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You don’t need to teach your new dog to fetch your slippers or catch a flying frisbee unless you want to, but all dogs should receive basic obedience training.
This is especially true for large breeds, give their size, strength and power.
Some dogs accept this training very readily and become minimally obedient within a month or two. Others, however, are more resistant to your efforts (or just have a difficult time learning the rules), which causes headaches for owners.
Fortunately, there are a number of dog training collars that serve as great tools for addressing problematic behaviors.
There are essentially seven different types of training collars for dogs available, each of which seeks to address problematic behaviors in its own unique way. No single training collar works well in all situations, so you’ll need to consider your needs carefully, to select the best dog training collar for you and your dog.
The 7 best dog training collars include the following:
- Chain Collars
- Slip Collars
- Martingale Collars
- Prong Collars
- Citronella No-Bark Collars
- Electronic No-Bark Collars
- Remote Electronic Training Collars
Some of the Behavioral Issues Dog Training Collars Help Fix
Dog training collars aren’t magic bullets for teaching your dog basic obedience, but they are invaluable tools that can help accelerate the training process. While they aren’t effective for helping to correct all behavioral problems, they are often beneficial for addressing the following:
If your dog loves to drag you around the neighborhood when you go out to walk, you can use a training collar – particularly one that relies on a physical leash – to help correct this problem. All dogs should learn to walk in the “heel” position (right at your side, with head looking up at you), but this is especially important for large dogs, who may injure their owners by pulling too hard.
Even if you live out in the country, where leashes aren’t always necessary, you’ll still want to make sure your dog doesn’t wander too far away (this is especially important for huskies and other breeds prone to wanderlust). Several remote training collars allow you to do exactly this, often at distances of several hundred yards. These types of collars are not, however, appropriate or safe for use in crowded, urban or suburban environments.
Some dogs react aggressively to other people and dogs encountered during walks, which can lead to a host of problems that are important to avoid. While these behaviors can require significant amounts of training (and more exercise) to solve, a good training collar can help accelerate this process. Physical collar-leash combos are the preferred training tools to use for these types of problems.
Jumping on People
Some dogs are too friendly for their own good, and they greet strangers and friends alike by jumping up on them. While you may not mind this behavior, other people are less likely to appreciate it (especially for owners of large dogs). Training collars provide a great tool for putting an end to jumping behavior.
Running into the Street
Some dogs fail to understand the danger posed by roads, and they frequently wander off the sidewalk and out into busy streets. Training collars that allow you to provide a quick correction can help with these problems, but you’ll also want to use one that attaches to a physical leash, to keep your dog safe while she is learning the rules.
Some dogs are rather quiet and rarely find a reason to bark, but others seem to find it necessary to bark at just about everything they see, smell or hear. This type of constant barking is as irritating as it is difficult to stop. However, several training collars can help put an end to nuisance barking, including several types that will work automatically – even when you aren’t home.
Different Dog Training Collars for Attaining Different Goals
You have to be sure to use a dog training collar that will help you and your dog, as collars are designed to assist your efforts in different ways. This means understanding the purpose of each collar style, as well as the way in which each collar works.
Chain collars are perhaps the most familiar training collars to most dog owners, as they have been used by dog owners for many decades. Chain collars are simple tools, which consist of a length of chain with a round ring at each end. By threading a portion of the chain through one of the rings and attaching the leash to the other ring, you create a collar that can be placed around your dog’s neck.
You use a chain collar by pulling sharply, quickly and firmly on the leash when your dog exhibits an undesirable behavior. The collar tightens very quickly, which signals the dog to stop the behavior. Although they are commonly called choke chains or choke collars, these terms should be avoided.
Chain collars should never be used to choke a dog or constrict her airway. Instead, they serve as a quick and firm reminder about who is in charge. The quick squeezing action of the collar actually helps mimic the way dogs correct each other (throat biting), but without causing any damage or unnecessary pain. If you use a chain collar, you must keep your dog walking alongside you in the heel position – she cannot be allowed to pull on the leash, as this may cause trauma to the throat.
Additionally, it is important to keep a chain collar very high on the neck, right below the jaw, to avoid choking your dog. It takes a little practice to keep the collar high on a consistent basis, but with time, it will become easier.
Slip collars are simply chain collars that are made from some type of cordage, rather than a length of chain. However, many also feature a knot-stop, which will help you keep the collar in proper position – just under your dog’s jaw.
Aside from these two things, slip collars function in the same way that chain collars do. However, because of the knot stop and the softer material on which they rely, slip knots are preferred over chain collars by many owners and dog trainers. Many slip collars also feature attached leashes, making them very easy to put on or take off quickly.
Martingale collars are roughly akin to slip collars with safety brakes. A length of fabric makes up most of the collar, except for a small gap at the back, which features a chain-collar-like section, to which the leash attaches. You can provide a correction in the same way you would with a slip or chain collar, but because a large portion of the collar is not affected when you pull the leash, the collar only closes a predetermined (and safe) amount.
When properly fitted, martingale training collars are very unlikely to choke your canine.
Prong collars are fairly intense-looking dog training aids, which causes many people to recoil on sight. However, when used properly, they provide a safe and effective way to deliver a correction. Prong collars (which are also called pinch collars) resemble Martingale collars that are made entirely from metal. On the inside of the collar, a number of long metal prongs point inward and serve as the contact point with your dog’s neck and throat. This means that when you pull the leash to correct your dog, it is the prongs that squeeze your dog’s neck and throat.
These types of training collars for dogs are a bit controversial because they look very painful (although they should not produce much pain at all when used properly). Detractors find the design barbaric on its face, but proponents argue that prong collars are actually safer than chain collars, because they require less force to get your dog’s attention. Additionally, they tend to grip the entire neck/throat area evenly, rather than chain collars or slip leads, which may create uneven pressure.
For those who are still reticent to use a prong collar, consider the American Kennel Club’s opinion on the matter:
“The American Kennel Club recognizes that special training collars may be an effective and useful management device, when properly used, for controlling dogs that might be extremely active, difficult to control on a neck collar, or dog aggressive. These collars are also recognized as possibly useful for gaining control at the start of basic obedience training, essential education that dogs deserve and need.”
Prong collars are also unlikely to choke your dog, as they rely on a martingale-like design, which only cinches closed a predetermined amount.
Citronella No-Bark Collars
Designed to stop nuisance barking, citronella collars spray a fine, non-toxic mist into your dog’s face whenever she barks. Different products exhibit varying abilities to distinguish between alert barking (somebody is at the front door), which you do not want to inhibit, and nuisance barking (a squirrel ran across the lawn), which you do want to stop.
Citronella spray (in small amounts) is not harmful to your dog. Many dogs find the odor objectionable, but even those who are not offended by the odor are typically distracted by the spray, which causes them to stop barking. Read what Cornell University had to say:
“When it comes to calming “nuisance-barking” dogs, a spritz of fragrance under the chin is more effective than electric shock, a test by the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine has found.”
Some citronella bark collars also provide an audible beeping sound when discharging the mist to serve as an additional stimulant.
Citronella collars typically work automatically, which means you don’t have to do anything when she exhibits the behavior. They are even useful when you are not home. You will have to replace the citronella spray periodically, but this is not cost-prohibitive for most dog owners.
Electronic No-Bark Collars
Like citronella collars, electronic no-bark collars are designed to stop your dog’s nuisance barking. However, instead of discharging a fine mist of citronella, these dog training collars deliver a small shock. Quality electronic collars are completely harmless for your dog, and they only deliver a mild shock. Most allow you to adjust the strength of the shock, which allows you to use the mildest shock possible on your canine.
Some electronic no-bark collars produce audible tones as well, allowing you another type of stimulus that may be helpful. Like citronella collars, these types of training collars work automatically, even when you are not home.
Remote Electronic Training Collars
Remote training collars are designed to allow you to deliver corrections to your dog at a distance and without using a physical leash. This means you can use them for a variety of different purposes. You could use them to teach your dog to walk in the heel position, put a halt to nuisance barking (when you are within range) or stop your dog from wandering too far.
Like electronic no-bark collars, these training collars for dogs are typically adjustable and allow you to use the mildest shock possible. Also, many remote training collars also give you the option of playing an audible tone or initiating a vibration, rather than shocking your dog.
Check out our review: The Best Dog Shock Collar for Big Dogs
Proper and Safe Use of Dog Training Collars
No matter what type of tool you use to adjust your dog’s behavior, you have to use it correctly to have a good chance of success. And, because of the potential safety issues involved, it is especially important to use training collars in the correct manner.
Among other things, this means you must:
- Read all literature provided by the manufacturer, and follow the instructions and advice provided. This is particularly important with regard to the collar’s fit and use.
- Always measure your dog’s neck before purchasing a training collar designed to attach to a leash (this includes slip, chain, martingale and prong collars). Obtaining the proper size is imperative for both safety and success. If you do not have a flexible tape measure, wrap a length of string around your dog’s neck and then measure the string with a ruler.
- Never use a dog training collar as a form of punishment. This is not only cruel, but it is counterproductive and will often lead to additional behavioral issues. Training collars are to be used for delivering corrections, not inflicting pain or causing injury. And when used properly and consistently, most training collars become unnecessary after a short time.
- Prevent your dog from pulling the leash when you are using a constricting collar. While a sharp, reasonable and quick corrective tug will not harm your dog, prolonged pressure – particularly on the front portion of your dog’s throat – may very well damage your dog’s trachea or esophagus. You must teach your dog to walk in the heel position when using these types of collars.
- Do not leave your dog alone while wearing a slip, chain, martingale or prong collar. This is important because your dog could choke to death if she catches her collar on something while you are away. Martingales and prong collars are slightly safer than slip or chain collars in this regard, but they should still be removed when you are not actively walking or training your dog.
Best Dog Training Collars for Large Dogs
The following products (which are also reviewed in the table at the top of this page) are the best available in their category. Each will make a fine training tool, which will help you better enjoy time with your dog.
1. Best Slip Lead Dog Training Collar: Mendota Products Slip Lead
There aren’t a lot of slip collars on the market, and that’s probably because one company has already figured out how to make one that is as affordable as it is effective. The Mendota Products Slip Lead does exactly what you want a slip collar to do, and because it is both a collar and a lead, you don’t have to purchase a separate leash.
Price: $$ (some color patterns are more expensive than others)
- Available in 4- and 6-foot lengths and 28 different color patterns
- Features brass hardware and oil-tanned leather splices
- Includes knot-stop to help you keep the collar properly positioned
User Reviews: Most owners who try the Mendota Products Slip Lead immediately fall in love with it. It is completely comfortable for your dog to wear, while still being very sturdy, durable and effective as a training tool. Many owners really appreciated how quickly this collar can be put on or taken off too.
Bottom Line: One of the most effective and affordable types of training collars available, the Mendota Products Slip Lead should be the first option for most dog owners. It is one of the safest and most effective training tools you can use, and most owners obtain great results from them.
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2. Best Chain Collar: Coastal Pet Products Titan Heavy Chain Collar
There isn’t a great deal of variation among chain collars; after all, they are only comprised of a length of chain and a couple of metal rings. There are only so many ways to build such a collar. However, even when buying a commodity-style product you want a well-made and competitively priced version of it, and the Coastal Pet Products Titan Heavy Chain Collar provides exactly that.
Well-made, durable and affordable, there is little reason to consider any other chain collar on the market.
- High-quality metal will not tarnish, rust or break
- Argon-welded and chrome-plated for maximum durability
- Chain is 24-inches-long and comprised of 3.0-millimeter links
User Reviews: The overwhelming majority of dog owners who tried the Coastal Pet Chain Collar were ecstatic with the product. Most found it easy to put on their dog, durable and easy to use. Several owners used words like “miracle,” “incredible” and “great” to describe the collar.
Bottom Line: There’s a reason chain collars have been used by dog owners and trainers for such a long time: They work. Chain collars provide an effective and safe way to address your dog’s behavioral issues, but you must purchase a high-quality product to ensure your dog’s safety. The Coastal Pet Products Titan Heavy Chain Collar provides exactly this, and it does so at an affordable price.
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3. Best Martingale Collar: Guardian Gear Martingale Collar
Because of the safety features inherent to the design, many dog owners are martingale collar devotees. And many of these people use Guardian Gear Martingale Collars, as they are likely the best version available. Affordable, effective and made from high-quality materials, there’s little not to like about these training tools.
- Limited-closure design will not choke your pet
- The Guardian Gear Martingale Collar comes in six colors, including black, blue, red, purple, pink and light blue
- Available in three sizes to accommodate dogs with necks ranging from 13 to 34 inches
User Reviews: Most owners who tried the Guardian Gear Collar were very happy with it. It helped several owners put an end to their dog’s tendency to pull on the leash, as well as other behavioral problems. Many owners also appreciate the fact that martingale collars look less intimidating than chain or prong collars, and provide owners with the ability to deliver slightly gentler corrections than prong collars do.
Bottom Line: If you are squeamish about using a chain collar or slip lead, the Guardian Gear Martingale Collar is a good option. It is very affordable, made from high-quality materials and – most importantly – it will keep your dog very safe during training sessions and walks.
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4. Best Prong Collar: Herm Sprenger Chrome Plated Training Collar
Prong collars can be very effective dog training tools, but you must be sure to use a high-quality version, to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. Fortunately, German collar manufacturer Herm Sprenger has provided exactly that with the Chrome-Plated Training Collar.
Durable, safe and incredibly effective, there is a reason the Herm Sprenger Training Collar is the best-selling prong collar on the market.
- Constructed solely from chrome-plated steel for strength
- Made in Germany
- Available in four sizes, for dogs with necks ranging from 16 to 25 inches in circumference
- Collar features a quick-release feature for added safety
User Reviews: Most owners found these prong collars to be incredibly helpful for addressing their dog’s behavioral problems. From leash pulling to aggressive lunging, the Herm Sprenger Chrome-Plated Training Collar provides a safe and effective avenue for issuing corrections. Some owners noted that while Herm Sprenger collars are incredibly well made, there are a number of imposters on the market, which fail to work as well as these German-made tools.
Bottom Line: The Herm Sprenger Training Collar is a completely viable option for correcting your dog’s behavioral problems and instilling proper discipline and manners. Although it looks rather medieval, the collar actually provides a safe way to initiate corrections.
A lot of dog owners like to use comfort tips – small rubber caps that fit on the tips of the prongs – when using these types of collars, as this will help prevent the occasional nick or scrape that may be caused by the prongs (however, quality prong collars will always feature blunt, rounded prongs to prevent injury). Coastal Pet Products makes an excellent set of comfort tips, and they are well worth the (very small) expense.
View Price on Amazon
5. Best Automatic No-Bark Citronella Collar: PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar
The PetSafe Bark Collar is a safe and low-key way to help put an end to your dog’s nuisance barking. Rather than using an electric shock to distract your dog, the PetSafe Bark Collar sprays a harmless mist of citronella extract into your dog’s face.
- Water-resistant housing ensures the collar will work in dry or wet weather
- Each can provides approximately 300 to 400 sprays
- Very lightweight design is appropriate for dogs over 6 pounds in weight
User Reviews: The majority of owners who tried the PetSafe Gentle Spray Collar were pleased with the purchase and rated it well. Dogs who find the citronella spray offensive generally respond best to this collar, but even many dogs who don’t mind (or actively enjoy) the odor are often distracted enough to stop barking. However, there were some dogs for whom citronella spray collars simply don’t seem to work.
Bottom Line: If you are interested in an anti-barking collar that will work when you are not home, yet you do not want a collar that delivers electric shocks, the PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar is a great choice. It is not only easy to use, but safe too. And although the PetSafe Bark Collar is the most expensive training collar in our review, it is still very affordable and within the budget of most dog owners.
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6. Best Automatic No-Bark Electronic Collar: PetSafe Basic Bark Control Collar
It shouldn’t be surprising that the same company that manufacturers the PetSafe Gentle Spray Bark Collar also produces the best electronic bark collar too. Designed to help prevent nuisance barking, the PetSafe Bark Collar delivers a small, harmless shock to your dog, whenever the unit detects nuisance barking.
- 6 shock-levels allow you to tailor the collar’s power to your pet’s personality
- Designed with false-positive protection, meaning your dog won’t be shocked by other dogs barking
- Automatic safety cut-off engages after 50 seconds of continuous activity
User Reviews: Most owners found that the PetSafe Basic Bark Control Collar worked as promised, and helped prevent nuisance barking. Some dog owners were annoyed that the collar requires proprietary batteries, which are not available from anywhere other than the collar manufacturer, but the majority of the product reviews were positive.
Bottom Line: Although some owners are reticent to use a shock collar on their dog, most quickly understand that when properly calibrated, the PetSafe Bark Control Collar does not hurt their dog, it only provides enough of a shock to distract and annoy them. If you are confronted with a dog who barks at all hours of the day and night, this is one of the best solutions for the problem.
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7. Best Remote Electronic Training Collar: PetTech Remote Controlled Dog Training Collar
Remote electronic dog training collars provide you with the ability to correct your dog’s behavioral problems, even when she is not attached to a leash. To do so, you simply press a button on the hand-held transmitter when your dog exhibits a problematic behavior. When this happens, your dog receives a mild, brief shock via the collar.
Obviously, you’ll want to ensure you use a high-quality version of this type of collar, and the PetTech Remote Controlled Training Collar is the perfect choice.
- Adjustable shock levels and four different operational modes provide a number of ways to correct your dog
- Easy-to-see, backlit LED screen makes the transmitter easy to use
- One-on-one email advice from certified trainers with purchase
User Reviews: The PetTech Remote Controlled Training Collar received great reviews from most owners who tried it. Owners reported that the collar helped address issues ranging from nuisance barking to aggressive reactions to strangers. Most dogs learn quickly when trained with the help of these collars, even when the shock levels are kept relatively low.
Bottom Line: If you are comfortable using an electronic training collar, there is simply no better choice than the PetTech Training Collar. It provides all of the safety features, flexibility and dependability owners demand, and it will help you enjoy your time with your dog more, once she becomes an obedient, well-trained canine.
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Have you used one of the reviewed best dog training collars to correct your canine’s behavioral issues? Which type of collars did you try, and which one ultimately proved most useful? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
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