Do Citronella Bark Collars Work?

Filed in Dog Training by on October 4, 2021

Do Citronella Bark Collars Work

If you’ve got a talkative puppy on your hands, you know how difficult it can be to train them. Some dogs bark more than others, and some react better to training.

But if you’re at your wit’s end trying to find a solution for barking, a citronella bark collar can be a good option. These no-shock dog collars can be a more humane way to train them.

So, do citronella bark collars work? That all depends on your dog and how you plan on training with them.

Read on to learn if a citronella bark collar will work for you.

What Is Citronella?


To better understand citronella bark collars, you have to know what goes into them. Citronella is an essential oil derived from the lemongrass plant. It has a potent aroma that smells like lemon.

Even though humans generally enjoy the smell of citronella, dogs have an aversion to it. Ingesting the oil can be toxic to humans in large quantities, and even toxic to dogs in small quantities.

That being said, a citronella bark collar won’t use very much citronella. It’ll only generate a small amount of spray, enough to make your dog smell something unpleasant.

They’ll also hear and feel the spray. Just make sure to limit how much citronella gets into their ears and eyes. If they aren’t exposed to very much, it shouldn’t be a health risk.

How Do Citronella Bark Collars Function?

A citronella bark collar is a small, lightweight collar that you put around your dog’s neck. A microcircuit inside the collar triggers the citronella spray whenever your dog barks.

It doesn’t use any loud sounds or administer a shock, like other e-collars. Because of this, it’s often considered a humane alternative.

The collar recognizes the barking sound, so a citronella bark collar isn’t recommended for multiple dog households. Another dog may bark, and the dog with the collar would get unfairly sprayed.

Many citronella bark collars use citronella for the smell, but you can fill the valve with any liquid. Some people simply use water or dilute their citronella.

Does It Work?

dog barking

If you’re coming to this article because you’ve asked yourself: “Do citronella bark collars work?”, you’ll have to consider multiple factors.

Citronella bark collars won’t necessarily work for every dog, because every dog is different. They bark for different reasons, may misunderstand the collar, or simply become desensitized to it.

How to Use Them Correctly

There are three main training methods you can use with a citronella bark collar. The first is the most effective, the second is somewhat effective, and the last is the least effective.

A: With the “Quiet” Cue

When you use this technique, your dog learns that being quiet on the quiet cue brings a reward, but barking when you give the quiet cue gets him sprayed.

This is the best technique for using a citronella bark collar, as your dog won’t associate wearing the collar with getting sprayed.

For this method, simply follow these steps:

  1. Introduce the dog collar without using the spray, for at least 1-3 days. That way, he’ll get used to wearing the collar.
  1. Monitor your dog when you know he’s likely to bark. This will give you an opportunity to use the quiet cue.
  1. Fill the collar with citronella and give your dog the quiet cue.
  1. Watch for bark triggers, such as people walking by or noise outside. If he:
  • Doesn’t bark, give him a treat
  • Barks but stops when he’s sprayed, give him a treat when he’s quiet
  1. Keep repeating until your dog doesn’t bark at all. Reward and praise your dog when they get a bark trigger but don’t bark.
  1. Repeat the next days and weeks so your dog learns that not barking equals treats and praise, and barking equals spray.

This training method is the most effective because your dog learns that positive reinforcement comes from not barking. You may eventually not have to put the collar on your dog after training with this method.

B: Neckband Correction with the Quiet Cue

dog barking aggressively

This method involves using the collar when your dog barks. Your dog will associate the collar with barking. He won’t bark when the collar is on, but he’ll continue to bark when the collar is off.

To follow this training method, follow these steps:

  1. Fill the collar with citronella and wait for a situation where your dog will likely bark. Don’t put the collar on your dog yet.
  1. Give your dog the quiet cue.
  1. When he starts barking, put the collar on him. Don’t scold him, just put the collar on him and give your dog the quiet cue. Leave the room.
  1. Your dog will be sprayed when he barks. He’ll stop barking when he’s sprayed. When he starts to bark again, he’ll be sprayed again. Wait until there’s a 1-2 minute period when he hasn’t barked, then come back in and praise and play with him.
  1. Release your dog and give them the quiet command again.
  1. Repeat the process. Every time there’s a longer period without barking, come back and praise your dog.

When you use this method, the dog won’t stop barking without the collar. You’ll have to use the collar every time you want them to stop.

C: Correction Without Training

This method is considered the least effective training method because your dog only learns that barking receives punishment. He doesn’t learn an appropriate action instead of barking, and won’t be rewarded for an alternate behavior.

If you don’t want to train your dog with the collar, simply:

  1. Fill the collar with citronella. Put the collar on your dog and walk away.

This method can be very stressful for your dog, and they may even continue barking even though they’re being sprayed. Your dog may also not recognize they’re being punished for barking, and only sense an attack with the spray. If this is the case, he may become defensive and lash out.

The Root of the Problem

Citronella bark collars only address the barking, without getting to the root of the problem. If your dog is barking because they’re scared, have anxiety, or have other behavior problems, it’s important to remember a citronella bark collar won’t fix that. It’ll only punish the barking behavior.

That being said, citronella bark collars are certainly a more humane choice compared to shock collars. Shock collars are painful and can result in intense psychological damage.


So, do citronella bark collars work?

The answer is completely dependent on you and your dog. Yes, they certainly can work. With the right training, a citronella bark collar can work on a dog with a good temperament.

Dogs are eager to please you. Once they know what you want them to do, it isn’t always a challenge to train them to stop barking.

A citronella bark collar won’t work in every situation, though. If your dog barks so much they get desensitized to the spray, it won’t work. It also won’t be effective if you don’t train your dog with the collar.

If you don’t teach them you want them to be quiet rather than to bark, they won’t learn that simply from leaving the citronella bark collar on them.

As I said before, a citronella bark collar also won’t address the root of the problem. If your dog suffers from stress or anxiety, it will only address the barking, but won’t stop their anxiety.

If your dog’s anxiety is very bad, they may need medication combined with good training.

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