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How to Pick a Collar & Lead

Updated on January 22, 2018
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Nothing brings you closer to your pet than taking a long walk with them. Getting your dog out and about helps builds so many skills including socialization, focus, training and especially a strong bond that will last a lifetime. And most places have leash laws. But collars and leads are varied in style and purpose. The type of collar and lead you choose is important and can mean a world of difference. Collars and leads come in many forms and styles and there is a collar or lead for almost any situation. The following guide will help you choose which collar and lead will be a good fit for your dog and activity.

1. Nylon Collars and Leads are the most common collar and lead used. They can be found in most pet stores and come in a variety of colors and styles. You can get them to match, they come in prints, including animal prints, flowers and paisley. Leashes usually come in four foot and six foot lengths. These are probably the best for walking your dog in smaller more crowded areas. You have the best control with a four foot nylon lead, but I actually prefer the six foot lead, unless your dog is troublesome in public. Nylon collars are durable and for the most part comfortable. They are great for multipurpose uses. You can easily attach your pet’s id tags to a nylon collar. You can get them to match and they are pretty sturdy for the average puller. (see photos 1)

2. Retractable Leads are useful when taking your pet out into open areas, but they still need to be on a leash. Retractable’s give your dog more leeway for exploring and sniffing. Retractable leads extend to sixteen feet or more and are great for hiking. They are not as convenient in smaller more condensed areas, nor do you have as much control of your pet when using a retractable lead. If your pet sees something they want they could be out at the end of the sixteen feet before you have a chance to catch them. Many retractable leads come with a thin nylon cord which can get caught in bushes park benches and even around people’s legs, which why they are better suited for more open spaces. These types of leads can cause nasty burns on another dog or human leg and they are more likely to trip someone. I only recommend these where you want to let your dog run, such as on a hiking trail or field. (see photo 2)

3. Slip Chain Collars are collars made of metal and have a large loop on each end. The chain is channeled through one of the large loops, then slipped over the dogs head. You attach a lead in the loose loop and the collar tightens around the dog’s neck if they pull. The slip chain is commonly used for training. I don’t like these collars and never condone the use of them. These collars also come with prongs on the inside that actually stick into the dogs neck when the dog pulls. Slip Chain or Choke Chain as they are commonly known can cause severe damage to the dog’s trachea and to me they are cruel. Find yourself a positive reinforcement trainer and teach your dog recall and heel. Thousands of dog end up in the hospital from injuries caused by this type of collar, because many dogs ignore the grasping around the neck and will pull until their trachea is crushed. Below I show you an alternative to the slip chain collar. (see photo 3)

4. Another popular type of collar is the Martengale. You see these types of collars on Greyhounds because of the shape of their neck, however they are useful for most dog breeds. Martengales are made with a part that goes around the dog’s neck and at the top of the collar is another loop that pulls the two ends of the collar together. It is better for pullers because the pressure is distributed more evenly around the dog‘s neck and puts less pressure trachea. Many companies offer Martengale style collars and you can get them in many colors and patterns. (see photo 4)

5. There are training collars and leads as well. Again I don’t agree with slip chains or prong collars. There are better ways to train. If you go online you can find extra long leads. I have used these before when teaching recall. Many of these leads come in fifteen feet and up to fifty feet length. These types of leads are used when training out in the field. I think you will find that if you are in an open space your dog will stay relatively close to you. Training leads are easy to use. You hold all of the lead get your dog walking in one direction and slowly give them more line. Call them back periodically to test their recall. To start try and find a place where you won’t be disturbed by dogs, kids and other distractions. Once you have your dog focused then you can try working in more crowded areas.

6. Bark Collars are used to train a dog to stop barking. They come in a few varieties. I don’t particularly like shock collars. I know people that have used them. When the dog barks it gets a shock. The problem is if they yelp when shocked the collar will keep shocking them. What a vicious cruel cycle. There are other types of bark collars. Some emit a citronella scent when the dog barks. Most dogs don’t like the smell so it curbs the behavior gently. Some collars only vibrate when the dog barks. Sometimes that’s enough to get your pup to stop. I have found that a bored dog is a dog that barks. To help this situation give your pup plenty of exercise first thing in the morning. Leave a television or radio going and give them interactive toys. If this does not help enlist the services of a professional trainer. They may have some recommendations. If they recommend a shock collar find another trainer.

7. Haltis & Gentle Leaders are collars used to train your pet to stop pulling. This is done by putting a strap over the dog’s nose almost like reins on a horse. You attach the lead under the dogs chin, so you are basically leading the dog by the nose. If the dog pulls his nose automatically gets pulled in the other direction. Most dogs don’t like these types of collars, but they can get use to them and after a few weeks of use most people can go back to using the dog's their regular collar and lead. (see photo 5)

8. Harnesses are a great alternative to the typical collar. A harness can be fashioned around your dog’s chest and mid section. Many pet owners are opting for this method of leashing their dog because it offers more control of their pet and since the harness is secured around the chest there is no pressure on the trachea. This is my preferred method of control.

9. Coupler leads are simply used when you are walking more than one dog. There are two leads that are about twelve inches in length. They come together at a point and you attach them to your regular lead. Couplers make it much easier to walk two dogs at once. (see photo 6)

Before you embark on a trip to the pet store for a collar and lead decide on what you want to accomplish with it. You may decide to buy a few different styles of collar and lead. One you will use in smaller more condensed areas others you will need for more wide open space. Also look into training collars and leads. There is a lot of help out there for all pet owners. They even make cat collars and leads. If you are looking for a training collar and lead, go online and look up what exactly you need it for. Chances are you will find what you are looking for. Happy Trails to you and your pup.


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