Dog Training Collar, Shock Collar, Bark Collar, How Do You Choose?

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Choose the best Dog Training Collar for your Dog

“As the dog’s owner, you must be willing to accept the

‘alpha’ role if you want a properly trained dog.”

A dog training collar can be used to train or control your dog.  What’s the difference?  When you use voice commands or hand signals, offer rewards for good behavior (like food “treats”) or use a leash and collar to direct your dog’s behavior, that’s training.  If you have a barking dog or one that likes to wander and you use a shock collar or bark collar to direct their behavior, that’s control.

First Things First – Be the Alpha Dog. What’s that?

Positive Dog Training

When using a dog training collar, is “control” bad and “training” good?  Not necessarily.  It is within a dog’s social nature to identify the “chain of command.”  If you have ever heard of the “alpha dog” concept, that simply means the leader within a dog’s social network. 

As the dog’s owner, you must be willing to accept the “alpha” role if you want a properly trained dog.  Otherwise, you can buy every dog training collar or new fangled training aid on the market and you will still be faced with the negative aspects of dog ownership, such as chewing, biting, chasing, etc.  These kinds of negative activity can lead to a very frustrated owner and a confused dog.  Not good.

Using a Choke Chain: Proper Use and Fit Are Critical

Probably the most common type of dog training collar is the choke chain. Not all dogs react the same way to training, so some need a little more encouragement to keep them from dragging you on “their” leash, jumping up on you or others, etc.

The negative aspects to using a choke chain are generally caused by improper use. For starters, they must be properly fitted to your dog.  A collar two or three inches longer than the dog’s neck size is usually adequate, but you want to be certain you can fit two to three fingers between the collar and your large dog’s neck, or at least one finger for small dogs.

NOTE:  Regardless of the type of dog training collar you choose, proper fit is the key.  Depending on the size of your dog, you can use the one to three finger method to fit any collar.  If you have a puppy or a growing dog, remember to check his collar frequently to be certain it does not become too tight. 

You should also be certain your dog has an identification tag on their collar in case they ever become lost.  If they have more than one collar, put an identification tag on every collar.

Choke Chain Dangers

If a choke chain or collar is not used properly, they can pinch a dog’s neck and actually cause sensitive or raw areas to develop.  Those “hot spots” will worsen with time and your dog’s natural tendency will be to scratch the irritated areas.

This type of dog training collar can also cause the dog’s trachea to be compressed if the proper pull and quick release method is not used.  When used properly, the dog should feel a brief, uncomfortable sensation, but this can be difficult to master if your dog has a tendency to constantly pull on the leash.

Spike dog collars are less desirable, even when used properly.  Although spike collars are one of the less common dog training aids in use, some professional trainers use them with large and/or difficult dogs.  This “choke and poke” method can be effective for short-term training, but your dog would be better served with a commitment to modifying his behavior through other means.

Halter and Harness Type Collars

Halter-type dog collars and dog harnesses are less common, but can be very effective and are often considered more humane. Halter-type collars may remind you more of a horse halter than a dog training collar, with a strap wrapping around the back of the dog’s head and another around the nose. They will not keep your dog from breathing or drinking, but they will provide additional control when training or instructing your dog.

Harness-type dog collars go around the dog’s neck and shoulders behind the legs. This type of collar keeps pressure off the dog’s throat and places it on the chest and shoulders. Because it is more difficult to direct your dog with a dog harness, this type of collar is generally recommended for well trained dogs or those with a medical condition related to the neck.

Electronic Dog Collars

Electric dog collars are what some would call a specialty dog training aid. Some people refer to this type of collar as a bark collar or shock collar. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are designed for various training purposes from controlling
your dog’s barking to training your hunting dog.

For dogs with a persistent or annoying bark, the use of a bark collar will emit a shock or spray citronella when the dog barks.
Most dogs bark when they perceive a threat or when they want to gain attention. That’s not what most people call a problem. The annoyance comes when dogs bark for no apparent reason and they just don’t stop.

The most common forms of shock collar will either emit a noise or administer a shock. Some do both. The noise type generates a
brief sound that dogs find unpleasant and discourages barking by redirecting the dog’s attention. The shock type of shock collar produces a brief electric impulse that shocks the dog to discourage unwanted behavior.

Tests have shown mixed results with electronic dog collars and some people have better results with vigilant professional training techniques. (Read this helpful article called, “Barking Dogs: Knowing Why They Bark and What To Do About It.”)


Depending on your circumstances and your dog, selecting the right kind of dog training collar becomes a very important part of the training process. Just remember to look for the best long-term solution rather than a “quick fix.” There is no substitute for properly training your dog using proven and time-tested methods. When you take the long view on training it is easier on the owner and on the dog, especially if you learn to do it right.

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