How to Choose the Right Dog Collar

You probably think, at first glance, that choosing the right dog collar for your dog is a simple, thoughtless thing. Any collar will do, right? Of course that’s often true, if you care for a small breed not strong enough to apply any kind of tension, don’t mind continuously replacing your collar, or aren’t worried about it breaking while on a walk. 

A Note on Slip Collars

Popularly earning the nickname ‘choke chains’ because they are more often than not misused, a slip collar can be a very useful tool, like any other dog training tool, if used properly. Slip collars, no matter if they are made of chain link or rope, are not meant to ‘choke’ your dog. 

That being said, collars made of pronged metal or chain link do tend to catch on themselves and might not immediately loosen like the proper slip collar is meant to.

When worn properly, a slip collar is meant to apply pressure when the dog pulls on it, immediately slacking when the dog stops pulling. In this way, the pet controls the amount of pressure applied, not the owner. The owner should not be yanking on the slip collar in order to cause discomfort to their dog with the intention of making him obey commands.

Small or Toy Breeds, Puppies, and the Collar vs. Body Harness

One should never use slip collars on small breeds or puppies, due to their delicate tracheas and potential for injury. In fact, because they are so often small and easily injured, it is best to consider a harness with small breeds and small, developing puppies.

Consider the Breed & Size

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen large, powerful breeds snap metal chain link tethers in order to get where they wanted to go. This can cause a terrible risk to both the dog, often not understanding the appropriate way to act in an urban environment full of strange humans, or those other strange humans the dogs has probably never encountered before. This isn’t even considering the deadly risk busy roads pose to any dog.

Make sure not only the collar, but the lead attached to it, is strong enough to support the size of the dog it is intended for!

Measure the neck.

Does the collar width matter?

  • Make sure the best collar for your dog is adjustable and doesn’t become too tight. On the flip side, it’s important to be sure your dog isn’t able to slip his head out of the collar.


Dogs, Dog Collars, and Play Time

Personally, I care for two dogs, both loving to play with each other on a daily basis! I purchased a kind of thick cloth collar for both of them. Normally these last quite well for two thirty pound dogs, but one used to love to pull on the other’s collar at play (before I put a stop to this)! The point here is- collars made of any kind of sewn materials can fray, tear or degrade with time, friction, and resistance. Other than this, cloth type collars are the main type of collar most dog owners use.

  • Leather collars are popular for their attractiveness, but won’t stand up to rain well, grow brittle, and ultimately might snap.

The Head Halter

The average passerby might look at this unusual ‘torture’ device and cringe in horror. Though they seem very unusual, head halters are another simple training tool, just like slip collars, and shouldn’t be painful in the least.

The head halter is simply meant to discourage a dog from pulling by causing his body to harmlessly rotate one direction when he does pull. Head halters shouldn’t tighten, choke the dog, or cause any actual pain. 

On the contrary, many dog owners are able to enjoy those wonderful daily walks with dogs that tend to pull, dogs too large for them (a small woman with a giant breed such as a Mastiff, for example) to control, or leash reactive dogs. If it weren’t for these tools, many dogs would never get to enjoy the exercise they need.


Another misunderstood tool, the e-collar, popularly nicknamed ‘shock collar’, is again often misused. Today, almost every good e-collar on the market offers a slight buzzing stimulation, nowhere near any kind of stereotypical electric shock. Some offer around three separate levels of stimulation, but others can offer up to 15; choosing a setting appropriate for your dog’s size is no longer a problem at all. Most also offer a discomfort free audible tone simply meant to get the dog’s attention.

Though the buzz is meant to startle the dog and be somewhat uncomfortable, it should NOT be painful. The e-collar is most helpful in situations when a recall is vital, such as with dangerous animals (ex. poisonous snakes, depending on what part of the world you live in), or if you live near busy roads with heavy traffic. Even the largest skeptic can honestly agree this is by far preferable to death by traffic fatality because their dog ran out in front of speeding cars.

  • Though they are often marketed as a tool for continuous punishment/correction, and sadly most often used this way, an e-collar shouldn’t be used to inflict excessively painful punishment on a daily basis. This type of use can lead to either an overly fearful, timid dog, or an aggressive animal.
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