Is a Vibration Collar Best for My Pet?

Updated: 7/21/2021

Vibration collars are advertised as a humane solution for barking in dogs, but are they the best option for all pets? We'll discuss the applications and efficacy of vibration collars to help you determine if they are right for your pet. Let's explore the uses for vibration collars in dogs. 


Dog vibration collars for barking

Many pet parents have success using vibration collars to deal with excessive barking. When set off, these collars will send your dog a small, painless buzz to redirect Fido's attention. Some vibration collars are explicitly developed for barking control and work automatically when the dog barks. Other models use a remote, allowing the handler to manually send the vibration signal. 

Some vibration collars have a tone option where the dog receives an audible signal that what they're doing is inappropriate. Sometimes, dogs can't hear the noise amid a barking fit — you might need a vibration collar with multiple intensity levels for these situations.


Dog vibration collars for undesirable dog behaviors

When used for correction, vibration collars work much like a clicker. Vibration collars "mark" undesirable behaviors faster than verbal corrections can, allowing the dog to know exactly what they did wrong. While these collars might not work as quickly as a shock collar, they will get your pet's attention and distract them. 

Vibration collars work best if coupled with positive reinforcement. For instance, if you're training your dog not to chew on furniture, you might use the vibration collar when you catch them gnawing on the couch; then you would redirect them to a toy and give them a treat when they chew it instead.


Dog vibration collars for dogs with hearing impairments

Many parents of deaf dogs have luck with vibration collars for communication. Acclimating a deaf dog to a vibration collar is simple. Make the collar vibrate, and when Fido looks at you, give them a treat. Repeat this several times until your dog looks at you every time you press the vibrate button (whether you have a treat or not). 

Vibration collars should never be used to correct a hearing-impaired dog — only to get their attention. Using a vibration collar for corrections or barking can confuse deaf dogs and make them less likely to respond. 


Dog vibration collars vs. shock collars

Vibration collars are painless, unlike shock collars. Shock collars use negative reinforcement and pain to instill fear and eliminate undesirable behaviors. Shock collars work for most dogs, though there are a lot of ethical concerns surrounding their use. Many dog trainers suggest vibration collars as an alternative to shock collars since they work by sensation but don't induce pain.


Alternatives to dog vibration collars for barkers

Fussing at your dog to stop yapping obviously isn't working, but ignoring them might. Ignoring your dog can sometimes make them stop barking, especially for dogs who bark to get what they want. The more you ignore them and withhold the item they desire, the less likely they will bark for it. This may not work for compulsive barkers or dogs who woof when startled.

Socialization is a great tool for dogs who bark at unfamiliar visitors since fear is often the motivator. Frequent socialization can make your dog feel less on edge when a new person arrives and make the greeting more pleasant for everyone.

Shock collars are another option, though highly discouraged by most trainers. These should be your very last resort since they cause unnecessary pain and fear. Research shows that dogs are much more responsive to positive reinforcement than physical punishment. Moreover, studies show physical punishment negatively affects the human-canine bond. 


Alternatives to dog vibration collars for dogs with hearing impairments

There are a few methods you can use to communicate with hearing-impaired dogs, touch training being one of the most common. This training method is often coupled hand signals to achieve a desired behavior. For touch training, you would touch the base of your pup’s tail to get their attention and then give them a hand signal that coincides with the behavior you want. Touch training will take practice, but with demonstration and persistence, your pup will pick up the cues.

Knocking on the floor is another method parents of deaf dogs use for communication. Your dog will feel the vibrations from your knocking and direct their attention in the direction of the vibrations. Knocking is a helpful addition to hand signals, touch training, and positive reinforcement.


Cons of using dog vibration collars
No collar is perfect, and vibration collars are no different. Below are some of the cons of using vibration collars:

  • Some dogs are scared of them

  • Not effective for all dogs

  • Can irritate the skin if worn for long periods of time

  • May be uncomfortable if not fastened properly

  • Long-haired dogs may not feel the vibrations


Tips for choosing the right dog vibration collar

Make sure your vibration collar is:

  • Weatherproof

  • Waterproof

  • Has multiple intensity settings

  • Made of a durable material

  • Has a sound feature (not necessary for deaf dogs)

  • Has a long-range remote

  • Is the right size and weight for your dog


Frequently asked questions about vibration collars
How much do vibration collars cost?

Vibration collars range from $35 on the low end to over $100 for fancier models. You can buy these through online retails, though many pet shops carry them as well.


Will a vibration collar hurt my dog?

Nope! Vibration collars will simply send a buzz to your dog's neck. They will not shock or cause Fido any pain.


Are vibration collars safe to use in the rain?

Most vibration collars are absolutely safe to use in the rain. Just make sure you choose a waterproof and weatherproof model.


Conclusion

There are a plethora of training collars on the market, and finding the right one for your dog can be challenging. Vibration collars can be a helpful solution for undesirable behavior and to get the attention of your dog. The right collar depends on an animal's temperament and training tendencies. Training tools work differently for every dog, and ultimately, it's up to you to determine if a vibration collar is best for your dog.


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