The commercial pet product market is saturated with many innovative training devices. One of the most popular and controversial is the ultrasonic bark deterrents.
They work by emitting a high-pitched frequency unpleasant to dogs’ ears and can theoretically stop nuisance barking when used appropriately.
Do ultrasonic bark deterrents work? If you came here searching for the answer to this question, we’ve got you covered.
This guide explains what an ultrasonic bark deterrent is, its pros and cons, and alternatives to stop your dog from barking!
What is an Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent?
An ultrasonic Bark Deterrent comes in different forms, usually a collar. It is worn by your furry friend with a tendency to bark excessively.
It is designed to negatively reinforce the barking behavior and cause them to avoid the behavior.
Ultrasonic refers to sound frequencies above 20,000 hertz, which is the upper limit of sound that is generally audible to the human ear.
Dogs have much more sensitive hearing, which can be up to 45,000 hertz, so these products use frequencies in that range.
High-pitch ultrasonic sounds usually are activated when a device hears barking, when triggered by a barking dog’s vocal cords 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.
Some ultrasonic systems have two tones, one to reward positive behavior, and another to indicate negative behavior.
The Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Bark Deterrents
Ultrasonic bark deterrents are relatively easy to set up, no matter what type. The small devices usually require batteries that can be installed in less than a minute. They also have instructions so you can test the audio sensors if they are properly detecting the sound of barking.
These bark controls are also often cute and decorative contraptions that can resemble a birdhouse. They are inconspicuous from suspecting pets and neighbors.
These devices can be used to control your own dog’s or your neighbors’ dog’s barking. There are also mountable designs that you can plant around your yard.
Despite the use of ultrasonic sounds, it is assured that they won’t hurt your dogs and their eardrums.
The Disadvantages of Ultrasonic Bark Deterrents
However, the excitement may not last long. In fact, there more cons than pros as to why ultrasonic bark deterrents are not recommended.
First, some dogs are simply unaffected by ultrasonic noise. These include elderlies and other canines with diminished hearing.
Other than that, it is sometimes appropriate for dogs to bark as a means of communication, so it would be illogical to stop them from barking all the time.
It is also ineffective because this type of behavioral modification does not tend to be successful as it fails to address the underlying cause of the behavior.
Dogs bark for many reasons: play, fear, protection, separation anxiety, frustration, environmental factors, boredom, etc.
Another important reason why you should not use ultrasonic bark deterrents is that it is considered a punishment.
Here the dog is ineffectively punished by the collar for every bark. This type of training is often ineffective as dogs often do not associate the punishment with the behavior
They also inflict pain and distress on the animal and therefore should not be used. Although Canine Journal describes these devices as “more humane than other bark deterring options”.
The question is why would a dog owner go with something even a little inhumane when there are more humane alternatives?
Alternatives to Stop Your Dog from Barking
Your dog barks for several reasons. They bark as a response to stimuli, like when a stranger approaches them or they see a foreign animal in their territory.
Because some barking is valid or necessary, ultrasonic bark deterrents may be deemed ineffective or unhelpful.
Here are some more humane and effective ways to stop your dog from barking.
Ignore the Barking
Sometimes, dogs bark for attention. Avoid rewarding them with what they want by ignoring them. Don’t talk to them, don’t touch them, and don’t look at them. You must wait as long as it takes for them to stop barking.
Teach them the “Quiet” Command
Teach your dog first to bark on command. Give them the command to “speak”, wait for them to bark, then give a tasty treat. Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach them the “quiet” command.
Clicker training is a great reward-based method that will help your dog mark correct behavior and teach them what is expected of them.
Here’s a video that shows how to teach your dog to be quiet with the clicker method.
Desensitize Your Dog to the Stimulus
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is making them bark. Start with the stimulus at a distance. It should be far enough that they don’t bark when they see it.
Move it a little closer until they’re used to the stimulus.
Use treats every time they don’t bark even when they see the stimulus. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats.
You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things
Do Ultrasonic Bark Deterrents Work?
Ultrasonic bark deterrents do work.
They use high-pitched sounds that are activated when a device hears barking, when triggered by a barking dog’s vocal cords via a dog collar, or when the sound is manually administered by an owner when barking begins.
They can come in the form of a collar for your dog to wear or a decorative stand to place near them in the house or yard.
Should You Use Ultrasonic Bark Deterrents to Stop Your Dog Barking?
Although they are not painful to your dog’s ears, these bark control tools are considered inhumane and ineffective.
They are inhumane because they can stress your dog out, and they are ineffective because they cannot solve the underlying cause of your dog’s barking.
And besides, barking should not be totally eliminated because they are your dog’s means of communication.
Instead of using ultrasonic bark deterrents, look for tools that will help your dog stop their unnecessary barking permanently.