Do Citronella Spray Bark Collars Really Work?

Author: Neil Smith   Date Posted:16 May 2018 

We have a lot of people ask "Do citronella spray bark collars actually work?" And the quick answer is "yes...but sometimes no."

The Inside Scoop on Citronella Spray Bark Collars

We have a lot of people ask "Do citronella spray bark collars actually work?" And the quick answer is "yes...but sometimes no."

To explain why you still don't have an answer to this simple question, I need to discuss animals and 'drive levels'. All animals have drive levels, which basically formulates their motivation to do things. Humans have them and so do dogs.

So, if we are motivated to do something and there is no negative to doing it, we generally keep doing it. If there is a negative deterrent and it is strong enough, we stop doing the behaviour.

For us humans, we are motivated by money, so we may rob a bank as a means to get it. However, the negative deterrent is serious jail time and this stops most of us from doing it. Pretty simple really.

Now, consider how many people would be robbing banks if the only punishment was a stern talking to? What's this got to do with citronella bark collars? Well, consider a citronella collar is like a stern talking to. Some of us might stop robbing banks, but many would continue doing it because even though we know we'd get a stern talking to, it's not enough of a reason to stop us from grabbing the money. The same is with citronella collars. A citronella spray collar will work for some dogs but may not be a serious enough deterrent for others.

With electric collars, most have adjustable levels so that we can increase the deterrent to get above the dog's drive level to bark. Unfortunately, citronella spray collars only have one level. If the dog decides to bark through the spray, the citronella bark collar is not going to work for you.


So which dogs are NOT suited to a citronella collar?

Generally, any adult working breed dog is not suited to a citronella collar. The success rate for these types of dogs is very low (less than 20%).


Which dogs ARE suited to a citronella collar?

Young puppies, elderly dogs and pet breed dogs such as Shih Tzu, Maltese, Poodle mixes etc are much better suited to a citronella collar. However, regardless of the breed, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule.


Things To Consider

  • Wind - Outdoor dogs wearing a citronella collar may also be affected by the wind. On windy days, the citronella can be blown away from the dog's snout making the spray ineffective.
  • Running - Dogs that run and bark at the same time often have little success with citronella collars. This is because the dog will run past the spray as they move.
  • Fur - Thick fur is also another potential variable that can prevent citronella spray collars from being an effective form of controlling your dog's barking. The spray may get caught in their fur and not reach their nose.

Whilst citronella collars are often thought of as a more 'humane' option over static electric collars, it is important to understand they do have limitations and are certainly not the most effective method to stop barking in all dog breeds, however, there are plenty of dog owners out there using them successfully. Unfortunately, you will not know if it is going to work for you until you try.