Collars, yes again.

Elsa and I were stopped the other day by a man who said, "I'm glad you have a harness on your dog instead of one of those bad collars."  I smiled and told him "yes, me too."  

Elsa is wearing the Ruffwear Front Range Harness

I want to talk about collars again today.  Yes, again.  I know, I talk about collars a lot but when I head out into the public it is brought to me once again.  This morning as I sat in my Xterra at a set of lights, a couple of folks walked by with a herd of dogs.  Each and every dog had a pinch collar on.  I thought to myself "perhaps they have too many dogs."  

I hate pinch collars and here is why.  They inflict pain.  Don't think so?  Then tell me how they work?  That is the big question isn't it; if they don't hurt then where in lies the magic?  The whole idea around a pinch collar is that they, well... pinch!   Right? right!  Oh you can call them a prong collar but they are still pinching.  

Pinch collars can do a great deal of mental damage.  They can cause a dog to form negative associations to things that cause pain.  A dog coming near and your dogs gets excited, pain infliction = negative association to dogs coming near.  Yank a pinch collar and you could be on the receiving end of redirected aggression.  

Now if you are a little old frail lady or gentleman with a giant dog who is out of control when walking; then may need to rely on a painful device.  My suggestion would be to not have an out of control monster dog; or hire someone who can control your dog, but hey, that's me. 

I remember the first time I was introduced to a prong/pinch collar.  It was sold to me as "power steering."  Yep, throw it on and it's like magic.  After my dog screamed having it on, that was that.  This was a long time ago; way before I was ever introduced to positive reinforcement training.  Pinch collars?  Nope.  

Dog necks are just that, their neck.  We should not be yanking them around by them.  Choke collars choke, so please throw all choke collars in the garbage.  The only time a choke collar should ever be used is when capturing and containing rescue dogs.  If you have a dog who can slip their collar easily then invest in a martingale type collar.  They tighten but do not keep tightening around the neck.  

Even a flat buckle collar can cause neck damage if you yank your dog around by one.  I rarely use collars for anything except to hang id tags on but if I hook a leash to one, it is most likely a 2" wide one.  Those rolled leather collars look snazzing but being so thin they put a great deal of pressure on the neck.  The wider the better.  
My dogs do not wear collars in our home.  Take great care if you leave collars on your dog and you have more than one dog.  Dogs can easily get caught up in each other's collar when they are playing.  Watching dogs play with collars on makes me shudder.  It happened to two of my males many years ago.  They were outside playing in the yard and got tangled together.  It was an awful scenario; one thinking that the other was attacking them.  It was not easily rectified by I finally managed to untangle them.  The two were quite shaken. 

If you do have to leave a collar on your dog; make sure that it is loose enough to come off if it got snagged.   NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER leave a martingale, choke or pinch collar on your dog, EVER!!!!  So many dogs have died from hanging by their own collar.  

In my opinion, a body harness is the way to go.  Yes, you will have to train your dog to walk nicely but shouldn't we be doing that and not relying on yanking them around by their neck anyway?