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By Traci Guthrie

Choosing the right collar for your dog

One of the most exciting things to do when you get a new pet is to run out and buy its first collar. There are so many to choose from! You may head straight to the one with the most bling, or for your male dog, you might pick the one that makes him look super tough. Collars have traditionally been used to hold a dog's identification tag or are used with a leash for walking. These days there are so many types of neck collars that it can be overwhelming to try to pick one beyond a simple collar. There are collars for every shape, size or behavioral characteristic of dog.

Simple collars

If your dog has minimal to no behavioral issues, a basic collar that is buckled or snapped around the neck will suffice. They usually come in leather or nylon and often have designs on them. They are affordable and available at most pet and discount stores.

Martingale collars

Martingale collars, or limited-slip collars, are collars that get smaller when pulled, but will not tighten completely around the neck. These are often used on dog breeds whose neck is thicker than their head, such as Greyhounds. This collar is a good training tool for dogs that are easily distracted, but it is not recommended by veterinarians as a training tool because improper use can cut off a dog's air supply. These are made from a softer material than choke collars.

Choke collars

Choke collars, or slip collars, tighten around the neck when pulled. These are great training tools when used correctly and on the right dog. These collars are most often used for dogs that are headstrong, pull the leash, or those that do not respond to training when wearing a regular collar, although veterinarian behaviorists do not recommend it. Never use this type of collar without the proper instruction from a trainer.

Body harnesses

Dogs with health conditions or neck injuries can benefit from using a body harness instead of a traditional collar so that no pressure is put on their necks. Body harnesses wrap around the upper body of the dog. For training, anti-pull harnesses have a leash attachment in front of the dog to decrease pulling when walking on a leash.

Things to consider about the collar you choose

-It should not be loose enough to slip over your dog's head.
-It should not restrict breathing or cause your dog to choke or cough.
-When measuring for size, measure your pet's neck, then add 2 to 3 inches.
-Always check the collar size on growing puppies.
-Know your dog's behavior and training needs
-Look for a reflective collar for safety.
-Consider the width of the collar. 1.5 inch is standard.
-Choose the right material depending what activities you enjoy.
-Stick with your budget.

Shopping for your pet's collar should be a fun, stress-free experience. With the right knowledge of how your dog behaves, what style you have in mind, and what budget you want to stay within, you will have the perfect collar on your pet in no time.

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