When it comes to the right collar, leash, and harness things get kind of overwhelming. There are so many options, styles, shapes, colors, clips, ahhhh! But have no fear, here is a list of standard collars, harnesses, and leads for your guidance knowledge!
- Standard Flat Collar– This is your basic collar that you can find in grocery store. They are usually made of a nylon or leather, but can come in various fabrics. These collars can be used with easy, loose leash walkin’ pups. They shouldn’t be used for sighthounds as they can easily slip over their heads. You can get these collars with a belt buckle style, a fastening clip, or a break away version. If you plan to leave the collar on while your pup is unsupervised, I suggest a breakaway collar so they can’t get snagged on something and strangle themselves.
- Martingale– This collar is a great substitution for the ol’ choke chain (see below). It consists of two loops, the larger going around the dog’s neck and the smaller clips to the leash. The larger loop is made of a nylon fabric, while the smaller loop is either nylon or chain. When the dog pulls, the smaller loop tightens. These collars are perfect for sighthounds with necks the same size as their heads, because they cannot slip out of them. Never allow the metal pieces of the larger loop to touch!
- Head Halter– The most popular of these is a Gentle Leader made by PetSafe. It slips over the dog’s muzzle, but is not restrictive to their normal movements (they are able to pant, drink, and eat… they can give kisses too!) These collars keep the dog from dragging their nose along the ground and keeps them focused on you by turning their head anytime they pull. This collar is meant to be used for leash training and can be swapped out after you achieve loose leash behavior. It can be difficult for dogs to get used to this so be sure to have treats and patience with you!
*Collars should fit so you are able to comfortably fit two fingers underneath.
- Choke Chain– This is basically just what it sounds like. It’s a chain that tightens around your dog’s neck as they pull. These should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer, as they can often cause tracheal damage when improperly used. They should never be left on an unsupervised pup. Martingale collars are great alternatives to these. Never use on short nose dogs!
- Prong Collar– These collars are made of linked steel prongs that go into a dog’s neck when they pull. These are only used for dogs that are difficult to control and dogs that are aggressive. Again, these should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer. If you chose to use this collar, be sure to give you pup some naked time without it.
- Back-Clip Harness– This is a harness that attaches to the… back! This is great for loose leash walkin’ pups, but not the best for dogs that tend to pull. When you pull, they pull. This harness is great for short nose dogs!
- Front-Clip Harness– This clips in the front! Having the leash clipped to the chest of your pup causes them to turn toward you when they pull. With proper guidance, they will get bored of being turned sideways and this can lead to a loose leash walking dog! Some of these harnesses also allow for you to clip to the front and back.
*There are so many style and fit options when it comes to harnesses that I can’t cover them all… it’s always best to get what suits your pup!
- Standard Leash– This comes in many fabrics, styles, and lengths. You can even get leashes that change length with the help of an extra clip! Again you should find a leash that is best for you and your pup. We have several options for different activities.
- Slip Lead– These are usually flat nylon or a braided rope. They simply slip over the dog’s head and like a martingale collar, tightens as the dog pulls. Be sure to use these with proper knowledge as they can cause damage if used inappropriately on a pulling pup.
- Retractable Leash– These are the leashes that retract into a handle! Let me just biased-ly say, these are a big pet peeve for me. They offer little to no guidance from the human and allow the dog to control the walk. Normally when I see these used in the world they are used very carelessly and have left a bad taste in my mouth.
This list was put together with years of frustration, pointless purchases, and victories. For more guidance ask your trainer, veterinarian, or check out the AKC website.
*Keep in mind that humans have a tendency to judge your dog’s behavior on their collar. Choke chains and prong collars often lead people to believe your dog is aggressive or difficult to manage. Standard collars cause people to see a friendly happy dog, even if they are not. Though we try to avoid stereotypes, our brains cannot escape it as often as we’d like to think.