There are many types of collars out there for your dog. The problem is, it’s not clear what they do or how to use them. Depending on the training methods that work best for your dog the collar follows suit.
Some collars are for correctional purposes with some form of instruction while others are made to gain better control of the dog without injuring yourself. Harnesses for example are made to control a dog that pulls and not hurt your arm while you work on training your dog. This not a training collar per say but it’s a way to start the training method in a safe manner.
Here’s a few popular training collars and what they do:
1: Choke Chain – this collar is made from a series of metal links with two round rings attached at either end. When the leash is properly attached, the chain should contract and expand. When the leash is pulled the chain will get tighter around your dog’s neck.
There is a “right” way to put on the choke chain to insure that it loosens and doesn’t stay contracted and choke your dog. If you walk your dog on your left side, the collar should be put on your dog’s neck forming the letter ‘P’ as you face your dog. This way when the leash slacks, the chain should also slack. If you put the choke on as a letter ‘q’ it can rotate and hang from the bottom of your dog’s neck and won’t loosen when the leash is loose.
The correction should be a tug and release. If the choke chain doesn’t release the training won’t work and your dog will find themselves extremely uncomfortable. The wrong way can even leave your dog hating the collar and refusing to have it put on.
If your dog is constantly pulling, then a choke chain won’t work because your dog will constantly be choking itself as it tries to run or pull you down the street.
2: Martingale Collar – a martingale collar is similar to a choke but it’s gentler and a majority of the collar is made of nylon. There is a small section that is attached to the collar that pulls the collar tighter and that is either made of chain links or nylon.
When the leash is pulled only the smaller section contracts, which tightens the collar but only to a certain extent. It will never become constrictive to the animal or cause harm since it cannot completely “choke” the dog.
They are also made to work no matter if the dog is on the right or left side of you and it is a good collar for dogs who try to back out of their collars during walks. The tug is a uniform squeeze around the dog’s neck.
This is a great collar to use if your dog needs reinforcement of how to walk on a leash or is not completely out of control on walks. Personally, I love these collars. They are great for smaller dogs with sensitive necks and are hard for the dog to slip out of when worn properly.
3: Prong Collar – the prong collar works like the martingale but it has prongs that protrude inward. When the collar is placed around the dog’s neck, the prongs rest against the skin. If the dog pulls the prongs squeeze into the neck mimicking a bite. This collar looks worse than it is. As long as the owner knows how to use it, no harm should come to the dog.
Some prong collars are coated with plastic at the tips. You can test the sharpness by feeling the prongs and pulling the collar around your arm. It won’t break the skin but definitely makes you aware of something touching you. You could also see if any of your friends are game and put the collar on them and give a tug… but… someone might get punched.
In all levels of training, there are some negative reinforcers mixed with positive. A dog will realize that if it pulls, it gets a tightened collar around its neck and be uncomfortable (negative) but if it doesn’t, the collar stays loose and you are happy (positive). When you give correction, give some praise, try a treat, try clicker training, and let your dog know that good behavior is rewarded.
A good way to start training is to try the collars in the house where there aren’t as many distractions and both you and your dog get used to it. Try to end each walk with a reward and end it on a good note. If your dog knows how to sit, ask it, then praise. All training should always end positive to keep your dog and you sane.
Aside from these training collars, remember your dog should always have another collar with identification in case your dog ever gets away from you and goes for a good sprint about town.