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Are citronella collars harmful?

(15 Posts)
merrymouse Mon 12-May-14 08:11:01

My dog has started barking at 5am at the dawn chorus. (This doesn't go on for more than a couple of barks as we come down and stop him, however it is still enough to wake up my neighbour).

My neighbour has complained (which honestly is fair enough) and has suggested we buy a citronella collar for the dog.

I have read the threads about citronella collars and don't have much faith that it would work. However, I am prepared to go through the motions of using one to show willing.

Beyond the high possibility of not working, are citronella collars actually harmful?

Nunyabiz Mon 12-May-14 08:14:11

They are not harmful no. You can also buy non citronella (water) that just provides a bit of an annoyance. Some people consider them cruel. I think they are quite effective but won't stop them barking altogether. My dog would never bark with it on, but as soon as it was removed she would know and start yapping again.

Lilcamper Mon 12-May-14 09:39:33

We have no way of knowing what it feels like for a dog. Citronella collars can be set off by other noises, punishing a dog for no reason. Smart dogs figure out to bark mentally to empty the canister and then resume normal barking.

Figure out why your dog is barking and work from there. Suppressing the bark will get rid of the noise but the underlying reason will still be there.

Aked Mon 12-May-14 10:06:34

If it the dawn chorus setting him off, how about desensitising him to it? Buy a CD of birds singing, play it very very quietly during the day, and gradually increase the volume until it doesn't bother him? More effective than the collar I would imagine.

Aked Mon 12-May-14 10:10:49

*If it is

It should saysmile

SistersOfPercy Mon 12-May-14 11:37:51

I agree with aked dealing with the problem by desensitising him is much kinder than squirting citronella at him.

merrymouse Mon 12-May-14 13:17:33

I'm not really expecting the citronella to deal with the barking problem -it's more about going through the motions of trying it.

I have some ideas for tackling the problem, but I don't think any of them will be an immediate fix. (The dog does always seem to have blips around change of season - "What you have closed the kitchen door because it is cold?" "What you aren't all getting up when it is light outside?", but tends to acclimatise in a couple of weeks when he realises that we are just getting on with things despite his protests).

The issue is more dealing with my neighbour. I don't know if a citronella collar is a collar with a strange squirty box that might appease my neighbour (even if it doesn't work, at least I am demonstrating that I am using the magic stop barking box with so many good reviews on amazon) or if it is something that will actually harm the dog.

(Please note, in saying that the citronella collar will help me deal with my neighbour, I am in no way suggesting that I will make them wear a citronella collar! grin)

Lilcamper Mon 12-May-14 13:52:11

Is it the light or the noise setting him off?

merrymouse Mon 12-May-14 15:16:14

I think both.

I am going to find black out backing for the curtains though. (When he was small he was in a utility room because less stuff to chew - now that isn't a problem he gets to sleep on sofa in living room - light hasn't been a problem till now).

As I say, I don't think this a long term problem and I think blocking the light will do a lot to help. However, I am not confident that he will stop his morning bark in a couple of days and in the meantime I am prepared to show willing by using a magic citronella collar to preserve neighbour relations - although not at the expense of harming my dog.

"Sorry he barked, but we did get a citronella collar as you advised" is more conciliatory than "sorry he barked and we didn't bother with your rubbish idea."

looking at them on-line they look a bit uncomfortable to sleep in.

Lilcamper Mon 12-May-14 16:35:18

I'll be honest, I'd be telling my neighbour to poke off. A dogs sense of smell is 140 times sharper than ours. We have no idea how it would feel to them. He is a dog, dogs bark. Dogs learn by association. If he starts getting punished everytime he barks he might not realise it is for barking and associate the spray with the room he is in, a person or object in the room, like the sofa......using the citronella collar could lead to a whole host of other behavioural issues harder to deal with than a couple of barks.

merrymouse Mon 12-May-14 16:40:59

thanks for the feedback lilcamper. I am worried that a citronella collar might just make the dog think e.g. "My goodness, now those birds are spraying this freaky lemon stuff at me, I really need to bark now!!!".

I will continue to bump this for a bit longer to see if I get any more opinions.

AdoraBell Mon 12-May-14 16:50:28

Can I have a citronella collar for my niehgbour please? He's an educated articulate human, he knows full well the amount of noise that eminates from his house.

I hope you can sort this out with something like the CD idea. Maybe tell the neighbours you've bought a collar and are working towards solving the problem, you don't have to tell them it's still in the wrapperwink

SpicyPear Mon 12-May-14 16:51:55

There are risks associated with using them so would not do it just to appease your neighbour, particularly when you are confident it's not needed. In particular, some dogs find them extremely aversive punishment and will be very distressed by it. Some dogs may also link the aversive smell to the stimulus for the barking. So for example in your case leading to a dog that feels stressed when the dawn chorus starts up. As long as you are taking the complaint seriously I can't see that you have any obligation to use their recommended method.

SistersOfPercy Mon 12-May-14 17:04:14

How about leaving a radio on low overnight in the kitchen? You could reduce the volume over several nights until it's off again?

tabulahrasa Mon 12-May-14 18:13:34

As I said the other day on a thread - I've seen one used once and it was fairly awful.

The dog barked, got sprayed, got upset at the spray so barked, and so on and within minutes it was pretty much a quivering mess.

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