Trying to find the best training collar is not as easy as it may seem. Searching this subject online will likely turn up a wide variety of opinions and make the choice even more confusing. To help you navigate finding the best dog training collar, we’re going to explore a few different types of collars. No training collar is the perfect fit for every dog, every situation, or every pet owner. But with a little guidance you can make the right choice for your pet.
Training collars are typically used to train a dog to walk on a leash with ease, teach basic obedience, contain your dog in the yard, or to reduce barking.
These collars can help your dog learn the boundaries of your property (if used with an in-ground or wireless system) or to help them decrease an unwanted activity like dog barking.
To keep your dog safe and confined, a transmitter sends a signal that makes the collar emit a training tone that gets your dog's attention if they get too close to a boundary. If they proceed outside the zone of protection, it delivers a static correction - not enough to cause pain, but enough to get your dog’s attention and respect the boundary. After a training period of about 2 weeks, they learn the tone means "no correction" and stay inside the perimeter.
The same principle applies to barking - if the activity continues, a distracting correction is given which will stop the activity over time.
Pros and Cons of Static Collars
Pros: Static collars are convenient and very effective at eliminating unwanted activity and keeping a dog contained in areas where fences are impossible or unwanted. Once the dog learns to respect the warning tone, no correction is given.
Cons: Requires training to be used effectively. Must be charged or have batteries changed periodically. Must remove from the neck as directions require to avoid irritation.
These collars work in a similar fashion to the static collars, where they detect an unwanted activity (usually barking) and instead of a static correction, deliver a spray of harmless citronella near the dog's nose to distract him and decrease the activity. Spray collars can be effective on determined barkers, but are especially well-suited for more sensitive dogs.
Pros and Cons of Spray Collars
Pros: Correct dogs without use of static correction. Effective for dogs that respond to the surprising spray.
Cons: Some especially stubborn dogs may not be deterred by spray corrections. Requires refills of spray and maintaining battery.
These are not technically a collar and are like a halter worn by a horse, in that they wrap around the bridge of the nose controlling head movement. For dogs that have tracheal problems, like small dogs that have tracheal collapse, these may be preferred to a collar that puts pressure on the neck. They can help train a dog to not pull on a leash and make for a more controlled walking experience.
Pros and Cons of Head (Halter-Type) Collars:
Pros: Least chance of tracheal irritation or damage, effective and controlling for dogs who pull. Inexpensive and convenient.
Cons: Can be confusing to place correctly on the dog's head. May not be effective for strong or strong-willed dogs. Not usable on snub-nosed dogs like pugs or bulldogs. Does not stop barking.
These collars have blunt metal prongs that will press on a dog's neck if excess force is applied, as when a dog pulls on the leash. They don't really pinch, so that name is not really appropriate. Like many training collars, these should not be left on an extended period, since there is a risk of skin irritation from constant contact with the collar. Also, dogs with any sort of tracheal (windpipe) problems should not use these collars, as they can make these conditions worse.
Pros and Cons of Prong Collars
Pros: Easy to use, inexpensive.
Cons: Effectiveness depends on the dog's ability to learn from the relatively mild correction. Some dogs will still pull despite the prongs and may need a more effective solution like a static collar. They will not stop barking.
Like the prong collar, these exert pressure on the dog's neck that increases as the dog pulls. The difference here is that, while a prong collar has an endpoint of pressure, a choke collar can continually tighten the more a dog pulls, which can lead to a potentially unsafe or even deadly situation if the dog becomes stuck or trapped. These collars should only be used for training and should not be used as an everyday type of collar.
Pros and Cons of Choke/ Slip Collars:
Pros: Can be effective for dogs who pull.
Cons: Safety concerns noted above. Does not stop barking.
No collar, regardless of type, is going to completely solve all your training problems by itself. Successful dog training takes work, commitment and perseverance. Sometimes working with a good trainer or veterinary behaviorist will also help solve more difficult behavior problems.