It always makes me laugh – I know that blog readers heavily favor Maggie.  Maybe I just make her seem more lovable or sillier or cuter than James.  According to you guys, Maggie is Queen.  But in my non-Internet life, everyone… hates… Maggie.  Isn’t that sad?  She is lovable and silly and cute – she’s  a huge cuddle bug – but she has a nasty, nasty habit that turns off most of our friends and family members.  She is really barky.


And by ‘really barky,’ I mean the bad habit is ridiculous.  Maggie barks at:  the door opening and closing, the sound of keys being picked up, any cues that someone is about to leave the house (putting on shoes), a car pulling into the drive, a car driving by, the air, ghosts.  She barks because she is excited, she barks because she is anxious, she barks because she is hungry. 


I’ll take responsibility:  we’re at somewhat at fault for the barking problem.  We never really got serious about correcting it (yelling, “Maggie! Please stop barking!” does not count).  But we’re not totally to blame:  we got her as a two year-old rescue dog riddled with severe separation anxiety.  And dachshunds are notorious barkers.  So we had a lot working against us.



Over the last five years, I’ve just learned to ignore the barking… I felt so bad when it irritated visitors, but I was just apathetic about training her because Maggie is really dense and difficult to train (James is proof that I can actually train a dog – he is perfectly behaved).  It felt like a huge uphill battle that I just didn’t have the energy for.


In hindsight, we should’ve done everything in our power to resolve this issue before the baby was born.  At first, Henry didn’t seem to mind the barking at all (he listened to it in the womb for nine months, after all), but in the last few weeks, he seems more sensitive to it.  People suggested spraying her with a water bottle or shaking a can of coins to snap her out of her barking coma, but neither option was feasible when Henry was falling asleep in my arms or eating.  You certainly can’t shake a can of pennies next to sleeping a baby’s face without severe consequences!


So – I headed to the Internet to seek out some options.  I wanted some sort of anti-bark collar because 1) she needs to be immediately corrected and 2) I can’t necessarily do the correcting because of the baby.  I definitely wanted something humane and affordable, too.  The idea of an electric shock collar bothered me, although I knew the buzz wasn’t supposed to be painful.  So I ended up purchasing the Innotek Anti-Bark Citronella Spray Collar.


The collar has a special box that sits against the dog’s throat.  The side against their skin has a little microphone sensor device, and on the top are two holes:  one to inject the Citronella (an essential oil derived from lemongrass) and the other to spray it out.  When the dog barks, the mike triggers the sprayer to release a puff of Citronella into their face.  It makes a hissing sound and smells rather strong (but kind of good).  In theory, the spray and smell startles the dog and teaches them to associate barking with the unpleasant sensation.


I’ll confess:  I was pretty sure this collar would not work on Maggie.  As I mentioned, Maggie is pretty dense, and I wasn’t convinced that she could figure out that bark = spray.  But when the package arrived on Friday night, I immediately ripped it open, filled the spray box with Citronella, and strapped it on her.  And then I knocked on the door.


The result?  Maggie started to frantically bark (per the usual) and the collar started to spray.  It took three sprays for her to figure out not to bark.  I was FLOORED!  She went and sat by the door with a quiet expression on her face.  She seemed a little confused but certainly not in pain or upset. Over the evening, we had a couple more bark attempts, but each time, she quickly figured out to shut her trap.


The instructions say it takes a few weeks of wearing the collar for the dog to really learn not to bark at all; after that, you may be able to completely stop using it.  In the meantime, I’m giving her lots of praise for being quiet and keeping treats near the door to reward her when she doesn’t bark at visitors.  I also praise her when I put the collar back on so she doesn’t associate me with the collar.   Additionally, every time the spray goes off, we say, “No bark” so we can hopefully just use verbal cues in the future.


The only problem with the collar is that it is very sensitive.  I think this may be to compensate for dogs with lots of hair.  As a result, we had many ‘false positives’ when the spray would go off in her face for no reason.  I felt REALLY bad about that – I didn’t want her to think she was being corrected for just sitting quietly on the couch!  After a few hours of false positives, I decided to cover the mike with two layers of duct tape to create a buffer.  This seems to have resolved the false positive issue, although we’ve had a few more unintentional sprays.


The other problem?  James is terrified of the collar (and thus of Maggie).  He is staying far, far away from Maggie for the time being.  Every time the spray goes off, he jumps up, runs away, and sulks in the corner.  Such a sensitive boy.


In conclusion… if you have a barking dog and other training techniques aren’t working or you are unable to always immediately correct the pup, I would say that the spray collar is a humane and effective option.  Based on a weekend of use, I can tell that it is going to work on Maggie.  Even if it doesn’t fully stop the behavior, if we are reduced to just one bark-spray instead of lots of bark-bark-bark-barks, that’s a win. 


And yes – I put the collar on myself and barked to see what it felt like to be sprayed in the face.  It was no big deal, but it was rather startling.


Anyone else use an anti-bark collar?  Or another effective training device to quiet a noisy puppy?



  • Anne @strawberryjampackedlife September 30, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Poor Maggie. Luckily our dog rarely barks. It’s to the point that if she is barking, it usually means that something is wrong (like her tummy hurts). However, the rest of my family has dachshunds, so I know what you’re talking about with their BIG DOG VOICES. I’m so glad that you’ve figured out something that you’re comfortable with.

  • Sana September 30, 2012, 6:52 pm

    Ah- I knew you would try out the collar!

  • j3nn September 30, 2012, 6:57 pm

    We must have hit the rescue puppy lottery because we have a Chiweenie (Dachshund/Chihuahua mix) and he RARELY barks, and when he does it’s only one woof, sometimes 2 or 3 but then he promptly stops. And he barks at reasonable sounds: The door opening unexpectedly, etc. But other than that, he’s a perfect angel! Like I said, puppy lottery. 🙂

    But this is excellent to know about because we intend to get another doggy and if they have barking habits that are contagious, we might need some help to correct it. Thanks for the review. And yes, Maggie is my favorite because she’s so darn cute and short. 🙂

  • Stephanie C September 30, 2012, 6:57 pm

    Wow! That sounds great. About 5 years ago when I moved in with my husband, we also tried everything with our dog INCLUDING a shock collar. It was WAY too sad. After the first day we just set it aside because while they say it doesn’t hurt them.. she was making faces that told otherwise… and she was still barking. Because she’s a jack russell terrier. I’m going to do some more research on this, because this sounds way more humane, and we’re also moving this week into a more quiet building. Thanks!

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles September 30, 2012, 7:09 pm

    I love how you tried the collar yourself – that is definitely good dog ownership right there! I’ve never been a fan of shock collars but understood their necessity…this seems like an awesome alternative. Filed away for when I get a dog (hopefully sooner rather than later).

  • Andrea September 30, 2012, 7:10 pm

    I can’t believe you put the collar on yourself and tried it – that’s hilarious! I would probably never get a dog – it’s so much work! I like dogs though, just don’t want to own one. But you seem like an amazing dog owner. You put so much thought and effort into all your decisions with them. They are lucky to have you as an owner! I’m sure you feel equally as lucky to have them.

    • Caitlin September 30, 2012, 7:12 pm

      They are my little buddies for sure 🙂

  • Amanda September 30, 2012, 7:22 pm

    That’s wonderful news. If a weekend worked, then I’m sure a couple of weeks will train her completely. The nice thing is that you can use it again if she relapses. Good for you!

  • kristin September 30, 2012, 7:23 pm

    i need one of those!!!! We just adopted a socially neglected 10 month old vizsla/weim mix who barks at everything like maggie! and it is a loud bark!!!

  • Lyn September 30, 2012, 7:24 pm

    Totally off topic but – Caitlin did you ever do the Great Race when you were a Pitt student? I just did it today (the 10K) – so much fun!

    • Caitlin September 30, 2012, 8:35 pm

      no! i always wanted to though. i hope you had funnnn!

  • kristin September 30, 2012, 7:24 pm

    question though…do you think she would start to associate the spray with visitors coming over instead of the barking??? and in turn not like visitors?? hmm like you said though its better than the constant barking!!!

    • Caitlin September 30, 2012, 8:35 pm

      hmm i dunno, she barks a lot of things so i think she might not make that specific association.

  • kelli September 30, 2012, 7:36 pm

    We have a barker and we got a “bark off” thing and its a high pitch sounds when he barks and he’s so trained now we just show it to him and he stops!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 30, 2012, 7:39 pm

    That’s a great idea, I like that it’s a spray and not a shock. I think that would make me awful if I put a shock collar on my dog even if it wasn’t supposed to hurt them!

  • Sandy September 30, 2012, 7:46 pm

    Sounds like a great solution. So funny that you tried it out first. 😉 We have a tiny like morkie(Maltese/yorkie) and she doesn’t bark alot but we’ve been starting to spray her with water for correction and it seems to be working. Thanks for the review.

  • Lindsay September 30, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I have a lab/ german shepherd mix who was very disobedient because I would let her get away with things, but had the ability to be perfectly trained. I got her when she was 4 months and hired a dog trainer that came to my house. After six weeks of training, she would be perfect when the trainer came, but not as good when it was just me. I also didn’t have the man power to make her obey as well as the trainer could. At the end of the training I bought an electric shock collar. OMG. totally different dog. I, like you, put it one and shocked myself so I would know what it felt like- no big deal, but definitely NOT pleasant. Now, I don’t even have to use it, except for rare occasions. Everyone comments now on how well behaved my dog is!! I’ve never heard of the citronella collar. I’m glad it’s working with Maggie!

    • Ali October 1, 2012, 9:21 pm

      Those shock collars can malfunction and burn the dog’s throat! I do not know why any dog owner would ever EVER use them. It’s completely irresponsible.

  • Sean September 30, 2012, 7:47 pm

    For the record, I was always Team James!

  • Be September 30, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Just wanted to pop in an say I’m a James fan. I’m more of a cat person and I coul see Maggie driving me nuts 🙂

    • Caitlin September 30, 2012, 8:34 pm

      hahah james for the winnnn

  • Heather September 30, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Wow! So glad to read this post. We have a couple of chronic barkers too. We are used to it, hut I admit we have people over less often because its such a pain to deal with.

  • Alli September 30, 2012, 8:19 pm

    You should read the blog post by this woman, an animal behaviour specialist, about anti-bark collars

    It is the post dated 29 August. Basically, her take on such devices is that they are to be avoided at all costs as they are associated with aggression in dogs. Just something you may wish to take into account with a baby in the house.

    • Caitlin September 30, 2012, 8:34 pm

      Good to know! thanks 🙂

  • Shallin September 30, 2012, 8:27 pm

    I hysterically laughed out loud at the last line! I love that you tried it yourself. Thanks for the funny moment – I definitely need that tonight!

  • Whitney @ whit likes fit September 30, 2012, 8:29 pm

    We have that collar but ours has a remote so it only sprays when we want it to. It’s awesome and we don’t have to deal with the accidental spray. Ours only works with the remote though so not sure if its something that could be added to yours. Also our battery and citronella wear out pretty quickly so make sure you have backups and turn the collar off whenever you’re not using it. Good luck.

  • Nikki September 30, 2012, 8:54 pm

    Ummm I think James is the most awesome beautiful looking dog and I think Maggie is kind of meh (no offense! They are both cute, but when comparing, James dominates).

  • Kristy September 30, 2012, 9:11 pm

    I’d have to say that you’re pretty lucky. I too have a daschund & while he’s my big fat cuddle bug… Everyone outside of my close family also hates him. He doesn’t bark (other than at the doorbell ringing, mail man dropping off or occasional passerby) but he is a total ass. He’s snippy and cannot be trusted around people that he doesn’t know. Being a rescue dog that we got around age 2 as well, he will growl at, snip & even attempt to bite anyone who he doesn’t feel comfortable with (which is practically anyone). And it makes me so sad because we can’t ever really take him many places. I would take the annoying barking in a heartbeat over his paranoid/aggressive behavior. Good to hear that that citronella collar works!! Hoping for a happy pup & baby!

  • Jennifer September 30, 2012, 10:17 pm

    Glad it is working for you. Nothing is worse than finally getting the baby asleep and then have the dog start barking! On a totally unrelated note, did you watch Call the Midwife? It’s a British hit that is debuting here on PBS. Watched it tonight and thought it was great!

    • Caitlin October 1, 2012, 9:03 am

      I have not! But I’ll see if I can find it and watch it.

  • Avery @ YoungAspirations September 30, 2012, 10:20 pm

    I just laughed out loud at the thought of you putting the collar on yourself.. I’m laughing just typing that! Ha.

    Love that it worked for Maggie! Poor James.. hopefully he’ll get used to it soon!

  • Cher @ Weddicted September 30, 2012, 11:42 pm

    My sister-in-law tried one on her lab and it seemed like it didn’t faze him at all! It was working but he didn’t show any signs of being affected by it. Maybe because he was too big..
    Hopefully your pup adapts soon.

  • Kate S. September 30, 2012, 11:52 pm

    My parents have two rescue dogs: one basset/beagle mix and one pointer/black lab mix. They’re both barkers and awhile back my parents decided to put citronella collars on them. The collar worked great for the lab–he didn’t like it at all and stopped barking. But the beagle didn’t respond to it and kept barking, so after a few weeks my parents took it off the beagle but left one on the lab. After awhile, we noticed the lab would look super sad and pathetic every time the beagle started barking BECAUSE HE WAS GETTING SPRAYED IN THE FACE EVERY TIME HIS BROTHER BARKED. Ha! I know it’s kind of terrible, but it was so funny how sad he was about the situation, like “why am *I* being punished? I hate my life :(” with his big brown puppy dog eyes. He’d even droop his head down and look forlornly at the floor while it was happening. Needless to say, no more bark collars.

  • Leslie October 1, 2012, 12:16 am

    In my opinion Maggie is the cutest, but… James sounds like the sweetest. That is the cutest picture of you and Henry. He is growing up so quickly. What a beautiful smile he has.

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? October 1, 2012, 12:44 am

    I’ve been seriously considering getting one of these. My dog has the worst attitude when it comes to other dogs, and nothing I do seems to work. She barks and snarls and it’s just awful.
    My boss tried one of these collars on his dog a few months ago, and it took less than a week for him to be like a whole new dog. It was amazing. The only thing stopping me is the price. They’re not cheap (at least not here), and I just can’t bring myself to part with the money quite yet.

  • Emily B October 1, 2012, 2:42 am

    Just a question, how much did it cost? I saw an anti-bark collar in an animal warehouse when I was looking and it was like $130 Australian dollars which is a lot to pay if Bruce – my west highland white terrier – doesn’t respond to it. He has this annoying habit of barking while we’re in the middle of an important phone call and he scares the daylights out of our blind cat Wilson. I tried taking him to puppy school when we got him but they told me to get a CHOKER chain because he was so disobedient, which all the vets think is really cruel so we stopped taking him to puppy school.

    • Caitlin October 1, 2012, 9:03 am


  • Helen October 1, 2012, 7:19 am

    My mother in law has a yappy, naughty terrier who woofs a lot. She got one of these and it worked for a while until naughty little terrier worked out she just had to bark to the side to avoid getting wet….

    May I suggest every now and then you put the collar on without the citronella, just to keep her on her toes 🙂

    • Kristen October 1, 2012, 9:46 pm

      LOL! When I first read this I thought you said your mother in law IS a yappy, naughty terrier. I’m glad I reread- I was thinking you put the collar on your elderly relative!

      • Helen October 2, 2012, 9:40 am

        Hahahaha!!! That has made my day!!

  • Anne October 1, 2012, 7:48 am

    I heard that dogs will learn better with positive training than “negative” ones… Dog trainers work with food rewards, nothing else, it’s like a question of timing, the moment she acts good=treat, hugs and good words. But it takes practice and time…

    • Caitlin October 1, 2012, 9:03 am

      Not on Maggie – she did a six week course to figure out how to walk on a leash using positive reinforcements and the trainer told me she was UNTRAINABLE. I kid you not.

      • Anne October 2, 2012, 1:48 pm

        Ahahahah. Ok !

  • Reenie October 1, 2012, 7:51 am

    Oh yea, I’m glad it’s working for lil Mags. Ahhh the pic of James is so cute.

    I need to get one for my neighbor’s dog (they live 4 houses from me) …. that barks non-stop all day and nite. Very annoying!

  • Alett October 1, 2012, 8:04 am

    glad the citronella spray collar is working for you (or rather Maggie). As I mentioned in another post, we tried it for our JRT and we just ended up with a great smelling dog/house and an empty collar LOL.

    for the record, i had NO idea that Maggie was heavily favored -> I seriously love them both equally! ha!

    • Stephanie C October 12, 2012, 8:57 pm

      This makes me sad :\ We have a JRT and just moved. Neighbor complained she was barking while we were gone so I had to order this to try.. hoping it’s not a breed thing and it works a miracle on this JRT!

  • Annie October 1, 2012, 8:19 am

    I use the citronella collar on my dog, a golden retriever, and really like it. One effect that I particularly appreciate about the anti-bark collar as well, which I don’t think people necessarily realize (and I didn’t realize until I was discussing it with a dog trainer this summer), is that it also teaches the dog that he or she doesn’t HAVE to respond to everything. For a dog with anxiety – like mine – who feels the need to respond and get worked into a frenzy over every sound that he can’t immediately identify, this is really great. I feel like my dog’s anxiety level has been greatly alleviated. He’s so much more relaxed now.

    One more thing – don’t get it wet! I mistakenly left it on Cody when I was at my family’s lake house and let him outside. He immediately bee-lined it to the lake (his standard MO), and it started to spray him incessantly when he jumped in the water. Needless to say, we had to replace it.

  • Andrea October 1, 2012, 8:31 am

    Good luck with the collar. My experience is that in the long run, if the dog is smart, they will figure out not to bark or misbehave when wearing the collar, but going back to old habits when they are not wearing one…

  • Katie October 1, 2012, 8:53 am

    This is intriguing! I feel like the collar could be messy. I picture oil shooting all over the place, including getting caked/coated the dog’s fur. Obviously I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does sound messy. Is it?

    • Caitlin October 1, 2012, 9:02 am

      It’s smelly but not messy at all.

      • Katie October 1, 2012, 10:08 am


  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) October 1, 2012, 11:29 am

    I have this same collar, and it seems to work on my dad’s dog. However, you have to be there and not keep it on the dog unless you’re there watching for things like “false positives.” Otherwise, it’s a great option.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 1, 2012, 12:41 pm

    Way to go, Maggie! I think she’s going to get the hang of it. Man, our family needed this collar for our dog, Trippy, growing up. We used to get postcards from a neighbor telling us to shut his yapper! ha

  • melissa October 1, 2012, 8:24 pm

    I really wish you luck because when my girls were babies we had a Sheltie and they are barking royalty. Never did get him to stop and he lived to be 15 years old. I also really wish you would audition for The Dog Whisperer. I’d love to see Cesar work with you and husband and Maggie. I bet you’d get on the show if you tried.

  • Gloria October 1, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I’m totally recommending this to one of my clients. I’m a social worker and do home visits often with a man who has a dog that barks literally the whole time I am there. I was making an important phone call once re: his health insurance and could not get through the automated part of the call where it recognizes your answers because the dog kept answering for me! We meet in my car sometimes just to avoid the barking.

    • Caitlin October 1, 2012, 9:22 pm

      haha omg.

  • kelly October 2, 2012, 8:37 am

    Thank you for this! My dog is an a-hole barker too and it is not fun with an 11 month old. And my whole family rejoices when I do not bring him along with me.. haha. I’ve tried the ultrasonic pet training devices, but they only work when you sit there and press the button every time they bark to correct them. We got lazy and he reverted back to his old ways. I am definitely going to try one of these collars 🙂

  • Kim October 2, 2012, 11:34 am

    I use that same collar on my dog. It worked really well at first, but now she’s learned that she can bark and then move out of the citronella cloud to avoid the smell. So now she’s barking and running around a lot. =(

  • Michelle October 5, 2012, 6:53 pm

    We have the same collar! It is amazing and we’ve even replaced it after we broke the old one. So effective and I’ve accidentally sprayed myself in the face enough times to know it is safe and humane.

  • Chantal October 5, 2012, 11:17 pm

    James fan over here! He’s just such an interesting combo of breeds.

  • Kaylin October 24, 2012, 11:30 am

    We use this same collar on our pitbull mix who barks for attention. Again, totally our fault for never correcting it properly by ignoring her, but we are renters and would hate for her to bark and bark and bark and bother our neighbors. After a week of using this collar, all it takes is for us to take the collar out or put it on her (we don’t even have to turn it on anymore) and she lays down. Harmless and inexpensive!

  • LMN November 2, 2012, 10:00 am

    Is this still working for you? I am thinking of buying one for my puppy brother…

    • Caitlin November 2, 2012, 11:03 am

      It works but has gotten less effective.

      • LMN November 4, 2012, 1:15 pm

        Thanks. I’m nervous the silly pup will either 1) like it, as he loves the spray bottle or 2) get used to it

  • Kim January 23, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Like LMN, I’m wondering does this still work? I have a nine year old sheltie & we have fought tooth and nail about her incessant barking for… well… nine years. I few years ago I got a shocking bark collar- the cheaper, not-so-powerful, two-setting type, and for a couple of months it was great. Then, I guess she got over it. We (worriedly) turned it to the “HIGH” setting. It worked just a few more times, before she was back to her fits. I gave up. I didn’t want to get anything more harmful. We just… dealt… with her screaming at us for everything.
    Now, I have a special needs daughter and a wonderful home-health nurse who may not tolerate it much longer. I need to revisit, but I don’t know what to get.

  • Colton Xavier March 26, 2013, 2:04 am

    I tried spray bark collar to my 2 year old dog and it work for a couple of weeks, it just take a lot of effort, positive training and patience before he starts to link the scent to his excessive barking. very effective!

  • Jamee April 15, 2013, 8:06 pm

    I am looking for something to control my dogs barking. I have 4 dogs but 2 of them are the ones doing the most barking or the cause of the entire gang to start barking. My question is if one dog is wearing the collar and a different dog in the home barks that is not wearing the collar does the dog wearing the collar get sprayed? I am torn between the spary collar for one dog and once that dog has stopped barking putting the collar on the other dog to train her. Or, is the vibrating collar with a remote and two collars the better choice? Has anyone had to train two dogs possibly more in one home and how did you do it? Thanks

  • Will June 1, 2013, 3:30 am

    The specific collar you mention is ridiculously sensitive.
    I also had to put tape on, but it’s not the answer.

    I can not recommend this collar to anyone.
    I used to think electric ones were bad, until I moved to a Dingo populated place. They use them here as perimeters, Dingos will lure a dog out of the property and kill it. I then changed my mind as I realised that these people love their dogs.

  • Janaya November 8, 2013, 6:34 pm

    What would your opinion be about one of these and a brachycephalic pup like a pug and their throats as well as their bulging eyes?

  • Liane April 20, 2014, 2:19 am

    The Innotek citrus spray anti-bark collar is a dud. I’ve bought 2 of the same models as yours in the past year ($110 each – the first shop wouldn’t refund me as I didn’t keep my receipt) at different pet shops and both have stopped working within 4 months of purchase. Steer clear! Seems they had a couple of bad batches but didn’t recall any. The man at the second shop which did refund my money said that in recent months they’ve been inundated with people returning broken Innotek spray modules. The shop opened some packets and tested some brand new ones and even they didn’t all work. They’re good when they work but they don’t keep working.

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