Getting a new puppy can be a huge investment. There is a lot of information floating out there and when you begin to think about training (an EXCELLENT idea) it can be very confusing, especially for first time owners, as to which type of collar to use for puppy training. Let’s explore the topic a little.
Which training collar is the right choice for my puppy? It needs be able to clearly communicate which behaviors are unacceptable in this critical learning stage. Any constricting collar like a slip, martingale, chain or prong accomplishes this.
It is important to take full advantage of this stage of learning where a puppy is a sponge for knowledge. Rewarding good behavior is easy and very much recommended, but properly correcting bad behavior is a little trickier and requires us to use a “translation device” – a training collar.
Lets take a dive into the most common collar types on the market and the pros and cons of each.
Puppy Training Collars
All of these collars are considered “training collars” because they provide a method for correcting undesired puppy behavior in a natural way they can understand. They serve as a “translation device” between human and puppy.
Slip Collar/ Slip Lead
Also called a “British lead”, these are the most basic type of “constriction collar” capable of communicating that instinctual correction to your puppy.
It is simply a single line passed through a ring at one end, to make a tightening “slip” that goes around your dog’s neck. It has a leather or nylon tab in order to adjust how much slack is in the slip when no tension is being applied by your dog.
This is because you want the slip to not be tight except when issuing a correction and you need a little bit of slack to do that. The split second difference between “fully tight” and “loose” is what actually feels like the correction that your puppy and it’s litter mates got from their mother.
Slip leads can be a little bit difficult for the beginner to get a proper correction. They also need a fair amount of adjustment as they tend to slip down the neck. You may also find with time your puppy becomes desensitized to corrections with the slip.
|Slip Lead Pros||Slip Lead Cons|
|Inexpensive||Needs readjusting when training|
|Not as effective as other collars|
|Steep learning curve|
Also called “choke chains”, these collars have the same mechanism as the slip lead, only instead of nylon rope they are made of chain.
This provides for a much clearer correction than a slip but also means that it is constantly hanging low around the neck when loose, leading to tangles even more need for readjustment.
The snap and sound of the chain does often add some emphasis on making your correction clearer, but it can still take some training to get a proper correction if you are a beginner.
Another point to keep in mind is that if you have a medium or large breed of puppy, they will definitely grow out of it, requiring you to purchase the next size up possibly many times.
|Chain Collar Pros||Chain Collar Cons|
|Sound makes for better corrections||Needs readjustment often|
|Clearer corrections than slip||Will become too small with age|
Though every training collar on this list is “technically” a martingale type collar, a martingale collar usually refers to a collar that is half nylon flat collar and half with a length of chain – in order to allow that same constricting action as the other training collars.
They are capable of staying in place much better than a chain or slip and are much easier to use when just starting out. However, the correction they provide is much less effective comparatively given the flatter nature of the collar.
The martingale can also have the same problems as the flat collar of throat or muscle damage if your puppy is constantly pulling into it.
|Martingale Pros||Martingale Cons|
|Easy to learn how to use||Least effective corrections on this list|
|Stays in place pretty well||Possibly of damage like flat collar|
The prong collar is made up of interlocking links and was specifically designed to be the closest feeling to that natural scruffing correction of a dog mother.
That makes it very effective and easy to learn how to use. You can be both extremely light or more forceful with your corrections very easily. That does make it easy to “overcorrect” your puppy, but if you are mindful of the force you use, it’s nothing to worry over.
The links also make it very easy to adjust to find the perfect fit, so not much adjusting it during training at all.
They are the most expensive collar on this list, typically 25 or 30 dollar per collar, but you can always buy more links if your puppy grows out of it instead of a whole new collar.
|Prong Collar Pros||Prong Collar Cons|
|Stays in place very well||The most expensive on this list|
|Easy to use, very effective||Can possibly “overcorrect” your puppy|
|Can adjust size with age by adding links||Public opinion|
Common Non Training Options
This is probably what you are using at the moment or what you think of when someone says “collar. While there is nothing wrong with a flat collar for everyday use or holding tags, it is not ideal at all for training your puppy.
The reason for that is that unlike all of the collars we have already gone over, there is no mechanism for that natural “scruffing” action that communicates so well what is an undesired behavior.
In fact, a leash pop or pull – or letting your puppy constantly pull as hard as they can into one of these collars can cause both trachea and throat damage as well as pull muscles around the neck and sternum from the straining.
The best option is to train your puppy not to pull with a training collar.
I see a lot of puppies walking around on harnesses. I understand why – it makes owners uncomfortable to have their puppies pulling into a collar that is around their neck.
However, not only does a harness have the same problem as the flat collar of not being able to communicate a correction to your puppy, it is actively working AGAINST your training goals.
Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to work – including pulling carts and sleds. ALL dogs – not just specific breeds – have many ancestors who worked in this way.
When you put pressure across a dog’s chest and sternum like a yoke, they naturally want to pull. It feels great to them (most dogs LOVE to work) and they are being rewarded for pulling as hard as they can on you.
You can see the issue. Maybe you can control your puppy right now – they are still small. But as your dog grows older, they have already been imprinted with that “pulling = rewarding” at a young age.
Puppy Training With An E collar
Puppy training with an E collar is a perfectly valid and humane option, despite what your first impression might be or what others might tell you. Modern E collars with dozens of levels are in many cases more gentle than any other collar option.
If you unsure of where to start with E collar training, I would recommend that you first find a good course or book on the subject or find a dog trainer in your area familiar and skilled in the use of them.
There is a steeper learning curve in learning how to properly train using the e collar compared to other training collars, and you don’t want to make a mistake – especially with a young puppy.
Common Puppy Training Mistakes
- Your training sessions are too long – Puppies have a very short attention span and to keep the training engaging and fun you will have to keep your training sessions short at first (no more than 10 minutes) and gradually increase the length with time.
- Getting frustrated – Puppies can be pretty exasperating. They have a hard time concentrating and figuring out what you want from them. Potty training especially is hard for owners to keep their cool. If you find yourself getting angry, just take a break and cool off. Give your puppy a break as well in their crate.
- Expecting too much – Dog training in general doesn’t happen overnight and that goes doubly for puppies. Putting in the training time now will allow you to reap great rewards as your dog grows with those expectations of obedience, but don’t expect miracles.