Martingale Dog Collars, an Alternative to Choke Collars

Note: This post is sponsored by dogIDs.

Some dogs are … shall we say … more difficult to walk than others?

Everything might be going fine while walking your chocolate Labradoodle, Sweet Pea, until you pass another dog and suddenly Sweet Pea is on her hind legs lunging, “strangling” herself and squealing like a crazed Chewbacca!


Probably what Sweet Pea really needs most is consistent training and socialization over time, but dog owners also need the right tools to help control their dogs in these situations.

One tool I recommend is a martingale dog collar

What is a martingale dog collar?

A martingale collar is a training collar that will tighten slightly under tension but not enough where it could choke the dog. It’s also called a limited slip collar. If the dog pulls or if you prefer to lightly tug on the leash, the collar will tighten a bit. When the tension eases, the collar will loosen again.

Martingale dog collars with personalized buckle

As you can see below, a martingale collar has two loopsone to go around the dog’s neck and the other is used to tighten the collar under tension. You would adjust the collar to properly fit your own dog. You can get a martingale collar made with nylon, leather or part nylon/part chain.

Here’s a closer look at the personalized nylon collar from dogIDs:

Use code THATMUTT to save 10% at checkout

Martingale dog collars from dogIDs

Reasons to consider a martingale collar for your dog

1. A martingale collar allows you to give your dog gentle corrections.

I like to gently tug on my dog’s collar at times to get his attention, and a martingale collar allows me to do that. It’s not really a “correction” but more of a way to re-direct his attention and then reward him.

[quote_right]A martingale collar allows you to give your dog gentle corrections.[/quote_right]Some dog owners are not comfortable with choke chain collars or prong/pinch collars, so a martingale collar is a nice alternative because it only tightens so far. Some dog owners are embarrassed to put a chain collar on their dogs because of what someone else might think. Also, some dog training classes will no longer allow choke collars.

On the other hand, martingale collars are not controversial. They’re used successfully by many different dog trainers and dog owners. They’re a good “middle ground” collar.

2. Safety.

Since a martingale collar will gently tighten under tension, it’s difficult for a dog to slip out of the collar or back out of the collar. For this reason, I prefer martingale collars for my foster dogs or any rescue dog I’m handling at adoption events. It’s far too common for dogs to slip from their regular collars and bolt. A martingale collar is an easy way to decrease that risk.

Personalized martingale dog collar from dogIDs

Specifically, martingale collars are a good safety collar for greyhounds or other breeds with narrow heads. These types of dogs can easily slip out of a regular collar.

The same goes with dogs that have wide heads and wide necks, like pitbull-type dogs (see above). Some of these dogs can also easily slip out of buckle collars so martingales are a safer option.

3. A martingale collar is a good training collar for a puppy.

When I start taking our puppy Remy for walks and to training classes, I’m thinking a martingale collar might be best for him. A martingale collar will allow me to gently re-direct Remy’s attention and prevent him from slipping out. It’s also much gentler than a choke or prong collar. If you read my blog you know I’m obviously not against these tools but they’re not always necessary either.

4. Works as an everyday collar + training collar.

When you use a choke or prong collar for training, it’s best to use it only for training for safety reasons. This is because the chain collar could accidentally get caught on something and injure your dog (or worse).  A martingale collar, on the other hand, can be worn all the timefor training and for lounging around the house.

Martingale collar available at dogIDs

5. Good alternative to the Gentle Leader.

If a dog owner chooses not to use a choke collar for training, another popular training tool is the Gentle Leader (or Halti) that fits around the dog’s muzzle.

While Gentle Leaders are handy for extreme pullers, they are a bit much for some dogs and not really necessary. I find that a martingale collar is a good option for those uninterested in the “extremes” of choke/prong collars or head halters like Gentle Leaders.

So I could go on and on listing the benefits of martingale collars, but I think you get the idea.

Ordering information – Martingale dog collars from dogIDs

The nylon martingale collars from dogIDs are available online or $29. They come with a free engraved buckle and are available in 15 different colors.

Martingale collar

Use coupon code THATMUTT for 10% off at checkout

The code is valid for all dogIDs products.

Do you prefer to use a martingale collar? Or do you prefer a different tool?

Let me know what type of collar works the best for your dog in the comments.

Related posts:

Best waterproof dog collars

Prong collar vs. Gentle Leader

Does an anti-pull harnesses work?

16 thoughts on “Martingale Dog Collars, an Alternative to Choke Collars”

  1. We were introduced to the martingale by our trainer. In fact, she requires that all dogs in her classes wear a martingale. I find it’s been a good collar for those corrections as needed, and I also like the assurance that it’s unlikely Bax is going to slip out of it (not that we’ve had that problem). We have a fabric one like the ones you show, which I prefer over the chain version. Just a little softer in my opinion. Others we hike with have chain versions, but their biggest complaint is the chains get dirty and seem to deposit tarnish (or something) on their dog’s fur.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      One thing about the chain martingale collars is it makes that little chain noise, which helps to get some dogs’ attention, especially if they’re used to a chain choke/slip collar.

  2. I have used a prong collar on Lambeau, but as you touched on above, there is a perception in the general public that a dog in a prong collar is “dangerous.” Nothing could be farther from the truth with my dog! In fact, his problem is that he is too friendly sometimes. And he is stronger than I am, so the prong has helped his training to be more polite and not try to drag me where he wants to go. He doesn’t need it all the time now, but I still find I have to go back to it now and again for some reinforcement. And it does take only a light pull on the collar to remind him of his manners. I am thinking that a martingale might be just what we need- enough to remind him, but not the stronger correction he doesn’t need anymore. And the plus of not having people shy away from him when they see the prong would be really nice (though not necessary. I really don’t care what they think. I know why I use the collar.)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yep, I hear ya with the prong collar. I used one for years with Ace, who is a big, strong klutz of a dog. I think you’re right the martingale is a nice transition from the prong to a regular collar as it’s a nice reminder for dogs that pull but have had some training.

  3. Sandy Weinstein

    i used to use a collar similar to this but now i use harnesses on my girls. they are small and i feel it is safer and better on smaller dogs. my middle child was excellent at escaping with the collar. i am not a fan of the prong collar. i think many people use it on “pit bulls” to make their dogs seem tough. i dont like chain collars either. you have to be careful as not to pull to hard so you wont hurt the neck or epsophagus.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      We all have to find what works best and it sounds like the harnesses are a good choice for your pups!

  4. Lambeau pulls so hard on his flat buckle, he starts to wheeze. I was afraid he would damage his neck. Tired a harness. He just pulls me over whether it’s a front clip or regular type. The Gentle Leader he hated so much, he would fight against it until his nose bled. And then, he was just terrified of it because it hurt. Tried working him into wearing it slowly (only on for a few minutes, no leash, and slowly working to more time) and I even made a fleece cover for the nose band. Nope- still fought it until he’d bleed. Yeah, he’s been a tough case! LOL I put him in the prong collar and he almost immediately stopped the hard pulling, and the collar stayed looser around his neck. Now, all it takes is a light tightening of the collar and he is right back with me. I think a martingale would be a good compromise for us.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yep, I know what you mean about the pulling on a flat collar. Not the case with Ace anymore but definitely the case with tons of dogs I’ve walked. Interesting you placed a piece of fabric over the Gentle Leader. I had a dog walking client who pulled so hard with her GL she would also bleed and her owner also put a piece of soft fabric over hers! It seemed to help in her case.

      You’ll have to let me know if you end up getting a martingale for Lambeau. I’m glad he’s doing so well. Such a good boy!

  5. I much prefer a martingale to a slip or choke. I find it gives a more generalized correction, so I don’t need to give much more than a reminder, and it nets me better control. My dog wears an adjustable nylon martingale in the ring at obedience trials because she can’t wear a prong.

      1. I don’t know the exact AKC rules off the top of my head, but they do outline what types of collars are allowed and which are prohibited. I don’t even bring the prong collar onto the premises. No tags, nothing dangling from the collar. Most people use a martingale of some kind. Of those people, most are using a chain martingale. A few use a slip collar, and I’ve seen some just use a flat collar without tags.

  6. My dog wears a martingale because he has a small head, and slips out of a regular collar pretty easily when on leash. This is why they’re also popular with greyhounds. I also know it will never tighten to the point of hurting him. Great idea to always use them with your foster dogs!

  7. melinda costello

    I am having a hard time finding a martial collar that works well, seems like it closes all the way just like a choke collar??

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      DogIDs, the company mentioned in the post has some good info on how to measure for a martingale. Let me see if I can find a link. I’m guessing the collar is slightly too small, but closing all the way is OK, it just won’t continue to tighten like a choke/slip collar can.

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