Riggins’ collar was getting all frayed and sad looking so I ordered him another one. Guess what came in the mail today?!? He is sporting his pretty (red) collar right now. Actually he is sleeping in the hall since he is pooped form our morning hike. There are a ridiculous number of dog collar options out there. Which should you choose? Recently I’ve seen more of my dogs coming to me for their vacay with slip chain control collars or prong collars. I’m not sure where this trend is coming from but wanted to share my thoughts on the matter. I know you are all just itching to hear more of what I think about dog safety products! Wait no more!
First of all what are these slip and prong things you speak of? A slip chain control collar is essential a metal chain with two big-ish circles on each end. You slip the one end of the collar down one circle to make a big loop that, when pulled, gets tighter. A slip
collar, when used correctly, allows you to make corrections to a dog by tugging on the collar, making it tighter against the dog’s throat. Then when they come back in-line with you the collar automatically becomes slack again.
A prong collar is what it sounds like. It’s a metal collar with prongs sticking out that go into the dog’s neck. Much like a slip chain collar the prong collar is designed to close more and “tug” when a dog is being corrected and lay slack-ish when he/she is not.
Both prong and slip chain collars can be used very effectively IF used correctly and IF they fit correctly. I’ve seen a number of these type collars that are either too loose or too tight. A misfitting collar can cause damage to your dog. If you choose to use this type of collar please have it fitted by an expert and get training on how to use it properly. I’m talking training above and beyond a one day at Petco.
As you know I don’t even like walking a dog on a normal collar but instead prefer a walking harness so it is no surprise that the first thing I do when I dog comes to me with a slip of prong collar is to take it off. No easy task if the collar is fitted too tight. I also think if the dog is a breed that is already stereotyped as “dangerous” these types of collars add to the unfounded fear someone may have. After all if a dog needs something jabbing it in his neck to behave I don’t want anywhere near that animal. It is also VERY difficult (close to impossible) for me to walk a dog with this type of collar safely when he/she is being walked with 2, 3, 4 or 5 other dogs. I fully admit I’m not the best at walking a crowd on leash (off leash is a
different story). It’s all I can do to keep them all from sweeping me off my feet in a tangle of leashes. It’s best for me to swap out the correction collars for one of Riggins walking harness’!
Now to really get picky. I believe a dog *should* be wearing a safety collar. A safety collar allows the dog to get out of the collar on his/her own if it becomes snagged on something (or someone). More than once I’ve had to remove a collar from a dog when he/she is playing in the dog park because another dog is hanging on to it and causing the pup to choke. Riggins’ new collar is a breakaway. The brand I purchased is easy to put back together if it is taken apart and includes metal loops on both ends of the “break-away” area so that if you do put a leash on the collar it will stay put. It would be a bit useless if you hooked up your dog only to have him/her take off and leave collar and leash behind comically hanging from your hand!
A martingale style collar also allows for a dog to get it off his/her neck if needed … most of the time. This type of collar has a loop holding the two ends together where you hook the leash. When you or the dog pulls the collar gets tighter but then immediately releases. It’s a much much less harsh version of the metal slip collar … but made with material … and no chains. Lousy wears this type of collar (and Riggins wore one in his last picture shoot with his photographer). The one thing to be aware of for both the breakaway and martingale style is that if a dog is about to take off to eat a squirrel, lizard, cat or mailman and you grab the collar there is a very good chance you will be left holding that while a nudie (aka no collar) dog takes off toward it’s prey! (Note that collars that Lousy and Riggins wear aren’t actually “greyhound” martingale collars. They are in the style of these greyhound safe collars. A true greyhound collar will be made of fabric and be very thick to fit better and more safely on a long necked sight-hound.)
There you go! My suggestion (because I know you really really care) is to have a safety collar on and a walking harness (I suggest looking at Sporn. The “halter” is my favorite while Riggins prefers the Mesh Non-Pull Harness) ready for whenever the dog leaves the house. AKA spend as much money on your dog as possible. You know you have to … he/she is your baby after all!