Choosing the Right Dog Collar

So how do you choose the right collar for your dog?

There are so many aspects to consider. This may sound crazy I know but before you continue think about what would be important to you if you had to wear it every day. The colour would play a part, the material would be hugely important to aid comfort and avoid irritation. The strength of the collar would matter and therefore how long it would last. The size is VITAL. What we really need to think about also is what are we going to be using it with. What type of lead and what will the collars primary use be? Control? Safety? Fashion? Identification?

Collars:
Buckle collars also known as flat collars can be found in most types of materials including leather, nylon, polyester and faux leather and/or suede. The buckles on these collars are really very similar to the one you would find on your 501 Levi jeans. The beauty about these sort of collars is, due to the buckle collar, they are easily adjustable so that they are comfortable and yet functional. Flat collars are the most popular types of collars on the market as a result of this. Buckle collars are also popular as it is so easy to attach an identity tag or medication tag onto them.

Stud collars are pretty similar to the buckle/flat collars above however in addition, they have studs on them to protect your Pup from being bitten on the neck by another more ferocious dog. You often see very stocky breeds wearing these, for fashion purposes, rather than safety.

The Elizabethan collar are the collars that you will often see pets walking out of the vets with. These are used to prevent dogs from scratching or biting their recent wounds. They are often put on by vets after an operation. Dogs in particular like to lick their wounds along with other areas of their body which means that infection could easily be spread to wounds, hence the collar is fitted. It is unlikely that your pup will like you much for putting an Elizabethan collar on them. They can spend hours trying to get it off and it can take them days to get used to it.

In addition to their buckle collar, it is more than likely that throughout your pets life they will at some point get fleas. There are fleas collars available for all pets. These collars are soaked in flea repellent and usually placed alongside their normal collar until the fleas have disappeared. The flea collars are usually very effective. There are a number of other types of treatment for your pets with fleas.

Buckle collars, stud collars, flea collars and Elizabethan collars are just the beginning. There are so many shapes, sizes and types of collars available. Again, it is important that you the owner weigh up the pros and cons of each collar. Function before fashion.

Dog Collars – Are You Using the Correct One?

A collar must fit properly to be comfortable and functional. It should be snug, but not tight or slip off. For that, you need the two-finger test. The accepted way to check a collar for fit, is to be able to place two fingers between your dog’s neck and the inside of the collar.

An extremely vital factor to remember is to regularly check your dog’s collar. This is especially critical when they are puppies, if they are left outside or should they gain weight. Within weeks, your puppy or dog could be in horrifying discomfort, because their collar is too tight!

The second most important thing to remember is to have some sort of identification on your dog’s collar. Many a lost dog has ended up in a shelter, and euthanized only because they did not have any identification. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Something as simple as a plain tag, with their name and your phone number could be the difference between a happy reunion, and never seeing your pet again. If your dog has medical issues, it is a good idea to include that information on their tag.

Note that the higher a collar rides on the dog’s neck, preferably right under their ears, the more effective and less dangerous it is.

Types of collars

The most common collars used by dog owners are, flat, rolled leather, choke, pinch/prong, force, slip, martingale (modified choke), harness and head.

Flat collars are great for when you are not training your dog, or if you have a well-behaved animal that does not pull when walked.

Rolled leather collars are better for long-haired dogs, as they do not flatten the hair around the neck.

For training purposes, the most commonly used collars are choke chains, slip collars and martingales, which are modified choke collars. Martingales are flat collars with about 3 inches of material or chain loop, to which the leash is attached. They tighten, then immediately release, when a correction is made. They are also practically impossible to slip out of when fitted correctly. It works on the same principle as a martingale for a horse. Unlike a choke chain, with a martingale there is no uncertainty whether it is on correctly. It allows control, without the choking associated with choke or slip collars.

If a choke chain is not on properly, it is not only ineffective; it is dangerous! Many inexperienced dog owners are unaware; there is a right and a wrong way to place a choke chain on their pet. To be effective, the chain must release immediately after a correction is made. The free end of a choke chain, that which is attached to the leash, must be OVER, your dog’s head, not under their chin. If you do not do it correctly, you will continue to choke your dog, as the chain will “lock” into place.

The same rule is true for slip collars. Slip collars work like choke chains. They are frequently made of material such as nylon, cloth, leather or bungee cord material. Slip collars are a length of material, with rings at either end, so by slipping the material through a ring, it forms the loop, to be used as a collar.

Pinch/prong collars are a series of chain link with prongs turned toward the dog’s neck. This collar theoretically mimics the actions of a correction made by a mother or alpha dog’s teeth, against a dog’s neck. Some advocates of pinch/prong collars blunt the force of the prong, by placing rubber tips on them. It is important to learn the proper way to use a pinch collar, for it to be successful.

In extreme cases, and usually for the training of sport and hunting dogs, owners have been known to utilize shock remote collars and force collars. The shock collar is usually used when training for recall. Force collars are flat leather collars, with small “spikes” or rivets on the inside of the collar. When the dog pulls or when the owner makes a correction, the collar cinches to reinforce the correction.

For dogs with certain medical issues, toy and some small breeds, it is recommended to use a harness, as too much pressure on the trachea may cause excessive choking or collapsed trachea.

Finally, the head collar. Basically it is a horse halter designed for dogs. A head collar fastens around the back of a dog’s neck, just under their head. Underneath the attached piece that is slipped over the top and high on the dog’s muzzle is a ring. That is where the leash is connected. This controls the direction and intensity of pulling. The more pressure the dog applies, the closer their head turns toward the owner. Head collars are highly effective, especially when children or elderly are walking the dog.

Bottom line: Most dog owners have more than one kind of collar for their pet. Use the exact collar for the intended purpose and make sure it fits properly. Sign up for an obedience class to learn how to use the various collars. Learn how to painlessly make your dog “heel.” By doing that, you will find walking your dog will become a joy, and not a chore.

Which Dog Collar Is Best?

What kind of collar does your dog wear? My own Labrador retriever showcases a plane old run of the mill choke chain, but despite the name I do not spend my day choking the snot out of him. Believe it or not, any collar can be used inappropriately; whether it be made from leather, nylon or metal and I could give you first hand examples that I have come across over the years that would illustrate my point, but I won’t. I could also give you examples that I have come across over the years of people using a variety of collars correctly, which simply proves that it is not the collar that needs to be educated, but the person at the other end of the leash.

There are many different types of collars on the market, many of which are not appropriate for certain breeds of dog. Before you choose the type of collar that you purchase for Fido, you should do yourself and him a favor and research the various types of collars on the market. For example, would a flat collar be the best option for a St. Bernard? Would a prong collar or choke chain be the best type of collar to slip over the head of a Shih Tzu? Read on and I will give a brief description of a few types of collars and my own ‘do’s and don’ts if you will.

Choke Chain

As mentioned above, my own guy Lars wears a boring ‘ol choke chain. Choke chains are made from metal, come in an array of different sizes and also have various degrees of thickness. For proper fitting, the chain should sit low on the dog’s neck, and there should be room for the width of at least three fingers between the neck of the animal and the chain. The two rings on the chain, the dead ring and live ring should rest on the right side of the dog’s neck, and the leash should connect to the live ring which if the collar is put on the right way will move back towards you if you pull on it.

I like the choke chain a lot because it allows you to teach your pet certain behavior without you even doing anything. If your dog pulls on leash, the chain progressively tightens, eventually to the point that causes an uncomfortable stimulus for him. If you need to get your pet’s attention, a quick pop of the leash simply “zings” the chain, which refers to the sound that is made when the live ring and subsequent slack chain slides through the dead ring, which is a sound that dogs are not the biggest fan of. If you really need to refocus your pet, a quick firm pop and release of the leash results in an instant tightening/loosening of the chain around the animal’s neck which will definitely get his attention focused back on you. One very important thing to take note of is the importance to not be over zealous when using the choke chain, as being too aggressive can result in your pet becoming fearful of you, and it, which can result in the opening of a very big can of worms.

Flat Collar

I myself am not a fan of the flat collar, because it serves little purpose, unless of course you want your dog to look stylish! These flat collars are all the craze these days, and are often referred too, as ‘designer collars’ when they should actually be dubbed, useless collars. So why do I dislike flat collars so much? A few reasons come to mind.

First of all, flat collars, which are made of anything from leather to nylon do nothing to help you control your dog when outdoors. If your pet pulls on leash and is wearing one of these ‘designer collars’ all that will happen is he will feel pressure on the lower front part of his neck, which just happens to be in most cases a muscular part of the body as well as being home to a lot of ruff in many cases, so even then there is not much of a deterrent. If you need to get your pet’s attention, a quick popping of the leash can actually harm your pet’s neck as there is no slack room with these collars so jerking on the leash subsequently jerks the animal’s head which can damage the neck. If these reasons are not enough, how about the fact that flat collars are easier for your dog to escape from than any other type of collar. Dogs that are strong can easily free themselves from their flat collars by either simply pulling on their leash until the collar breaks, or wiggling around and slipping out of it entirely.

Prong Collar

As the name suggests, the prong collar comes equipped with prongs, generally made from plastic that are situated on the inside of the collar that dig into the dog’s neck when he pulls or when the leash is pulled by the handler. Although the name is quite hideous, I am actually not as opposed to these collars as many people are. Similarly to the flat collar, once in place these collars do not have any slack, and they actually sit up higher on the animal’s neck, to make them more effective. These collars are generally reserved for dogs that are very hard to handle, whether it be because they love to pull, or simply because they are head strong and getting their attention when out and about is next to impossible. The collar is fitted very snug to the dog’s neck, which means that moderate pulling by the dog will result in the prongs digging into the upper part of the neck which is more sensitive than the lower area under the throat. If a prong collar is something that you feel that your beloved pet requires, please make sure you know how to use them before you actually use one.

When choosing the appropriate type of dog collar for your pet, do your research first to make sure that the type of collar you opt to go with is the one that is best suited for the breed you own. If you are still unsure as to the appropriate collar for Fido, contact a dog trainer in your area, or better yet, drop us a line and we’ll help you choose.