Thursday, March 24, 2011

SportDOG NoBark 10R: Your Neighbors Will Thank You

It's springtime (in most parts of the country anyhow), and that means the birds and critters are starting to emerge from a long winter. For me, this time of year also marks increased barking activity, particularly from my one-year-old pointer, LuLu. You can't say she doesn't have prey drive -- she's prone to bark at every robin, squirrel, and bunny that's anywhere within eyeshot.

Unfortunately, I'm a suburbanite, and barking is frowned upon by my neighbors. I've tried a number of different brands and styles of bark collars, and they seem to work fine for my two other (older) dogs.

Not LuLu. She's managed to wear out, destroy, or ignore virtually every anti-bark device I've strapped to her, save one: the SportDOG NoBark 10R. Frankly, I'm not sure what I'd do without it.

It's completely waterproof and has a rechargeable battery that lasts for weeks at a time, even under heavy use. On-board sensors detect both sound and vibration to trigger a correction -- unlike some competitors that would seem to fire off for no reason. After all, the only thing worse than a bark collar NOT working when your dog barks is a unit that works when they're NOT barking! It also has an automatic safety shut-off eliminates the risk of overcorrection.

SportDOG's latest bark limiter has three different modes of correction. "Temperament Learning" measures what level of stimulation it takes for your dog to stop barking, and sets itself to that level. It then reduces the initial warning corrections once the dog has learned to reduce barking. "Progressive Correction" mode escalates stimulation (starting at zero) each and every time your dog barks. There's also a "User Selected" option that lets you manually set the level of correction.

I can't honestly say that I've tried every mode. I just set it to Temperament Learning and let the collar do the rest. It's been a Godsend. It still allows LuLu to bark once or twice, which I think is typically a good thing -- it lets me know if something is amiss. Thanks to the 10R, my dog has learned that birds and squirrels aren't worth barking over, but meter men or other strangers in my backyard are worth bringing to my attention.

Even if your dogs aren't barkers, it's a good item to have in your kit during hunting season. In unfamiliar places around unfamiliar dogs and people, I've seen many a laid-back bird dog turn into a yapper extraordinaire. That won't win you many friends in hunt camp or motel parking lot.  At about 90 bucks, it's not as cheap as foam earplugs, but it's not expensive, either.  And it's a hell of a lot more effective.

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