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.