Which Collar is best for My dog?

Which Collar is best? I wish there was one correct answer but every dog has a different personality. What works miraculously for one may be a disaster for another. Dr. Jean Dodds wrote an article that says “Thyroid and salivary glands are superficially located just under the skin in the upper part of the neck and can be easily injured by trauma and sudden pressure forces. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ just in front of the larynx and trachea, and the mandibular salivary glands are found on the side of the face just below the ears.”  I take that into consideration when evaluating Collar designs.
I insist on Biothane and do not use Nylon or Leather because my dogs swim, dig, roll around and play pretty rough. Biothane does not stain or absorb odors.  If your collar gets soiled, simply wash in soapy water, rinse and wipe off excess water.  Biothane dries instantly and can be worn immediately. Biothane is Waterproof, Stinkproof, AntiBacterial & AntiMicrobial.  It doesn’t fade, stretch or fray.

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Buckle Collars ~ Not a thing in the world wrong with them. There are regular belt type buckles and side release buckles. It’s strictly personal preference. I don’t like to train a dog with a collar like this.  Dogs that pull on the leash can easily damage their neck area. I also believe that them pulling in the opposite direction of me and my leash can escalate their desire to pull. For a trained dog, hanging around with the family, they are just dandy.

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Choke Collars ~ Nobody will ever put a choke collar on one of my dogs. I see no redeeming value of any kind and I see great potential physical damage to the dog.

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Prong Collars ~ I believe that 98% of the people who use pinch collars on their dogs, shouldn’t. I do believe that an experienced dog handler, especially a behaviorist, may choose to use a pinch collar during initial training. With a competent trainer, it can stop the cycle of tug tug tug, which a dog learns to ignore and disrespect. Unfortunately, all too often this collar becomes a crutch for the owner and they throw it on the dog rather than taking the time to teach their dog to walk nicely on a leash. Of great concern is the lazy owner who leaves this collar on their dog full time.

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Martingales ~ We use these collars frequently when transporting rescue dogs. They are useful because it is difficult for any dog to slip this type of collar off. What’s nice is that you don’t have to keep a very tight collar fastened around a dog’s neck to ensure safety when you’re dealing with dogs considered flight risks. Whether the doggie tries bolting forward, backwards, or sideways, the collar tightens, keeping a frightened dog from escaping. A properly made Martingale collar should release the tension immediately. The reason I will use these and won’t use choke collars is that there is no chain cutting into the very vulnerable area under the neck because the chain is only on top where the leash connects.

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E or Shock Collars ~ This time let me begin by saying that 99% of the people that use these collars should not. The majority of trainers use these collars to teach behaviors, which can lead to all kinds of fallout and superstitious behavior. When a dog has a clear understanding of what is expected and the collar is used correctly they are the most versatile and humane training tool available. The 1% of trainers that I have met who use these collars properly, can get amazing results without creating collar dependency or diminishing the dogs desire to learn and work. When used improperly, dogs can totally shut down and refuse to even try to figure things out, they can become unsure of themselves and insecure, and they can become so frustrated that they develop aggressive behavior. It is so easy to mentally harm our dogs with these collars. If you talk with a trainer who believes there is one and only one way to train a dog, please RUN the other direction. Every dog is different and each dog requires creativity and patience. (Thank you Nick and Ryli, my favorite Dog Behaviorists)

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Head Collars or Halti Collars ~ I am not a fan. All too often I see people use them out of desperation. While they’re on the dog, they do accomplish the job of keeping your dog from dragging you down the street. But dogs aren’t learning not to pull in general, they are only learning not to pull when this collar is on. I prefer teaching dogs not to pull whether they have a Halti on or not! I’ve also seen a lot of dogs paw frantically to get them off, and become so distracted trying to remove this “thing” on their head, that little gets accomplished.

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Harnesses ~ I LOVE harnesses…but not the ones you most often see, where the leash attaches to the part of the halter that is on the dog’s back, behind their neck. I’ve many times seen these encourage a dog to pull even harder. The harness that has a place for your leash to attach in the center front of your dog’s chest is so much more effective. It allows you to LEAD your dog rather PULLING back on your dog. I use one on our Bird Dog rescue. She was abused and neglected and shock collar trained to hunt birds. She is also not food motivated, making her more of a challenge to train. When I’m out with her, if there are birds, her instincts kick in and she wants to chase them… she NEEDS to chase them. I don’t know that I should try and train this out of her… she is kind of wonderful the way she is, but I can’t keep her safe without a tug of war when there are birds nearby. By using the front leash halter, I can keep her under control and secure without a lot of stress on her. Another thing I love about her halter is that there is lots of room for some bling design. She is quite the fashion statement when we’re out and about!

SweetPea in Harness

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