Tuesday, January 19, 2010
By Ruthie Bently
Dogs should always wear a collar, whether it is for identification or training purposes. Not only that, most dogs wear collars from the time they are puppies until they leave us and cross the “rainbow bridge.” Choosing the right collar for your dog is very important; it needs to be comfortable, as well as being the right size and weight for them. There are other things to consider when purchasing a dog collar too. Is it for a new puppy or an adult dog? Is it for training, and if so what kind: obedience, confirmation or Schutzhund?
If you are choosing a collar for a puppy, just remember that they are teething and your beautiful leather collar may end up on the bottom of their crate if they get to it. When I was still in pet retail and sold a collar, our only alternatives were nylon or leather; now there are more choices. You can choose nylon, which is durable and easy to clean. Or you can choose cotton or hemp, both of which come from renewable sources. I like the renewable idea because I am a recycler, but do what fits your budget the best.
If you are choosing a collar for an adult dog, they are past the teething stage (though they may still be chewers) and a fancier collar is fine. I dressed Nimber in a collar made from saddle leather after he was an adult, and he looked great. Skye on the other hand, is a rough-and-tumble dog; she wears a decorated nylon collar that is easy to wash. When an everyday collar is fitted properly, you should be able to fit two fingers side by side between your dog’s collar and their body, and should not be able to pull the collar off over their head.
Are you looking for a training collar for your dog? Different trainers may require different collars for training; if it is a beginning obedience class most trainers prefer a choke collar. However, you should only have a choke collar on your dog when training, and it should be taken off as soon as training is finished. There are several link sizes, so make sure you get the appropriate link size. Don’t use a collar on a puppy that would be more suited to a two year old dog, choose a choke collar with smaller links.
A choke collar that fits well should not fall off over your dog’s head; however, it should be loose enough that it doesn’t choke your dog on its own. To fit a choke on your dog, face your dog, form the choke collar into the shape of the letter “P” and put it over their head. When fitted correctly you should have about four fingers worth of draw when making your correction. Too much or too little draw and your correction will have no effect on your dog.
The “pinch” collar is another training collar, so called because it pinches the dog’s neck much like a mother dog does with her teeth when she is disciplining a puppy. The pinch collar also has different link sizes, and links can be added and removed as needed. This collar does not go over the dog’s head, and when fitted properly should have about two inches on each side of the center ring that lies on your dog’s body. I prefer the pinch collar, as it does not cut off a dog’s wind, and I can give a firm, but gentle correction to get the results I desire.
You should check your dog’s regular collar every day to make sure that the stitching, buckle and any rhinestones or additions are not loose or coming apart. Your training collar should be checked daily as well for rust and elongated end rings. If the plating is beginning to come off, cease using it, as you can get metal slivers from the burrs that the wear of the plating can create. If this happens you should replace the collar with a new one.
Whichever collar you choose, whether it is for training, everyday wear or fancy dress, it should fit your dog properly and wear well. After all, you wouldn’t go to work wearing a tie with a hole in it or a pair of pantyhose that is three sizes too small.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently