How Tight Should A Dog Collar Be?

A well-trained dog requires a collar. Some dogs are happy to wear one while others despise them.

A question which often crops up is “How tight should a dog collar be?” This is an important question because the incorrect fitment of the collar could lead to discomfort or serious injury of the dog.

If the collar is too tight, it could lead to choking or impeding of the airway, this is particularly critical in puppies as they have growth spurts and the collar needs to be monitored carefully during this phase. It could also lead to chafing, causing infection to the skin requiring medical treatment.

If the collar is too loose, the dog could slip out of the collar during a walk around the block and run into traffic.

Rule of thumb; put the gap between the collar and neck at 1 to 2 fingers depending on the breed of dog. You want your dog to feel comfortable in its collar, make sure it is correct.

Unfortunately, some breeds of dog will often be able to slip out of their collar as these breeds’ neck is a similar width as the skull. Bulldogs, Whippets, Greyhounds, Pugs and other similar breeds fall into this category. It is best to use a slip lead with these breeds of dogs.

Slip leads are a comfortable fit and will gently tighten as the dog pulls the slip lead reducing the chance of the collar/lead from being removed.

The types of collar available for your dog are varied and if you are concerned about the safety and well-being of your dog, it’s best to get professional advice from your local veterinarian on the best solution.

Popular Dog Collars

The Standard Dog Collar

This is the most common collar for dogs, they typically come in either the snap-in or buckle variety. On most variants, there is a metal loop to attach an identification tag. As per the rule of thumb when sizing the collar ensure there is sufficient play between neck and collar.

The Martingale Collar

Also known as the slip collar, this is very popular for the dogs whose neck and skull share the same width. As mentioned, the Greyhound and Whippets being a prime example. The Martingale looks like a large collar and a smaller collar connected by two metal rings. The smaller collar has a third ring attached to it and this is where you connect the collar’s lead. The Martingale should slip easily over the dog’s head, if the two rings touch each other after you have tightened it, then the collar is too big and the chance of the dog pulling free is increased.

Roman Harness

The Roman Harness is a good choice as it removes any pressure from the neck by being fit around the chest area of the dog. It is then connected to a strap which resembles a collar. The Roman rests on the dog’s shoulder blades, attaching the lead on the top of the harness situated along the dogs back. These harnesses are commonly used for pug-nosed dogs and dogs with some medical conditions like neck injuries or respiration issues. As per the rule of thumb, one to two fingers between the harness and the dog’s coat is preferred.

Step-in Harness

Sharing similarities with the Roman Harness the step in does not put pressure on the dog’s neck while on the lead. The design is different in as much as the harness has a figure eight design with two loops that the dog steps into with the two front feet. The harness wraps around the dog’s chest area and snaps closed at the dogs back. Attaching the lead is near the dog’s shoulder blades. Once again, a popular choice if the dog has issues with the neck and head.

To compliment the standard collars are a range of collars specifically designed to assist the owner in training the dog. With the right choice and gentle application, training collars can help the owner correct improper behavior in their dog/s. These collars are not designed or meant to be attached permanently and are only for training purposes.

Types of Training Dog Collars

Metal Prong Collars

These collars are designed for the untrained dog which constantly pulls on the leash, the object of this collar is to give the dog a pinch when they pull against the leash, discouraging the dog from continuing the behavior.

Head Collars

Resembling a muzzle, this collar is designed to train the dog to walk on a leash. When the dog pulls on the leash, the collar causes the dog’s head to turn, and this being an unnatural state for the dog it causes the dog to come to heel.

Bark Stopper Collars

These collars are designed to do one of three things to help deter your dog from barking. It can either emit a sound only the dog can hear, produce a foul smell that will repulse the dog or give the dog a sharp shock.

Shock Collars

The collar’s name says it all, it is designed to provide a brief shock to the dog. Activated via remote control by the owner, it will transmit a shock to the dog at various voltages set by the owner. The purpose of the shock collar is to discourage the dog from inappropriate behavior patterns.

So, having seen the types of collars available for dogs, it will ultimately come down to personal preference, the dog’s specific needs and environment. As mentioned it is always advisable to get professional advice when choosing the right collar for your dog and always follow the rule of thumb on fitment.

In closing, always have your dog’s identification tag attached to the collar as well as any medical details. Along with a comfortable and safe fit for the dog, together you will enjoy those long walks in the park together.

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