Trainer Tips | Dog Collar Safety Tips (Which one should you get?)


The pet product market is a growing industry. Thanks to new research on the health benefits of having a pet, and the fact that the United States is seeing a huge rise in pet ownership, the pet product business is booming. As businesses strive to cash in on this trend, the number & variety of products in the market is pretty intimidating. Whilst many of us are likely to choose a dog collar based on appearance, it’s important to keep in mind the purpose of a dog collar

When fitting the collar, you should check that you can easily slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. Be sure that the collar also cannot slip over your dog’s ears & head (or else you might be chasing them after they slip out of their collar on a walk). Collar width is also an important consideration as, in general, wider collars provide a more comfortable fit for your dog and disperse pressure more evenly across the throat. Of course, there are exceptions. Small dogs may find a wide collar too heavy to be comfortable and dogs with short necks may end up with chafing. All collars have the potential to cause injury when a dog pulls on a leash. So please read the information below meticulously.

A dog collar keeps your best friend safe. For those who are unsure how the differences between size, shape, style, material or type may impact safety, the information below may assist you in finding the best collar for your furry friend:



Flat Collars

Most commonly they will be made of nylon, cotton, leather or biothane. Some may be lined with fleece, silk, velvet or flannel for a little extra comfort. A material and construction that is durable, comfortable, and easy to maintain includes biothane as it’s strong, waterproof, smooth and easy to clean. Flat collars usually have the option of a buckle or quick snap clasp. Buckles tend to be light and potentially more attractive whereas a quick snap clasp is easy to fit and very useful if the collar gets snagged. The size you choose should be based on the circumference of your dog’s neck. 

Whilst flat collars are minimally aversive for most dogs, there are still some safety considerations. As such, it would be wise to use a harness when walking dogs with delicate necks (toy breeds, miniature breeds, puppies), dogs who have trachea damage, or are prone to breathing difficulties (brachycephalic breeds) or dogs that like to pull. For dogs that have wide necks (bully breeds) or narrow heads (sighthounds), there is a risk that the collar may slip over your dog’s head and leave you chasing them all over. 

My Recommendations: 

Martingale Collar

A martingale collar is somewhat of a blending of a flat collar (above) and a skip collar (below). Sometimes referred to as a limited slip collar, the martingale collar has a mechanism that allows the collar to tighten when there is tension on the leash. When measured and fitted correctly, the design of the collar also ensures that tightening is limited to prevent choking. Why might you want this type of collar over another? A martingale collar can help prevent a dog from slipping out of their collar. This is particularly useful for dogs with wide necks or narrow heads or those that are skittish or escape artists.

My Recommendations:





Slip Collar

Slip collars are often made of nylon or cotton cord/rope and are sometimes referred to as training leashes. Whilst I don’t advocate their use for training, I do think they can serve a good purpose in terms of safety. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a dog slipping out of their collar or harness. Slip collars can provide a safety net when coupled with a harness to prevent a dog from running loose if they slip out of their harness due to resistance or a wardrobe malfunction. As these collars are generally one size fits all and slip easily over the head, they are popular with shelters that may need to move large volumes of dogs quickly. Their design also means that they are difficult to escape, which again lends well to being used with shelter dogs. These collars will continue to tighten as a dog pulls and pose a risk of choking and injury to the trachea and thyroid.

My Recommendations:

Smart Collar

For all the tech and gadget junkies out there, the smart collar is an exciting product on the market. These products can: 

  • Track your dog’s activity and calories 
  • Monitor health & track  licking, scratching and sleeping. 
  • Provide health reports for your vet.
  • Track your dog via GPS and alert you if they breach location boundaries.

A smart collar is definitely worth consideration if your dog gets regular opportunities to roam off leash or you want to analyze their fitness.

My Recommendations:





Breakaway Collar

Breakaway collars are designed to prevent choking. When pressure is applied to the collar it pulls apart, hence the name. These collars are a great idea if your dog frequents dog parks, doggy daycare, has regular play dates or is left unsupervised whilst wearing their collar. This type of collar could be the difference between a brief startle or a freak accident if the collar gets snagged on something. Look for one with two D-rings to secure the collar with a leash to prevent break-away whilst walking.

My Recommendation:

PetSafe Keep Safe Nylon Breakaway Collar | Price $12.95


At the end of the day all collars should be used with some caution, particularly for dogs who pull on leash or have pre-existing injuries and health issues. Ensuring you have the correct fit as well as considering your dog’s body type, activities and walking style will help you when it comes time to decide which type to choose.   

What type of collar do you use for your dog?

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