What is the best collar for dog training?

If dog owners are opinionated on one thing, it’s collars. Here’s your chance to voice your opinion on why you should or should not use a certain collar.

I’ll go first:

The two collars I recommend are the Halti and the pinch collar.

Every dog is different, and there is no collar best for all dogs. But for the average medium or large dog, the best training collar is the pinch collar. With a quick leash pop as a correction, the dog learns not to pull. Of course, it takes a lot of time, patience and practice to get to the point where the dog heels reliably, but the pinch collar is a good tool to use to get to that point, especially with powerful dogs.

dog-with-pinch-collarThe pinch (or prong) collar is similar to a typical training (or choke) collar, but it is more effective. With my mutt’s short, smooth coat, a regular training collar constantly slips to the thickest part of his neck where it is useless. The pinch collar remains high on his neck and rarely needs adjusting.

Some people will say pinch collars are inhumane. Personally, I think it’s inhumane to have my arm ripped off. Still, I know many people have issues with the pinch collar and will not use one under any circumstance. Other dogs pull so bad even with the pinch collar that they could hurt themselves. That is when I recommend a Halti.

Haltis are basically the same as Gentle Leaders. Both are head collars that minimize a dog’s pulling. Even for the worst cases when a dog pulls no matter what, the pulling is less noticeable when the dog wears a Halti.

The problem with Haltis is dogs will go right back to pulling once they are on a regular collar. For some people, that’s OK, they just depend on the Halti and use it all the time. I don’t want to depend on any kind of training collar, so I switch back and forth between the two kinds while trying to use a regular, flat collar as often as possible.

For what it’s worth, Ace prefers the pinch collar. Although he tolerates them, he hates Gentle Leaders and Haltis because having something around his muzzle makes him feel restricted (or shall I say under control!). I don’t think he even knows when he has his pinch collar on.

What collar do you think is best for dog training?

Email your dog-related question to me at Lindsay@thatmutt.com, and I’ll post it for others to answer. Click here to read all my weekly question posts.

14 thoughts on “What is the best collar for dog training?”

  1. oo oo oo! Biggie uses the Gentle Leader and while it was rough going in the beginning he is GREAT with it now. We didn’t use a prong collar though I know people who do with their kuvs, because Biggie’s pretty insensitive to pain when he wants to go off on something. So I was worried he’d hurt himself with a prong.

    He heels wonderfully with the Gentle Leader and doesn’t pull at all. On occasion he will lunge (at another aggressive dog, usually) but the GL pulls his head away and I can usually redirect his attention quickly.

    I think the problem with Haltis and Gentle Leaders is that they become a crutch so people stop working on a good loose leash heel. It’s so easy to control the dog with the head collar that owners get a little complacent and forget about praising good loose leash walking.

    Biggie no longer pulls, on either the flat collar or the GL. 99% of the time I can walk him with, literally, thumb and one finger holding his leash, with either GL or flat collar. BUT in the city I keep the GL on him to deal with the 1-2% of the times when circumstances beyond my control make him go off. (e.g. WTF charges at us, aggressive dog drags owner up to us, bike on crowded sidewalk comes up behind us).

    This is an excellent post, as usual!

  2. My mutt that passed two years ago never even had a leash and collar until she got to her elderly years. She would start to wander then but in her younger days was such a good girl and stayed by my side. She then wore a flat collar and was really good with it. My unruly big dude came with a choke collar and I replaced it with a harness. He doesn’t pull and stays by my side. When he does misbehave he simply stops and I tell him “let’s go” and he comes. So…I have been fortunate with dogs that stay by my side and never had to take into account any sort of training collars.

  3. Used properly, I think the pinch and the e-collar are the most humane and effective. What they do is leverage and correctional strength that you use so that you can actually use very light corrections to get high levels of obedience.

    One thing I always tell clients, though, is that if any training collar is used correctly, it should make itself obsolete.

  4. This is a hot button topic for alot of people. And people get almost nasty defending their choices and tisk-tisking other options. I found this out the hard way when I was looking for something to get the boys pulling under control.

    We ultimately settled on the gentle leader and have been very pleased with it.

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    Lora, I couldn’t agree more. People actually get mad at me if I don’t use their collar of choice. That’s why I try to be open minded and realize that what works for me and my mutt is not necessarily the best for all dogs.

  6. The perfect collar solution, or solution to any pet/owner issue for that matter, is a combination of what the owner feels comfortable with, while simultaneously being enough of a disciplining shock to the dog without causing permanent damage. Thus it’s clear that no single solution is the best for all pet/owner combinations.

  7. From my experience, people will only use equipment and training methods that they are comfortable with. That is why it is very important to have an open mind to LEARN about how certain products are used, and why they are used that way. But even more important, any piece of training equipment doesn’t train a dog to do anything, it is up to us to use these aids correctly.

  8. I am using a pinch collar that was suggested in puppy preschool classes with my 7 month old vizsla. However, today while out taking a slow walk at a dog expo I was informed that pinch collars are not allowed for walking purposes per the akc. I am still training my little guy with the pinch collar and find that is works best, choke chains don’t work for him. Is it ok that I use the pinch collar. I have tried them on my arm and know that they don’t cause pain but this woman was very angry and pretty much yelling at me because walking him was not in a “training room.”

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    It’s your dog; you can do what you want. I think you are making the right choice because you know what’s best for your dog. Pinch collars are nog allowed during certain obedience tests such as the Canine Good Citizens test, but for training purposes, they are a great tool.

  10. Well, in my opinion it was a training session for my little guy…teaching him to walk nicely with tons of other people and dogs around. and he did a great job with it, there was no pulling, tugging or jumping, he was very well behaved. thank you for the words of confidence, I feel much better now!

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    Yep, you’re right. And for now the pinch collar will encourage you to walk your dog more often, to bring him along to more places, etc. Because it’s more enjoyable when he’s well behaved!

  12. Well, I am going to try the pinch collar. We have adopted an 8 month old lab/border collie who is about 50 pounds. We’ve tried a standard collar, a harness and a halti. We all have sore shoulders and have been draggeed down our snowy sidewalks trying to walk him. I don’t want to give up on him and it seems like the posts here have some positive ideas about the pinch collars. Anything I should be cautious about? Aware of?


    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well one thing to be aware of is the pinch collar can damage the dog’s throat if he’s pulling and pulling and pulling! So, just be careful and aware of that. It’s best if you keep the collar high up on your dog’s neck where he is more sensitive. This will discourage him from pulling. So, find one that is not too loose. You can always take out a few of the links of it’s too loose, though.

      Pinch collars come with different sized links. I tend to like the pinch collars with smaller links. They seem to be more effective and give me better control than the collars with huge links.

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