Dog Collar Guide: Don’t Get the Wrong Dog Collar

The best dog collars serve many purposes and come in a variety of dog collar styles. When you're considering how to buy a dog collar, look for a collar that fits your dog, keeps your dog safe and will help you train your dog.

>> What size collar does your dog need?

Dogs come in many breeds, shapes and sizes. Whether you own a purebred bulldog you bought from a breeder or a mixed-breed dog you adopted from a shelter, make sure that you find a collar that fits your dog's specific needs. Dog collar sizes vary and are typically found in small, medium, large and extra-large. If you can take your dog into a store that carries different types of dog collars, have your dog try collars on. Trying on different dog collar sizes will help you find the perfect fit. If you can't bring your dog with you to a store, measure the dog's neck before you go shopping. Use a soft tape measure to determine the circumference of your dog's neck in inches and add a little extra to the measurement: you should be able to slip two fingers underneath the collar when your dog is wearing it. The best dog collar for your dog will be one that fits comfortably.

>> Dog collar materials

Dog collars are made from a variety of materials, nylon and leather being two of the most common. When considering how to buy a dog collar, you should know that material matters.

• Nylon dog collars are easy to find, come in a variety of colors and dog collar designs, can be decorated with things like rhinestones and are affordable. They come in a range of dog collar sizes. Nylon collars are lightweight and comfortable for your dog to wear.
• Leather collars are very durable, although you should keep them out of water so they don't warp, mold or break. Leather collars are sometimes decorated with buttons and things like spikes. Leather collars with rolled edges can be good for dogs with longer hair, because the hair won't get trapped underneath the collar's edge. If you have a dog who loves playing in water, then the best dog collar material for you might be nylon rather than leather.
• Chain collars are for dogs who pull strongly while walking. Often used for training purposes, chain collars are usually come in a "slip" style. This means that as the dog pulls harder on his or her leash, the chain tightens around the neck. Chain is a strong and durable collar material, and chain collars are often worn with a nylon collar.

>> Types of dog collars

Figuring out how to buy a dog collar involves knowing why you need the dog collar. Are you trying to keep your dog safe? Do you want your dog to be found if lost? Are you looking for the best dog collars for training your dog? Once you determine your need for the collar, you can consider the various types of dog collars.

Training collarsDog training collars include shock collars, bark collars, wireless collars and choke collars. Although these names sound harsh, every training collar serves a purpose. The better trained your dog is, the easier he or she will be to handle.
• Dog shock collars produce a small shock of electricity. The shock is triggered with a remote control, and there are usually various levels to the shock's intensity. Start with the lowest level of shock possible when training your dog, and work your way up if needed. Shock collars are effective for training because the dog associates a bad behavior (like running away or barking) with an unpleasant feeling.
• Dog bark control collars are similar to shock collars, but the electric shock is triggered by the dog's bark instead of a button push. These collars are designed specifically to discourage excessive barking.
• Wireless dog training collars are designed to help owners correct bad behaviors at home and out in the world. Dogs hear a sharp tone that they don't like that is triggered by a remote control. Some wireless collars come with an invisible fencing system so a dog learns to stay within the boundaries of the yard.

HarnessesHarnesses are good for a strong dog who pulls hard on walks or has a sensitive neck or throat. Breeds like pugs and Boston terriers are often walked in harnesses to prevent putting pressure on their necks. When thinking about how to buy a dog collar, you may find that a harness is a good match for walking your specific dog.

Nylon collarsNylon dog collars can be the best dog collars for many dog owners because of how readily available they are and how easy they are to replace if broken. Their light weight makes them comfortable for dogs to be trained in.

Chain collarsChain dog collars are good training tools, and can be found in a "slip" style or a "pinch" style. Rather than tightening around a dog's neck when they pull, pinch chain collars put pressure from the collar all around the neck. The pinching sensation is uncomfortable for dogs and can discourage them from pulling on the leash.

>> How can a collar benefit your dog?

Even the most responsible dog owners can lose their dog. As you think about how to buy a dog collar, make sure your dog has proper identification. List your name, phone number and city on your dog's ID tag so that if the dog is lost, someone who comes across the dog can contact you directly. Make sure that you have the correct dog collar size so the collar doesn't slip off of a dog's head.

Having your dog wear a dog collar will make it easy to take your dog out for walks. Dogs need daily exercise to keep them happy, calm and focused, and if your dog wears a collar, you can quickly attach a leash and head out the door.

A collar will help you if your dog runs away. If you see your dog darting for an open door, grab the collar to keep your dog where he or she needs to be.

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