The different types and purposes of collars on dogs

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PrintSome dogs hate wearing collars and will make your life difficult as you try to put it on them but wearing a collar with the name and address of their owner is obligatory in public places in the UK and even if your dog wears a harness the collar needs to be worn as well. There are various different collars on the market however, to help you find the best option for your dog:

A flat or rolled collar is the most common type sold which is a simple collar with a clip or buckle. There are a few things to be aware of with these collars however, it is possible for them to get caught in rough play with another dog making it difficult for them to separate. In addition if your dog pulls, then attaching the lead to this type of collar can raise pressure in the eye which could worsen any incipient eye problems.

Another option is a martingale collar (or half-check collar) which is similar to the flat collar but tightens slightly when the dog pulls. This type of collar should never choke the dog but instead should tighten gently to prevent it from slipping over the head, which with dogs with smaller or wider necks can be a problem. The collars have to be adjusted carefully though so that even at their tightest they can’t accidentally choke the dog and they are not ideal for puppies and growing dogs who are unused to lead walking.

Break away or safety collars are a safe alternative if you worry about your dog catching the collar at home or when playing. These work by releasing themselves from the dog’s neck when the dog tries to pull away strongly. They have a safety linkage that you can engage for walks and public areas when you will need the collar to hold together under pressure.

When you are out and about attaching the lead to a harness is a common practice nowadays. These are great for dog with more unusual anatomy (short nosed pugs, miniature poodles which are prone to collapsing trachea) as well as boisterous dogs or those that are hard to hold. Getting these fitted properly is important, as if too loose, dogs can simply step out of them at the wrong time and if too tight can irritate their skin and reduce movement.

Head halters are another alternative to harnesses which take away the dog’s weight so for very strong dogs or pullers this is a great solution. Some dogs will come to dislike these as they lose the freedom of choosing where to direct themselves so they need to be used gently to encourage the dog to walk nicely to heel.

It’s important to get the right size and thickness of collar for your dog, good pet shops will give you some advice but be prepared to try a few on before deciding.  When a test collar is on your dog’s neck check you can adjust it to fit one finger under if a small breed, two fingers if a medium breed and three for a large or giant breed. Fabric or leather is an individual choice, leather tends to last longer but can rub some dog’s necks and be hard to clean.

If your dog hates wearing his collar, try distracting him when you’re putting it on and rewarding with a treat once you have it safely fastened. Some dogs can be trained to bring their collar or lead to you and will begin to associate wearing it with going out for walks.

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