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24 Aug 2000

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How to Put a Training Collar on Properly (also known as a slip collar or choke chain)

The equipment used in training is very important. Equipment that is ill-fitting or inappropriate will only make the training process more difficult. You want to use equipment that applies as little force as is necessary to get the desired response from the dog.

The training collar, also known as a choke chain or a slip collar, is the most widely used type of collar used for training purposes, and is meant to be used for training purposes ONLY. There is a right and a wrong way of putting these collars on and should only be used during a training session by experienced hands.

They are designed to briefly tighten and apply pressure when the trainer is delivering a correction. Never leave a dog unattended with one of these collars on as they may cause injury or strangulation if the collar was to get caught on something. Never use a training collar as your dog's everyday collar, and never put your dog on a tie-out with a training collar.

The Size of the Dog
When choosing the correct training collar, choose one that is well suited to the size of the dog. If your dog is larger than a Toy breed, choose a larger-linked chain. Avoid collars made of the small-link or jeweler-link chains, which are used only for small breeds. Nylon slip collars are also available. They are easier on the coat and slide more smoothly than chain collars.

The Weight of the Chain
Keep in mind that the weight of the chain is just as critical as the material it's made out of. A heavy collar will quickly tire a small dog that is expected to carry the extra weight around for an hour or so. The size of the chain must be proportionate to the size of the dog.

Correct Placement
The correct placement of the collar on the neck is important since this will affect his response. The muscle becomes more dense closer to the shoulder area. The dog will feel little, if anything, if the collar sits very far down on the neck over these dense muscles. Therefore, proper placement of the collar is higher up on the neck, just below the ears.

Proper Length
When determining the correct length, the rule here is that when the chain is made into a noose, it should slide comfortable over the dog's head without slipping up on the dog's ears when his neck is bent toward the ground.

Measuring the Dog's Neck
When measuring for proper fit, take a tape measure and place it where the collar will go. Measure as close to the skin as possible, keeping the tape measure snug. If the dog has lots of hair around its neck, be certain to get the tape measure as close to the skin as possible. You want the collar to be the smallest size that comfortably fits over the dog's head. If you have a properly fitting collar, there should be enough room to get one finger under the collar of a small dog, and two fingers under the collar of a large dog.

Putting the Collar on Correctly
There is a definitely a correct way and an incorrect way of putting a slip collar on a dog's neck. With the dog on your left side, the collar will instantly tighten and then automatically release when you quickly jerk the leash and relax, if done correctly. When the leash is incorrectly placed around the neck, the collar will tighten but not release automatically when you give a correction.

There are two ways to place the collar on your dog correctly:

1. Sit your dog in front of you, face to face with you. Make the collar look like the letter 'P.' Slip it over the dog's head.

2. When your dog is on your left side, the part of the collar that you attach to your leash (the larger slip ring) comes over the top of your dog's head.

Because a slip collar is for training purposes only, it is assumed that your dog will be working on your left side, which is the standard for training. However, if you prefer to have your dog work on your right side, then you will need to do the complete opposite as described above.

Practice putting the collar on several times until you have it memorized.

Buckle Collars
In addition to the slip collar, every dog should have a buckle collar. Slip chains are used for training purposes only and should never be left on the dog when you are not with him. If you are in obedience classes, you should bring your dog to classes with a buckle collar and it should be on the dog again before they leave the class. Buckle collars are also the only collars that should be used on puppies under four months of age.

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