The looping technique is the best way to put on a choke collar. Thread one end through the other to form a “P.” Place the loop high on the dog’s neck, just below the ears. Make sure the straight part of the “P” is on top.
A choke collar or choke chain can be an effective training tool if used correctly. However, misuse can cause serious damage to the dog, so it’s important to know how to put it on and use it correctly.
Putting a Choke Collar On Your Dog
Choke collars are a controversial training tool nowadays, with many citing the possibility of injury to the dog. However, if appropriately used, choke collars should not cause any harm to the dog.
One of the most important ways to reduce the likelihood of harm is by putting the collar on correctly.
It’s important that you choose the right size choke collar, especially if your dog is a larger breed.
When the chain is snug on the neck, there should be about 3 to 5 inches of extra chain left.
Choke collars should be placed high on the dog’s neck, just under the ears.
This will keep the chain away from the more sensitive and easily damaged trachea lower down.
Although the chain should never tighten to the point of causing damage to begin with, if the dog runs or jumps suddenly and causes the chain to tighten, the risks are lower if the chain is high on the neck.
Pick a Side
To properly use a choke chain, you won’t be able to switch hands mid-walk like with other collars.
Before putting the collar on, you’ll have to decide whether you want the dog to walk on your right or left side.
Many right-handed people prefer that their dog walks on their left side, which many dogs are used to.
Left-handed people sometimes prefer to walk the dog on their right side, but many choose to walk the dog on the left if he’s used to it, rather than retraining a dog. This is especially true if you adopt a dog from a shelter who’s already had some leash training.
To loop the chain, thread one end through the other so the chain forms a ‘P.’
When you place the chain on the dog, the ‘P’ will be turned on its side.
If you walk your dog on your left side, face the dog and turn the ‘P’ so it falls forward onto its curved front, with the straight side facing up. Slip the loop over the dog’s head, positioning it high on the neck.
If you walk your dog on your right side, do the same thing but backwards. Face the dog and turn the ‘P’ so it’s backwards from your perspective. Then turn it so that the curved part is on the bottom and the straight part on top. Slip the loop over the dog’s head, positioning it high on the neck.
Note that regardless of which side you walk the dog on, the straight part of the ‘P,’ which will be the part you attach to the leash, should be on the top. This allows the chain to move freely.
If the chain is coming up from the bottom and folding over to reach the leash, it will not move as freely, increasing the chances of strangling.
Training with a Choke Collar
Below are a few tips to keep in mind when training with a choke collar.
Keep it Slack
The collar shouldn’t stay tight the entire time the dog is wearing it. Allow some slack when not making corrections.
Remember that choke collars aren’t supposed to be used as punishment. Their purpose is to surprise the dog and redirect his attention.
Overuse or harsh corrections will not train the dog any faster and may injure the dog or cause him to associate walks with punishment.
Many dog owners find that just a quick flick up on the chain with their fingers is enough to startle the dog and correct behavior, and pulling isn’t necessary.
If you pull the chain to correct, do so gently and release the choke immediately.
If you use a choke collar as a training tool, be sure that your training and corrections are consistent.
No matter what training method or tool you use, inconsistency will only confuse the dog and will not lead to better behavior.
Remember that choke collars are meant to be training tools, not as everyday collars in place of a regular collar.
If you’re not supervising the dog, remove the choke collar immediately to prevent accidental strangulation.
Alternatives to Choke Collars
If you’re still on the fence about whether to use a choke collar for training, or if you’re looking for a more permanent solution for walking your dog, you might consider one of these alternatives.
Martingale collars are also known as ‘humane choke collars.’ They look like a regular collar with a small section of the chain loop attached to the leash.
Martingale collars tighten a bit when pulled on, but not indefinitely like a traditional choke chain. This prevents accidental over-tightening and hurting the dog.
Martingale collars are perfect for dogs who like to slip out of their collars, especially those with smaller heads like whippets and greyhounds.
The collar tightens just enough to prevent this, but releases once the pulling stops to function like a regular collar.
Dog harnesses give you more control over a dog than collars do because they wrap around the dog’s shoulders instead of just the neck. For this reason, they can be safer for the dog too, preventing neck injuries.
If your dog likes to slip out of collars and harnesses, there is something called a martingale harness, which functions similarly to the martingale collar mentioned above.
When the dog pulls forward or backward, the harness tightens to prevent escape and loosens when the dog stops.
There are also harnesses specially designed for dogs who pull too much. In no-pull harnesses, the leash clips onto the front of the dog near the sternum, rather than on the dog’s back.
If the dog walks anywhere but alongside you, the leash will move into an uncomfortable spot, guiding the dog back to where he needs to be.
Nose leads, also called gentle leaders or head halters, are collars with a loop that goes over your dog’s muzzle.
The loop helps control the dog’s direction and can offer gentle corrections if pulled, especially for dogs prone to biting.
However, just like choke chains, there is a possibility of misuse, which can cause injury to the dog. Because the lead can turn the dog’s head, sharp corrections, or a large movement on the dog’s part can cause neck injury.
Call a Professional
If you’re struggling with your dog on walks and are considering a choke collar as a last resort, it might be time to call in a professional for help.
Choke collars are meant to be temporary training tools, not to control an untrained dog during walks.
A good trainer will help teach the dog to walk alongside you instead of pulling and desensitize him to other animals and people that he may be in the habit of chasing.
Remember that the best way to keep your dog safe on walks is by making sure he knows what’s expected of him.
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