Dog collars come in an array of styles that are almost as diverse as the dogs that sport them. From fashion accessories to training tools, dog collars serve various functions. Since some collars can pose a safety risk to your beloved pooch, choosing the right one is an important decision.
Flat and rolled collars are as convenient as they are common. Both are fastened with a plastic clip or buckle, are easy to slip on and off, offer a variety of decorative features and can hold tags or other visual identification for your dog. The biggest difference between flat and rolled collars is that flat collars come in a variety of materials, whereas rolled collars are made of rolled leather. Since rolled collars are designed to avoid leaving a flat spot on dogs’ fur, they are a better choice than flat collars for dogs with sensitive skin or long fur.
Special Purpose Collars
Martingale collars (also known as limited-slip collars) are designed to fit loosely but tighten slightly if the dog tries to back out of it. Ideal for dogs with narrow heads or a penchant for slipping out of collars, martingale collars have a metal ring at each end and a separate loop of material that passes through both rings. Even though martingale collars tighten with certain movements, they are designed to tighten only to the size of the dog’s neck so he doesn't choke.
Training collars are designed to support obedience training and correct unwanted leash behaviors. There are a wide variety of training collars available, including head collars, slip or choke collars, prong collars and bark control collars. Training collars are designed to use the principle of pressure or aversive stimuli to prevent pulling or reduce excessive barking. Always use training collars with caution since improper fit or use could lead to injury.
Chemical collars are typically used in conjunction with regular collars and are designed to protect dogs against fleas and ticks. The flea and tick protection found in chemical collars is temporary and must be replaced periodically. Chemical collars are the source of some controversy among animal experts because the harsh chemicals they release can be as toxic to dogs or to the people that touch them as they are to the fleas and ticks against which they are intended to protect.
Harnesses offer a decent alternative to traditional and special purpose collars. Though somewhat limited in decorative features, harnesses are a great choice for dogs with respiratory or trachea problems since they do not put as much pressure on the throat as other collars. Harnesses have a strap that goes in front of the shoulders and another behind the front legs. Some harnesses come with specialty features like front clips that minimize pulling or safety clips that can secure dogs while riding in cars.
Proper sizing and use of dog collars is crucial to safety. If you can’t get two fingers underneath your dog’s collar while it is on him, the collar is too tight and could choke your precious pooch. Always follow directions for proper use and consult a professional before attempting to use any training collar on your dog.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.