The Only Thing That’s Gotten My Pooch to Stop Barking

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Best Bark Collar
The spray is annoying, but it doesn’t hurt.
PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar
$50, Amazon

Mickey, our toy poodle, is cute, affectionate, and playful — a woman on the street recently called him “an elegant little fool” — and I can spend significant portions of the day cooing at him as he naps on my chest. Sometimes — as in multiple times per week — I find myself Googling phrases like, “Is is possible to be in love with your dog?” and “I love my dog so much it hurts.”

I don’t mind when he begs for food, or lurches me into oncoming traffic in pursuit of a squirrel, or gnaws on my hand, or humps my foot, or wedges his way between my husband and me in the middle of the night. But I do mind his barking, which is bloodcurdlingly shrill — an objectively annoying bark, leagues worse than those of other dogs, and made more awful in the summer when the windows are down and every passing pedestrian provokes him to yelp. We’ve tried yelling at him, ignoring him, and tapping him on the snout with a rolled up newspaper, but the only thing that works is the PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar.

A bark-preventing collar sounds inhumane, but I swear it’s not. The innocuous-looking gray box is affixed to a nylon collar, and registers vocal-chord vibrations. In response, it spritzes citronella-infused water in penalizing bursts. Mickey is invariably stunned when it happens, barks again to test it, is stunned once more, and is then dead quiet for the rest of the day. The water doesn’t hurt him, just surprises him. The water is citronella-infused because dogs — like bugs — find it unpleasant (though unscented-water refills are available, too). I imagine it’s like the glaucoma puff-of-air test they give you at the optometrist. Frankly, though, I’m not overly concerned. It makes him shut up and turn back into what he should be: pet and not heard.

Other dog products we love

Orvis Farmhouse Pottery Dog Bowl
$98, Amazon

“I’ve got two dogs, and I don’t get to make too many aesthetic choices on their behalf, so I really try to make them count. The search for attractive dog bowls has been epic, especially since I require very solid ones, as my Schnoodle, Sammy, has a habit of knocking the water bowl over as a way of signaling to me that he is hungry — and since hunger is pretty much his default state, this can get messy. These ceramic bowls from Orvis are fantastic — extraordinarily sturdy, and attractive enough for human consumption as well.” — Kim France

Royal Canin Selected Protein Adult PV
From $72 Amazon

“Winky, my poodle, eats Royal Canin potato-venison dog food. He actually eats both the dry and the wet. He has a finicky little stomach, and this is what agrees with him.” — Linda Rodin

This is currently unavailable, but there are more Royal Canin food options available on Amazon here and here.

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slow Feed Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl
$10, Amazon

“My sweet, lil’ dumb dog loves food so much, but he eats so fast that he pukes! Very cute. I found this out of desperation because my poor little barf baby needed it. The bowl has been a total game changer. It’s a little puzzle for him to dig into the food, which actually slows him down so he doesn’t throw up from eating too fast.” — Aidy Bryant

Petcube Play 1080p
$200, Amazon

If you’ve ever wondered what your dog or cat is up to while you’re away, you need a Petcube — which uses a 1080p HD camera and two-way audio stream, with built-in microphone and speaker, to help you monitor your pet. For simple peace of mind — and home-intrusion monitoring — the Petcube is worth ten times the price.

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The Only Thing That’s Gotten My Pooch to Stop Barking