We’ve been watching a few YouTube channels of dog trainers.  These popular internet trainers have strong opinions about what they consider to be the best dog collars. What I see lacking is a common sense explanation of which collars are good for what purpose. Flat collars, harnesses, choke chains, slip leads, pinch collars, etc. all have legitimate purposes. At the same time, improper use of each one of these tools can harm your B(est) F(urry) F(riend).

For just about every collar here except for the dog walking harness, it is extremely important to have the collar place properly on your BFF’s neck. When walking a dog, place the collar right behind the ears and under the jawline. Dogs are very strong toward the bottom of their neck where the neck goes into the shoulders. When a dog walking collar is placed and fitted properly, it is right under the jaw line.  This way you have control not only of the dog’s strength, but also their head. If you have your dog’s head pointed in a safe direction, his or her body will follow. Now… on to the tools!

Dog Harnesses for pullers

One of the more popular types of collars that I see people use is a dog walking harness. While it’s not technically a collar, we are going to consider a harness to be one of the ‘best dog collars’ for the purpose of this article.  Harnesses are very useful for a dog that pulls insistently on a leash and is hard to walk. Instead of a choking or gagging, a walking harness makes it possible for the handler to control the dog while walking. The downside of this tool is that the dog will not learn manners. I always say that dogs and kids are very much alike. Your dog needs to learn that it is not appropriate to pull you across the street or jump on the jogger that is running past you on the sidewalk. Dog walking harnesses are useful for dogs who pull so hard on a collar that they choke.  It is safe to use a harness on smaller dogs who don’t cause harm when jumping on people.  Owners who are strong enough to hold onto their dog while their BFF is pulling may also find a harness useful.

Choke Collars are not meant to choke dogs!

Best Dog Collars: Choke Collar to teach loose lead heeling
Used for loose lead walking

Choke collars have a bad rap with some of the dog training personalities on YouTube. One of the problems is its name! We don’t use choke collars to choke the dog! When done properly a quick snap of the collar gets the dog’s attention.  This action is much kinder than letting a dog pull so hard that it is choking and gagging on another type of collar. It’s the snap and release correction that makes the choke collar so useful.  But, it is the whole visualization of a choking dog gives the collar an undeserved ‘bad rap’. Of course, there is a drawback to walking your dog on choke collar. You must understand how to use it properly. A choke chain can cause harm if used improperly. Click Here for a video we found informative in how to use a choke chain (hate the name, but it is what it is!).

Flat Collars for identification

Best Dog Collars: Flat Collars are very useful, but can also cause neck injuries
Seem gentle, but can be harmful

Flat Collars are usually made out of nylon or leather and many people consider them to be a kinder type of collar. However, as with any kind of tool, a flat collar may cause harm if used improperly. The biggest problem we have witnessed with flat collars is that a dog can back-up out of the collar and escape. Most flat collars are simple circles that do not expand or contract. A dog who decides it doesn’t want to go somewhere can pull hard enough going backwards that he or she will slip out of the collar. This can put both the dog and the handler in a dangerous situation. Another problem is that if the collar falls into a lower position around the dog’s neck, the collar then puts all the dog’s pulling force onto the trachea and damage may ensue. We use flat collars for tags and identification on our personal dogs.  We walk our dogs on whichever other type of collar is appropriate.

Prong Collars have a humane use

Prong Collars (or pinch collars) have a horrible reputation in certain circles.  We will probably receive some criticism for this article.  However, they certainly have a use and are more humane than some other types of collars in certain, specific ways. Pinch Collars apply equal pressure around the dog’s neck.  They do not apply harmful pressure on a dog’s trachea like some other types of collars. Second, dogs learn to walk with their handler and not charge into dangerous situations (i.e. running into traffic, knocking over children, pulling the handler to the ground, etc.). That being said, prong collars must be used correctly. A professional‘s

advice should be sought when fitting the collar and it must be used properly. Click Here for a good video explanation on how to use this type of collar.

Prong Collar safety tips
Best Dog Collars: Prong Collars can be very useful, but must be used properly
Must be fitted properly

Some people claim that a prong collar doesn’t hurt.  Some people claim that prong collars are the root of all evil. The truth is somewhere in the middle. An incorrectly fitted prong collar can hurt your dog. At the same time, when used correctly, a prong collar is much more humane than other more commonly used collars.   Prong collars do not hurt the dog’s trachea, dogs cannot back out of them and dogs learn to not pull away from the handler.  Evaluate the behavioral needs of the dog, then, if necessary, use a prong collar to correct that behavior.  After correcting the behavior, go back to using a different type of collar. Finally, NEVER leave a prong collar on an unattended dog. The many links that make up the collar can easily get caught on a fence, bush or some other object and injure the dog. Prong collars are a positive tool when used correctly.  They can be considered one of best dog collars, but MUST be used with foresight and restraint.

Slip Leads for quick and safe control

At Country Comfort, we use a combination of collar and lead called a Slip Lead or Kennel Lead. This tool is both safe and humane because the dogs cannot back out of the lead as it does not have a buckle or snap.  Slip leads are also thick enough that the lead/collar does not choke the dog. This type of lead/collar combination is very useful in a multi-dog family. They are used to walk dogs back and forth to different areas of the house or outside to the yard. To take a Slip Lead off all you have to do is “slip” it over the dog’s head and then go get your other dog. Usually this type of lead is not used to walk your dog in the neighborhood, but can be very convenient around the house.

Reccomendations

In general, we recommend you pick the best dog collars for the situation in which yourself and your dog.

Harnesses & Choke Collars

Walking harnesses are good for small dogs that pull incessantly and are not so strong that they are going to pull the handler with them. Harnesses are Not good for teaching dogs respect for their handlers or surroundings.  Dogs have a difficult time learning to respond off-lead when handlers only a harness for walking. Choke collars are very good at helping your dog understand what you want. Maybe you have noticed that when you pull your dog to go one way your dog pulls equally hard in the opposite direction. Choke collars by-pass this problem because the dog learns through quick snaps with the leash. As with every type of collar, choke collars can harm your dog when used incorrectly. Fit choke collars just behind the dog’s ears and underneath his or her jawline. We recommend professional advice when using the choke collar as a training tool.  Do not EVER leave a choke chain on an unattended dog.

Flat Collars, Prong Collars & Slip Leads

Flat Collars are probably the most common type collar and are very useful in providing a way to hold on to your dog or a place to hang your BFF’s identification tags. However, many dogs quickly learn to back out of a flat collar and get scared, run away, run into the road, etc. We do not recommend that you walk you dog outside your home area on a leash and flat collar. Prong Collars are easily the most controversial of our topics in this article, but they do have humane uses. As with the choke collar, to correctly use a prong collar you should probably get professional advice before training your dog with a prong collar. We recommend using the prong collar as a training tool.  Then you can switch back to another type of collar for everyday use. As with the coke collar, NEVER leave your dog unattended with a prong collar on their neck. We use Slip Leads because it offers the safety of the choke collar, comfort of a flat collar and convenience of a leash/collar combination.

Hopefully, that was a useful over view of some of the best dog collars that are available to you and your B(est) F(urry) F(riend)! As always, take in all the information available and then make the best decision for you and your BFF. Nobody knows your BFF like you do!

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