Many dog owners struggle to get their pups to stop barking. It's a known issue among dogs and traditional training methods may sometimes not work with a very stubborn canine. This type of behavior requires correction and one of the most effective ways to do so is with citronella dog collar.
What Are Citronella Dog Collars?
A citronella dog collar is a type of spray bark collar that's often recommended to use by dog trainers with stubborn pets instead of more harmful shock bark collars. They work like spray dog collars that use water or lemon juice in order to correct bad behavior, especially barking. These collars use citronella oil instead, which when used in small (spray) quantities is a harmless essential oil that comes from the lemongrass plant.
While you may find the smell of this oil pleasant, dogs and other animals don’t enjoy the smell of citronella. These collars first detect the bark before they squirt a bit of citronella liquid near your dog’s head, which usually distracts the dog and gets him to stop barking.
When this process gets repeated many times, your puppy will understand that his barking is triggering the spray. Basically, these collars mildly irritate your dog and use this negative reinforcement to prevent nuisance barking. An according to a study, they are also the most effective barking deterrent among dogs.
Below in the article, we've reviewed and ranked the best citronella dog collar choices:
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How to Use Citronella Dog Collar?
Citronella dog collars are quite simple to use, especially if you choose an automatic collar. However, if you choose a manually triggered collar, you must be consistent and spray as needed, until your pooch understands which behavior triggers the spray. Once the behavior has been corrected, you can (and should) stop using the collar.
Keep in mind that some of these collars discharge whenever you turn them on. It is best to turn them on before you put it on your dog and remember to point them away from your face when you do it.
You may need to get your pet used to wearing the citronella dog collar first. The key is to do it gradually until he is fully comfortable. Just start with 10-15 minutes at a time, and slowly increase the length you leave it on him. However, even when your dog gets used to it, you shouldn’t leave the collar on all the time. Try to find adequate times to use it, like when you leave him home alone or when he meets other dogs.
There are some dogs who don’t mind the smell and taste of citronella and if your pooch is one of them, he might try to trigger the discharge on purpose. It’s best to choose some other type of harmless pet collar if that’s the case, such as a vibrating dog collar, to fix his barking.
How Safe Is Citronella for Dogs?
This essential oil is generally safe, although it can be toxic if it gets ingested in large quantities. The amount that's sprayed at a time is minimal, thus they are still considered harmless to pets. However, you should only use the collar as needed and stop its use once you believe the behavior has been fixed.
Note that some dogs may be more sensitive to citronella. Observe your pooch and his reaction to being sprayed. If he appears to be extremely sensitive, do not use the collar. If you notice any signs of digestive distress, like vomiting, diarrhea or any drastic changes in your dog’s behavior after using a citronella collar with your dog, talk to your vet. It may or may not be caused by citronella, but do not use the collar until you consult with them.
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Citronella Dog Collar
Size is the first thing you need to consider when you buy any kind of collar, including the citronella dog collar. You need to measure and know exactly what your dog’s neck size is in order to find the collar that will fit him right. It is best to measure it yourself instead of relying on general breed range or rough estimate.
In most cases, the manufacturer will point out the measurements of the collar, which can help you find the right size for your pooch, as long as you know his neck size. Also, you should always look for adjustable collars because it will be easier to fit them on your dog.
2. Manual vs automatic
Choosing between manual or automatic citronella dog collar can make a world of difference, so let’s take a look at how these collars work.
Manual collars come with a remote and allow you to decide when your dog needs to get the spray. The advantage here lies in the fact that you can use your citronella collar for correcting other behaviors, not just nuisance barking. However, you will have to always be on guard and be consistent when you use it.
Automatic collars are triggered whenever they detect a bark, which means that they work even when you are away from home, which is a huge advantage. If your dog has separation anxiety and barks every time you leave, an automatic collar is the way to go.
If you decide to get an automatic citronella collar, choose one with two-way verification. This means that the collar will only release the spray if it detects both the vibration of your dog’s throat and the sound of barking. That prevents the device from getting triggered by the barking of other dogs, or even some other sounds.
The majority of citronella collars are made of webbing material, especially nylon and leather, like other traditional collars. However, there are some that are made of rubber or plastic, like watchbands. Webbing materials are more flexible and comfortable, but other materials can be much easier to use.
4. Water Resistance
While you may not want to go swimming with your pooch and while there aren’t many waterproof citronella dog collars out there, this can be an important factor to consider, especially if you live in a climate where it rains a lot. The collar doesn’t really have to be waterproof, water resistant collars will hold well in the rain as well.
5. Battery life and spray
Batteries in these dog collars can either be rechargeable or disposable, although disposable batteries are more common with citronella collars. However, you need to check whether batteries and spray are included, or you have to buy them separately. Some collar may have a very affordable price, but if it comes without batteries or spray, that can inflate the cost in the end.
Pay attention to the size of the cartridge which is filled with citronella oil because if it is too small, you will have to refill it more often. And now that you know what’s important to look for when buying a good citronella dog collar, let’s take a look at the five of our favorite brands that are considered to be the best citronella dog collar options.
The Best Citronella Dog Collar Choices
Downtown Pet Supply NO BARK Citronella Spray Collar
This product probably has the best value from all on our list. It comes at a very affordable price, with a spray can and battery included. Unfortunately, the battery is disposable and you will have to replace it at some point.
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This collar comes with an adjustable strap that can fit all dogs over 6 pounds. This device is not water resistant and we failed to get any information about the cartridge capacity. While you will need to assemble it yourself, it is very easy to use since it is an automatic collar.
Another great thing about this product is the two-step verification. However, despite this, there are some users who claimed accidental activation. Some dog owners reported that the collar stopped working shortly after they started using it. The reviews are mixed on this and it may be considered a bit of a gamble, but the product also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
PROS: Adjustable Collar, Comes with Spray Can, Two-Step Verification, Easy to Use, Money Back Guarantee
CONS: Disposable Battery, Unknown Cartridge Capacity, Not Water Resistant, Not Very Durable, Reports of Accidental Activation
PetSafe Remote Spray Trainer
Unlike the previous entries on our list, this collar is manual and comes with a remote you can use to trigger the spray. It also includes another training mode, an audible beeping tone. The range of the remote is capped at 80 feet, which is not really impressive considering the high price of the collar.
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The collar is designed for dogs that weigh more than 8 pounds and the adjustable webbing strap is suitable for dogs with neck sizes up to 23 inches. This means that it is not fit for some of the bigger breeds.
The receiver is fully waterproof and submersible up to 5 feet. Even though that’s not a great depth, it is still more than other citronella collars can offer. The capacity of the cartridge is at standard 25-30 refills and the spray can with capacity of 300-400 sprays is included in the offer. This device uses 2 disposable 6-volt batteries, which is a bit disappointing. For that price, we would expect rechargeable batteries.
PROS: Two Training Modes, Adjustable Collar, Waterproof, Good Cartridge Capacity, Comes with a Spray Can
CONS: Expensive, Disposable Batteries, Not Suitable for Largest Breeds, Some Reports of Receiving a Defective Product
PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar for Dogs
This is one of the best automatic citronella collars on the market, with mostly positive reviews from users who report quick results. The collar has an adjustable nylon strap that fits dogs over 6 pounds and up to 24 inches in neck size. It is also water resistant, making it perfect for any weather conditions.
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Despite the price being a bit higher compared to other automatic collars, this device comes with a spray can, which provides for 300-400 sprays per can. The cartridge has a capacity of 25-30 sprays per refill, a standard for most citronella collars. The battery is included but disposable.
While most users were happy with the product, there were some reports of accidental activation, and some owners even reported that the device broke down after a couple of months. However, PetSafe has great customer service and most of their products come with a warranty.
PROS: Adjustable Collar, Water Resistant, Good Cartridge Capacity, Spray Can Included, Easy to Use, Good Customer Service
CONS: Expensive, Disposable Battery, Some Reports of Accidental Activation, Not Suitable for Largest Breeds
JK TECH Anti-Bark Spray Collar
This watchband-style plastic collar comes with an adjustable strap, which can cover dogs over 8 pounds and with neck sizes up to 22″. That’s good enough for most dog breeds, except for the largest dogs. The collar is also water resistant, but not waterproof.
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The battery is rechargeable and comes with a micro USB cable. This product is equipped with a LED power indicator, which helps you to know when you need to recharge it.
This collar has an adjustable spray nozzle, which allows you to choose the amount of citronella sprayed when it gets triggered. The capacity of the cartridge is 25-30 sprays per refill, but the spray itself is unfortunately not included, which is one reason why this collar is so affordable.
In addition to the lack of spray, there are some reports of leakage from the device, as well as numerous reports of the product not working at all. Some dog owners also said that the collar sprayed their dog at random times, not being triggered by barking.
PROS: Adjustable Collar, Rechargeable Battery, Water Resistant, Adjustable Spray Nozzle, Affordable Price, LED Display, Good Cartridge Capacity
CONS: Doesn’t Include Spray Can, Reports of Leakage, Reports of Malfunction, Reports of Accidental Activation
Barkguard BT-88C Citronella Automatic Anti-Bark Collar
This is another automatic anti-bark collar and it is very similar to the first product on our list, especially in the price department. Unfortunately, the spray can is not part of the package here either but this collar is compatible with citronella refill from other manufacturers, like PetSafe or Dogtek.
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The collar itself comes with an adjustable nylon strap that covers neck sizes from 8″ to 24″. That is a nice range, so the collar can fit any dog except for the largest breeds. The batteries in the collar are disposable, so that’s another cost you can expect at a later date.
The capacity of the cartridge is up to 25 sprays per refill, which is on par with other, more expensive citronella collars. However, some users reported that the collar is not very durable, while a few dog owners said that it is too sensitive and gets triggered by sounds other than barking.
PROS: Adjustable Collar, Good Cartridge Capacity, Easy to Use, Affordable Price
CONS: Disposable Batteries, Not Suitable for Largest Breeds, Not Very Durable, Reports of Accidental Activation, Spray Can Not Included, Not Water Resistant
A good citronella dog collar will be safe, harmless, painless and very effective for your dog’s nuisance barking. If you choose manual citronella collar, you can use it for other types of dog training as well.
When you shop for one of these collars, choose one that is easy to use and comes with an adjustable strap. Check beforehand whether batteries and spray can are included or sold separately, because that can inflate the price.