Nuisance barking is one of the most trying problems pet owners must cope with. Unlike some other bad behaviors, like jumping or mouthing, nuisance barking often happens when your pup is out of reach, making it a hard behavior to correct.
You can try to give vocal corrections, but you probably wouldn’t be reading about no-bark collars if your dog would kindly zip it when you did so. Fortunately, there are several collars on the market designed to stop your pup’s pestering barks. The kind we’re focusing on today is citronella collars!
But first, let’s explore the mindset behind your dog’s bark-a-holic habits.
No time to read the whole article? Just check out our quick picks!
Best Citronella Bark Collars For Dogs: Quick Picks
- Queenmew Dog Bark Collar [Best Overall Option] — This multi-function citronella spray collar features three different spray levels and works in your choice of two ways: automatically or when triggered by the included remote control.
- WWVVPET Citronella Dog Training Collar [Best for Avoiding Accidental Discharges] — This citronella collar only sprays when you trigger it, which prevents the accidental discharges that may occur with some other units. Best of all, it also offers audible and vibrating corrections!
- Sumao No Bark Dog Collar [Most Affordable Option] — Despite coming with most of the same features — including adjustable spray volume, adjustable sensitivity, and a USB charging cord — that more expensive options have, this collar won’t set you back as much as most premium versions will.
Why Do Dogs Bark in the First Place?
There are a number of different reasons your dog may bark, and different correction methods will work better in some cases than others. Some of the most common reasons your dog will bark include:
Your dog is seeking attention. This is a relatively common reason dogs bark, but it is one you should try to curtail. It is roughly equivalent to a child “acting out” to get your attention. Citronella spray collars may help correct these types of problems, but you’ll likely need to engage in some behavioral training as well to eliminate the problem. Also ask yourself – is my dog asking for attention because he or she is bored? In that case, punishing your dog for expressing frustration isn’t really appropriate. Instead, employ the use of chews and puzzle toys to keep your dog mentally occupied. And don’t skimp on the walks!
Some dogs have compulsion-related disorders, which can manifest in continuous, repetitive barking. If your dog seems to bark at everything and anything, there may be a bigger issue at play having to do with compulsions. Such dogs should receive professional evaluation before you select a no-bark collar. A citronella-based collar may be effective for some of these pups, but it could make others worse.
Your dog is seeking to alert you to something. This is generally a good type of barking, as many people get a dog explicitly for this purpose. However, some high-strung dogs become alarmed by nearly everything, which causes them to alert bark at every sound they hear. Citronella collars can be helpful as a quick bandaid fix for such dogs when you feel desperate and your neighbors are complaining, but the underlying anxiety must be treated as well.
Your dog may be defending her territory. Dogs have different types of barks, but one common kind of the territorial bark, often used when they are trying to drive away something they perceive as a potentially dangerous intruder (which could be nothing more than a kid on a bike). They generally only emit territorial barks when they are in a familiar place. This type of barking can respond well to citronella spray collars, but you can also experiment with rewarding your dog for calm behavior and reinforcing silence.
Your dog may be responding to the barks of other dogs. Another great application for citronella sprays, dog-induced barking can be very frustrating for those living with several dogs, or in high-density areas, where all the neighbors have dogs.
How Do Citronella Bark Collars Work?
Citronella bark collars work by mildly irritating your dog’s nose.
Citronella is a harmless essential oil collected from the lemongrass plant. It’s used in a variety of pet and people products, primarily for its bug-repelling qualities. However, while most people probably find the scent associated with the oil pleasant, ‘tis a stinky essential oil to many animals – including dogs.
So, citronella bark-stopping collars work by first detecting your dog’s bark, and then squirting a fine mist of the citronella liquid near her head. Your dog is instantly distracted (and probably slightly annoyed, startled or offended) by the mist, which causes her to stop barking.
Over time, she’ll learn that if she barks, she gets the spray, which will cause most dogs to get the hint and stop their nuisance barking.
Is Citronella Safe For Dogs?
In large quantities, citronella can be toxic to animals and cause stomach or lung irritation. So, you should always avoid allowing your dog to ingest anything containing significant quantities of the essential oil. However, citronella no-spray collars have been in widespread use for more than 20 years in the USA, and even longer in Western Europe. So far, negative reactions to the collars has been exceedingly rare.
However, if your dog exhibits any signs of citronella sensitivity, including intestinal upset, vomiting or drastic changes in behavior, stop using the collar immediately and contact your vet.
Are Citronella Collars Better Than Other No-Bark Collars?
There are a number of different collars on the market that may help stop your dog’s nuisance barking. Some use a spritzing of citronella spray, others deliver a small electric shock and some owners may even use manual collars (like prong or chain collars) to successfully discourage barking.
Therefore, you’ll need to decide which style will work best for you and your pet. Either type can be effective, but more and more owners are moving to the gentler option – citronella.
In both cases, your dog gets a negative stimulus when she barks, but the citronella just stinks, while dog shock collars probably hurt a tiny little bit.
While the level of pain shock collars deliver is certainly mild (some may even ague that classifying it as pain is misleading), many owners prefer not to take any risks where their dogs’ comfort is concerned, and opt for the path of least resistance.
Because citronella causes no pain what-so-ever, they just feel like the better option for many owners. Some owners may also opt for vibrating dog collars, which vibrate to alert a dog, but do not emit a static shock.
Tips for Using a Citronella Collar Effectively
Like any other tool, you’ll need to use citronella collars properly to achieve the best results.
As with any other training regimen, be sure to use no-bark collars consistently. This is especially important for owners selecting a manually triggered collar – if your dog isn’t sprayed every time she barks, she may not learn to associate the two things (barking and being sprayed) quickly at all. Consistency is key!
Be aware that many citronella-spraying collars discharge every time you turn them on. So, it’s always a good idea to turn it on before placing it on your pup – just make sure to point it away from your face when doing so. Although if you’re at a backyard BBQ, a face full of citronella wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Mosquitos would certainly leave you alone!
Don’t force your dog to wear the collar for excessive lengths of time. Ideally, you should only use a spray collar to correct your dog’s behavior during well-defined times, such as while you are at work or when the school kids come home and put your dog in a barking frenzy. Your pup should still be allowed to bark freely while playing or in situations in which barking is not a problem. Barking is normal and is how dogs communicate – you don’t want to silence it completely!
A very small number of dogs actually appear to like the smell and taste of the spray. When this happens, they can actually start barking in an effort to trigger the spray, which they will then lick from the ground (this results in an automatic doggy parent fail). Citronella is generally harmless, but you should not allow your dog to ingest it. If your dog develops this behavior, you’ll need to switch to another type of no-bark collar.
Things to Think About When Shopping for Collars
There are a number of different citronella collars on the market; some work well, while others, not so much. To have the best chance of picking a winner, you’ll need to know some of the things to look for and think about when making your choice.
Automatic or Manual Corrections?
Citronella spray collars typically work in one of two ways: They either give your dog a spritz when the unit detects a bark, or they deliver a spray when you press a button on a remote control. Both styles can be effective training aids, but they provide different benefits and drawbacks.
For example, an automatic spray collar will help control your dog’s barking while you are away. This may be the primary reason for using such a collar with some dogs. However, manually triggered units can be used for correcting a variety of problems in addition to nuisance barking. For example, you could trigger the collar when you see your dog sampling the delicious items in the trashcan.
You know how you must do two things to log into some internet accounts? This is called two-part verification, and some automatic spray collars rely on a similar concept to avoid releasing the spray accidentally. Usually, these types of collars must detect both the vibration of your dog’s throat and the audible sound of a bark before they will spray. The two-part verification is a great way to improve the consistency of the collar, which is crucial in any training scenario.
This is especially important with dogs that are on the neurotic or nervous side. Such pups may become somewhat traumatized if they are repeatedly sprayed by a shoddy collar for no reason.
Most citronella collars are made of webbing material like many traditional, flat collars; but a few are more like watchbands and made of rubber or plastic. The former type provides a little more flexibility and comfort, and they are likely the best choice for most dogs and their owners. However, there is something to be said for the ease of use the watchband-style collars provide.
Water resistance is an important consideration for owners of adventurous and occasionally aquatic dogs. None of the most common models on the market are designed to be worn while swimming, but some are resistant enough to survive wet weather and the like. Of course, if your precious little pooch spends most of her time indoors, water resistance probably doesn’t matter very much.
Rechargeable Batteries Vs. Disposable
Most bark collars rely on small, disposable batteries, but at least one good collar uses a rechargeable battery instead. You don’t need us to explain the whole rechargeable vs. disposable battery debate – the pros and cons of each are rather obvious. However, it is important to note that it is much easier to find unusual batteries than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Does It Come with Spray and Batteries?
Some of the collars at the affordable end of the price spectrum keep their price low by leaving out a can of spray or the batteries needed for the unit. While you can purchase these items separately, it will inflate the cost, thereby raising the effective price of the unit – just be sure you are comparing apples to apples when making choices based on price.
Alright, the color of the collar is a pretty superficial thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to some puppy parents. Most citronella collars only come in black, but a few are available in other colors. So, if color is important to you, be sure to consider the brands that provide options.
The Best Citronella Bark Collars Available: Reviews & Ratings
The following five collars represent the cream of the crop. Look through the pros and cons of each, and try to make the best choice for your vocal little pooch.
1. Queenmew Dog Bark Collar
About: This citronella collar by Queenmew works in either of two ways: You can set it to spray automatically when it detects your dog barking or you can trigger the spray manually via the included remote. This collar also features three different sensitivity levels to suit Buddy’s barking habit.
- Collar is rechargeable via USB
- Battery lasts up to 7 days on a single charge
- Recommended for dogs over 8 pounds and over 6 months of age
- 3 different spray levels for added flexibility
- Waterproof design won’t be damaged by rain
- Dual function design means it works automatically or when you activate it manually
- Quiet option that doesn’t beep like most others
- Waterproof design is safe in rainy weather
- Enjoys better user reviews than most competing products
- Citronella spray not included
- A few owners complained that it didn’t discharge enough spray
2. WWVVPET Citronella Dog Training Collar
About: The citronella dog training collar by WWVVPET is a owner-triggered citronella collar that eliminates the accidental (and canine-confusing) discharges common to some other collars. Additionally, this collar provides your choice of three different correction modes (tone/spray, tone/vibration, and tone only).
- Collar set includes citronella spray, charging cable, and remote control
- Collar fits dogs that are at least 8 pounds
- Has 3 different training modes: spray/tone, vibration/tone, & tone only
- Collar charges within 2 to 3 hours
- Battery lasts up to 11 days on a single charge
- Choose between high or low spray settings for added flexibility
- Owner-triggered design eliminates the possibility of accidental discharges
- Also features audible tone and vibrating correction modes
- Rapidly charging collar won’t require a lot of down time
- Won’t work when your dog is alone
- Collar’s weight makes it a poor choice for dogs under 15 pounds
3. Sumao No Bark Dog Collar
About: The Sumao No Bark Collar is a pretty straightforward correction collar that uses citronella to disrupt your dog’s barking. And despite being the most affordable collar we recommend, it comes with a number of helpful features, making it a fantastic value.
- Choose between low or high spray modes
- Adjustable spray sensitivity levels
- Lightweight collar fits most dogs between 8 and 120 pounds
- USB rechargeable collar last for up to one week on a single charge
- Waterproof design works well for dogs on the go
- Affordably priced for owners on a budget
- Fits larger dogs than some other options
- Spray-only collar is quiet and works without producing an audible tone
- Best owner ratings of any collar we recommend
- Citronella spray not included
- Does not produce vibration, which can be helpful for some dogs
4. PetSafe Spray Anti-Bark Dog Training Collar
About: The PetSafe Spray Anti-Bark Collar is a premium dog training collar that provides a quick spray when it detects your dog barking. Unlike many other citronella collars on the market that are made by companies you’ve never heard of, this one is made by PetSafe — a well-known brand in the pet-care category.
- Rechargeable battery lasts approximately 40 hours
- Includes one unscented spray cartridge and one citronella spray cartridge
- Each cartridge contains enough fluid for about 35 sprays
- Suitable for dogs weighing 8 pounds or more
- Adjustable collar can accommodate dogs with necks up to 27”
- Low spray indicator light lets you know when to change the cartridge
- Spray-level indicator light helps ensure the device is always ready to go
- Comes with citronella and unscented spray
- Made by company with 25 years experience in the industry
- US-based customer care
- Despite being made by a major manufacturer, this is a relatively new product
- No remote option for manually triggering the spray
- Shorter battery life than many other citronella collars
5. Downtown Pet Supply NO BARK Citronella Spray Collar
About: Downtown Pet Supply’s NO BARK Citronella Collar is essentially like most other automatic dog collars, except that it requires two different criteria (audible barking and the throat vibrations that accompany the sounds) before it discharges the spray, to avoid inappropriate corrections.
- Two-criteria discharge helps avoid inappropriate corrections
- Uses one 6-volt, disposable battery (one included with purchase)
- Includes initial can of citronella spray
- Fits dogs as small as 6 pounds
- Includes a 60-day, money-back guarantee
- Works for smaller dogs than most other citronella collars
- Only discharges when it registers an audible bark AND vibrations in your dog’s throat
- Comes with one can of citronella and a disposable battery
- 60-day, money-back guarantee
- Not rechargeable via USB; requires disposable batteries
- Some owners reported two-criteria discharge still occasionally sprayed in response to sneezes, whines, etc.
Another Option: The Modus Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent
As we mentioned earlier, citronella collars aren’t the only tool around for addressing nuisance barking. There are actually quite a few ultrasonic devices on the market that are designed to address the same problem.
These types of devices vary quite a bit, but most are designed to produce an ultrasonic sound (which should be inaudible to you, but crystal clear to your doggo) that will distract your pupper and hopefully stop him from barking.
The manufacturers of one such product — the Modus Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent — sent one to our editor, Ben Team, to try. Learn more about the product below, or scroll down to check out Ben’s experiences with the device!
The Modus Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent is a hand-held device that is designed to help address nuisance barking.
The idea is that you press the button on the device when your pooch starts barking. The device then emits a high-pitched sound, which distracts your doggo and restores peace and quiet.
It’s essentially a fancy electronic dog whistle.
Now, it’s important to understand that there’s nothing inherently special about an ultrasonic tone from your pup’s point of view. It just sounds like any other sound to four-footers. Nevertheless, this product is the number one best seller in the Sonic Bark Deterrents category on Amazon.
The manufacturer explains that the tone is unpleasant for dogs, but there’s no reason to suspect this is the case. Nevertheless, the sound is probably a bit novel to dogs and reasonably likely to get your pet’s attention.
- Produces ultrasonic tone that is audible to dogs at up to 16.4 feet away
- Includes LED that lights up when you trigger the tone
- Tone duration can be adjusted by holding or releasing the button (up to 10 seconds)
- Causes no pain for dogs
- The device is easy to hold, and the included wrist strap makes it easy to carry
- It produces an audible tone and illuminates a light so that you know when it is producing the ultrasonic sound
- It provides an affordable, pain-free way to address nuisance barking
- It won’t automatically work to eliminate nuisance barking — you’ll have to train your dog to understand that this sound means he needs to stop barking
- It requires four AAA batteries, which seems like a lot for such a small device
Have you ever been faced with a dog who simply would not stop barking? What types of training tools worked best for you? Have you ever used a citronella collar?
Share your experiences with everyone in the comments below!