How to Pick the Perfect Collar for Your Dog

Dog wearing martingale collar
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Martingale Collars

The martingale collar consists of a length of material whose two ends are attached to another piece, which the leash attachesto, so that the collar tightens when pulled. It has a limited choking effect, as it tightens only to a fixed degree, unlike a choke chain.

Pros:

  • Escape artists skilled at backing out of collars have limited ability to do so in the collar, which tightens when pulled.
  • The limited tightening damages the neck less than a choke chain.
  • The collar fits loosely on the neck when the slip section isn’t pulled.
  • Some dogs may be less inclined to pull on a martingale than on a flat collar.
  • Sight hounds or dogs with necks the same size or larger than their heads can be walked safely without the collar slipping off.

Cons:

  • The collar can be uncomfortable and can have some choking effect on a dog if he doesn't understand to lessen pulling when it tightens.
  • Dogs should be supervised while wearing the collar, as it can have a choking effect if caught on something.

There is another category of collars called corrective collars that include choke, slip and prong collars, which close in a choking motion when pulled. I didn't go into detail here as I don't recommend them. The collars can cause pain and physical harm, such as strangulation from a choke chain that gets caught on something, tracheal or neck injury from pulling on a leash attached to a choke chain, or welts from an improperly fitting prong collar. I've found that walking devices such as front-clip harnesses and head halters, combined with reward-based training, are more humane and effective than corrective collars. Stay tuned — these harnesses and halters will be covered in an upcoming article!
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