Common Sense Information on The Training and Care of Puppies and Dogs

Dog Collars - How to Choose Correctly

When I first started obedience training over 40 years ago everything was pretty simple. You just grabbed the old choke chain, your standard 6 foot leash, and you went to work. This was the standard back then. However we have learned a lot over the years; the world of collars and now harnesses have changed quite a bit.

Dog Collars are much different today!

Every collar has its place depending on the type of dog. What you are training for, and your own personal beliefs. In many circles collars have become a heated issue. Because I am a field dog trainer, my needs are different than many others. The training tools I use are appropriate for what I do. Many people don’t think of collars as a training tool, but they are. I think they are one of the most important tools we have.

However, like anything if used in the wrong way, a “good” tool can be a terrible choice in the wrong hands.


Lets start with the original collar that everyone used back in the old days – the choke chain.

I do believe that the choke chain, our original training collar, does have its proper place in the dog training world.

And that would be straight into the garbage can!

Even if you do use the choke collar properly (put it on the dog correctly), this collar will cause damage to your dog’s esophagus. This type of collar is very narrow, and even a mild correction slams all that pressure right on the front part of the throat. Also, I truly do believe that a dog can focus much better when it can breath!

If you are using these collars, please get rid of them and find something safer.

Thank You Petco for allowing me to use the following infographic

Not everyone trains for the same reasons. Maybe you don’t need to have your dog be able to take hand, or even use whistle commands from a couple hundred yards away. In fact, I am sure most of you don’t. So the options below are very acceptable for everyday basic obedience training and for everyday use, like going for walks etc.

Please take a good look at the infographic below; A picture is worth a thousand words!

I am not completely familiar with every one of the choices below. However, I live in an area where I see lots of dogs wearing these different types of collars and harnesses. And I am pleased to say that for the most part the dogs are happy and under control.

The most important thing to keep in mind when using these different types of “Dog Collars” is the fit. If you choose to use any of the options below make sure that you get the right size for your dog. If you have any questions find someone to help. Fit is important! Even just a plain nylon collar needs to be the proper size or it will not work properly. For example, if it is too loose it can slip off.

Keep in mind – Positive and Negative experiences are quickly imprinted in dogs! SO, if you have a collar on too loosely your dog can pull and “slip”  the collar. In other words, if your dog pulls and the collar comes off that is a positive influence and the dog might try to get the collar off for awhile.  But you don’t want it too tight either. Just snug enough to be comfortable and not able to slide over your dog’s head.

There are many styles of dog collars and harnesses to choose from depending on your dog’s size, training needs and disposition.

Use this guide to help you determine the right collar or harness for your pet.

By Petco_Charlene on Dec 10, 2015

Again I want to thank Petco for the use of this wonderful graphic I think it speaks for itself.

Before I go I did want to discuss a couple other Dog Collars

I wanted to spend a moment on the prong collar.

I do use prong collars but I use them correctly. I fully realize that many people do not believe in using these collars, however, I think if used correctly prong collars are a good training tool. Where I think the problems come in with this collar is that people use them incorrectly. The first thing to understand is that this is not a collar that you just leave on your dog. This is not a full time collar. It is a collar that you use during your training session and then it comes off. The only time that I have seen a prong collar injure a dog is if it left on the dog as a replacement for a standard nylon dog collar. This collar is a training tool, to be used just when training. What I do like about the prong collar is that it does not put all the pressure right on the throat because it wraps around the dogs neck and all the pressure is not put on front of the neck. I think you can do more damage with a nylon collar than with a prong collar. I get it, they look somewhat barbaric but they are a good tool – if properly used. The other thing that i like about the prong collar is that the “feel” of it for the dog is similar to an electronic collar so prong collars are a good choice if you are going to transition to an e-collar.


If you disagree, I understand


As mentioned above I use electronic training collars in my program. For those of you that do not like e-collars, I can say that in many ways I agree with you. In the wrong hands electronic collars can be one of the worst training tool anyone can use.

Electronic Dog Collars

However, because of the type of work that we do in the field, if someone is properly trained to use this tool, then it really makes it much easier on the dog. We really do work the dogs at some pretty long distances. Trying to teach a dog to properly run a blind out to 100 or 200 yards without an electronic collar puts too much pressure on the dog. I don’t like to be hard on my dogs and the e-collar allows me to teach the dog what it needs to do without having to be heavy handed. It is not a tool for discipline, it is to help reinforce desired behaviors. I will, in the near future, write a full article on the proper use of electronic collars but I just wanted to mention them here since they are a very useful training tool again – in the right hands and used the right way.

As you can see there a lot of choices when it comes to dog collars and it can get a little confusing at times.  Hopefully, this will clarify the options and help you make the right choice for you and your dog.

Take care, Jeff -The DogMan

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