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Training a dog can be one of the most fulfilling — and sometimes frustrating — experiences for a pet owner, and the best training dog collars can be important teaching tools. A basic flat collar may be all you need while training your dog, especially if they don’t pull heavily. But if you need more control over your dog as you’re teaching them basic skills, your trainer might recommend using a martingale collar, front-attaching harness, or head collar on walks. Always remember that a tool is no substitute for training, but it might help make walks safer and more pleasant until your dog fully masters leash walking.
As you shop for a collar, look for products that fit your dog’s current skills and needs. A simple flat collar is the gold standard, and it should be what you and your dog work toward with your training. Ideally, if your dog is calm and focused, a flat collar will be all you need as you train. But many dogs struggle to learn not to pull or jump around when on a leash, and if that’s the case with your pup, your trainer might recommend a collar or harness that redirects your dog’s movement and keeps your dog (and others) safe in public until your pup picks up those vital leash-walking skills. And if your dog has a narrow head, you might opt for an adjustable martingale collar, which they won’t be able to slip out of as easily as you train.
Aversive collars like prong and bark collars also exist, but aversive collars are controversial at best and could even have long-term negative effects, which is why you won’t find any of these collars on this list. What you will find is a simple flat collar and three other tools that might be helpful as you train your dog.
A flat collar (also called a buckle collar) like this dog collar is an essential tool in dog training and it may be all you’ll need if your dog is calm and focused. When working with more energetic or distracted dogs, a basic flat collar can come in handy for teaching basic indoor leash-walking skills before progressing outdoors.
You may find that you want a couple of different collars or harnesses for your dog when working on basic training. If that’s the case, it may be worth having a flat collar that’s easy to snap on and off, if even to solely hold your dog’s ID tags. It’s always vital to have identification on your dog when you’re training and there’s any possibility they’ll get loose — and this collar is perfect for that job.
This durable nylon collar is easy to snap on and off and comes in a bunch of colors and sizes, including ones you can customize with your phone number. Blueberry Pet also makes a reflective flat collar to help keep dogs visible in in low-light conditions.
Positive Amazon review: “We live near the ocean and my dog, Joey LOVES to run out into the waves. Salt water is notoriously hard on a lot of materials, but this collar seems to be strong enough to stand up to that, Joey’s rolling in the sand, and his many walks on the leash. […] Most of the parts (clasp, buckles, etc.) are a sturdy but flexible plastic. The only metal is the loop for the leash and/or license/ID/ rabies tags.”
- Available sizes: X-Small to Large
If you have a dog with a narrow head (like a greyhound), or you’re looking for more security and control than a flat collar offers, your trainer might recommend a collar like the PetSafe Martingale Dog Collar. Martingale collars look a lot like flat collars except that they’re designed with an extra loop that allows them to tighten and loosen with your dog’s movements. This tightening prevents dogs from backing out of their collars and getting loose, which can be dangerous when training outdoors. Always make sure to properly fit the martingale collar so that it doesn’t hurt your dog even when fully tightened.
Plus, the PetSafe Martingale Dog Collar is available in six eye-catching colors.
Positive Amazon review: “Needed a martingale collar to work with a rough collie’s thick neck fur and slim face. This collar doesn’t catch on their fur, and they can’t back out of it. Great for training classes!”
- Available sizes: Petite to Large
If you have a determined leash-puller at home and tension from a regular collar does nothing to stop them, your trainer may suggest a front-attaching harness to make your walks more pleasant while you continue to train. This 2 Hounds Design Freedom no-pull dog harness redirects your dog’s center towards you when they pull, thus preventing them from charging ahead (and potentially causing serious damage to their necks).
It features two loops to hook your leash to: one in the front and one in the back. You can use whichever one feels best for you and your pup, or you can try using a double-ended leash that simultaneously connects to both loops for additional control. (You can also purchase both the harness and leash together for just a few more bucks.) This harness seems great because it’s simple and streamlined and has a soft velvet lining on the strap that sits behind the legs to prevent chafing, but if your dog needs a harness with thicker straps, try this padded one instead.
This 2 Hounds Design harness is available in six sizes and 19 colors. If your dog’s a big chewer, you may appreciate that the manufacturer will replace up to two chewed straps for the cost of shipping.
Positive Amazon review: “I love these harnesses. I own three and they work better than any other ‘no pull’ harnesses on the market. The key is the strap between the front legs combined with the thick sturdy fabric. The strap between the legs doesn’t allow the dog to ignore the front clip, like they can with some harnesses […] it’s worth the price.”
- Available sizes: XS – XXL
The PetSafe Gentle Leader head collar functions similarly to a halter you’d put on a horse. Its design gives you control over your dog’s head and, therefore, the rest of their body. Trainers sometimes recommend this kind of collar for reactive dogs who pull or lunge, or for owners of very large dogs. Before using a head halter, consult an expert who can help determine if it might be a helpful tool for your dog, teach you how to properly and safely introduce and use it, and adjust the fit so that your dog won’t slip out of it or accidentally get hurt wearing it. As with any training tool, always continuously build up your dog’s training outside of using the tool — and always be sure to be very gentle! The Gentle Leader comes in five sizes and eight colors.
Positive Amazon review: “I use GL and recommend them to my dog training clients. They will not teach your dog anything, but they make a great management tool while you work on the issues with training. GL works great for managing: reactive dogs, dogs who pull, dogs who eat non-food items on walks, over-excited dogs.”
- Available sizes: Petite to X-Large
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