Using Training Dog Collars
(Flat, Choke, Prong, Harnesses, Electric, etc.)
When it comes to choosing the best training dog collars, dog owners may feel quite overwhelmed by the variety of choices. Buckle, prong, choke, harnesses and martingale collars are just a few of the many.
And if that wasn't enough, you have wide collars, narrow collars; some collars are made out of leather while others are made out of nylon or metal. With so many choices, how do you decide which collar is best for your dog?
The best choice ultimately depends on what your training goals are, the type of dog you are training and how experienced you are.
Most collars are safe to use on your dog, but some can be dangerous if you don't use them properly.
Most importantly, it is crucial to realize that dog training collars are ultimately tools that may indeed help train your dog, but that should not be used as a replacement for actual training.
A Guide to Using Training Dog Collars
Most pet stores are stocked quite heavily when it comes to training dog collars and it doesn't hurt to ask the store clerk for some help. Many dog owners prefer to bring their dog along for proper fitting purposes. However, it does not hurt to do some advance research so to ensure you make the best choice.
There are collars for all types of dogs and training levels. Let's take a look at some of the most commonly used dog collars and decide when to use them...
These are the simplest types of training dog collars on the market, and as the name implies, they are characterized by a simple belt-like buckle or a quick-release buckle.
Also known as flat collars, these collars can go from basic to extra fancy with leather and nylon being the most common materials used. Buckle collars are best for everyday use and are the best choice for attaching your dog's rabies and I.D. tags.
Buckle collars are ideal for dogs capable of walking on a loose leash without pulling. However, they may slip off or cause gagging, choking or tracheal damage in strong pullers. These collars do not need a great deal of experience; however, their improper use (as with any type of dog training collars) can cause problems.
If your dog has a tendency to slip out of buckle collars, a martingale collar may be the ultimate solution for you. Also known as Greyhound collars or limited-slip collars, these nylon collars were specifically designed for dog with necks thicker than their heads.
Upon pulling, this collar tightens enough to prevent a dog from slipping out of it, but at the same, two metal stops prevent the collar from tightening too much.
Martingale collars offer a win-win situation for owners of escape artist dogs that have learned how to back out of collars. This collar however is not meant to be worn all the time and is not suitable for carrying ID tags. Martingales do not need a great deal of experience; however, their improper use can cause problems.
Mostly made out of chain, dog choke collars, unlike martingale collars, may constrict the dog's airway upon pulling.
Trainers may find these collars helpful for particularly stubborn, strong dogs with a tendency to pull, but it may exacerbate behaviors based on fear and anxiety.
Choke collars are not meant to be worn all the time and are not suitable for carrying ID tags.
While an occasional leash jerk with an immediate release may train a dog to heel, because of the potential for coughing, gagging and tracheal damage, dog choke collars should be strictly used under the guidance of a trainer or only by experienced owners.
Made out of metal, these collars may have quite a scary appearance, but trainers may find these collars helpful for particularly stubborn, strong dogs with a tendency to pull.
As with choke collars, prong collars may however exacerbate behaviors based on fear and anxiety. Prong collars are not meant to be worn all the time and are not suitable for carrying ID tags.
Because at times a dog prong collar may break apart, as a safety measure a buckle collar can be worn along with it. While prong collars may be effective in helping dogs learn to heel, these collars must be fitted properly and used correctly.
Because of the potential for causing pain and being misused, a dog prong collar should be strictly used under the guidance of a dog trainer or only by experienced owners.
These training dog collars are designed to deliver shocks of different intensity for training purposes.
Activated by a handheld device, electronic collars offer the benefit of training dogs from a distance. Indeed, these training aids were originally used to train hunting dogs.
As with choke collars and prong collars, electronic collars may exacerbate behaviors based on fear and anxiety.
Because timing is of the essence, these collars should be strictly used under the guidance and supervision of a trainer properly instructed in their use.
Harnesses are ultimately not training dog collars, but because they are used to walk dogs, they are often grouped under the same category.
Harnesses are not meant to be worn all the time and are not suitable for carrying ID tags.
One of the main drawbacks of using a harness is that it may actually encourage pulling, and therefore, should not be used with dogs with this predisposition. Front-clip harnesses, however, are created in such a way as to discourage pulling while teaching a dog to walk nicely on a loose leash.
These training aids do not require a great deal of experience; however, their improper use can cause problems.
Designed as a horse halter, Gentle Leaders use pressure on the muzzle to train dogs to walk politely on the leash.
Because this nylon training aid is not a collar in the real sense of the word, it works great in preventing choking, gagging and tracheal damage.
Gentle leaders are not meant to be used all the time, and therefore, should be exclusively used for training sessions and walks.
Dogs prone to pulling, lunging and jumping may greatly benefit from Gentle Leaders. Many times, they are used with success in behavior modification programs. Because this training aid requires proper fitting and an adjustment period, it may be helpful to have a trainer instruct dog owners on their proper use.
Benefits of Training Dog Collars
Training dog collars can significantly help you attain better control of your dog, but your ultimate goal should be to train your dog to walk nicely on a loose leash. Indeed, the best trained dogs are capable of walking nicely on a simple buckle collar without the need of any further training aids. A well-trained dog is ultimately a free dog!
Make sure you choose the best collar for your dog; used properly, training dog collars can lead to better walks and a much happier companion.
Here is a brief video that talks about some of the training dog collars that we just covered in this article...
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Want to learn more?
If you need help with teaching your dog obedience commands or just trying to understand dog behavior, I recommend this dog behavior and obedience training guide.
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