Sonic dog bark control systems and hearing ranges.
April 7, 2012 8:14 AM   Subscribe

In our two cat, one dog household, we are considering purchasing one of the many available Ultrasonic bark control systems (not the Collar versions!) Would the emitted sounds be audible to / affect the cats in the same way its intended to do for the dog?

Bonus questions: How has your experience with these Sonic systems been? Did they work? Not Work? Did you get the Citronella version instead? Why? How'd it work?
posted by Barmecide to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cats have a greater sensitivity in hearing than dogs. (Dogs 67-45,000 Hz, Cats 45-64,000 Hz). Everything greater than 20,000 Hz is considered 'ultrasonic'.
The older humans get, the worse the hearing gets, this is true for animals as well. But if you have a baby/toddler or exceptionally good hearing you/your kid(s) might hear a high pitched sound yourself depending on the frequency the control system emits.

Another concern is the sensitivity of the device, those devices tend to go off at phones ringing, door bells, loud TVs and so on.
How big is your house? Can the cats (& dog) get away from the annoying noise? What is the range the manufacturer provides?

Have you been to the vet? How old is the dog? Older dogs (7+ depending on breed) who have difficulties hearing often bark more.
Is this new behavior? Is the dog properly trained? Exercised? Did you notice why the dog barks?
posted by travelwithcats at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2012

Response by poster: Fantastic response. Thank you!

This is for a 5 year old Lab/something mix. The behavior is not new. It only occurs when we leave her alone in the condo (about 1,100 sq. ft. (We haven't checked the device ranges yet)), and as far as we can tell, the barking/whining/pawing at the door only continues for about 5 minutes before she settles down.

We're trying several tactics to mitigate the barking/anxiety. Extra exercise on days when we'll be leaving her alone, not making a big fuss when we enter or leave, etc. But within the next couple of months, she might be staying home sans-humans throughout the workday, so we're trying to work this behavior out now, investigate all the options.

Her Easter Pic
posted by Barmecide at 10:24 AM on April 7, 2012

We may need a picutre of the cats too, especially if they have bunny ears of their own, since wearing those may funnel the sound down into their natural ears.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:54 AM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I'll let you be the judge of that:
The 4 year old.
The 14 year old.
posted by Barmecide at 11:05 AM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

This sounds good. The dog is sad you're leaving but settles after a short time. She might not even bark that much over the time you are gone. Does she have chew toys to get over some boredom? Dogs tend to like routines and have some structure, establish that for your new schedule. And they have to hold their bladder all the time you are gone, keep that in mind.

As far as the cats are concerned; your condo is big enough, they should be able to find some quiet place - most indoor bark control devices have a range of about 25 ft. But I am not sure if you really need it, if she really settles after a few minutes. Could you record her behavior?

Beautiful pets!
posted by travelwithcats at 12:34 PM on April 7, 2012

I have heard, shall we say, "mixed reviews" of the ultrasonic bark controllers.

However, I have had great success with the citronella bark collars. You wouldn't think they would work, but I spent a few months working part-time at a doggy daycare, and I have seen them be successful on a variety of dogs. Enough to be extremely impressed at its efficacy.

Many dogs quickly connect the bark and the citronella poof. From that point forward, all you have to do is put the collar on and they quiet right down. In fact, we had several "dummy" collars with empty citronella canisters which we preferred to use for dogs who had learned about them.

(Why? Because there were certain prankster dogs who, seeing someone else in the citronella collar, delighted in barking loudly at the collar while running past.)

Citronella spray to a dog is like a really bad fart smell to us. Their "UGH!!!!" reaction is immediate and powerful. (And hilarious!)
posted by ErikaB at 12:43 PM on April 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stuff a giant Kong full of a combo of treats, kibble, cheese, bits of meat, carrots, peanut butter. Kibble + liver treats + peanut butter is a good combo. Put something on the bottom hole (kibble and peanut butter) so it's not as porous. Fill with broth or water to make it kinda mushy. Freeze. Train dog to go to a crate or special mat when you're leaving, and provide a giant frozen kong every time. Because it's frozen, it takes a while to get through and the work of getting the food out is actually kind of tiring for them. Buy 5 Kongs, make them all on Sunday and freeze for the week.

The first few times you might just keep them refrigerated (with the PB but not broth so it's not a giant mess) instead so that her reward is faster. And ease up on the amount of food she gets so that the kong is part of her daily calories. Use some of her kibble in this kong.

The answer here is to train an alternate behavior which prevents the unwanted behavior... It's called an incompatible behavior because by going to the mat and devouring tasty gross kong, she can't paw and whine at the door as you leave.

Are you sure it's only while you depart? Do you have neighbors who can verify this, especially if you're in an apartment building?
posted by barnone at 1:15 PM on April 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Any kind of bark deterrent is only useful if you are there to reward the behavior you DO want (i.e. not barking). Ultrasonics and shocks and sprays can and do malfunction, resulting in the dog being constantly corrected with no way to stop the correction. barnone's incompatible behavior suggestion is right on the money, as would be desensitizing the dog using a separation anxiety protocol. I would not use an ultrasonic or any other correction-based gadget for this problem, you run the risk of creating a host of new and possibly worse problems. Addressing this as a separation anxiety issue rather than a nuisance behavior issue is likely a better choice.
posted by biscotti at 1:44 PM on April 7, 2012

I've seen good responses with citronella collars. I've seen one dog actually sneeze and ignore the spray every time it squirted as it never made the connection between bark and squirt, and I've seen the older collars go off because another dog standing next to the first dog through a fence barked.

Most of the dogs didn't learn not to bark, they learned not to bark when the collar was on (except the sneezing dog who never seemed to learn anything), I actually think that's a great thing as it doesn't completely squash the dogs ability to bark and have fun in the right circumstances. The collars need to be fitted tightly and pretty high up the neck, a problem with our Rat Terrier who has a greyhound type neck and I imagine on jowly dogs.

I am not a huge fan of leaving electronic correction devices on a dog when people aren't around as things can and do go wrong if something where to go wrong I'd suggest citronella as the least harmful as the little cartridges of citronella don't last that long so you are not waiting for batteries to go flat.

If the barking etc is only while you are going, I would add my voice to the suggestions others have offered of working on the separation anxiety say by distracting the dog with delicious delicious treats he only gets when you are leaving and all the other good suggestions. Of course if you have had complaints from other condo owners then something quicker acting like a collar combined with the treat might be the way to go, so you can eventually ween them off of the collar.
posted by wwax at 7:11 AM on April 8, 2012

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