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How to Chose Your Dog's Collar

Updated on October 17, 2011

When people want to send messages through decoration, we tend to add rings, earrings and necklaces. But when we want to decorate our dogs, personalizing their appearance, we often focus on their collars.

And like our jewelry, dog collars can tell you a lot about the dog wearing it. But they can also tell a great deal about the dog’s owner and the relationship the two share.

Some practical aspects of a dog’s collar come with the type of dog. Greyhounds need special collars because unlike most dogs, their heads are narrower than their necks and they can slip out of ordinary collars.

Small dogs and dogs who pull tend to do better with harnesses than collars because they distribute pull more evenly.

Little and medium-size dogs can wear canvas collars, especially with strong plastic clasps. Big dogs and strong dogs do better with leather collars with traditional holes and metal spikes. Dogs that pull and refuse to walk politely on a leash can use special collar and halter combinations. Sold in most pet shops under names such as Gentle Leader and Halti, these halters allow the collar to transfer the handler’s tug to the area around the dog’s nose, causing the dog to look down. When the dog is redirected backward to down, he tends to stop and stop pulling.

Shiny collars are large aggressive dogs, sparkles on rottweilers and frills on mastiffs indicate that owners are in conflict about what their dogs really are. Chihuahuas in spikes and black leather indicate delusions of grandeur.

Spike collars date back to those days when handlers were protecting their dogs’ throats from hands. The spikes prohibited grabbing.

Flea collars contain pesticides embedded in soft plastic collars, emitting odors to discourage fleas. But these collars can also be harmful for the dogs, cats and children who hug, rub or pet the dog breathing in fumes.

Obedience collars are another type of collar that sends a message. Despite what we want to say these collars indicate poorly trained pets, most often caused by a lack of commitment in their owners.

Collars that can be used to shock dogs or spray unpleasant fragrances can be used by an owner during corrections, but tend to be overused creating a confused, stressed and timid or aggressive dog.

Dogs that wear shock collars to discourage barking tend to bark out of boredom. Most often yard dogs, these animals bark nonstop for lack of exercise, toys or too much time alone outside. More commitment by owners, organized play dates, or at the extreme, rehoming, can eliminate the barking.

Lastly are prong collars. Often at pet expos or other animal events, you see dogs wearing prong collars. Owners extol the behaviors of their dogs talking about the calm manner. Prong collars are designed with large interlocking metal crimped C-rings with teeth facing the dog’s neck. The thought is that the owner does a quick tug and relaxes, causing a quick sharp jab which stops almost as soon as it starts.

However, these devices and choke collars are designed as training tools. They should be used only while training is conducted and removed during the rest of the time.

Owners who use these collars all the time send the most significant message. These dogs need more training. And their owners need more education.


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    • newfielover profile image

      newfielover 6 years ago from Cambridge, UK

      Winter, I could not agree more. I absolutely hate to see a dog who is well behaved because he is obviously scared to be anything else. My newfoundlands weigh about 168 lbs each, they are both much heavier than me, but they walk along either side of me, loose leash. They are not perfect, well the elder one isn't, but they are my friends my loves. On a pet forum I belong to there have been major rows with a few new members who obviously joined just to promote the barbaric shock and prong collars. The forum is dedicated to positive reward based training, and there have been loads of arguments. Dogs deserve the same respect as people, in my opinion, very often more so!

    • profile image

      Winter Maclen 6 years ago

      Newfielover - Absolutely. Some dogs have size or body issues that require special collars, food bowls or other accessories. MY issue is with folks with rotts (my babies) and other dogs who use the collars to keep the dog in check rather than just spending the time to train it. And if you go to large dog group gathers, you see it all the time. A dog that acts out of fear isn't the same as a dog that truly loves it's people and would do anything for their approval.

    • profile image

      kburton 6 years ago

      Another good one! Now I want to get a new collar for bot of my dogs.

    • newfielover profile image

      newfielover 6 years ago from Cambridge, UK

      My dogs wear half check collars for the simple reason that it is all I could get to fit them! They are never used as a training aid. I so agree with your last line.

    • Winter Maclen profile image

      Chris 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for your comment.

      I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      a very interesting hub- thanks!