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Exploring the World of Dog Training Collars: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Best Mate

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Exploring the World of Dog Training Collars.

GSD with a perfect width collar for a big dog.
GSD with a great Leather Collar. Width is perfect for this size dog

Exploring the world of dog training collars takes us on a journey of bonding and discovery with our new puppy or dog. The choices we make have a ripple effect across various facets of our pup's world. Dog training isn't just a task; it's like forging a superpower connection that tightens the bond between us and our best mate. Among the superhero tools in our training toolbox, we have the right training or normal use collar, ready to swoop in and save the day. With a smorgasbord of options out there, it's like choosing your own gym outfit – it has to fit right, look cool, and do the job. In this article, Peter will be diving into the doggy collar cosmos, chatting about their usefullness, and throwing a spotlight on why finding the perfect fit for your pup is like giving them the best high-five ever.

Please, bear in mind that anything you use for training, managing, or engaging with your dog requires a positive approach. These tools are like allies, and their effectiveness hinges on your readiness to understand and use them correctly. Just like any skill, their impact is only as strong as your knowledge and skillful application.

Sad puppy
Hey mum, my collar isn't comfortable. Please help me woof

Why collars that fit correctly, matter?

Fit matters as many people get this wrong from the first day they get their puppy or dog. In my years of working with families and dogs I can say that it is rare to see one fitted correctly at first. Most people have them on way too loosely and the wrong type of collar too. A double whammy. Selecting the right collar for your dog is just the beginning. Ensuring that the collar fits properly is equally important. A collar that fits well not only enhances comfort but also maximises the effectiveness of and joy for every walk, every event, everything you do with your dog. There is NO one size fits all.

What is the right FIT for my dog?

Just as a tie should be snug yet allow for movement, a collar should be appropriately snug without causing discomfort. A common guideline we often share with clients is that a collar should be fitted like a man's tie. This analogy means that you should be able to slide two fingers between the collar and your dog's neck. This snugness ensures that the collar won't slip off while still allowing your dog to breathe and move comfortably.

How do I find the right size and width of a flat collar?

perfect dog collar
25mm width collar. 44cm neck size

Amidst the array of dog collars available, flat collars emerge as a versatile and prevalent choice. These collars prove to be ideal companions for both day-to-day wear and training exercises spanning from basic to advanced levels. Crafted from materials like durable nylon, timeless leather, and cozy fabric, flat collars offer a spectrum of options to cater to individual preferences. While they may not be explicitly tailored for rigorous training sessions, flat collars hold a special place as a starting point for young puppies, allowing them to gradually acclimate to the sensation of wearing a collar around their neck.

At Bonnies Dog training, we prioritise a personalised approach with each client who seeks guidance on training collars or various collar styles. The journey to finding the ideal training collar sometimes involves, trial and error, as we work to make the experience comfortable and effective for the dog. Collaborating with a professional Bonnies trainer is crucial to receive tailored recommendations that align with your dog's temperament and training goals.

It's worth noting that harnesses are a common choice among dog owners, particularly for smaller breeds, but now widely used by mid to large breed dogs. While harnesses have their merits, they might not always be the most suitable option for training purposes. Consulting your trainer or expert about the best fit for your dog's needs is a prudent step in the right direction. Perhaps you may like to read a little more about harnesses as it may influence you in your personal choices.

During my interactions with clients, especially during puppy school sessions, the topic of collars often takes center stage. For smaller breed dogs, breeders sometimes start with thin cat collars, which can prove inadequate when coupled with a leash. They do this due to the size of the puppy and the lack of dog collars of a very small size. And believe me they can be very small. It's not uncommon for our trainers, to examine collars regularly, as their fit can change quite rapidly. What fit perfectly last week might not provide the same comfort today.

Ultimately, the journey of finding the right collar for your canine companion is one that requires thoughtful consideration and a willingness to adapt. Your dog's comfort and well-being are paramount, and by staying attuned to their needs and seeking professional guidance, you pave the way for a positive training experience and a harmonious relationship with your furry friend.

Dog Blog collar training
30mm Width Collar - 44cm Neck Size

I love genuine 'full hide' Leather Collars. They can last for the life of your dog. They are perfect for using with a leash as they do not distort like cloth will.

These can be quite expensive. They also come in the right width, suitable for your dog. For a small breed 1,5 cms to 2 cms. Medium to large breed 2.5 - 3.2 cms. For very big dogs, 3.8 - 5.0 cms may not be too big. Of course you have to measure their neck size too. This ensures the size you are choosing will actually fit.

To ensure the best fit, it's essential to consider the size and width of the flat collar. Collar sizes typically vary based on your dog's neck circumference. Measuring your dog's neck with a flexible tape measure allows you to choose the appropriate size that offers the right amount of snugness without causing discomfort. Moreover, the width of the collar matters too. Wider collars are more suitable for larger dogs, distributing any pressure from the leash across a broader area of the neck. Conversely, narrower collars are recommended for smaller breeds to prevent overwhelming pressure on their delicate necks. Yes, smaller dogs, smaller collars - however it does not mean very narrow width collars.

By opting for a flat leather collar that fits properly, you're not only promoting your dog's comfort but also ensuring that they can carry out their training exercises without any hindrance. Remember, finding the right balance between snugness and comfort is key to a successful training experience. Properly sized flat collars can serve as a foundational tool in introducing your dog to training and promoting a positive association with wearing collars.

What is a Martingale Collar?

Martingale Collars: Enhanced Control with Gentle Guidance

Martingale collars, commonly known as limited-slip collars, are specialised in that provide a harmonious mix of control and comfort for dogs during training sessions and strolls. Distinguished by a unique mechanism, these collars set themselves apart from traditional choices by adeptly addressing distinct requirements with precision and consideration. Additionally, there are options available in the form of "All Cloth models or Cloth and Chain Collars". We incorporate both varieties into our dog training practices, with a preference often leaning towards the chain models. These offer an added dimension of correction, utilising the sound of the chain to provide an auditory cue, fostering a well-rounded approach to training. Similar to the sound of a Check Chain. In the image is a Leather Martingale made by Wolf Pack Leather. May be worth checking out. This one in particular made for Greyhounds, Whippets, Italian Greyhounds and all long neck dogs.

What are the benefits of a Martingale collar?

Balanced Control and Gentle Guidance:

martingale dog trainer collar
Fitting a Martingale dog training collar

Martingale collars are ingeniously crafted to provide an additional layer of control without resorting to choking or causing discomfort to the dog. Unlike traditional check chain collars, which can be harsher on the neck, martingale collars operate on a gentler principle. They consist of two loops, one being the main collar loop that encircles the dog's neck, and the other functioning as a secondary loop that tightens slightly when tension is applied to the leash. This snugness serves as a reminder to the dog, discouraging pulling without causing any harm.

What breeds are they suitable for?

One of the remarkable aspects of martingale collars is their tailored suitability for particular dog breeds. Dogs with narrower heads, such as Greyhounds and Whippets, often present unique challenges when it comes to collar fit and control. Traditional collars might slip off easily due to their streamlined heads, potentially compromising their safety. This is where martingale collars shine, as their design ensures a secure fit while minimising the risk of accidental slipping. I do want to be very clear that many breeds get real benefit from a Martingale Collar. I have used them on dogs which won't take to a Check Chain, or a Black Dog or a Halti.

An Ally for Training and Safety

Martingale collars not only excel in providing control during training exercises but also contribute significantly to the overall safety of your dog. They serve as a reliable option for situations where enhanced control is needed, whether you're teaching leash manners or navigating busy environments. The limited-slip mechanism delivers an effective yet gentle response, fostering positive behavior without causing discomfort or stress.

In essence, martingale collars epitomise a thoughtful approach to training tools, acknowledging the unique needs of certain breeds and the importance of balanced control. By embracing this collar option, dog owners can confidently guide their pets without resorting to harsh or at least perceived harsh, methods or compromising on their well-being. Whether you're walking a Greyhound down a bustling street or training a Whippet to heed your commands, or for any breed from small to medium size dogs. Often the martingale collar emerges as a dependable tool on your journey towards effective communication and harmonious interactions with your Best Mate.

What is a Check Chain?

A check chain is exactly that. A chain which is looped with 2 rings. One on each of the ends. See the image. Some people will say that they can be made out of different materials but this is simply not the case. Leeds with a loop on or looped materials are called by some as choke collars.

Are Check Chains effective for use as a training aid for my dog?

Dog Training collar
Check Chain dog training collar

Check chain collars, alternatively referred to as correction collars, may serve as training aids aimed at providing a corrective tug or nudge, when a dog exerts pressure on the leash. These collars function based on a pressure-release principle, accompanied by the auditory cue of the rubbing chain that can help redirect the dog's attention. When tension is applied, the collar momentarily tightens, prompting a response from the dog to decrease pulling, leading to a loosening of the collar. While these collars can prove effective in specific scenarios, it's paramount to approach their utilisation with careful consideration and insight. If uncertainties arise, opting for a collar and seeking professional assistance is a prudent course of action.

Please take note: It's essential that these collars match your dog's appropriate weight and size. In many cases, they might be excessively long, which can diminish the advantages the handler typically gains, rendering them less effective. Further, we do not use the words choke chain. Some businesses even market them as Choke Chains. When used correctly and fitted in the right way, sized properly and with the handler shown exactly how to use them they can be a great benefit. Val Bonney, my mother, has been using Check Chains on ALL of her GSD or German Shepherd Dogs for her entire life. Without any issue at all.

Precision in Corrective Training

Check chain collars are favored by some trainers for their ability to provide immediate feedback to the dog's actions. When used correctly, the collar tightens just enough to discourage pulling, signaling to the dog that they need to adjust their behavior. This responsiveness can be particularly useful during intensive training sessions where precision and timing are crucial.

I want to use a Check Chain - do I need professional advice?

Yes you do. Getting the right advice by dog trainers who KNOW what their talking about and not merely parroting off something they may have read, is essential. Some groups of people don't like them at all and will actively dissuade you from using them. It's important to recognise that check chain collars have the potential to be harsh when not employed properly. Applying excessive force or using them on delicate or smaller breeds can lead to discomfort, fear, or even physical harm. Incorrectly fitted collars or improper usage can escalate into a negative experience for both the dog and the owner. Due to these risks, it's recommended that individuals seek guidance from professional trainers before incorporating check chain collars into their training. With expert insight and proper techniques, these collars can be harnessed effectively while minimising any perceived or actual, potential negative consequences. When a check chain is used correctly there is little to no tension on the dog at all. Ever.

What issues can occur if I don't use a Check Chain correctly?

Are they cruel?

As stated often throughout this and other articles I always say the same thing. Anything we use on, and or for our dog can be a problem, or become a problem when NOT used correctly. There is no difference with this piece of equipment. They are not cruel per se. These types of control management tools have been around for hundreds of years if not thousands, in one form or another.

Some issues can occur when they are NOT used properly - such as:

  • Neck Strain and sprains

  • Spinal Injuries

  • Laryngeal Nerve damage and paralysis

  • Tracheal and Oesophageal damage

  • Injury to ocular blood vessels

  • Fearful dog

  • Anxious Dog

Are remote training collars worth it?

Yes they certainly can be. Remote training collars, often referred to as e-collars, represent a technological leap forward in the domain of dog training. These collars usher in a new level of engagement between dogs and handlers, facilitating the transmission of diverse sensory cues through a remote control. Amid the array of communication methods at their disposal, remote training collars employ vibrations, beeps, and mild static corrections as tools to amplify the effectiveness of training initiatives. It's important to note that these collars should not be mistaken for bark collars. While they can indeed serve that function, it requires you to have the remote control in hand. In contrast, bark collars generally operate in a more automated manner, being either activated or deactivated without remote control intervention.

Unlocking the Spectrum of Communication Modes

What sets remote training collars apart is their ability to bridge the gap between handler and dog, even at a distance. Each mode of communication serves a distinct purpose in conveying messages to the dog. Vibrations provide a tactile sensation that prompts dogs to respond and alter their behavior. Beeps act as auditory cues that signal specific actions or behavior changes. Mild static corrections, often likened to a mild static buzz, allow for a nuanced redirection of behavior.

Can I use a remote collar for Off Leash Training?

Remote training collars prove especially valuable for scenarios that demand off-leash training or precise recall. We suggest these for clients who are doing our Unleashed Course. The real-time control granted by the remote empowers handlers to communicate with their dogs even when they're exploring further afield. This heightened level of command is particularly beneficial in situations where distractions are abundant, ensuring that the dog's attention remains tethered to the handler's cues.

While remote training collars offer exciting possibilities, their responsible and humane usage is crucial. It's recommended to seek professional guidance to set appropriate levels and utilise the right techniques, ensuring that the training experience is safe and effective. In the world of dog training, remote training collars stand as a potent tool, expanding the ways in which we communicate and enhancing our capacity to guide our canine companions with precision and care.

Can I use a remote Collar as a Bark Collar too.

It's important to note that these collars should not be mistaken for standard bark collars. While they can indeed serve that function, it requires you to have the remote control in hand. In contrast, bark collars generally operate in a more automated manner, being either activated or deactivated without remote control intervention. There are definitely products which will now have both functions on the same collar. Of course they are generally more expensive but equally valuable. You certainly don't need one of these if you dog only barks occasionally.

What if I have more than one dog in the family?

Great. There has been a growth in the use of and quality of remote collars. For some of these you can get a single or multiple dog configuration.

Does the size of my dog matter when selecting an electronic collar?

Yes it does matter. People who know what there doing with these training tools should always ask you what breed do you have and what size - by weight, are they? Bonnies has NO association with suppliers however I have linked this business as clients have said they are very good. Check around before making your choice.

Are Head Halters good for my dog?

Halti for Dog training collars
Head Halti dog training collars

Yes they certainly can be. Head halters, although not conventional collars, offer an innovative approach to managing and guiding a dog's behavior. Prominent examples like the Gentle Leader(R) or Halti (R) or Black Dogs (R), present unique designs that empowers you with enhanced control over your dog's head and muzzle movements. This distinct design taps into the natural inclination of dogs to follow the direction of their heads - just like a horse, making head halters an effective tool for managing pulling behavior.

Shaping Behavior through Head Control

The essence of head halters lies in their capacity to influence a dog's behavior through gentle, well-directed guidance. By controlling the head's movement, handlers can redirect a dog's attention and steering, transforming pulling into a more controlled and focused walk. This makes head halters particularly valuable for dogs with a tendency to strain against the leash, preventing the unwanted behavior without causing discomfort. We always discuss these at training because, as I say, when used correctly it is like "Having power steering for your dog".

Are Halti style collars effective and comfortable?

One of the key strengths of head halters is their ability to achieve control without resorting to potentially harsher or perceived harsher methods. While providing an effective solution for dogs who constantly pull, head halters prioritise the comfort and well-being of the dog. The design typically incorporates padded straps that rest comfortably behind the dog's ears and over their muzzle, ensuring a secure fit that doesn't obstruct breathing or cause discomfort.

In summary, head halters offer an innovative way to manage dogs' behavior through controlled head movement. Their balanced approach to achieving control and guiding behavior, coupled with a focus on comfort, makes them a valuable asset for dog owners seeking to instill leash manners and enhance the walking experience.

What is the best way to introduce a halti?

Whenever we have something new for, or to put on our dog, it's paramount to initiate the process by familiarising your dog or puppy with the equipment first. The notion of simply "putting it on and going for a walk" is something we strongly discourage, as it's bound to induce anxiety in your Best Mate. So, be patient. Engage in a routine of putting the equipment on and taking it off two or three times a day, utilising your positive voice – infusing positive tone and pitch – coupled with a highly valued treat or reward. Allow several days for your dog to become accustomed to it, before even contemplating using the equipment, in practical training scenarios. Omitting this vital phase could potentially lead to an anxious dog, a circumstance we're aware you'd prefer to evade, as do we. When you embark on this process, ensure that the equipment is worn for only around 30 seconds initially, followed by a swift removal and a reward. Woof

Why are Collars are Essential for Puppies?

happy puppy and a high 5
Woo Hoo - the world is great! High 5!

Using a collar on a puppy isn't just about control; it's about introducing them to a routine and creating a positive association with training. Starting early helps your puppy grow accustomed to wearing a collar and prepares them for future training endeavors. However, it's crucial to use appropriate collars that don't cause discomfort or fear. You would NOT use Check Chains or Haltis as a permanent collar, which is left on the puppy all day and night, whilst not being used for training or walking purposes. You should ONLY use a correctly fitted Flat Collar. Even if you don't really want to use a collar because of what you may have heard, you should always have something on them at home.

Why should I get a Handmade Leather Collar?

Genuine handmade collars are crafted with care and attention to detail. Unlike climbing strap and cloth collars, which can distort and choke the dog, handmade collars are designed for comfort and durability. They're made from high-quality materials and often come with adjustable options to ensure a perfect fit. By choosing such collars, you prioritise your dog's well-being and ensure that training remains a positive experience. I suppose over the years I have seen hundreds and hundreds of styles and colours and materials and I am comfortable recommending Leather Collars. Not ALL collars in big box stores are full hide leather. Many say they are leather and it may only be a leather covering.

Are prong collars legal in Queensland?

Simply put - NO. The Queensland Government passed New laws restricting the use of Prong Collars mid 2023. There was huge debate about this, however pressure from certain groups with in the community won the day so they have been banned.

Navigating the Collar Maze: Tailoring Choices for Your Canine Companion

When it comes to training collars, the possibilities is extensive with each option catering to distinct needs and preferences. Your selection should be a well-informed one, taking into account factors such as your dog's breed, behavior, and the goals you're wanting to achieve through your training. Commencing training early with a puppy establishes a bedrock for fostering positive training experiences. Opting for meticulously handcrafted collars showcases your commitment to your dog's comfort and overall well-being. Always remember, the right collar, when employed correctly and conscientiously, can significantly transform your dog's training journey. Wishing you a fantastic day ahead, filled with joy from your very best mate. Be authentic, be accountable, and be informed. Feel free to explore our array of online books now accessible on our website. Warm regards, Peter Bonney, Puppy Master Trainer, and Senior Trainer.

2023 Winners Of Australia's Best Dog Obedience and Puppy School
Awarded #1 Dog Trainers in Brisbane and Australia 2023

What type of Training collar do you prefer?

  • Flat Cloth Collar

  • Leather collar

  • Back Dog

  • Halti

You can vote for more than one answer.


Aug 23, 2023

Thanks for the information. Leather it is.


Aug 09, 2023

A leather collar it is. Any suggestions?

Aug 09, 2023
Replying to

Try Anvil Leather Collars. Lots of others but these seem to be great.

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