Let's Talk... Dog Training Collars

All dogs are not created equal - And neither are dog training collars

These days there are a lot of choices when it comes to training collars, so which one is best?  Let me answer that question with a few more questions:

  • What type and size dog do you have?
  • How old is your dog?
  • What types of issues are you dealing with?

Those questions are meant to get you thinking about what your situation is and what you're trying to accomplish with your training. Keep those questions in mind as you read about each type of training collar below.

Before I go into detail about each type of collar, let me say this. . .

Most dog training collars (especially in the past) were designed to be used by professional dog trainers who were educated in how to properly use them. Also, they were designed to be used as a training aid for training purposes, not to be left on a dog for every day use.

I bring this up because dog training collars, choke collars in particular, are seriously mis-used! I see dogs all the time with a choke collar on for their every day collar. This is one of the most dangerous things a dog owner can do

In addition to seeing them used as everyday collars, I also see that they are not put on correctly, and are not used correctly when attached to a leash, which completely defeats the purpose.

What I mean by "not used correctly" is you should never pull with constant pressure on a choke collar or prong collar. The whole purpose of these dog training collars is to check and release, meaning a quick sharp tug which gets your dogs attention, and then releasing the second he's doing what you want (i.e. slack in the leash).

As you'll see below, I feel that there are much better alternatives to the choke collar when it comes to deciding which dog training collar to use.

However, I do understand that it may still be your choice. If that's the case, please just make sure you're both putting in on correctly and using it the way it was designed to be used. A choke collar should form the letter "P" as your facing your dog and slipping it over his head (see the picture to the right).

Types of dog training collars
and situations they're best used for

The Gentle Leader Harness & Halti Collar

The gentle leader harness or halti collar basically goes around your dog's nose (muzzle) with a strap behind the head. It doesn't act like a muzzle though, because your dog can eat, drink, give your doggie kisses, and everything else he can't do with a muzzle on.

This type of dog training collar is very gentle, but still needs to be used with a bit of caution. When you pull on the collar, it simply turns your dogs head towards you, which is why you never want to jerk on it or you could do serious damage to your dogs neck.

This collar is best used on a small to medium size dog that needs simple corrections when you're out for a walk, etc., to help assert your position as the Alpha Leader.

If you're dealing with a large, strong dog like the Rottweiler, and you're trying to work through serious aggression or prey drive issue's, then the gentle leader harness or halti collar may not be the best dog training collar to start with.

However they are definitely a collar to keep in mind for future use.

The Prong Collar or Pinch Collar

The prong collar is shrouded in controversy, probably more so than the choke collar. I don't know why for sure, by I personally think it's because of the way it looks.

I think the pinch collar is more humane than the choke collar, but I'll say once again that it must be used correctly, and unfortunately most people don't. My husband included - I'm always getting after him about it.

Unlike the choke collar, the prong collar doesn't restrict breathing or put any pressure on the trachea, unless you keep steady pressure on it, which you should never do as that is not using it correctly.

The prong collar, or pinch collar as it's often referred to does just what the name "pinch" implies. It pinches the skin around your dog's neck. Obviously, if you were to jerk too hard, it can seriously hurt your dog.

Just like the choke collar, it is designed to get your dog's attention by using quick check and release pressure. And just like the choke collar, keeping steady pressure on the leash completely defeats the purpose of it!

As you can see from it's looks, this dog training collar is probably not the right collar to use on a small or medium size dog, or a dog that doesn't have any serious behavioral issues such as aggressiveness towards other dogs, or a high prey drive.

On the other side of that coin, these collars do come in varying sizes and can be used on a smaller dog than the Rottweiler if the situation calls for it.

My male Rottweiler Chevy is 8 1/2 years old now, and I still use the prong collar when out in certain public places, as I don't ever want to be in a situation where I wouldn't be able to physically control him. Please keep in mind that Chevy is a bit of a unique story, as he came to us with a sorted past and hasn't been able to get over some of it.

I'd like to tell you two stories that will help illustrate why you should never, ever leave a training collar on your dog when he or she is unsupervised.

Unfortunately, this will require me to admit my own stupidity, but then you can avoid making the same mistakes :O)

These two stories are actually very funny, but we were lucky that no one was actually hurt - especially our dog.

Story #1
When Chevy came to us, he was a real basket-case - Abused, neglected, never trained. I was almost at my wit's end with him, so I was leaving the prong collar on him all the time while I was home.

One night I forgot to take it off before we all went to bed. Sometime in the middle of the night, my husband and I woke up the the loudest noise ever and we both sat straight up in bed.

Chevy had been laying at the end of the bed, up against my dresser, which had long, protruding handles. . .

He had hooked the collar on the biggest of the bottom drawers, jerked the drawer right out of the tracks, went up and over the bed right where our heads would have been, had we not both sat straight up!

The drawer landed where our heads would have been. The TV had also gone crashing to the ground :0(

Story #2
As if learning that lesson the hard way once wasn't enough, I did it again!

I took Chevy for a walk in the morning, and forgot to take the prong collar off before I left for work.

My husband had played hooky from work that day, thank God and was sleeping when he woke up to what sounded like a truck driving through the front of our house.

When I got home from work and walked through the front door, I said out loud "what the heck happened to the drapes!" Well. . . Chevy liked to push the drapes aside to look out the window.

I know you can see it coming - he hooked the collar on the pulley strings that open and close the drapes. In his usual calm fashion, he promptly ripped the entire set of drapes (rod and all) off the wall and dragged them across the room.

I hope this helps you understand why you should never, ever leave a training collar on your dog. Please remember that the prong collar is not for every dog and every situation. It also must be used correctly in order to be effective and not cause your dog harm.

The E Collar

The e collar is another dog training collar shrouded in controversy. In my opinion, their effectiveness is controversial and for good reason.

If you decide to resort to using an e collar to train your dog, then you better have tried everything else under the sun first. And, you will probably not get the results you're hoping for.

An e collar should not be used for general training purposes - Period. I can think of very few circumstances where an e collar would be beneficial, and even then it should be a last resort when looking for dog training collars.

I will share a story with your when I attempted to use an e collar. I was dealing with a rescue dog (Chevy) that was essentially a basket-case, and I thought I had tried everything to stop him from eating my vacuum cleaner.

He didn't just bark and bite at it, he literally tried to eat it. No matter what we did, we couldn't get him to stop. Putting him in another room only served to destroy the other side of the door :0(

Chevy was an extreme case, and so I decided to resort to the e collar after consulting with a Rottweiler breeder and trainer, who also happened to be a friend.

Rottweilers are extremely tough and strong-willed dogs. At first, it didn't really phase him, but over time he started to put 2 and 2 together. I also started leaving the vacuum out in the middle of the living room both running and not running.

He finally came to terms with it and made friends with the machine. He also learned that not attacking it meant he got a cookie, and attacking it meant an irritation on his neck.

If you're really considering using an e collar, please make sure it's your only option left, that you use along with other methods to teach your dog, and that you consult a professional.

When it comes to behavioral issues (like Chevy had), there is usually an underlying cause. You will get better results of you get to the bottom of what's causing the behavior and treat that, instead of just treating the symptoms.

Common Spelling errors & Synonyms

When you're searching for information it will help to know these common spelling errors such as Rotweiler, Rottweiller, or Rotwiler. Some common synonyms are Rottie and Rott

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