The next collar we are going discuss is a “slip type” collar commonly referred to as a “dominant dog collar.” Dominant dog collars are specifically intended for use on handler aggressive or dog aggressive dogs and are very good at suppressing inappropriate behavior/aggression. Dominant dog collars are excellent for lowering the drive and taking the fight out of a dog. DO NOT jerk this collar to deliver a correction. The proper way to use the collar is to SLOWLY lift straight up on the collar, until the dog ceases the behavior and settles.
Dominant dog collars are typically made out of nylon cord and have a clip at one end, an o-ring at the other and a floating o-ring that travels between the two. It is very easy to put a dominant dog collar on your dog, simply place the collar around the dog’s neck (preferably high on the neck) and snap one end on to the floating o-ring. Attach your leash to the fixed o-ring and you are good to go. Since a dominant collar is designed to sit high on the neck, it is important to get the correct size.
To measure your dog for a dominant dog collar simply measure around your dog’s neck (high on the neck) just under the chin and just below the back of the head. If you don’t have a cloth tape measure, just use a piece of string, put it around the dog’s neck (make sure it’s not too tight) mark it and then measure the piece of string. Dominant dog collars only come in full sizes and are measured from end to end. So let’s say your dog’s neck measures 18.5 inches, simply round up to the next whole size which would be 19 inches. So the appropriate size would be at least 19 inches, 20 inches if you want a little slack. This brings us to another popular use for dominant dog collars, as a backup collar…
Dominant dog collars make excellent backup collars. A backup collar is a collar that you have on your dog when the main collar fails in one way or another. This is most common when using a prong or pinch collar for dog training. A prong collar, which we will cover more in another post, is a widely used and highly misunderstood dog training collar. But for the purpose of illustrating the usefulness of a dominant collar as a backup collar, I am just going to focus on the tendency of prong collars to come unhooked thus allowing the dog to go free.
Most prong collars are made from individual links that hook together. These links can easily separate from each other either from an improper fitting collar that is too loose, bent links or even just the dog shaking. However if you have your leash connected to the prong collar and a backup dominant dog collar, even if the prong collar comes off, you will still be connected to the backup collar. The important thing to remember when purchasing a dominant dog collar as a backup collar is to allow enough slack to not interfere with the function of the main collar. If we use the example above and the dogs neck is 18.5 inches you would still round up to the next whole size (19 inches) and then add approximately 2 or 3 inches for slack (depending on how much travel your main collar has).
The next dog collars on the list are Herm Sprenger chain collars, commonly referred to as choke chains. These collars are a slip collar and we carry two different types; the traditional chain that slips over the dog’s head and the toggle chain that can be put on around the dog’s neck (like a buckle collar).
Choke Chains are not considered a general purpose collar and are usually associated with correction or aversive training techniques. If you are going to use this type, it is important to know how to properly size, fit, and use it… And never leave a choke chain on your dog as a regular collar.
Let’s start with the construction of the collar. Herm Sprenger chain collars are made of durable, high quality, chrome plated steel for beauty and long life. All rings and swivels are stamped with HS-Germany, Germany, or HS to ensure you have the real thing.
Next, a properly fitted choke chain is very important in training. It should be the size of the dogs’ upper neck plus approximately 2 inches. Sounds simple right? Well… not always. Here are some common pitfalls:
- Many dogs have a head that is larger than their neck (Mastiff type breeds for example). If you only consider the neck size and don’t check to see if it will also fit over your dog’s head, you may be unable to slip the collar over your dogs’ head. That is where the toggle chain comes in handy… Instead of having to slip the collar over the head, you just put it around the dog’s neck and slip the toggle through the end ring.
- It is also important to know how to properly put a chain collar on your dog. Hold one ring horizontally (like a basketball hoop) and then drop the chain through that ring. Then, facing your dog, hold the collar so it forms the letter P and slip it over the head. It should not sit below the middle of the neck and it should have a little slack (approximately 2 inches).
- What can also be confusing are the collar measurements themselves. First, Herm Sprenger chain collars are measured from end to end (including the rings). Next, and here is the rub, those measurements are not exact. What does that mean? It means Herm Sprenger chain collars are a fixed length based on the size of the links and rings. So when they list a size, they round up, or down, to the next whole measurement. For example, a 20 inch chain collar, actually measures 19.75 inches. However, since these collars are not designed to fit based on an exact size and require slack to function properly, that .75 difference has virtually no impact, it is just something to be aware of.
Now if you are trying to measure a collar that you already have to either purchase another one, or get a different size, you will now know which collar to purchase based on the information above. To recap, lay the collar out straight, measure from end to end (including the rings) and then round up or down to the nearest whole size. For example, if your collar measures 21.5″, take a look at the sizes available for your particular collar (20″, 22″, 24″) and choose the closest whole size, which in this case would be 22″.
I hope this helps you choose not only the proper type of collar but also the proper size of collar. Again, if you decide to use a chain collar, remember chain collars are not considered a general purpose dog collar. They are a training collar and you should never leave a chain collar on a dog unsupervised or when you are not actively working with it.