crate, she barked. I walked her, she barked. I put her in the bed with us, she barked. She barked and she barked and she barked. Finally, I gave her some children's Benadryl, thinking that would make her sleep. It didn't phase her. We had a photo shoot early the next morning, and we desperately needed some sleep. But there was no sleep to be had. Because I had apparently just adopted and an eight pound hell hound. I mean, I'd had dogs before. Dozens of dogs. Of all makes and models. I had never had a dog that had the capacity to bark that much and that loudly. Finally, at three in the morning, my husband put her in her crate, put the crate in the car, in the garage, shut all the doors, put ear plugs in his ears and pillows over his head, and still the dog barked so loudly she kept him awake. 
The next day, I went ASAP to the pet supply store, taking my little bark-o-monster with me. I explained to the employee my dilemma and begged him for a solution. He began by telling me to be patient, that she just needed time to adjust. And even as he was saying these words, my dog interrupted with, "YIP!YIP!YIP!YIP!YIP!YIP!YIP!YIP!" It was so loud that the man was startled into silence. 
"THAT's what your talking about?" He asked, a wave of empathy washing over his face. I nodded.  
"Yes. I've either got to get this under control, or the dog has got to go." The pet guy immediately pulled out the a static shock collar. He assured me this was what I needed. It was $50, I didn't care. It would be worth its weight in gold if it worked. 
Let me tell you, it was worth its weight in gold. After only a couple of light shocks, "Piper" (as we had named her, because of her shrill pipes), learned that the barking was the cause of it. By that evening, she was actively trying to control her barking. By the end of Day 2, we were able to remove the collar completely, and she hasn't barked since. Now, I don't mean to say that she never, ever barks. She barks when someone comes to the door or if something startles her. And I don't mind that. Dogs are supposed to bark some. But that perpetual, high-pitched, deal-breaker barking that she was doing has completely ceased. And because of that, we are able to enjoy our dog, and in fact, we just love her little furry pants off. My husband is quite smitten as well. Shocking, in fact, since he was so adamantly opposed to getting a dog to begin with. I can honestly say that I owe it all to the bark collar. And I'm so glad it worked so well that I should never have to put it on her again. 
Dogtek Electronic Bark Control Dog Collar
Amazon Price: $69.00 $42.24 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 24, 2014)