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Which dog collar is right for your pet?

Your guide to buying the best dog collar

A woman walking a group of dogs all on leads

A dog collar is just a dog collar, right? Wrong. There are many varieties of flat collars, slip collars, harnesses and head collars. So where do you start?

A dog collar for identification

When a dog is out in public it's an owner's legal responsibility to attach an ID tag to the dog with the name, address and postcode of the owner on it.

You can add other details like a contact number if you wish, but it's probably not a good idea to put your dog's name on the tag.

The obvious place to attach an ID tag is to the dog's collar and many owners attach a traditional flat or rolled collar around the dog's neck to display the tag.

This is ideal for identification purposes, but is it the best type of collar for walking your dog? Choosing the right collar is important as an inappropriate or badly fitting collar or harness can cause health problems and run up expensive vet bills.

It's an owner's legal responsibility to attach an ID tag to the dog with the name, address and postcode of the owner.

Types of dog collar

Flat collar – attached around the neck with a buckle or plastic clip. Breakaway collars have a clip that breaks loose if the animal gets caught by the collar and tries to pull away.

Slip collar – made from nylon, rope or sometimes chain, these collars are designed to tighten round a dog's neck if they begin to pull. The lead makes a loop that goes over the dog's neck and hangs to one side.

Harness – fitted around the chest and shoulders rather than the neck, a harness takes the pressure off the dog's neck and throat if it begins to pull when on the lead.

Head collar – designed to help with dogs that pull on the leash most of the time, a head halter fits around the dog's head and over the nose.

There are also so-called 'corrective collars' available, like choke, prong and shock collars, but modern training methods have proved that these collars just exacerbate fear and aggression issues in dogs and isn't recommended.

Choosing the right dog collar

It makes sense to use a flat collar to display your dog's ID tag. But it's not always the best type of collar for walking your dog, even if your dog only pulls occasionally.

Pulling on a flat collar can cause neck and throat problems in your dog, including crushed trachea (windpipe) or even fractured vertebrae. Health issues like this can be expensive to treat, so make sure you have adequate pet insurance cover.

Slip collars can also cause injury from choking as the collar tightens when the dog pulls away from the owner. A better way to control pulling and prevent choking injuries is with loose leash training and a harness.

When a dog collar is actually a harness

There are a variety of different types of harness, but the one thing they have in common is that they fit the body rather than the neck. As such they don't apply any pressure to the throat or neck when the dog pulls.

When you buy a harness it's important to make sure that it fits your dog correctly. If poorly fitted, a harness may change the way a dog walks, which can cause problems with their shoulders.

Most harnesses have a lead attachment at the front on the chest, which helps to deter pulling. Some also have a lead attachment between the shoulder blades that can help with controlling your dog when used with the front lead attachment.

Speak to a vet or a qualified dog behaviourist who will be able to recommend a suitable harness for your dog.

Dog collars and training

A dog collar or harness is simply a tool to help keep your dog secure whilst you're out and about. It won’t magically stop your dog from pulling on the lead.

Dog collars and harnesses should be used in conjunction with reward-based training to help your dog understand what you want it to do. Loose lead walking training can help your dog understand that you don't want it to pull when the dog is on the lead.

Speak to a vet or a qualified dog behaviourist if your dog keeps pulling on its lead. LV= provide cover for some behavioural treatment with their Lifetime Policies.

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