The Collar Debate

The Collar Debate

 Clients these days are continuing to get mixed reviews on what type of collar or device they should use for walking their dog. It can be incredibly confusing. This has been a long dragged out debate for a long time, negative reinforcement vs. positive reinforcement, pain vs. choice, etc. This article is meant to simplify things.

When you walk with your dog if they see something they want to go to, they tend to pull in that direction. As owners we more often than not let them pull us in that direction or we tend to jerk on the leash. Each time we do that we cause our dog to experience a choking sensation, which causes pain and decreases the oxygen going to their brain. Dogs learn quickly by association. So what I mean by that is lets say it’s another dog that they are pulling to. Over time as they keep experiencing this pain and they happened to see that dog every time, they start to think that that dog is causing the pain. They don’t associate the pain with the lunging itself, the device itself nor us the owners jerking on the leash. Eventually they will associate other dogs (or whatever it was they were lunging at) on their walk with pain. This when the dog gets smart. When you and your dog are walking and your dog sees a dog, they will begin to growl and bark to warn that dog not to hurt them. Thus, the beginning of Leash Reactivity or Leash Aggression. So what do you do?

Every dog needs a collar, whether its to hold their identification information or for walking out in the real world. But which is the right fit for your dog.

 

DEVICES. Why they work and why they don’t work.

 

**Flat Nylon Collar** Ideal for Training

This is the standard collar for dogs. Rule of thumb is that you should be only able to get 2 fingers under the collar. This type of collar is designed to be used in conjunction with dog training techniques in regards to Loose Leash Walking. If your dog does pull, without you doing such techniques, it could result in Leash Reactivity.

Click here for Loose Leash Walking Classes

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

 

GPS Collar

This collar uses global positioning satellite technology t help locate your pet if he gets lost. This type of collar is often seen with hunting dogs, hiking with your dog or dogs with no containment outside.

 

**Head Collar** Ideal for training!

The head collar design is based on the concept of a horse halter. It is designed to go behind the ears and around the muzzle. There is an additional line that connects to the collar in case the dog manages to wiggle the head collar off. This is my favorite device ever invented. It has no many uses. This is an excellent device for energetic dogs, for dogs who are being walked by children, dogs who pull hard, dogs who are stronger than their human counterparts and for dogs whose humans are not very coordinated. What the head collar does it takes away all the strength the dog has with their chest/body and the dog has only the power of their head. Also when needed you can redirect the direction of the head, thus redirecting the focus and fascination of what the dog wants to stare at. The head collar must fit properly. It is important to get someone who is knowledgeable in the head collar to assist with fitting. Owners must make sure they are not jerking the leash when it is attached to the head collar, as it could hurt the muzzle. It definitely takes time, patience and lots of treats to get your dog accustomed to wearing a head collar, however the results are priceless. This type of collar is designed to be used in conjunction with dog training techniques in regards to Loose Leash Walking. If your dog does pull, without you doing such techniques, it could result in Leash Reactivity.

Click here for Loose Leash Walking Classes

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

 

Plain Harness

A dog harness is a piece of equipment typically used on dogs for assistance with humans with disabilities, hauling a cart or sled, or in skijoring. Built similar to a horse harness. It can also be used with scent tracking dogs and with dogs who are at risk for their esophagus collapsing when wearing collar. The harness tends to apply pressure on the chest area, which triggers them to want to push against it causing the dog to pull. This type of collar is designed to be used in conjunction with dog training techniques in regards to Loose Leash Walking. If your dog does pull, without you doing such techniques, it could result in Leash Reactivity.

Click here for Loose Leash Walking Classes

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

 

**Tightening Harness** Ideal for training

The tightening harness works similar to a regular harness, however when the dog pulls the leash being at the front of the chest re-directs the dog back to you rather than continuing pushing forward. It is good for dogs who are at risk for tracheal damage. This type of collar is designed to be used in conjunction with dog training techniques in regards to Loose Leash Walking. If your dog does pull, without you doing such techniques, it could result in Leash Reactivity.

Click here for Loose Leash Walking Classes

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

 

Vibrating Collar

Vibrating Collars are often seen used when a dog is deaf who cannot hear your voice or clicker sound. It is incredible important to use a setting that is not too much for the dog wearing the collar to handle.

 

Martingale Collar

The Martingale is also known as the “Limited Slip Collar”. It was originally designed for dogs with narrow heads such as Greyhounds. It could also be used for a dog that is known for slipping out of their collars. The idea is that when it is tightened, the tightest it would ever be is to just go tight enough to the size of the dogs’ neck and wont choke them. It is incredibly important if using this type of collar that the owner does not tighten the collar tighter than it should be, jerk the leash, as well as keep the leash tight while walking. This type of collar should be used in conjunction with dog training techniques in regards to Loose Leash Walking. If your dog does pull, without you doing such techniques, it could result in Leash Reactivity.

Click here for Loose Leash Walking Classes

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

 

Bark Control Collar (Citronella)

The spray emits a burst a citronella, which interrupts your dog from barking. In a multi-dog household a dog CANNOT wear a bark control collar, as another dogs barking may trigger the collar to work. These collars are designed to control excessive or unwanted barking, however none them address the root cause of the barking. Dogs can bark for several reasons, such as fear or territorial behavior.

Click here for Behavioral Consult

 

Choke Chain Collar

This collar is made of metal links and is designed to control your dog by tightening around your dogs’ neck. Unlike the martingale there is no way to control how much the choke chain tightens, so it is possible to choke or suffocate your dog. With this collar the owner is training with positive punishment. It will only suppress the behavior of lunging, not control it. Earlier when we were talking about a dog lunging on the leash and eventually the dog associated the pain/choking with other dogs resulting in potential Leash Reactivity. The choke collar not only amplifies this potential, but can create an aggressive faster and more intense. It can also cause severe injuries such as trachea/esophagus collapse, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, transient paralysis and even death. A lot of people use them because they are a quick fix however;

  • Your dog is only walking to avoid punishment
  • Your dog is not being taught what to do meaning that as soon as the collar is taken off the old behavior will return
  • Anything present in the environment when your dog experiences the pain will take on a negative association.

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

Click here for Behavioural Consult

 

Pinch or Prong Collar

The design of the pinch collar is similar to the martingale in that the tightest level should only be the size of the dog’s neck, however when the leash is tightened the prongs pinch the loose skin of the dog’s neck. With this collar the owner is training with positive punishment. It will only suppress the behavior of lunging, not control it. Earlier when we were talking about a dog lunging on the leash and eventually the dog associated the pain/choking with other dogs resulting in potential Leash Reactivity. The pinch collar not only amplifies this potential, but can create an aggressive dog faster and more intense. It can also cause severe injuries such as trachea/esophagus collapse, puncturing of skin from the prongs, injuries to blood vessels in the eyes, neck sprains, nerve damage, transient paralysis and even death. A lot of people use them because they are a quick fix however;

  • Your dog is only walking to avoid punishment
  • Your dog is not being taught what to do meaning that as soon as the collar is taken off the old behavior will return
  • Anything present in the environment when your dog experiences the pain will take on a negative association.
  • In NO WAY does a prong collar emulate the correction of a mothers’ teeth to a puppy. This is a MYTH, plain and simple.

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

Click here for Behavioural Consult

 

Shock Collar

Shock collars use an electric current passing through metal contact points on the collar to give your dog a signal. They are typically sold as training devices and to stop barking. They are also used with pet containment fencing systems. They are the least humane and most controversial as a training device. The trainer can administer a shock to the dog at a distance through a remote control. There is a huge correlation between dog abuse and the shock collars. It is just too easy to administer the shocks. What it trains is “Learned Helplessness”, not behavior modification. Shock collars also can irritate and inflame a dogs’ neck. It is credible important that the setting that the collar is on is not too much for the dog wearing the collar to handle.

Click here for Leash Reactivity Classes

Click here for Behavioural Consult

 

 

Don’t see something on here that you’d like more information on? Send me an email at shalin@grassrootscanine.com and let me know what it is.

One Comment on “The Collar Debate

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