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How to Choose a Dog Collar and Leash

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There is a wide variety of dog collars and leashes available, and sometimes deciding which is best for your dog can be a bit intimidating! Some collars and leashes are better choices for everyday use, and some are designed for obedience and training.

To find the size of collar your dog needs, measure his neck an inch or two below his head (depending upon the size of your dog). For small dogs add 1″ to this measurement, and for medium and large dogs, add 2″. The collar should fit loosely enough that you can slip a couple of fingers beneath it.

Quick-release and buckle collars are suited for most dogs for everyday wear. Flat collars are fine for dogs with short hair coats, and rolled collars are better for long-haired dogs to reduce hair breakage. A quick-release collar has a plastic snap, similar to a luggage strap snap, that is more convenient and attractive than a metal buckle. Quick-release, or snap, collars are usually made of nylon, and come in a variety of “designer” colors and patterns. You can even find matching collar and leash combinations. Snap collars work well for most dogs but if you have a larger, stronger dog or one who lunges when excited, you may want to get a collar with a metal buckle. Collars with metal buckles may come in either nylon or leather; the choice is really a personal preference. If you are a multi-dog family, you may want to stick with nylon, since dogs like to chew leather and may chew one another’s collars off! Your dog should have a tag on his collar with your address and phone number in case he decides to make a mad dash to freedom. But of course, to avoid such situation, it is important to train your dog the right way. You can effectively train your dog using the right training device. For more helpful information, you can check some barx buddy reviews.

Break-away collars have a special quick-release snap that will come unfastened with a strong pull. This type of collar was invented by a man whose dog choked when its collar became caught. This might be a good choice if your dog is left alone during the day without supervision. A break-away collar will not release when a leash is attached.

A slip (or show) collar has a metal O ring on either end. One end of the collar slips through the ring on the other, and allows the collar to loosen or tighten. It can be made of nylon, cotton, leather, or serpentine chain. This type of collar can present a choking hazard, so never leave your dog unattended while he is wearing one. A limited slip collar is designed to tighten but will not constrict the dog’s neck. This is a good choice for dogs who tend to slip their collars.

A martingale collar is similar to a limited slip collar but without a buckle. A loop slips over the dog’s head and a plastic tubing can be slid down to the desired tightness. This type is often used for showing toy dogs, or for Sight hounds because their heads are smaller than their necks and can easily slip a standard collar.

A head halter is a collar that is worn like a muzzle but still allows the dog to eat, drink, bark, and bite. The theory is that if you lead the dog’s head, the dog will follow. It might be worth a try if your dog just doesn’t want to go where you go, but a head halter should be used for walking only, and with a slack lead. If the dog is running and reaches the end of the lead, his head may jerk around, causing injury to his neck.

Some people will put harness collars on their dog, mistakenly thinking that this will keep them from pulling on the lead, but harnesses are actually designed to help the dog pull. Sled and carting dogs wear harnesses to help effectively distribute the weight of the load. Although if you’d like to train your dog to pull the kids around on the sled, this would be the way to go!

Metal training slip collars (choke chains) are meant to be worn as training collars only and like the show collar, should never be left on the dog when he is unsupervised. If you choose to train your dog with a metal slip collar, have a professional teach you how to use it properly. Many people think the dog responds to the choking effect, when actually it is the slapping sound of the chain that is meant to get his attention. Choke chains used improperly can cause injury to a dog’s neck. For dogs with long hair coats, choose a chain with large links to avoid pulling the hair from the neck. Prong (pinch) collars have metal links with prongs that will poke the dog when he pulls against it and is sometimes used for dogs who pull on their leads. This style is safer than a choke collar but should also be used with professional instruction.

Electronic training collars are called “remote” collars by those who advocate their use, and “shock” collars by those who are opposed to them. The device will deliver an electrical shock as a correction. The potential for abuse with this type of collar is great and misuse can destroy a dog’s self-confidence and desire to work. One drawback to using any type of training collar is that the dog may learn that he only must obey commands when the collar is on. The goal of training a dog is to get him to obey commands out of respect and love for his owner, not out of fear. Just like with kids, positive reinforcement is much more effective than punishment.

When in public with your dog, he needs to be on a leash. Many places have ordinances against dogs running loose, and it is necessary to be able to control him for his own safety and that of other people and animals. Most leads designed for walking or running with your dog are about six feet in length and may be nylon or leather. Some people prefer leather because it is easier to grip and softens with age. The lead should have a good quality metal clip on the end for fastening to the collar. Leads four feet and shorter may be used for training to allow more control over the dog. Extended leads that are 12 to 30 feet in length are designed for tracking sessions or training at a distance.

Slip leads have a slipping loop that goes around the dog’s neck and can be quickly removed and replaced. These are often used for work or agility competitions.

Retractable leads have a thin cord 15 to 20 feet long that automatically retracts into a plastic handle. A retractable lead allows the dog to wander and the owner to reel him back in. If you like to stop and talk to your neighbors while you’re out walking, this lets the dog sniff around a little bit while he’s waiting on you.

For older dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis in the hindquarters, consider the “Bottoms Up” lead which gives support to the rear legs while the dog is walking and going up and down stairs. It is designed so that the dog may still eliminate while wearing it, and has removable, washable pads.

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