There are many types of collars for your dog.  Some collars are part of a positive reinforcement approach to training and others are more punishment based.  All collars have the potential to harm an animal if used incorrectly.  It is extremely important to learn how to properly use whatever dog collar you choose.  This article will present the different types of collars available as well as some pros and cons.  It is not meant to recommend any one type of collar.

  1. Flat or buckle collar:  Flat Buckle Collar
    This is the most popular type of collar.  Many have a quick release snap closure.  There is a ring on the collar where the leash is attached.  These collars come in a variety of designs and colors.  These collars are designed to fit snuggly around the neck.  You need to be able to put two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck.  The ring on the collar can get caught on a crate and cause strangulation.  When two dogs are playing, the collar can get caught on a dog’s jaw and cause strangulation.  If dogs are strong pullers, this type of collar can cause excessive pressure on the neck and make the dog cough or damage the trachea.
  2. Martingale collar: Martingale Collar
    This collar helps prevent an anxious or fearful dog from slipping out of the collar. The collar is designed to be worn so that the collar tightens when a dog tries to back out of the collar without choking the dog.  Therefore, it is important to properly size the collar to get full benefit from the collar.  The ring on the collar can get caught on a crate and cause strangulation.  When two dogs are playing, the collar can get caught on a dog’s jaw and cause strangulation.
  3. Head collars: Head CollarAlternative names are Gentle leader or Halti head collars. The head collar is designed to fit around the dog’s head just behind the ears, while another strap fits around the dog’s muzzle. This type of collar is good for large dogs that tend to pull on the leash.  Because the head collar is placed around the dog’s muzzle, having it properly fitted for your dog is essential.  It is not meant to be used to jerk or aggressively pull the dog.  Instead, it is meant to be used as a tool to help gently guide the dog in the direction you want to go.  If used harshly, an injury to the neck could result.
  4. Choke chain: Choke Chain CollarThis type of collar consists of a metal chain that fits around the dog’s neck.  There is a ring that the leash attaches to.  When the dog pulls, the chain tightens around the dog’s neck causing aversive pressure.  This type of collar can cause severe tracheal damage and strangulate the dog.  The ring can get caught on crates and cause strangulation.  When two dogs are playing, a jaw could get caught in the chain and cause strangulation to the other dog.  As Good As Gold does not recommend this collar.
  5. Prong or pinch collars: Prong Chain CollarThis type of collar has metal prongs that when pressure is applied to the leash, the prongs will apply pressure to the dog’s neck.  When fitted properly, this collar applies even pressure around the neck which eliminates pain.  Wounds can occur on the neck from improper usage.  When the collar is used incorrectly, it can be very painful to the dog and make puncture wounds in the neck. The prongs or the ring can get caught on crates and cause strangulation.  Serious injury can occur if two dogs are playing and prong collars are worn.  As Good As Gold does not recommend this collar.
  6. Shock collars: Shock CollarThis type of collar is worn snuggly around the neck of the dog.  Shock collars deliver electrical stimulation of varying intensity and duration to the neck of a dog via a radio-controlled electronic device incorporated into a dog collar.  Some models also include a tone or vibrational setting as an alternative to or in conjunction with the shock.  Burns can occur if the intensity or duration is too long.  As Good As Gold does not recommend this collar.

To make the issue even more confusing, another alternative to a collar is a harness.  There are a wide variety of harnesses available.  Some of the harnesses have a ring on the back where the leash is attached and others have a ring in the front.  The front hook harnesses are designed to help prevent pulling by gently steering the dog in another direction.  Both harnesses prevent pressure on the trachea and prevent injury.  Dogs can slip out of the harnesses, especially if they are applied too loosely.

There are many options to choose from.  You need to choose the collar that works best for your dog.  In general, those collars that avoid aversive pressure are preferred over the collars that are aversive.