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Collaring Your Dog

November 20, 2012

If you’ve been to a pet store recently, you may have been amazed at the number and variety of collars available for pets. Every imaginable color, size and fabric seems to have been used. You may wonder out of all the options, which is best for your dog. Here are the most common types with the pros and cons of each.

Buckle Collar -This is your basic collar. It’s usually constructed of leather or fabric with a metal buckle clasp.
Pros : Comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, different choices of materials
Cons : Not as easy to get on and off as some other collars, may be harder to get exact fit for your dog. If not sized properly, your dog can slip out of it

Quick Release Collar -This is the other most common type of collar. It’s very similar to a buckle collar only with a plastic quick release snap.
Pros : These also come in about every imaginable color or pattern and can be made out of a wide variety of materials. Often can be perfectly fit to your dog’s neck.
Cons : These are not quite as sturdy as a buckle collar. If not sized properly, your dog can slip out of it

Choke Chains/Training Collar -Most everyone has seen or used these at one point. The collar is usually made of a metal chain with a ring on each end, although there are fabric ones as well. These collars should only be used for training and then only if you’ve been trained on how to properly use them.
Pros : If your dog is likely to try and slip out of his collar, this type can prevent it.
Cons : These collars are not meant to be worn 24/7, they should only be used when training the dog. There have been cases of dogs hanging themselves when wearing this type of collar unsupervised.

Martingale Collars/Greyhound Collars -This is a limited slip type of collar.  The collar fits loosely on your dog when it’s at home or walking beside you. If your dog should try and back out of it though, the collar will snug up, but only to a certain point, enough to keep your pet from slipping out of its collar, but not enough to choke it.
Pros : A nice compromise between a buckle collar and a choke chain, since you can control how far the collar tightens down. Easy to get on and off, it just slips on over your pet’s head. Prevents your dog from slipping out of its collar
Cons : Harder to find than most other types. Not available in as many styles as a quick release or buckle collar.

Pinch/Prong Collar -This is another type of collar that should not be left on a dog 24/7.  These collars are made to tighten a limited amount and “pinch” or apply pressure to the dog’s neck to discourage it from pulling.
Pros : If you have a large dog that’s prone to pulling or a condition that makes it hard to hold on to your dog, these collars may help.
Cons : These work by causing discomfort to your dog to discourage it from pulling. Can be hard to get on and off. Have to be sized exactly to your dog’s neck  or they won’t work properly.

Head Halters/Head Collars -There are several different brands of these available now. While they can be used in training they are most commonly used to prevent your dog from pulling while being walked.
Pros : Cause less discomfort than a pinch collar when used to prevent pulling. If you have a reactive dog, you have better control of its head.
Cons : They can be mistaken for a muzzle by some, which they are not. Some dogs have to be trained to wear them. Also, they shouldn’t be used with a Flexi type lead.

Harnesses -While these aren’t collars, they are commonly used for walking your dog. There are a wide variety of harnesses available: standard, step in, no pull, vest type and others.
Pros : If you have a dog with breathing or neck/back issues, a harness may be a must for walking it.
Cons : Dogs that pull while wearing a collar, will usually pull even more while wearing a harness. You also tend to have less control over your dog with a harness than a collar. Harder to find the perfect fit than with a collar

No matter what type of collar your dog wears, there’s at least one other thing that should be included, some type of identification. Most counties require that your dog wear its county license. It’s also a good idea to have some type of identification tag with your phone number and address as well. That way if your dog should get loose, the person that finds it can contact you.  You should also consider having  your pet microchipped, on the chance that your dog gets loose without its collar, it can still be traced back to you.