Learning to bark is a rite of passage for all dogs, and some owners even welcome it with open arms after wondering whether their little furry baby even has a voice. But what can you do if your pooch becomes a master barker and keeps disrupting the whole household in the middle of the night (or just when you lie down for your nap)? Easy! What you need is an anti-barking device.
We hear you; if you’ve ever heard of a shock collar, you may be wary about using any gadgets on your dog. Fortunately, safe options are aplenty, with ultrasonic anti-barking devices leading the way to a quieter life.
First things first, though — before we delve into the top three contenders’ reviews, let’s see why dogs usually bark and how we may fight the constant noise.
Dealing With Constant Yappy Racket? — An Anti-Barking Device Should Help!
Why Dogs Love to Bark So Much
“I don’t always bark at night, but when I do, it’s for no reason.” There are many memes to find about dogs barking and how confusing the why’s behind them can be. But in reality, dogs are supposed to bark, as that’s the way they communicate. They’ll bark at us to get out of the bed and take them out, or they’ll bark at their furry friends to come and play.
To that end, we shouldn’t expect an anti-barking device to stop the barking altogether. The problem with excessive barking is that dogs shouldn’t be barking all day long, to the point of disrupting the neighbors. A few barks here and there won’t hurt anyone, but if you were ever in the vicinity of a barker breed (Fox Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Poodles, to name a few), you know that those pooches seemingly cannot stop barking.
When the time comes to choose your anti-barking device, examine your dog’s behavior closely, and determine how much and why it’s barking. If it only barks to greet you when you come home or while playing with other dogs, you don’t have much of a problem — that’s just one slightly demanding, playful pup!
However, if that still bothers you, or your dog also barks in more intense situations (like when you have guests or when it’s alone), an anti-barking device may prove useful.
Types of Barking to Watch Out For
Depending on how long the barking lasts, we can identify short-lived instances (which pass quickly and aren’t that disruptive) and longer barking (which goes on and causes great annoyance). In general, though, barking boils down to:
Dogs are social animals, so when they see their buddies in the park or us coming through the front door, they leap with joy and bark to greet us. Barking can also be socially facilitated, which is when dogs join in a barking “party,” i.e., they follow in the example of other barking dogs and respond.
Your coming home can also make a dog bark out of excitement, as it wants to show you it’s happy to see you. Alternatively, anything that excites the dog may make it bark for a short while, like the jangling of its leash, if you’re teasing it with a new toy, and similar.
Territorial and Fear Barking
In contrast to the previously mentioned types, territorial barking is usually lower and accompanied by some growling. As the name says, it happens when dogs are protecting their territory (theirs or their owners’). The dog’s body may also tense up, its tail may go straight, and its ears may stand up high when acting out of defense or fear.
Frustration and Anxiety-Induced Barking
Frustrated dogs will start barking to show their displeasure, so expect it to happen whenever they cannot get something they so eagerly want (like get out of their crate or jump on the table to get some of your food). On the other hand, there’s also anxiety-induced barking, especially barking resulting from severe separation anxiety. In that case, the dog only barks when you’re not at home.
You can check for this behavior by asking your neighbors about it. It’s also usually followed by other behavioral problems, like excessive chewing, destruction, improper elimination, and similar. Thus, it’s best to treat it by getting help from a dog trainer or animal behaviorist.
Some dogs hate being ignored and can’t stand not having enough attention from their owners. In that case, they may bark, either to get some cuddles or perhaps toys and treats. The funny thing is, we can get easily annoyed by this and try to stop the barking with yelling. That only serves the dog’s goal!
The main difference between territorial and alarm barking is that the dog in question is barking at a range of sounds, sights, and more, not just when it wants to defend someone or something from a clear threat. To that end, it can get pretty annoying, as the pup may bark at a doorbell, at a car passing by the house at night, etc.
This sort of barking is evident in dogs that display other compulsive behaviors, such as jumping or spinning. In essence, the dog is barking continuously for no apparent reason and at things that other pooches don’t mind so much. Thus, it’s not that easy to treat on your own; we recommend consulting an animal behaviorist or dog trainer for this type of barking.
When they’re in pain, dogs can both whine and bark, depending on how much they’re hurt. We can often hear dogs bark when they want to show their friends (or pack) something is causing them pain. This may boil down to rough play or them being attacked by an animal.
Fear may also play a role here, as some dogs bark because they anticipate pain when we want to touch them. If we touch a dog somewhere that they’re hurt, some barking is to be expected too.
Similar to attention-seeking barking, dogs may also bark out of boredom to try to animate their humans. If they aren’t stimulated enough, they’ll try to make some noise about it. And if that doesn’t work, they may engage in destructive behavior.
Spooking or surprising a dog may bring about some reactive barking (or just a single bark). This is simply an involuntary reaction to an event, just like some people scream at certain scenes of a horror movie or when they get a surprise gift, for example.
Finally, we cannot exclude canine dementia, as it’s a condition that may make a dog bark at night for no reason at all. It’s a sign of cognitive dysfunction and does require a quick vet check to see if there’s anything you can do to help the dog stay calm.
Not sure how some of these sound? This funny compilation contains a few examples of the most common types of barking:
No Quick Fixes — But These Bark-Control Techniques and Devices May Help
Naturally, no two dogs are the same, so just because something worked for other dog parents doesn’t necessarily mean your pooch will react well to it. As with most training techniques, it takes lots of trial and error to see what works for each dog.
Luckily, we have a whole list of the most common methods and gadgets you can use to stop needless barking. For stubborn dogs, we recommend combining a few of these!
Methods to Use
Try Ignoring the Dog
If your pooch only wants attention or some food, yelling at it means you’re giving in. Instead, try to ignore the dog or remove yourself from its vicinity. You shouldn’t play into its unbearable barking, and thus non-basic/avoidable “needs.”
Remove the Motivation
If you go into the other room when the dog is barking for attention, you’re removing the motivation and preventing it from having something to bark at. You can apply the same method in other situations, depending on why the barking happens in the first place. For example, don’t leave the pooch in the backyard if it tends to yap at the neighbors, cover the windows if it barks at the mailman, and isolate outside noise as much as possible.
Tire the Dog Out
A happy dog is a tired dog, and a fatigued dog doesn’t have enough strength to bark all night long. Keeping them both mentally and physically stimulated may be enough for some dogs to make them less inclined to bark for no reason.
Introduce Contradictory Behavior
A good option would be to use treats to train the dog to do something else in case of a disturbance (like telephone ringing). Teach the dog to go to its bed or crate by repeatedly giving it treats whenever it does what you want.
Once it has mastered that, slowly introduce the stimulus — pick up the phone, call it from another phone but keep it on vibration, call it again but this time, let it sound off, etc. The dog should remain in its bed or crate and not react at all.
Desensitize It to What’s Bothering It
Finally, dog owners can also try exposing their dogs to sounds, people, and objects that make them uncomfortable. You can use treats to keep the dog calm when the stimulus is far away. Then, slowly bring the dog closer, still feeding it treats to show it’s doing a good job. The treats stop when the stimulus is no longer in sight.
Gadgets to Try
Some dog owners don’t necessarily have time to go through all the steps needed to desensitize the pooch or train it not to bark. Luckily, there are other options for them, such as:
- A shock collar. As controversial as it may be, some dog owners claim that shock collars are effective. When the dog barks, the collar generates electric stimulation to make the barking experience a bad one. If misused, though, it seems more like a punishment to us.
- A citronella bark collar. A more humane option is to use a citronella bark collar. This one is also triggered by the vibrations produced by a barking dog, but instead of electricity, it sprays a substance that discourages the dog from continuing to make noise.
- Plug-in diffusers. Diffusers work in smaller spaces and don’t necessarily stop barking, but instead calm destructive or anxious dogs. They release a natural pheromone that’s soothing for most dogs as it reminds them of their mother (while they were nursing). The problem is that they aren’t as mobile as the collars. You’d need a few of them, and the dog has to breathe in the pheromone for the diffuser to work its magic.
The Ultimate Anti-Barking Device: Ultrasonic Bark Control
An ultrasonic bark control is an anti-barking device that doesn’t use electricity or scents to discourage barking but instead focuses on emitting high-pitched sounds. These ultrasound tones are undetectable by humans due to the high frequency. However, dogs can hear them as their hearing range (40–60,000 Hz) is better than ours (20–20,000 Hz).
The premise is simple: when the dog barks, the device emits the sound, which stops the dog in its tracks, as it’s unpleasant to hear. Over time, it helps it associate incessant barking with that sound, which ultimately discourages the behavior.
The Benefits Are Pretty Impressive…
If training techniques are not your forte, an ultrasonic anti-barking device may be a godsend, especially since it doesn’t disturb humans. We cannot hear the sound, so using it wouldn’t cause any further trouble with the neighbors or our families.
It costs less than hiring a dog trainer or animal behaviorist. By using this device, we’re in charge of our pooch’s training and can control the situation. That won’t only save money but help us bond with the dog as well.
They’re 100% safe. These devices cannot damage the dog’s hearing, so they are safe to use whenever we want. Even though the sound may be unpleasant, it’s not going to cause much distress either. It merely acts as a deterrent.
The effectiveness is undeniable, but they must be used properly. Some dogs may not react to ultrasonic devices at all, usually because their hearing has already diminished due to age or disease.
Others, however, may react badly, as they come to associate it with fear or fight through it out of stubbornness. In essence, we shouldn’t see an ultrasonic anti-barking device as a cure but as a means to an end. It helps us train the dog to become less inclined to bark in various situations, but just like all the other types of solutions, it may not work for all dogs.
…But You Need to Pick the Right One for You
Consider the following features when choosing an ultrasonic anti-barking device:
Outdoor devices are usually hidden within inconspicuous backyard objects, like birdhouses or some decorations, and serve to stop both your dog and the neighbor’s pooch from disturbing everyone around them. However, for such a device to work, the dog has to be within its range. Unlike indoor devices, these usually have a more durable build, longer range, and a long-life battery.
Indoor devices are meant for home use and will automatically emit a high-pitched sound when the dog barks within the device’s range. Some also come with manual mode to give the owners more control. They’re easy to hide overall, as they come in a range of shapes and sizes, usually rectangular or teardrop.
A potential problem, though, is that they don’t work through walls. Once the dog leaves the room with the device, it’s unlikely to work.
Ultrasonic collars work similarly to shock and citronella collars, but instead of scents or electricity, they emit a high-pitched sound. Since this is an option we can use wherever we want, it’s a favorite of some dog owners, especially since it is so discreet. Some may even be used for other training techniques too (like clicker training) if they allow for customization.
However, these collars, as much as they are useful, have the power to disturb other dogs. Pooches that haven’t even barked may get punished for being very close to your dog.
Finally, you can also get a handheld anti-barking device, which may be attached to a lanyard or strap, or you can keep it in your pocket and use it whenever appropriate. You’ll have to point it at your dog and click the button to emit the sound. Unlike with a collar, though, you have to consider its range. And once again, it may disturb other dogs as well.
A basic anti-barking device will usually have just one button that emits a sound at a predetermined sound level, while the better ones have a few sound and sensory options (about three in total).
As we said, some dogs may not be able to hear so well anymore or are otherwise very stubborn. It’s best to cover all your bases and opt for a device that allows for a few different sound levels. If the dog doesn’t react to the lower ones, you can always switch to a higher level.
The longer the range is, the more effective the device will be. Nevertheless, it makes more sense to use a handheld device. You can approach the dog and stay close to it to use it. If it has a good range, it will be effective even when the dog runs far away from you. These devices usually come with a 20 to 50 feet sound range but can go up to 150 feet too.
Since these devices are powered by batteries, it’s necessary to pick those that come with batteries with longer life to ensure their effectiveness in all situations.
Usually, the batteries last anywhere from two to six months. To make sure they don’t run out of juice fast, don’t use the device all the time — only when necessary. Opt for devices that have a power-saving mode, too, so that you don’t have to keep replacing the batteries.
You’ll know you have to get new ones (or charge yours) by checking the device. It may have an LED light that blinks to point out that the battery has no juice. Otherwise, a clear indicator is that it’s not working well.
Top 3 Ultrasonic Anti-Barking Devices
For those who prefer handheld anti-barking devices, the Nest 9’s device is a top contender and comes well recommended by many dog owners. This device sports an ergonomic design, which lets it fit comfortably in your palm. Furthermore, its specs speak volumes about its effectiveness, as it adopts both fixed and variable frequency modes that ensure you can still use it even if the dog gets used to the fixed mode.
The device emits ultrasonic sounds at 25 kHz and 30 kHz. Its range makes it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use; all we have to do is point it at the dog when it’s within the range of 16.4 feet.
Its design allows for easy use, as there’s nothing to install or affix to the dog’s collar, and you’re only using one button. The device also uses a 1000mAh battery and is type-C rechargeable. You’ll know when the battery is low, as it has an LED battery indicator as well.
- Effortless to use
- Ergonomic, comfortable design
- No need to install or attach anything to the dog’s collar
- Both fixed and variable frequency
- A solid range of 16.4 feet
- It may not work on stubborn dogs — those may bark over it
- The button is easy to press, so you may accidentally use it when it’s not needed
- There isn’t a real on/off button, so it’s easy to leave it on
Available in a stunning rose-gold shade that could fit any interior, the Modus Automatic Anti-Barking Device also sports some impressive features. For one, it works on dogs that are 15–50 feet away, so it should cover the whole room and ensure effectiveness. Once it detects barking, it automatically starts emitting ultrasonic sounds. It shuts off automatically as well, as soon as the barking stops.
The brand recommends using the device on dogs that are over six months and under eight years old. Since it comes with three ultrasound level controls (low, medium, and high), it’s suitable for all dog sizes. We can adjust the device according to the dog’s stubbornness, hearing ability, and more. There’s also a test mode that emits a sound humans can hear to confirm the device is working properly.
A potential drawback is that the device should be used with one dog only. The room we decide to put it in should also be quiet, and there must not be any huge obstructions between the dog and the device. Objects that can also cause noise interference, like TVs and speakers, should also be kept away from the device.
- Inconspicuous and attractive design
- Great sound range
- Suitable for all dog sizes
- Three sound sensitivity levels + a test mode
- Light indicator: green (sending ultrasonic sounds) and red (low battery)
- Very sensitive and easily triggered
- May interfere with other products (Bluetooth earbuds and alarm system)
- No on/off switch
This weatherproof anti-barking device should fit most backyards and effectively stop dogs from barking in an area of up to 50 feet. The design is rather discreet, as it looks just like a birdhouse. The dog doesn’t know that it holds a 4-level switch, a microphone, an ultrasonic speaker, and a battery LED. The unit flashes a green light when the battery has juice and red when it is emitting the sound.
The device works on all dog sizes within the range and when it is set about 5 feet from the ground. It uses a 9-volt alkaline battery, which doesn’t come in the package. This gives it about two month’s worth of juice, but it depends on how often it’s in use, i.e., how much the dog barks.
The unit sounds off only when it detects barking and stays silent once the barking stops. It sounds like a dog whistle and lasts for about two seconds. The unit has a test mode and three sensitivity levels.
The company says the device should discourage the dog from barking in only two weeks. However, it often depends on the dog and its hearing and stubbornness. As the company says, the device might not work well on hearing-impaired or deaf dogs.
- Three sensitivity levels + a test mode
- Discreet birdhouse design
- Works up to 50 feet
- Mount, place, or hang it anywhere in the yard (up to 5 feet above the ground)
- It’s a bit too sensitive and may be triggered by rain, cars, and other similar sounds
- Dogs can get used to it and start ignoring it, even on the highest setting
- The battery clip is a bit flimsy, so the connection may get lost
Whether you’re tired of your neighbor’s dogs barking all night long or want to teach your own pooch not to bark at the doorbell, guests, and even the rain, an anti-barking device may be just what you need. An ultrasonic device seems to be the most humane option for dogs, no matter if they spend most of their time indoors or outdoors.
However, to up your chances of discouraging unnecessary barking forever, we recommend using the device while actively training the dog too. Don’t leave anything to chance — a multifaceted approach ought to generate quick results!