Evaluation of dogs wearing electronic and citronella spray bark control collars

Poster Presented in Tuskegee, AL, on March 3 - 6, 2004


S. Chandler, J. Johnson, J. Persaud, P. Reisdorff
TUSVM Veterinary Students
J. Steiss, C. B. Schaffer , H. A. Ahmad
College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health
Tuskegee University
V. Voith
Division of Animal Services
Albuquerque, NM
Presenter: S. Chandler
Presentation Overview:
OBJECTIVES: To study physiological and behavioral responses of healthy dogs wearing electronic or citronella spray bark control collars, effectiveness of the collars, and differences between collars.
MATERIALS & METHODS: 24 adult dogs (14 male, 10 female, mixed breed) housed at a humane shelter were evaluated by physical examination, complete blood count, serum biochemistry, and baseline cortisol. Dogs were randomly assigned to control, electronic collar or citronella collar groups (8/group). Dogs were acclimated to personnel, equipment, bark stimulus (a strange dog walked in front of the run), and an inactivated collar. The 2nd blood sample was wk 2 (acclimation baseline). Wk 3 and 4, 30 min/day x 3 days, collars were activated. The bark stimulus was presented 3 times. Blood was taken wk 3 d1, d3, and wk 4 d3. Barking and activity (counting the times the left front foot crossed gridlines on the floor) were measured daily.
RESULTS: Dogs with electronic and citronella collars barked less than controls (p<0.05) starting day 2, without significant difference between collar types. Mean number of corrections for the 1st 3 days were 4, 0 and 0 (electronic) and 2, 1 and 0 (citronella). There was no difference in activity. Dogs with electronic collars, but not citronella, had significantly elevated cortisol only on the 1st day of wearing an activated collar, after which cortisol gradually decreased. Wk 1 cortisol was elevated vs wk 2, likely due to handling. There were no differences in ACTH.
SUMMARY: 24 dogs housed at a humane shelter wore either a citronella spray bark collar, electronic bark collar or inactivated control collar, 30 min/day, 3 days/wk for 2 wk, after acclimation. Both electronic and citronella collars significantly reduced barking, with no significant difference between collars. Barking significantly decreased starting the 2nd day. Dogs with an electronic collar had a mild increase in blood cortisol only on the 1st day of activation.