Do Ultrasonic Sound Bark Controls Work?

Ultrasonic devices designed to emit a high-pitched frequency unpleasant to dogs ears can theoretically stop nuisance barking when used appropriately. However, some vets indicate the devices are not typically reliable or consistent enough to be considered viable options, at least without human intervention.

  1. The Premise

    • High-pitch ultrasonic sounds usually are activated when a device hears barking, when triggered by a barking dog’s vocal chords via a dog collar, or when the sound is manually administered by an owner when barking begins. The premise is that the dog will take notice of the sound, yet not be hurt, and that its repeated application will become a deterrent to nuisance barking. Devices may be located in a house, yard or kennel or directly attached to a dog’s collar.

    The Problem

    • According to Dr. Mike Hutchinson, a vet interviewed by CBS Pittsburg television station KDKA, in a product demonstration he helped to conduct, dogs were visibly alerted to the change in sound frequency, but it did nothing to curb unwanted barking. Veterinarians Debra Horwitz and Gary Landsburg said some dogs respond better than others to such devices and that owners have to work on concurrent behavior training for any method to be effective. Many sound frequency devices have different levels as well, which pet owners must adjust until they find the right level and tone that works with their dog.

    Sound Sensitivities Vary

    • Some dogs -- such as elderly dogs with diminished hearing -- are simply unaffected enough by ultrasonic noise to make its application an effective bark deterrent. Additionally, careful training must be in place for a dog to associate the trigger of sound with the unwanted barking. Used incorrectly, such devices have the potential to frighten or scare a dog without helping him make the connection between the barking and the unpleasant sound. According to Drs. Horwitz and Landsburg, quiet command training or retraining should take place simultaneously.

    Other Alternatives

    • Look at other means of bark control, such as ensuring your dog is regularly exercised and played with and isn't left unattended for long stretches of time in which she can become a bored nuisance barker. Consult your vet if necessary to rule out any medical or psychological issues, such as separation anxiety, and look for creative ways to keep your dog occupied when you're not around. Interactive play toys filled with treats and hidden around the house or appropriate chew toys can keep your dog entertained. Hired dog walkers also can help to reduce boredom.

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