Many years ago, I was contacted by a company to test a new correction collar that didn’t involve a shock but used citronella spray as a correction. I was sent both a bark spray collar and a remote spray collar. I quickly realized these were much better than the shock collars that were being used at that time. People bought shock collars because they thought it was a “quick fix” solution to behavioral and obedience problems, and for many reasons they were more trouble than they were worth. You can read more of my thoughts about shock collars here>: SHOCK COLLARS
Back to my story. I tested the spray collars and thought they were great! The spray doesn’t just directly affect one of a dog’s senses (like the shock does) but four of them, which is why they are more effective than the shock collars. When sprayed, they can see it (it’s a mist) the can feel it (under the chin) they can hear it (pssst!) and they can smell it (citronella). The remote collar set-up worked great for stopping the more difficult behaviors, like digging, chewing, jumping on the other side of the door (to name a few).
There are 3 buttons on the hand-held remote, and when you press the first button, it emits a double beep sound on the collar. The second button emits a short duration of spray (1 second). The third button emits a longer duration of spray (2 seconds).
I thought this is great; you can vary your correction or re-direction by warning them first with the beep sound and because many dogs are sensitive to sound, the beep was the correction, so you didn’t need to spray. If the dog didn’t respond to the beep, the short and longer spray could be used. Those dogs quickly learn the beep was a warning to the more startling spray correction, then after a few beep and spray experiences, the “beep” became the correction. The collars are only part of the behavior modification process, I also incorporated a re-direction reward after the beep or spray marker. I also made sure the dogs had plenty of time to be dogs and get exercised and understand at least five obedience commands, because a tired dog is less likely to display behavioral problems and a smart dog learns not only what to do, but what they’re not supposed to do.
After my evaluation input, the company (Premier Pet Products) wrote in the instruction book to use the beep as a positive sound, letting the dog know that when they hear the beep it’s a good thing. There was also no mention of the redirection follow through reward, which to me is the most important part. When I read that in the instruction manual, I knew the testing from other trainers who gave input was not done properly nor did they read or take my input seriously. Too bad, because many dogs get sprayed when there is no need, and what a waste of the proper use for the beep sound. I haven’t read their instruction booklet in several years, I wonder if changes were made?
Today, I rarely use these collars but it’s nice to have them on hand when I run into the more difficult cases. I can see however, where a few people can benefit from using them, as long as they understand the right way and take all the other steps needed. If you ever purchase a remote spray collar, I don’t recommend using the beep as a reward marker as per instructions. That’s what a “Clicker” or the word “Good” is for.