The 4 Best Collars For Training Your Dog

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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 tools. While harnesses are considered to be safer and more comfortable for your dog than collars for walking on leash, it’s a good idea to use both a harness and a collar during training. A basic flat collar that holds ID tags may be all you need while training your dog, especially if your dog is working in a contained space and not on a leash. If your dog pulls on leash but requires regular walks, your trainer might recommend using a front-attaching harness, head collar, or martingale collar in addition to, or as an alternative to, a flat collar. Always remember that a tool is no substitute for training, but it might help make walks safer and more pleasant until your dog fully grasps the concept of loose 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 of collars, and they are ideal for holding your contact information should they somehow get loose. If your dog is calm and focused, a flat collar might be all you need as you train. But many dogs struggle to learn not to pull or jump around when on-leash, and if that’s the case with your pup, your trainer might recommend a 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 to use as a backup to a harness (with a backup clip that connects the two), as it won’t slip off as easily as a flat collar.

Aversive collars like prong and bark collars also exist, but aversive collars are controversial at best, and studies have shown that they can have long-term negative effects. For this reason, you won't find any of these collars on the list below. What you will find is a simple flat collar and three other tools that might be helpful in keeping your pup safe as you train.


A Basic Flat Collar For Everyday Use

You may find that you want a couple of different collars or harnesses for your dog when working on basic training. With that in mind, it may be worth having a flat collar (also called a buckle collar) like this one 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 take 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


A Front-Attaching Harness For Dogs Who Pull

If you have a leash-puller at home, 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 is 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


A Martingale Collar That Prevents Dogs From Slipping Loose

If you have a skittish dog or one with a narrow head (like a greyhound) and you're looking for more security than a flat collar offers, the PetSafe Martingale Dog Collar could be a helpful backup when using a harness. 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 cause discomfort when fully tightened — and consider connecting this to a harness with a backup clip, rather than using it with a standalone leash.

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


A Head Collar to Help You Guide Your Dog

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 may recommend this kind of collar for reactive dogs or large dogs when walks are necessary. Before using a head halter, consult a positive-reinforcement trainer who can help determine if it might be a helpful tool to manage walks (while you train separately), 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 tool, you should always continuously build up your dog's training outside of using the tool — and always be sure to be very gentle and stop using the tool if it appears to be aversive to your dog. 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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