Am I using the Right Collar?
There is no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to training your pup and the method and type of training collar used. However, it is important that you use the collar best suited for your dog.
For large breed dogs, especially those that are extremely hyper and out of control, you may find it best to use an “electronic” training collar. These collars do not electrically shock your dog, but instead provide stimulation either by way of a vibration, beeping noise or static pulsing, all of which are made to get your pups attention. If your pup is being trained for hunting or tracking, a long range electronic collar may be your best bet, especially if your training involves off-leash work.
If your puppy is a smaller breed and very young, you may want to start out using a regular flat nylon collar which will be gentle on the pup and will help him to learn how to walk properly on a leash. As your pup grows and becomes a little more adventurous and starts pulling and dragging you down the street, a Martingale collar may be a good choice. These collars generally have a small chain in the back of the collar which gives a gentle “correction” to your pup when you pop it up while walking.
If you have a heavier or larger puppy, you may find that a Martingale collar is not effective, in which case you may get much better results using a “Prong” or “Pinch” collar. These collars have prongs that come in various sizes, ranging from small to extra-large. If your pup is very young it’s a good idea to start using the prong collar with “rubber tips” on the prongs which will give your puppy a correction but will not be too much for him to handle. As your pup grows and gets stronger, the rubber tips can be removed to
provide a firmer correction. Prong collars vary in style and to make sure the collar will not slip or come apart, it’s important that you inspect the prongs regularly and gently squeeze them with pliers to make sure they stay secure. Using a prong collar with a “quick release” will make it easier for you to open and close the collar but you will need to ensure that the quick release mechanism is properly engaged so it doesn’t come apart when you walk your dog.
For some pups with special needs, such as Greyhounds, Whippets or Salukis that have very long, graceful necks, using a Sighthound collar is the best choice. These dog breeds hunt by sight and get extremely excited when they see any fast moving objects and will lunge on their leash. Sighthound collars are generally 2 or 3 inches wide which protects the dog’s neck and throat. These collars, which are also available in a Martingale style, are wider in the middle and narrow at each end to accommodate the buckle or martingale chain. They are also traditionally padded or fully lined to further protect the dog’s neck. When getting this type of collar, it is very important that the collar is properly fitted and worn correctly, just below the ears, which is much higher on the neck than normal for other dog breeds. The collar should be snug so that it cannot be shaken loose or the pup can slip out of it. As a rule, you should be able to squeeze two fingers between the collar and the neck of the dog.
Another type of collar that some people prefer is a “Slip” Collar. These collars simply slip over your pup’s head and you position the ring at the back of the neck and connect your lead to the empty ring. These can be good training tools as the collar will tighten and apply pressure to your pup’s neck as he lunges or pulls on the leash. The collars should be loose and comfortable when your dog is quietly sitting beside you. It is also better to use a slip collar that’s made from nylon rather than leather so the collar has a bit of a cushion.
Some people may find using a “Harness” a better option for their dog. For very small breed dogs, and dogs that are prone to breathing problems such as pugs or other breeds with pushed in noses, a harness is often very effective for walking, as it fits around the chest and does not pull on the neck. It is also good if you need to quickly pick your pup up to keep him safe from a large or aggressive dog you may encounter. Harnesses come in a variety of styles. Some have a handle on the top to quickly grab your pup while others have a ring at the side of the harness as well as a front lead attachment which is intended to discourage pulling on the lead. A harness with a back attachment is also a good option as it is easy to attach to a doggy seat belt.
A “Gentle Leader” is another option which is a type of head collar that fits over the head of your pup. Generally there are two straps on the head collar with one going around the dog’s nose and the other fastens around the neck. This type of collar works by turning the nose in one direction forcing the body to follow and the gentle leader pulls at the nose with very little force required. While these head collars can be very effective for walking your dog, if not fitted properly, your pup will find a way to get out of it. When using a gentle leader it’s also wise to have your pup double leashed with the secondary lead on a collar or traditional chest harness.
Another type of head collar which is similar to the Gentle Leader is called a “Halti” which has a strap that extends from the base of your pup’s chin and then connects directly to the collar.
The other type of halter that you may find works for you is called a “New Trix” Halter Harness. This type of halter applies pressure behind the head of the dog and not on the neck.