Collars for your furry friends.

By Tim DiPaolo


People often ask, “What should I use for a dog collar?”  The answer is: whatever works for you and your dog in each situation.  The choices vary.  Here I will discuss a few key points to remember when selecting this important tool and I will talk a little about each choice.

Collars serve several purposes.  They are more than a fashion accessory.  They hold a dog’s identification tags and rabies vaccination tag.  They are used to lead the pet with a leash and secure them with a cable, rope or chain tie out, or run.  Certain collars can be used to train a dog in obedience.  Lastly, collars can be stylish and accent your animal’s good looks!

Flat buckle collars:   Buckle collars are simple inventions that work like a belt you would wear.  They are made of a flat strip of leather, nylon, or natural fiber with holes in it and have a metal or plastic buckle that fastens through the holes.  These work well to hold id tags, tie a dog out, and lead them on a leash.  They don’t however, provide much opportunity for corrections.

Martingale collars:  These are a training collar that consists of two connected loops.  The leash clips on to a smaller loop that when pulled, tightens up the larger loop around the dog’s neck.  These will hold an id tag and provide a method of correction but are not good for tying a dog out.

Chain collars:  Also called choke chains.  This is a misnomer because they don’t actually choke the dog.  They are used by passing a loop of chain through a fixed ring at the end.  On the other end a ring is attached to the leash. When the leash is pulled the loop of chain is tightened.  These will hold an id tag and provide correction but are not good for tying a dog out.

Prong collar:  This is a collar designed to control unwanted behavior in dogs.  It consists of a series of metal or plastic links with prongs on the inside to provide correction to the pet.  When the leash is pulled they simulate the bite that a dominant dog would give a subordinate dog.  They can hold an id tag and provide correction but should not be used to tie a dog out.

Slip rope collar:  A slip rope collar is an alternative to the chain collar but works in the same manner.  When the attached leash is pulled the rope loop slips closed, encircling the dog’s neck.  These types of collars can hold an id tag and are appropriate for control and training but not for tying a dog out.

Head harnesses:  If a collar isn’t working then you may want to consider a head harness like the Gentle Leader or Halti.  These work by fastening a tight loop or loops around the pet’s head and applying slight pressure in key spots when the animal strays.

Whichever collar you choose for your best friend it should be appropriately sized.  Most collars should fit snug enough that you can just slip two fingers between the collar and the pet’s neck.  If it’s looser than that there is a risk of the dog slipping out of it on a walk and getting loose.  If it is too tight it may be uncomfortable.  Training collars that are too loose or too tight don’t function well.  For best results, choose the collar that serves the purpose you desire.  Happy walking!