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Choosing The Right Collar and Leash For Your Dog

So you’ve adopted a new family dog – whether he’s fuzzy, playful and energetic, or sleeker, refined and relaxed, you’ll need a good collar and a reliable leash to aid you in walking him and taking him out in public.

But what kind should you choose? Does the material of the collar matter? How long should the leash be?

These are all valid, common questions new pet owners ponder when picking out gear for their fuzzy loved ones, and it doesn’t have to be difficult. Sure, all dogs are different – their height, weight, breed, coat texture and temperament will have some bearing on your decision – but the mission to finding the appropriate gear need not be daunting.

The best part about shopping for a leash and collar? The options are endless. An article on points out that the most common type of collar is the “standard flat collar,” which are made of nylon or leather. Unfortunately, “one issue with standard collars is that some dogs can slip out of them,” especially when their “necks are often larger than their heads.”

A fix for this? The Martingale collar. The AKC continues to explain that the Martingale collar “comprises a larger loop and a smaller loop. When the dog pulls, the larger loop tightens enough to prevent the dog from slipping out.” The Martingale collar is safe to use on all sizes and breeds, however, the AKC recommends to supervise your dog while he is wearing one.
Other types of collars include:

  • Harnesses – these are beneficial for smaller breeds of dogs and allow for a safer and more comfortable walking experience.1
  • Halter – head halters are designed to loop around the dog’s muzzle, assisting the owner in holding their pup’s attention. The AKC states that “this collar may take time for your dog to get used to it.
  • Choke chain – this type of collar is only beneficial for those who know how to appropriately use it. When used under experienced dog-trainer guidance, these collars can be helpful to certain breeds.2
  • Pinch (pronged) collar – similar to the choke chain, the pinch collar can be used for training, but should be used under the guidance of a reputable dog trainer. “Designed for only the biggest, most muscular and most stubborn of leash pullers, a pronged collar is a temporary training tool used to change a dog’s behavior.”3

The task of choosing a leash may seem just as daunting as a collar, however, there are far less types of leashes than collars. Pet owners have two types to choose from: retractable and standard. Retractable leashes allow for more control over how far away your dog can roam, but do not provide as much safety as a standard leash.

“Should another dog unexpectedly appear while you have your dog at a long lead, you won’t have enough time to retract your leash, and something devastating could occur,” says the Animal Behavioral College website.

Standard leashes can offer relative security for you and your dog, and “come in a variety of fabrics (including nylon and leather), widths and lengths.”2 Standard leashes are good for larger dogs that may exert more pulling force than a small dog, which may benefit from a retractable leash.