With the popularity of dog ownership in the United States steadily increasing, dog training techniques are constantly advancing, as are the tools that trainers and owners are using in the training process. When an owner sets out to buy training equipment for their new dog they quickly find themselves in a sea of leashes, collars, halters, and other unfamiliar supplies. It can frazzle any owner to walk through a pet store and wonder what the right training supplies are for their dog.
Choke chains, also sometimes called chokers or training collars, are the most popular dog training collars. Chokers can come in chain or nylon. Nylon chokers are recommended for dog breeds with more sensitive necks. Both kinds are fairly gentle, however both can cause damage if used improperly. When using a choke chain be sure that you have the collar properly fitted. The collar needs to be on the dog’s neck correctly, because if you put it on backwards you run the risk of choking your dog or injuring it’s neck. If you are unsure of how to put a choke chain on your dog correctly you should consult a trainer or simply ask your veterinarian. The chain should come across the top of the dog’s neck, rather than below, and should work appropriately with your dog on your left side. The choker should make a “P” shape just before you put in on your dog’s head, but if it looks like a backwards “P” then you are putting it on the wrong way. Also the actual size of the collar is important because if the collar is too large your dog can slip it and run away or you will be unable to give your dog the proper instruction, while if the collar is too small it can choke your dog or simply cause it extreme discomfort. To ensure proper fit measure your dog’s neck just behind the ears; not low on it’s neck where a buckle collar might fit. Then add three inches to that measurement to ensure that the collar will easily slip over your dog’s head and also so that you have excess collar to tighten when establishing the correction properly. Choke chains should be used for training and for walks only and should always be removed once you are done. Never leave your dog unattended with a choke chain on because your dog could get caught on the collar and hang himself. Also, never ever tie your dog up with a choker because again they can choke or hang themselves.
Prong collars, also referred to as pinch collars, are much like choke chains in how they work, however they are a much harsher collar. These collars come in two types, one kind has metal finger looking prongs while the other has rubber nub prongs, but both types work in the same way. The prong part of the collar pinches into the dog’s neck when the collar is tightened performing the correction. A collar such as this should not be used on just any dog. Only when all other training collars have been tried and have failed should you move up to this kind of collar because the corrections are much more severe than with other training collars. It is crucial that you use this collar correctly or you risk injuring your dog. When using this collar for the first time on your own dog you should begin under the supervision of a professional dog trainer.
Halter Collars and Other No-Pull Set Ups
Halter collars are one of the newest pieces of equipment in dog training. They fit over a dog’s face much like a horse halter does, offering control of the dog’s head and thus reduces tugging at the leash. This is a great tool for large dogs or dogs that are constantly pulling their owners on walks. They work very well to get unruly dogs under control at the very beginning of the training process but can also be used on advanced dogs as an alternative to harsher collars. So far there have been no reports of any risk of injury from misuse of this collar but anytime you are training your dog precautions need to be taken to protect your do from harm. It does take time to teach a dog to wear the halter as most dogs will fight it at first, but as long as you are patient your dog will eventually accept the halter on his face and walk calmly. No-pull set ups, like Sporn no pull harness, are another great idea for dogs who pull. With most of these harness set ups you attach the harness to your dog’s buckle collar and it restricts the dog from pulling at the leash.
Electronic collars should be used by experienced trainers only. They are most often used for the training of hunting and retrieving dogs because it allows the handler to control their dogs from a distance while working or training. Collars like these work by remote control and when the handler presses the button, the collar sends a shock to the dog’s neck. They range in intensity and it takes an experienced handler to know which intensity level is safe for each specific dog. These are powerful collars that can cause harm to your dog both physically and mentally if they are misused, but they can be a great tool for a stubborn, out of control dog if used properly by a professional trainer. Collars like these are not part of a beginners basic training equipment and are not used until a dog is further along in its training.
Bark collars are much like electronic training collars, but work without a remote and automatically buzz the dog each time it barks. These collars have a sensor within it that is on the front of the dogs neck, over it’s vocal cords, reacting every time the dog barks. A collar like this can be a useful tool for an excessive barker but a good trainer will encourage you to try all other approaches first before resorting to this type of collar. Before deciding if a bark collar is right for your dog it is important to rule out any health problems which could be causing your dog to bark or act out. You should talk to your veterinarian and a professional dog trainer before trying a bark collar with your dog.