With All the Types of Dog Collars: Which Will Work Best For Your Pooch?

The types of dog collars are almost as abundant as the types or
breeds of dogs!

I have been a dog trainer for over 25 years.  I have seen dog
collars come and go and I have used most of them at one point or

So let us get into the do’s and don’ts of dog collars

Training Collars

I am a firm believer that training collars should be just that,
used for only “training”.  I hate it when I see a twelve year
old dog come into my veterinary clinic wearing a Prong or Pinch
collar.  The truth is that relying on a training collar for 12
years is lazy.

Sure, you can use training collars, but the intention should be
to get your dog to a point where he no longer needs a training
collar and can easily be controlled by a regular buckle collar or
excel at off leash obedience without the need of a leash or a

Slip Collar or Choke Chain

This is probably the oldest known training collar.  40 years
ago, slip collars or choke chains were the major training collar of
their time for dog owners.

Ironically, in order to compete in AKC or other types of
obedience, choke chains are often required on your dog’s body! 
For instance your dog can’t even wear a buckle collar with
tags!  Even though I did not really use them for training I would
slip one on prior to competition.

The nice thing about choke chains or slip collar is that your
dog isn’t likely to get loose from them, when the dog pulls the
chain tightens and prevents your dog from getting loose.  This can
be especially helpful for dogs with large necks and small heads;
think Greyhound when collars can slip off the top of the dog’s

Choke chains are bad because they can restrict air flow and
damage your dog’s trachea if you allow him to pull when he has a
choke chain on and is walking with you.  Dog owners very rarely
understand how dangerous these are.

The other detrimental thing about choke chains is that they have
to be applied and used very specifically.  The dog cannot be
walked on either side with a choke chain.  One side will keep the
tension on the chain and the neck and the other will allow the
choke chain to remain slack.

I always teach my students by having them put a choke chain or
slip collar on their wrist and switch it from one side to
another.  You can easily see how one side will keep tension and
the other will release it.  Typically, “heel” is on the left
side of your body so putting on a choke chain should look like a
“P” when going over your dog’s head.  If it looks like a
“9” you are putting it on wrong if the dog is on the left side.
 If your dog is on the right side, simply switch that rule

To size them correctly (which is almost never done) the chain
should be fairly tight and should slip over one ear and them the
other.  Choke chains that are worn like a necklace (down around
the dog’s neck) are ineffective.

Most people do not use these correctly or with

Prong Collar or Pinch Collar

I remember when these came out!  I was about 18 and certainly
jumped on the bandwagon, because I as a dog owner had two

It is true, they can be effective.

The nice thing about a prong collar or pinch collar is that they
give you a lot of control very quickly.  If sized and used
correctly they can be very effective but I think that these collars
lead to laziness and the avoidance of training.

The other nice thing about a prong collar or pinch collar is
that they disperse the correction around the whole neck.  Unlike a
choke chain or slip collar that places the tension directly at the
windpipe and trachea, a prong collar helps the dog owner disperses
the tension all the way around the neck.

Sure you can slap a collar on your dog that creates pain when he
pulls but are you really teaching him anything by doing so? Again,
I feel sorry for dogs that are old and still have to wear a prong

If you are going to use one to sharpen your obedience and use it
as a dog training tool, try and get away from using it all the
time.  It is a dog training tool, not a maintenance tool.

Please, plead heed this piece of advice.  Never, EVER leave a
choke chain or prong collar on your dog.  Metal collars can get
stuck in things in the environment and they can also get stuck in
other dogs metal collar.  I literally witnesses one dog die at a
dog park because no one could get the dogs apart.  Once the dog
panics he pulls into the choke and the results can death.

Electronic collars

Electronic collars have made a vengeance and I don’t mean to
be rude, but again I think they are sad.  I recently wrote an
article on a German Shepherd owner who have 5 German Shepherd
heeling through the streets.  I can see the
sadness and horror
in the eyes of the dogs.

If you insist on using these devices, educate yourself. 
Don’t shock your dog for listening or coming to you and make sure
that he has the tools he needs to be successful and HAPPY


Leashes, in my opinion are critical.  But a good leash makes a

One of my friends, who is a vet, is currently taking my puppy
class.  Last week was our first week of training class.  One of
my clients brought in their puppy on a flexi lead.  I asked them
to get a “real leash” to which my friend laughed.

I didn’t really mean it in a derogatory way, I just mean that
flexi leashes aren’t meant for training. And, flexi leads can be
dangerous to your dog, yourself and your children. 
Read this
to learn more.   Good training and teaching your
dog about great leash manners is the kind of training goes a long

Your dog should know if he has 4 feet, 6 feet or 10 feet to
explore.  If it is constantly changing, he is at a disadvantage
and training him will take longer and have him confused.

I want my dogs to check in with me and pay attention.  Sure,
they can be dogs but I want them to understand that pulling is
really not an option.  The older I get, the more important this
type of training is to me.  I seriously don’t want to get pulled
down and injured.  The ONLY time I use a flexi lead is when we are
out on vacation, at the beach or somewhere that they can get more
length away from me.  But my dogs have amazing obedience so they
don’t race to the end of the lead and they also get into heel
when asked.

Avoid flexi leashes unless your dog has immaculate

Personally, my favorite leads are leather.

Nylon leashes hurt my hands.  If the dog does pull, nylon cuts
into your flesh and can hurt.  I am not a fan of rug burn or
hurting. Leather is soft in your hand.

Although some people have an issue with leather (for personal
reasons) there are certainly fake but soft leashes still
available.  Your hands will thank you.

My same vet friend says he likes nylon leashes by Lupine © yes,
they will replace them if your dog chews them… but the fact is
your dog shouldn’t be given the opportunity to chew their

I also like rolled leather collars, they nearly last forever
without getting stinky.  Nylon holds odor, but leather rolled
collars seem to last forever, check them out!


Harnesses, the anti-pull kind can work well for those struggling
with their dogs.

The “Easy Walk” harness can give you control with a dog that

The idea is that it has a clip in the front and constricts the
front legs of the dog when he pulls.  This is uncomfortable and
keeps the dog from pulling.

The good thing about these harnesses is that when sized properly
they are fairly easy to use and they are straight forward.

Just make sure that they are sized correctly.  I find in our
society that the bigger the fit the better people thinks these
training collars fit or do better.  When, the opposite is true! 
Well fitted choke changes, prong collars and harnesses can prevent
rubbing and damage.  Also make sure that you take any training
collar or off when not in use!

The bad thing, is that if you use them consistently when the dog
is growing, it can affect his growth.  A study done several years
ago showed that
constant use of this kind of harness
affected the dog’s

Harnesses in general increase pulling.

Ironically, when I was training Service Dogs we didn’t really
even need to teach them to pull a wheelchair.

When we pulled backward on the harness the dog would naturally
pull harder.  When we let go, the dog would slow.  It is an
amazing principle called opposition reflex .  When you pull or
push the animal pulls or pushes back, if you let up… so does the

Head Halters

Head halters are probably the most hated device by most dogs but
can be sized for any dog.  They even make head halters with very
thing snout pieces so that even pugs and French Bulldogs.

Personally, I have a love hate relationship with head halters
(the gentle leader being my favorite because it is easily sized
under the snout and has less propensity to pull into the eye
ball.  They are easy to use on any dog from a Great Dane to a
Chihuahua and give you control very quickly.  A 100 pound woman is
going to have trouble walking a 200 pound African Boerbel.   And
the old adage is true.  You couldn’t slap a choke chain, prong
collar or harness on a horse and expect to have control.  Where
the head goes the body follows.

But they aren’t quite as easy as they sound.  You can’t
allow your dog to rub or try and get the halter off or he could rub
his face raw.  These

halters should be worn for short periods and the dog should be
jackpot-ed and taken on walks to ensure it is fun!

The other big thing with head halters is that the leash should
be held fairly short.  Meaning he shouldn’t be allowed to run at
the end of the 6 foot leash or run really quickly as he could
damage his neck!

Buckle and Rolled Collars

In my humble opinion, any collar can be used for short duration
so that the dog can be obedience trained.  I want my dog to be
able to be walked on a buckle or rolled leather collar.  I don’t
want to physically induce pain.  I want to teach my dogs’ what
my expectation of them are and how to achieve those.  This builds
a much better bond.

Lupine Dog Collars are even
or replaced if your dog chews it!

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All the Types of Dog Collars: Which Will Work Best For Your
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With All the Types of Dog Collars: Which Will Work Best For Your Pooch?