Two weeks ago, we took a journey into the often outrageous world of dog accessories. After listening to your reactions, we find that Dog Tails readers are strongly divided on the subject. Some Dog Tails dogs proudly sport their custom outfits and other “bling” as they walk around the town, while others refuse to wear anything other their own fur and a smile. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, all dogs wear one important accessory for most of their lives – a collar.

This week, DogWatch Hidden Fences provides you with tips on how to select the perfect collar for your dog. We also share some tips on how to make sure your pet’s DogWatch collar is properly fitted.

Traditional Collars

For most dogs, a simple collar around the neck is all they need. Yet in today’s booming world of dog products, there are countless collar options to choose from, each with their own unique benefits. From a fashion perspective, there is no limit to the number of colors, patterns or fabrics to choose from. (Have a favorite sports team? There’s probably a collar with their logo and colors on it!)

Greyhound in Martingale collarFrom a utilitarian perspective, there is also a wide variety of collar features to meet your dog’s specific needs. “Break-away” collars include an easy-to-release buckle that prevent your dog from choking should they get tangled up during play or other situations.  Martingale collars are popular among greyhound owners, who need a collar that will not slip over their dog’s thin, slick frame but will also not be too tight for the dog’s comfort. These collars (see image at left) have an adjustable design that pulls tighter when the dog attempts to pull away and loosens when the dog relaxes.

Just as important as selecting the correct collar, dog owners must make sure that the collar is properly fitted. The collar should fit snugly but not too tightly around the dog’s neck – a good guide is to leave enough room for you to fit two fingers in between the collar and your dog’s neck. The collar should also be tight enough so that it cannot slip off the dog’s head. Finally, collar fit is particularly important for growing puppies. Check your puppy’s collar fit regularly and adjust as needed. You can also use a tape measure to measure their neck, adding two inches so as not to restrict breathing or movement.

Harnesses and Halters

Neck collars are an easy way to display your dog’s all-important ID, registration and immunization tags, but they are not the best or safest way to fasten a leash and guide the dog through their daily walks, especially if your dog tends to enthusiastically pull ahead of you, unexpectedly take off to chase squirrels, etc.  For most dogs, the use of a harness, such as the ones shown in the picture to the right, is a safer more comfortable option.

Dog in harnessHarnesses are particularly beneficial for walking small dogs, who can slip out of traditional collars. They are also recommended for brachycephalic breeds (i.e. those with pushed-in faces, such as pugs and bulldogs), to prevent further breathing problems. If your dog pulls on the leash, a front-clip harness such as SENSE-ation or Easy Walk can help control pulling and encourage the dog to heel.

Similarly, Halters are a traditional collar substitute that also acts as a training tool. Halters actually wrap around the dog’s snout instead of the neck, and, like front-clip harnesses, apply gentle pressure that encourages the dog to stop pulling, jumping or engaging in other problem behaviors on their walk.  Popular halter brands are Gentle Leader and Halti. It is important to note that these collars should be fitted with care, as they can be overly restrictive or, the reverse, ineffective, if not fitted correctly. Dog owners often benefit from working with a professional trainer at the beginning of the halter training process.

DogWatch Collars

Your dog doesn’t have to stop exercising and enjoying the outdoors after you are finished with your walk. DogWatch Hidden Fences pet containment systems allow your dog to run freely and safely in your yard, exploring the outdoors as they were born to do. The specially-designed DogWatch collar is a key part of this system.

Jack Russell terrier wearing DogWatch collarHere are seven quick tips to make sure the DogWatch receiver collar on your dog’s neck is properly placed:

  1. The collar should be worn snugly on the dog’s neck. This is extremely important!
  2. Place no more than one thumb width between the contact post and dog’s neck.
  3. When checking snugness of collar, the dog’s neck should be facing down (sniffing position) as this is where the dog’s neck is the smallest.
  4. If the collar is too tight, it might cause skin irritation if worn for long periods of time without being removed occasionally.
  5. If the collar is too loose, the dog will not receive the intended correction if he or she wanders into the Avoidance Zone.
  6. Remember to periodically check for irritation around the dog’s neck.
  7. DogWatch recommends that the collar be removed daily for some period of time, such as when the dog is inside the house or overnight.

The lesson here is to adjust the collar as needed. Remember — collar fit is critical! During colder months, you dog’s fur may be thicker and you may need to trim some of the fur under the receiver collar to ensure proper fit. If your dog has a naturally thick coat, you may need to trim the fur year-round. Longer contact posts are available for especially heavy-coated dogs.

Your DogWatch dealer with help you fit, test and adjust the collar to make sure it is comfortable and works properly. Feel free to reach out to them or to DogWatch Customer Service (available Monday to Friday, 9AM-5PM EST at (800) 793-3436, extension 622) with any questions regarding collar fit.

Now that you know all about dog collars, we encourage you to get out there and enjoy some playtime, fetch and long walks with your canine best friend! Summer is almost here, and we can’t wait!

Does your dog have a cool collar?  We’d love to see and share it here!

Greyhound image credit: JAGwired via Flickr.

Boston Terrier image credit: Lee Nachtigal via Flickr.