When you’re getting your dog ready for obedience school, choosing the right collar is one of the first things you’ll need to do. Unfortunately, it can be hard to navigate choosing a training collar! An incredible variety of collars are available, each with specific intended uses. Plus, some are more controversial than others. Trying to decide if positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement is better could make anyone’s head spin.
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However, choosing the right collar doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you’re well-informed. In truth, learning about the different types of collars makes the process much simpler. Many training collars are marketed towards dogs with specific issues, like obstinance or pulling. Other collars are gentle on dogs and perfect for a well-behaved pup who needs a bit of training. No matter what you choose, you’ll find that using the right collar in the right way delivers incredible results.
Why Should I Use a Dog Training Collar?
While most owners are happy to use a classic flat collar or harness, choosing the right type of collar can offer a lot of benefits. Certain collars are better for positive or negative reinforcement (with some allowing both).
The design of collars is also significant. Martingale collars, for example, are excellent for discouraging pulling. And if you have a large dog you struggle to control, headcollars can effectively stop the issue — purely due to the smart design!
There are several essential parts of keeping a well-behaved dog, including your habits as the owner and your dog’s training routine. A little-known fact, however, is that using the right collar can significantly improve your dog’s behavior.
Types of Dog Training Collars
When choosing the best collar for your dog, it’s important to start by thinking about your dog’s personality and expectations. Your dog’s size, behavioral problems, health issues, and character should be considered. You should also think about how your ideal dog would behave.
With so many collars to choose from, you’re sure to find a perfect solution once you have an idea in mind. If you want to stop jumping or pulling, you might consider a head collar or choke collar. But if your pulling dog has a slender neck and head like a greyhound, you might consider the martingale collar. A friendly and gentle dog may do well with a harness.
Considering the type of collar, it’s also worth factoring in your beliefs. There is a lot of controversy surrounding collars that use negative reinforcement, like choke collars. Even among professional dog trainers and veterinarians, opinions vary widely. It’s worth considering how your dog has responded to different training techniques in the past, what you consider humane, and the opinion of your professional dog trainer and veterinarian.
Best For Discouraging Pulling: Pinch Collar
If your dog pulls harshly on their leash and attempts to walk you, it can be a significant problem. Luckily, pinch collars were designed to address this issue. When your dog puts pressure on the leash, the collar gently pinches their neck to remind them to relax.
Pinch collars are a good option for teaching behavior like heeling and staying focused. They’re also sometimes recommended to discourage unwanted behavior like eating off the ground or pulling the leash. And since the design is gentle, they’re safe for small dogs to use. The pinch collar needs to be professionally fit to be entirely secure.
Best For Discouraging Jumping: Head Collar
You’ll love head collars if you want the most control over your dog’s pulling and jumping. In many cases, these can be serious problems. This is especially true for dogs large enough to pull their owner, as well as aggressive and reactive dogs. While these dogs can put tremendous pressure on a chest harness or neck collar, they’ll be tamed by a head collar because they can’t effectively push their weight onto it.
For this reason, head collars will give you significantly more control over your dog. You’ll feel considerably less force as you attempt to guide them, and if they begin to react to a distraction like another dog or a squirrel, you can even pull the collar to make them look away. Best of all, head collars don’t use any negative reinforcement. Like a traditional flat collar or harness, it’s solely used to guide.
Best For Discouraging Barking: Anti-Bark Collar
If you’re having issues with barking, you’re in luck — there are collars specifically meant to address this. The three most common varieties of anti-bark collars are shock collars, citronella collars, and sonic collars. Depending on what type of reinforcement your dog needs, you may find that one option works better than the others. All varieties have been found effective at reducing barking, though!
Anti-Bark Shock Collar
Shock collars are the most classic type used to reduce barking. They discourage barking by delivering varying levels of static shock when your dog barks. Many dog owners find these effective at modifying behavior, but others consider them inhumane.
You’ll need to consider your situation to determine whether a shock collar is suitable for your dog. It’s important to note that using such negative reinforcement can have drawbacks. If your dog sees an intruder, for example, they may feel like they can’t alert you due to the consistent negative reinforcement. For this reason, shock collars should be used carefully.
Sonic collars are a humane alternative to shock collars that use high-frequency noise to discourage barking. Human ears don’t detect these noises, so you won’t have to deal with annoying noise (barking or sonic waves!) when you use these collars.
Since many models are adjustable, sonic collars also give you reasonable control over your dog’s behavior. As mentioned with shock collars, however, you’ll need to find ways to make your dog comfortable barking at threats if your dog giving alerts is a priority to you.
The last type of anti-bark collar is the citronella collar. Similarly to the sonic collar, citronella collars use a more humane form of negative reinforcement to discourage barking. In this case, whenever your dog barks, they will be sprayed with citronella. Since the smell repulses dogs, your dog will gradually learn to stop barking to avoid the spray. Studies suggest that citronella collars are as effective as shock collars at reducing barking.
Best For Large Aggressive Dogs: Choke Collar
If you have a difficult-to-control dog, you may find that the strong negative reinforcement offered by choke collars helps. Choke collars are similar to pinch collars but are better suited to large dogs, particularly obstinate or aggressive personalities.
The best benefit of a choke collar is that it strongly discourages behavior like lunging and jumping. A choke collar may be suitable if your dog violently reacts to other dogs or small animals. But if your dog has a small head, thin neck, or health conditions that render it fragile, you shouldn’t use a choke collar.
Best Alternative To Choke Collars: Martingale Collar
No doubt, choke collars can provide excellent results when used correctly. Unfortunately, they aren’t safe for all dogs. And beyond that, many owners would prefer an alternative that isn’t so harsh. Luckily, the martingale collar was created to provide a perfect alternative.
Martingale collars use a similar method of negative reinforcement as choke collars since the collar tightens when pressure is placed on the leash. Unlike choke collars, martingale collars use a gentler fabric or nylon band. This allows it to offer the same level of control while being gentler. Martingale collars are also perfect for dogs with a delicate build, like whippets.
Best For Gentle Training: Harness
Many dogs need issue-focused collars to discourage destructive behaviors. Many other dogs, however, have gentle and friendly temperaments (and need an extra push with training camp). In these cases, you may find that harnesses are perfect.
Harnesses offer you a good level of control as you walk your dog. While dogs can place a lot of pressure on the harness and lead, a well-trained dog will stay at a respectable distance. Harnesses are incredibly comfortable for dogs, easy to use, and don’t apply negative reinforcement.
Best Smart Technology: Wireless Dog Training Collar
Technology can provide incredible innovations on old practices, which holds true for dog training. Many companies offer wireless dog training collars that allow you to use stimulation like noises, vibrations, and shocks to provide positive and negative reinforcement for your dog. When used strategically, these smart collars offer some of the best control of any collar.
Sending Your Dog To Obedience School With the Right Collar
With the advent of dog training camps, having a well-trained pup has become much more manageable and accessible. But maintaining the good behavior your dog learns starts with changing your leadership, which is why selecting the right fitting collar with the right application is so important. With such wide varieties on the market, you’ll find keeping your dog on their best behavior is more simple than you thought.
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