For The Love Of Your Pets: Size, shape and personality determine what type collar to use

May 19, 2011 at 12:19 a.m.

By John Beck

I have a little Boston terrier that isn't really hyper but can always pull out of her collar if we change directions. I don't want to use a choke collar on her. What are some other options?

The first thing you should do is check to make sure her regular collar is fitting her properly. You should be able to get two fingers under the collar but no more. When you pull on the collar, it shouldn't slip over the dog's head. Very rarely does a properly fitted collar slip over the dogs mandible or jaw. The majority of people usually have their dogs' collar too tight or too loose.

A slip or pull collar (regular or chain) is also a great idea. If you don't like the traditional choke chain design, they also make smooth rope and woven material ones. These give the same amount of control and prevent slipping over the head without giving such a harsh look about them.

If you are not able to control the dog while she is in a plain collar, the next suggestion is a harness. These are made out of very durable woven material and latch around the chest and front legs. These provide maximum control. You are usually able to maneuver your pet easily without ever having to worry about choking your pet or having her slip away. These are also great for patients with chronic allergies, throat problems, collapsing tracheas, etc. These work well for the bulldog breeds where faces, necks and bodies are usually all the same shape or size.

They also make head or muzzle collars, usually referred to as leaders. These are small smooth ropes that look like a harness for the head. They wrap around the back of the neck and top of the muzzle. When a dog pulls on the leash, it will cause the head to turn. This feels unnatural and will deter such behavior. These should not be left on the dog when not actively walking or training.

Martingale collars are a combo of the slip or choke collar and a harness. They fit around the chest and neck. The neck piece gently tightens when the lead is pulled back on. These types of collars are also referred to as Greyhound collars because they are the ones who most commonly wear these.

Every dog has a different body conformation and a different personality. Matching both of these to the correct type of collar and leash combination is important to successful training and walking. If you need more help or advice, feel free to contact me or your local veterinarian.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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