You open the Greensboro phonebook to pet supplies and choose a store. You head inside and realize there are several types of collars available. How do you know which one is suitable for your dog? Do you know how each type works? Truth is many people actually are misusing the collar they are using on their dog right now. This is dangerous and can be lethal to your companion. Here’s a breakdown on what is on the market today:
Flat Buckle/Quick Clip Collars
These are the most common type of collar on the market. They come in all colors and patterns and generally have a matching leash available. You can get them anywhere from the grocery store to pet supply stores to online boutiques. Some companies will guarantee their products and replace them even if they get chewed. They come in all sizes to fit any dog, but you must check the fit on a regular basis. You should be able to fit two fingers, side-by-side, under the collar while your dog is wearing it. If you can fit more than two fingers, the collar is too loose and your dog may escape from it. If you can’t fit two fingers, then the collar is too tight. Loosen the collar or get a larger size for your dog immediately. A collar that is too tight can actually cut into the dog’s neck and seriously harm or even kill it. This is particularly true with puppies.
Break Away Collars
These collars look like regular flat buckle or quick clip collars but their clasp is designed differently. It has two interlocking pieces that will come apart if there is any pressure placed against it. Around this clasp are two leash attachments (generally D-rings) and if using this type of collar as your dog’s regular collar, you will need to attach the leash to both rings. This makes it a great safety collar but if you need to grab your dog’s collar for control, it probably will come off. If you take your dog to a dog park, however, it works great to prevent collar strangulations.
Slip Chains/Slip Collars
There are several styles of slip collars out there. The most common is a chain style, though nylon rope styles have been made in the last several years. There is even a style called a fur saver, which has longer links that help prevent hair loss in long haired dogs. These collars work well for training, if they are used properly. The problem is that these don’t come with an instruction manual. Most people don’t know how to use these properly and that could really injure your dog. First you have to have the proper size. To size your dog, measure around the top of the neck and add 2 to 3 inches. Once you have the right sized collar, you have to put it on properly. You should have your dog sitting or standing facing you. Slip the middle part of the collar through one of the rings on the end. Now hold the collar in front of you so it forms a “P” shape. Put the collar on your dog. For the best results, you want the collar to ride high on your dog’s neck. This will require you to readjust the position several times when using this type of collar. Once done, you should always take the collar off as they can choke a dog if the collar were to get caught on anything.
Martingales, also known as greyhound or limited slip collars, are great for the dogs that have narrow heads. These collars have two parts-a main loop that goes around the front of the dog’s neck and a loop of either chain or nylon at the back where you attach the leash. When the dog pulls, the collar tightens like a slip collar. However, because the loop doesn’t go fully around the neck, the collar will not tighten completely, just enough to let the dog know he’s pulling. They are safer than slip collars but you still need to be careful not to allow the dog to get caught on anything since the dog will not be able to back out of the collar.
These collars look almost similar to the fur saver slip chain will the dog is wearing it, but it has prongs on the inside designed to pinch the skin when the dog pulls. They work well with the stubborn dog as a training tool, but you have to be very careful with these collars. They should never be used on puppies and should only be used as a temporary aid in conjunction with a training program, if used at all. These collars have been known to cause severe punctures and breathing problems in dogs and have even been made illegal in some countries. It can also cause a dog to become aggressive with other dogs and people, particularly when on a leash. However, if used and fitted properly, a prong collar can be a very effective tool, but make sure to talk to a trainer before using it.
These are not actually collars. Head halters fit around a dog’s snout and behind the ears. Some believe, on seeing a dog wearing a head halter, that this is a muzzle designed to prevent a dog from biting. This is not the case. A head halter will not prevent a dog from opening his mouth for any reason. The dog can still bite, eat, drink, and pant normally. The halter acts as a way to safely and easily control a dog. It uses the same methods as a horse halter-where the head goes the body will follow. As a training tool, these halters can be very effective, as long as you get the dog used to the halter. Most dogs will not like the halter the first couple of times you put it on, but if you put it on for only a few minutes at a time and give the dog praise and a few yummy treats while he’s wearing it, he should get used to it fairly quickly.
While there are many choices, using a little research and some common sense, you can find a collar to fit any dog. However, if your dog has had a bad experience with a collar or has a medical issue that prevents your dog from wearing a collar, you may want to consider a harness.