Choosing the Right Dog Training Collar

You’ve come to a pivotal point in your dog training journey. If you don’t start out with the right equipment and make some effort to organize your home—I repeat, your home—you’ll have a hard time earning your dog’s respect. An untrained dog running free through the house, grabbing everything in sight, and pulling you all over the neighbor­hood is not a pretty sight. There’s a better way.

It doesn’t take too much to teach your dog the necessary skills for your mutual survival: a good collar, a few leashes, and a realistic enclosure system, both inside and out. Though you may feel the restrictions of such a structured lifestyle temporarily, you’ll both be a lot happier in the long run.

The Right Training Collar:

Right Dog Training Collar
Right Dog Training Collar

You can’t simply ask for a training collar. You need to be more specific. There are many different types of collars available and finding the one for your situation is a must! An ineffective training collar can hurt your dog and/or hinder the training process

There are quite a few collars to choose from! Since I can’t be there to help you determine which is most appropriate, you’ll have to question a knowledgeable source if you’re confused. Other trainers, veterinarians, or groomers may be helpful. Some dog people, however, are one-collar oriented; they’ll tell you only one type will work. Shy away from that advice; every situation is different. What may work wonders for you could be some­one else’s nightmare. Choose a collar that works for you from those described next (try them all out if you have to).

The Original Dog Training Collar:

I call this the “original” because it has been around the longest. It has some other names too, like a chain or choke collar, though when used properly, it should never choke your dog.

Choking and restraining only aggravate problems. It is the sound of the collar, not the restraint, that teaches. To be effective, you must put on the collar properly and master the zipper snap.

If put on backward, this collar will catch in a vise hold around your dog’s neck and do what the collar is not suppose to do—choke! Take these steps to ensure this doesn’t happen:

To put a training collar on, create the letter “P” with the chain, slide your hand through, and hold your dog’s muzzle as you slide it over his head.

  1. Decide which side you want your dog to walk on. You must be consistent; dogs are easily confused. Because left is traditional, I’ll use left as my reference.
  2. Take one loop of the collar and slide the chain slack through it.
  3. Create the letter “P” with the chain.
  4. Holding it out, stand in front of your dog. Show him the chain.
  5. Give him a treat as you praise him and slide it over his head.

Tip: Adjustable collars made of cotton, nylon, or leather are called buckle collars. They do not slide or choke. Their purpose is to carry your dog’s tags.

Master the zipper snap. It’s the sound of the collar, not the restraint, that teaches! Used properly, a quick snap (which sounds like a zipper) will correct your dog’s impulse to disobey or lead. Try this without your dog: Stand up straight and relax your shoulders, letting your arms hang loosely at your side.

Place your hand just behind your thigh and snap your elbow back so that you’re swinging at the air behind you. Pretend my hand is there and you’re trying to hit it. Now find your dog. Place your hand over the leash and snap back as he starts to lead forward. Touché!

If you find yourself in a constant pull battle with your dog that’s only broken by occa­sional hacking, you might want to investigate other collar options, especially the self-correcting collar or chin lead.


How many ways do you think you can hold the leash? Just one way when you’re training your dog! If you hold the lead improperly, you’ll pull your dog off the ground, which will choke him. To hold the lead correctly, wrap your thumb around the bottom of the lead and your fingers over the top. Keep your arm straight as you lead your dog and snap straight back.

The Nylon Training Collar:

Nylon Dog Training Collar
Nylon Dog Training Collar

For the right situations, these collars are a must. The rolled nylon collars work best on fine-haired dogs, whereas the flat style can work with any type of coat. These collars are a must for breeds with sensitive throats and can also be used with slow, cooperative dogs. Count your blessings if your dog falls into one of these categories.

The “Self-Correcting” Collar:

Yes, I know, it looks torturous, like a choke collar with large prongs. But it is perfectly humane (I promise), especially if you fall into the I-can’t-stop-choking-my-dog category using an original training collar (choke chain). This collar works on the quick external pinch-pain prin­ciple, which is less damaging than the constant choke of the chain collar.

Developed by the Germans for many of their bull-necked breeds, it works wonders for dogs who are insensitive to pain or too powerful to be persuaded with simpler devices. Though it’s officially termed a Prong Collar, I refer to it as self-correcting because it requires little strength to use. By simply locking your arm into place, even the rowdiest of dogs will feel a pinch and slow down. It’s no small miracle.

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