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Be Cautious with Collars: Learn to make an informed choice!

The collar plays a very important role in your pet’s life. It is important to choose the correct collar for your pet according to his size and use because a wrong collar will not solve the purpose and will make the pet feel very uncomfortable and can even injure him.

There are many styles of collars and harnesses available at pet stores. Choosing the right collar/ harness is one of the most important decisions you could make for your dog and would depend on your dog’s size and disposition, the training or medical condition, says Dr Natasha Couto. Be cautious Common Collars According to Dr Natasha, collars should be snug with enough room to fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and his collar. It should not be loose enough to slip over the pet’s head which could result in accidents. They should not be fit too tight either to restrict breathing or cause coughing. Collar can be a great tool since it allows to keep your dog safely by your side. Collars are good for easy going happy go lucky disciplined dogs without obedience problems. Amrut S Hiranya says, “Flat collar is considered to be the most common collar designed with a plastic clip or a buckle. Such design is convenient to slip on and off. However, despite the fact that this type of collar retains size, it can become hazard to the pooch since pooches always play rough in mouthy manner and it may eventually result in their mouths catching in the collars of other doggy playmates which will cause panic among them.” Buckle Collars: Poorvi Anthony mentions that buckle collars are very common and have a buckle to lock. These collars are made of nylon, cotton or leather and are round or flat in shape. Buckle Collars can be adjusted according to the neck size of the pet. Quick Release Collars: “These are collars with a plastic closure. They simply snap on and off the dog quickly. In case your pooch gets stuck somewhere, he can easily break loose. These collars are also adjustable and also do not tighten when fastened,” adds Poorvi.  Martingale Collar “Martingale Collars are Loop Collars which are generally half collars and half chain. They are also known as half Choke Chains. These types of collars are like Flat Collars but they tighten when the dog pulls. A Martingale Collar has two loops; the smaller is the ‘control loop’ that tightens the larger loop when pulled to prevent dogs from slipping out of the collar,” tells Poorvi. Harness Dr Natasha explains that Harnesses are those which go around the neck and around the shoulders and behind the front legs and especially recommended for dogs who have upper respiratory diseases or diseases of the trachea such as collapsed trachea and also recommended in case of brachiocephalic breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pekingese since they choke easily on collars and collapse. Harness can be a good choice for small dogs on whom collars don’t fit properly. “Harnesses are also very popular among pet parents as the force is on the body instead of the neck. They are generally made of nylon or leather. Harnesses are more popular as they keep a strong grip on the dog and there are no chances of choking the dog,” says Poorvi. She adds that there are various types of harnesses available, for example, the Standard Harness in which the harness slips in from the head Harmful Effects of Using a wrong collar! and it is locked around his body. The leash can be attached on  top of the harness. Step in harness which is very easy to make him wear. The strap comes in between the front two legs and it is locked on the back and leash can be attached on top. The built in harness has inbuilt leaCollar Caresh to keep strong hold on the dog while he pulls. Preeti Agrawal tells, “If your furry baby loves to pull it is a must to make him wear a harness. Harness helps you to take full control of their body while you walk with them. So, it is ideal for over-enthusiastic dogs who love tugging on their leash.” Gentle Leader Invented by RK Anderson, a veterinarian and behaviourist, Gentle Leader is a device that fits around a dog’s muzzle and neck. It enables the person walking his dog to ‘gently lead’ the pet, while avoiding incessant pulling and choking. “A Gentle Leader has two straps or loops. The nose strap is slid over the dog’s nose and accommodated over the base of the muzzle. The neck strap on the other hand goes around the dog’s neck. These straps are appropriately adjusted to create a snug fit of the neck strap high on the neck, at the base of the skull. The center ring (that is common to both straps) is supposed to be placed just above the dog’s Adam’s apple. It is important that the neck strap fits snuggly and doesn’t allow more than a finger’s gap between the strap and the dog’s neck. The dog’s leash attaches to the control ring,” says Dr Rohil Chopra.    The Perfect fit! According to Amrut S Hiranya, Gentle Leader is not a training device. It is a walking device.  He adds, “The dog is in control as long as he is being walked on the Gentle Leader and is likely to go back to his old ways when a regular collar or harness is used. One may end up with a ‘collar-smart’ dog who needs to be walked with a gentle leader each time. It is meant to be used for short period of time and is not advisable that it be left on the entire day. Many pet parents report that their dogs experience difficulty in chewing and barking when on the gentle lead.  Experience of dog behaviourists and trainers suggests that it’s not as effective in large breed dogs vis-a-vis the small and medium breeds.” Choke Chain According to Dr Natasha, “Some people insist on Choke Chain which is unethical and often misused. Properly fitted Choke Chains should sit up right behind a dog’s ears high on his neck. When pulled too hard the chain squeezes at neck momentarily constricting breathing which is obviously uncomfortable and cruel. Choke Chains should never be used on puppies or brachiocephalic breeds.” Poorvi adds “Chain Slip Collars or Choke Chains are chains with rings at both the ends. It forms a loop around the dog’s neck. It works in two ways – the live ring and the dead ring. When the leash is attached to the live ring and the dog pulls the chain, it becomes tighter and it loosens when tension is released. When the leash is attached to the dead ring, the collar does not tighten.” Amrut says that Choke Chain is traditionally used to give a sharp jerk which is strong enough to stop the dog from  what he is doing. Pet parents should keep in mind that yanking on neck a chain can result in health issues. Pinch Collar As per Amrut, Pinch Collars give less pressure on the neck of the dog when we compared it to the Choke Chain. Pinch Collar has greater surface area but pet parents should be equally careful because it has the same issues of Choke Chain. While choosing a collar, always ensure your dog’s health and happiness. It is advisable NOT to use any collar which harms your dog. Training should always be positive. A dog who’s healthy and happy is a partner for a life time.   (Inputs from Natasha Couto, Cuddle Pet Shop & Clinic, Mumbai; Poorvi Anthony, JUST DOGS, Ahmedabad; Dr Suranjan Sarkar, Complete Dog Care, Ranchi; Dr Rohil Chopra, a practicing vet, Bengaluru; Amrut S Hiranya, Dog Guru, Bengaluru; Preeti Agrawal, Petville, Pune; Chenthu Mohan, Jedidiah Kennels, Chennai; and Matthew C Ivey, HABER•DOG•DASHER, Chicago).