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Training a dog is an important life ritual that all dog owners have to undertake with their pets to help them break into the ways of human-canine cohabitation. True, long gone are the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ days, and positive reinforcement is the new age mantra of both child-rearing and dog breeding.
However, the need for dog collars is still very much present. Not only do they act as an identification card for the dogs as well as a medical record of their vaccination needs, but they also are an indispensable requirement of the training process, at least in the initial stages.
The need for a dog leash also to an extent depends on the individual dog nature. If you have happened to lay your hands on a relatively gentle German shepherd, good for you. However, if you have befriended a particularly snarky German shepherd variety whose possessiveness level matches your former lover’s, you might want to leash it up for the sake of others around you.
Also, it is not a ‘one leash fits all’ theory. You might need a set of two or three leashes for different purposes. Remember, no matter how comfortable those shorts are for jogging, you cannot end up in your office party in them. Hence your ‘piss-training outside the house’ leash might be different from ‘let’s train it to chase away all the thieves and thugs’ collar. You can also consult your dog trainer for your pet’s various collar requirements.
List of the most commonly used dog collars for training
1. Flat collar
Flat collar is a standard collar, which is also one of the most commonly used dog collars. It has an easy snap-open mechanism through a buckle or plastic snap that allows it to be easily snapped on and removed off from around the dog’s neck.
It can be used while taking the dog out for a light walk. The best part about it is that it fits comfortably around the dog’s neck and there is minimal chance of it choking the dog. Of course, it is always important to ensure that at least two of your fingers can snug in through the collar.
Also, it is available in a wide variety of materials and colors, so maybe can color coordinate with your pet in one of those ‘show-off your awesome dog’ carnivals.
2. Martingale collar
The Martingale collar is like the ‘Mother Teresa’ of dog collars and is the most humane approach to leashing on a dog. It is made of two loops. The smaller loop tightens the larger loop if the dog tries to wriggle out of the collar. However, the larger loop is mostly made of Nylon or Neoprene material and not a metal chain. This way, the chain is constricted in a limited manner and does not put pressure on the dog’s trachea.
This collar is especially suited for dogs that have smaller heads. It is also recommended for your German shepherd if he likes to pull a lot at its collar. Also, if your German shepherd is a fan of swimming, you might want to put him in a martingale collar made of Neoprene. It is the same material that is used in swimsuits, so you don’t have to worry about the damp smell every time your German shepherd gets wet.
3. Head collar
Head Collar is visualized on the basis of a horse’s halter. One of its straps wraps around the neck and sits on the dog’s head near the ears while the other strap is wrapped around the dog’s muzzle. This gives the handler of the leash an ample amount of control over the dog’s movements and this is exactly the reason why it is recommended for large and over-enthusiastic dogs.
This is a collar you get to use when your dog keeps jumping into the heavy traffic and you have to take a near-death plunge every time. The strap on the dog muzzle hinders the leash pulling potential of the dog and grants you both extra years on Earth.
This is a widely used collar on German shepherd dogs as well when they are at their playful best. A well-adjusted Head Collar rarely harms the dog. However, an ill-adjusted one can constrict too close to the eye and damage the blood vessels nearby. It is thus important to ensure proper adjustment of the collar straps.
An advantage of the Headcollar is that the dog’s mouth is free for a quick treat or a round of playing fetch. The drawback is that it is also free to chew out anything that is discomforting to it. Do note that the Headcollar should not be used for longer periods, as dogs might just manage to find a way to move out of the muzzle strap. You might end up buying a new head collar to replace the chewed-out one.
4. Elizabethan collars
Wounds and scratches are a part of the training process. And a dog trainer does like to display his wounds as battle-won medallions.
The dogs, on the other hand, like to scratch and fester the wound into a bigger infection zone. That is why we have cone-like Elizabethan collars or E collars that cover up the wound site to allow it to heal in peace. They are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and allow the dog to move around without impacting the infected area.
5. Aversion collars
We also have a set of aversion collars, which rely heavily on providing discomfort to the dog. However, they are steadily losing popularity in favor of Positive reinforcement techniques. These collars may suppress negative behavior temporarily, but they do not end up teaching the dog the correct behavior. They may also weaken the emotional bond between the dog and the owner. After all, nobody likes an abusive father.
However, if your dog is particularly unruly and stubborn, your dog owner may recommend them from time to time as a form of punishment and behavioral adjustment technique. Some of the aversion collars are:
5.a) Shock collars: Shock collars transmit a shock to the dog through electric currents which range from a very low-intensity itchy feeling to a significant intensity shock to the dog. These may form a part of the training process and may also be used to prevent the dog from leaving the designated area.
The electric shocks are often preceded by a warning signal to the dog. A variation of the shock collars which are the milder vibration collars may also be required in the training of deaf dogs.
Shock collars need to imbibe in the training process in a cautious manner. This is because their constant use can hamper the emotional intelligence of the dog and make him constantly nervous. You also have to remember that electric collars which produce a shock on the dog leaving a designated area, do the same when it enters it as well. This is a risk your dog might not be willing to take if it has somehow crossed this invisible fence to the other side.
5.b.) Chock chain collars: These are made up of metal links and are primarily aimed at controlling the dog by tightening the collar around his neck. However, in the hands of an inadequately experienced trainer, it can cause significant nerve damage, rupture blood vessels and damage the tracheal and esophageal walls.
They should ideally not be used on small dogs.
These choke collars again need to be used in a cautious manner as they may have an adverse effect on the physical, mental and psychological health of the dog on long-term use. The dog may also end up forming negative associations with it which might be counterproductive to the entire training process.
5.c.) Prong or Pinch collars: They are also known as Herm Sprenger collars. They are an adaption of martingale collars where the control loop is made up of metal chains and has fang-shaped metal links or prongs attached from the inside. It is used to control an overly energetic dog or a dog in front of another aggressive dog. They may also be used to help your dog avoid distractions during a training session, to train them to heel, and also teach them to not pick up unwarranted items from the ground.
The important point to keep in mind while applying a prong collar is that it should be placed higher up the neck, near the dog’s ears where nerve endings are less padded. Also, they should never be worn inside out, with the fangs facing outside, as it may lead to the dog injuring its other body parts.
6. Special Purpose Collars
There are other special-purpose collars designed to cater to the specific training needs of dogs.
- Bark Control Collars: They are designed to prevent excessive barking among dogs. They can be the Spray type which releases a jet of air or citronella spray which interrupts the dog when he is on a barking spree. Then there is the Ultrasonic type which emits an ultrasonic sound which is beyond the human hearing range and only dogs can hear it.
- Chemical collars: They are collars that are worn additionally in case your dog is suffering from a flea or tick infestation and they have chemicals in them that are slowly released on the dog’s body surface. However, you need to strictly adhere to the manual while using them.
- 3-in-1 Harness collars: These collars have front leash attachment on the harness which allows you to walk in front of the dog, a back leash attachment once it stops pulling and a seat belt strap for its car rides to the doggy snacks shop.
- GPS Collars: We also have a GPS or Global Positioning Satellite Collar which will help track down your dog if you are afraid of losing it to the wilderness. It is especially useful for our German shepherd friends who have a curious little wandering soul entrapped in their large bodies.
Dog collars are undergoing modifications and getting regular updates as people are developing more awareness about dog training and maintenance. Today, we have the Hands-free leashes that have a belt to be worn by the owner around the waist to keep the dog close as well as the Retractable leashes, which allows the dog to move at a greater distance from the owner to go for a long walk and at the same time allows the owner to retract the leash back. Then we have the fur saver collars that have longer and fewer links so as to not damage the luscious fur coat of your dog.
The revolution does not end here as the materials used for dog collars are also being regularly updated. Nylon has given way to neoprene as it was causing allergic reactions on certain canine skins. Now, leather is the latest in trend as owners are not afraid to dash out a few extra bucks for their dog’s comfort. At the same time, aversive collars are being called out at various animal rights forums for the harm they may end up causing.
It is thus truly an era of liberation, where dogs are being given the love and respect that is due to them as a man’s best friend.