Dog Collars

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Dog Picture 39If you are new to the world of dogs, you'll be surprised at the number of choices in collars now on the market.

While the majority of collars are humane and effective training aids, some can be dangerous if used incorrectly. To ensure that you are using the best training aid for your dog, you should seek the advice of a professional dog trainer. You should also make taking puppy and obedience classes a top priority. In addition to the guidance that you will get from the obedience instructor, your dog will be provided with an opportunity to socialize with other canines. This alone makes obedience classes worthwhile. A poorly socialized dog can develop insecurities and aggression.

To help guide you through the myriad of products on the pet store shelves, here's a quick look at some of the most popular collars used today.

Buckle Collars

Made of flat or braided nylon or leather, the buckle collar is something every dog should wear. This is the only collar that is safe to leave on your dog at all times. It should be buckled tightly enough so that it doesn't slip over your dog's ears but loose enough to easily slip two fingers under it. The collar has a ring to which you attach your city dog license and other identification tags. Should your dog accidentally stray, this collar and the tags are his ticket home. If you don't like the sound of tinkling dog tags or worry that the metal tags will discolor your dog's fur, you can put the tags in a special tag pouch, which is available at most pet stores.

While some trainers regularly use flat buckle collars, especially on puppies, these collars will not provide adequate control for some dogs.

Choke Chain or Slip Collars

Choke chains are metal chain links with a ring on each and should only be used while training or walking your dog. This collar is sold by length - so ask for assistance when purchasing a slip collar. When used correctly, the slip collar enables the handler to give the dog a correction by tightening and then quickly releasing on the dog's neck. An improperly used collar simply chokes the dog.

A word of warning! NEVER attach tags to this type of collar, tie a dog up with this collar, or leave the collar on when the dog is unsupervised. He or she can be choked to death if the collar becomes caught.

Prong or Pinch Collars

Used by many people to control hard to handle dogs, the prong collar lies flat on your dog's neck until you give a correction or he pulls. Pressure on the leash causes blunt metal prongs to pinch the dog's neck. While this collar can be effective, it should NEVER be used without the guidance of a qualified trainer as it can cause more problems than it solves. In the case of an aggressive dog, it can actually make the animal worse. Most trainers use the prong collar only as a last resort and only for a short period of time. As with the slip collar, tying your dog up, attaching tags, and unsupervised use of prong collars should be avoided.

Head Collars or Halters

The latest rage for the well-mannered dog, head collars are not to be confused with muzzles. A muzzle is a mesh cup that slips completely over a dog's mouth and nose and is attached to his head with a strap behind the ears. A muzzle is used to ensure that a dog cannot bite and is not, in any way, attached to the leash or used as a training aid.

The head collar is similar to a "figure eight" with one strap around the neck directly behind the dog's ears and above his "Adam's apple."
The second strap fits around his muzzle, close to the eyes and back of the lips. (They are connected under the dog's chin.) While wearing a head collar, a dog can still effortlessly pant, drink, eat, bark, and - heaven forbid - bite. It is NOT a muzzle! It works on the principle that a regular collar encourages your dog to pull against the pressure on his neck and throat. A head collar works in reverse; by putting steady but firm pressure at the top (scruff) of the neck in much the same manner as a mother dog may discipline her puppies. Even slight pressure at the scruff of the neck and around the muzzle is a correction and leadership method that a dog can understand from the human holding the leash.

Initial training with a head collar should be done under the direct supervision of a qualified trainer, even though a head collar is considered to be far more humane than a pinch or slip collar. When giving a correction, the action of the leash is very different with a head collar than with any of the other training devices. That's why it is so important that you receive proper instruction on its use.

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin (Biography & Additional Information)