Gah! One more “simple device to stop problem dog behaviors” has hit the market. I was alerted recently when, thanks to Facebook’s advertising algorithm, it showed up in my news feed. What is this miracle product, you ask? According to the website, it “releases unharmful high-frequency sounds to stop barking in seconds!” The site goes on to boast that this miraculous device can “…distract rude dogs from barking, biting, or any other forms of annoying or even aggressive behaviors.” Sigh.
It’s not that an ultrasonic frequency sound wouldn’t stop a dog mid-bark. It would most likely stop a dog in its tracks momentarily, regardless of what the dog was doing at the time, as the sound is startling and unpleasant. But, as with all of these types of devices, it’s really just putting a Band-Aid on the problem. If a dog is barking at visitors because he’s uncomfortable with them, how is startling him going to solve the underlying issue? Does anyone really believe these things are like remote controls you point at a dog and violà! the behavior changes instantly, like changing the channel?
The website wrap-up claims, “It’s almost impossible to read the dog’s body language.” (Hence the need to “discipline your dog.”) Well, I have news. It’s not “almost impossible” to read a dog’s body language. In fact, it’s not all that difficult if you know what to look for. If an owner doesn’t know, that’s okay; they simply have to become educated. But if someone doesn’t know how to read a dog’s body language, they sure as hell have no business training a dog, particularly with punishment-based methods. We have become a culture of short attention spans and instant gratification. Still, that’s no excuse not to take the time and make the effort to train our dogs in a kind, gentle way. It might take a little longer than scaring them into stopping problem behaviors, but the effects will be long lasting and we won’t be damaging the bond between us and our beloved companions.
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