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When it comes to a new dog, there are many supplies you need to make sure to get. A key one is a collar so you have somewhere to attach a leash, license, identification tags and rabies vaccination tag. There are so many choices out there for collars and it can be difficult to figure out where to start. 

The reason that there are so many choices is because they may have other functions in addition to identification and decoration. Not every collar out there is a good choice for every dog. Depending on your goals with your dog and his or her personality, you may consider certain types of collars. 

Baseline collars

These are the regularly used collars and the ones you should consider first. 

Flat collar.

The flat collar is the standard one for dogs. These come in many different colors and designs. They are characterized by a plastic snap or buckle closure that allows for a quick release. This type also has a ring where you’re able to attach the leash and identification tags.

This type of collar should be snug, but still comfortable around your dog’s neck. You should be able to get two fingers underneath the collar. This is loose enough that your dog won’t choke, but tight enough so it doesn’t slip off.

Martingale or limited-slip collar. 

This type of collar is designed for dogs with narrow heads. It would be for something like a greyhound or whippet. It can also be used for other breeds that easily slip out of their collars. 

The collar itself has two metal rings on reach end of a strip of material. There is then a separate loop of material that goes through these two rings. The leash attaches to this separate loop. The collar will tighten if the dog tries to back out of it. It will not choke them as long as the collar is adjusted properly. 

Head collar.

This collar has two straps. One of them fits around the dog’s neck and sits just behind the ears. The other forms a loop around your dog’s muzzle. If your dog jumps or pulls while walking, this collar is a great choice. Your dog won’t have as much leverage because it’s around the muzzle instead of neck. 

You need to understand how to work with your dog when using a head collar. There is the potential for injury if not done correctly. It needs to be fitted properly and you should not yank on it to get your dog’s attention. Patience is key with a head collar because your dog will need some time to get used to it. 


You could also consider a harness instead of a traditional collar. If you have a miniature poodle or a dog with a short nose, they are prone to their trachea collapsing. A harness is ideal in these situations to avoid pressure on your dog’s throat. A front-attaching harness is best. Your dog will be able to ignore you easily with one that attaches a leash to the back. 

Behavior modification collars

These collars can be controversial because they rely on discomfort or pain to correct your dog. They won’t teach the dog the proper behavior and just suppress the unwanted behavior. Consider positive training methods first. 

Choke collar. 

This collar is designed to control the dog by tightening around the neck. There are serious problems to consider with this method. You are choking your dog and you cannot control the amount. You can cause severe injuries to the trachea and even end up strangling your dog. 

If you insist on using one, work with a trainer to make sure it fits properly and that you are using it correctly. Make sure to only use it during walks. If you leave a choke collar on your dog, it could get caught on something and you may not be there to help. 

Pinch or prong collar. 

This type of collar had prongs with blunted points that rest all around your dog’s neck. It should sit just behind the ears and needs to be properly fitted. It actually pinches the skin on your dog’s neck.

Shock collars. 

These collars are designed to discourage barking. It is the least humane approach to these collars and could be easily abused or misused. It can also lead to aggressive or fearful behavior because your dog could associate this pain with certain people or experiences. 

How to choose

– Start with a regular collar.

A regular collar or harness is a good place to start. Depending on your type of dog, you may need a limited-slip collar or you could try a harness. 

– Get your dog proper training. 

Problems with your dog pulling can be helped by getting your dog professional training. Don’t resort to choke or shock collars early on. These can cause more damage than good. Working with a professional trainer will help also with fitting different collars. 

There are many different types of collars to choose from and it really comes down to the type of dog you have. Training will be key in getting your dog to behave during walks. When you start there, you will have a better experience and success with your dog. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to our team at Longview Animal Hospital – we will provide some basic guidance and can also refer you to some of our local trainers.