Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Collar Safety for Dogs

Just the other day, I was visiting the pet store and admiring a handsome large dog at the checkout lane in front of me. He looked like a happy, friendly pup and I observed as his mom fumbled through her purse to find her card to pay the cashier. As this dog's owner was paying, Mr. Happy Dog slipped right through his collar without even trying.

I could tell he wasn't trying to get away. He just walked a few feet away, sniffed a bit, wagged his tail, for a few seconds until his mom noticed that he was loose. She slipped the collar over his head and went back to her transaction with the store cashier. A few seconds later, doggy slipped out of his collar again.


Fortunately, this dog was good and didn't try to make a run through the store or even worse - out the door and into the street. However, I have seen dogs slip through their collars and run as fast as possible in the other direction. Once, it was out of the vet clinic and towards an extremely busy highway.

Not only do loose collars pose a threat to dogs' safety, there are a couple of other things you may want to beware of. A collar seems simple and non-hazardous, but here are a few things you should keep in mind to keep your dog safe.

Loose Collars

After use, collars tend to get loose on their own. Plus, we don't want to put them too tightly around our dog's neck. But a loose collar is a hazard and an invitation for your dog to get away. Especially in a situation that they may be uncomfortable in, like going to the vet's office. 

As a rule of thumb, check to make sure your dog's collar fits properly each time you put it on them. You should be able to fit two fingers between your dog's neck and the collar. Check to make sure it can't slip over their head easily.


A Martingale style collar can be helpful for dogs who are collar escape artists. It tightens if the begin to pull on the leash, preventing their head from slipping through. 


I've shared the story before, but one of my co-workers came home from work one day to find her dog stuck to the carpet by an S-ring that was attached to one of her tags. This sort of thing definitely poses a choking risk for dogs. 

Check your dog's tags and make sure you aren't using any sort of hardware that could get stuck in carpet or furniture. Or, choose a collar that doesn't need any tags. You can find collars like this one available in many places now. And tags like this one that you can add to collars are nice too. 

This is my favorite dog collar - no dangling tags are necessary. 

Also, it's not necessary to put your dog's Rabies tag on their collar. It's just another means of identification if your dog gets lost. Someone can call the clinic number on the Rabies tag, and the clinic can help identify the owner. The only thing that matters is that you carry the Rabies certificate - a piece of paper. A Rabies tag is not proof of vaccination. This is because people can use other pets' tags on a pet that they don't belong to. (Yes, people really do this.) 

Choke Chains

This isn't a post about why you should or should not use choke chains, so I'm not getting into the details of that. If you do use a choke chain or prong collar on your dog, you should remove it when it's not in use. 

When working in the vet clinic, we always removed any choke chains or prong collars from dogs who were staying with us because they are a choking hazard if a dog is left alone while wearing them. Our concern was that the collar would get stuck onto the chain-link front of the kennel. Plus, prong collars can cause damage to the skin if left on for very prolonged periods of time. 


I remember one incident with a choke chain, which was rather odd and kind of a freak accident. A pair of Rottweilers were left in the backyard with their chains on. They had been playing together and the female's chain had become stuck behind the male's teeth. His owner came home to find him trying to free himself while dragging around his sister's limp body. She unfortunately was deceased upon arrival at our veterinary clinic. 

While this may have been possible with other types of collars as well, I still think choke chain collars would be the easiest type of collar for a dog to get his teeth stuck in. 

If you don't like collars, harnesses are a great alternative. They are easy on a dog's neck and back, comfortable, and make walking simple for both you and your dog. Harnesses should also probably be removed when they aren't being used.

If you know of any other collar safety tips for dogs, please add them in the comments! 


  1. we always have two collars when we take a walk, the main one and a thin collar for "just in case". after a broken loop we only had the leash in our hands :o( the accident with the choke chain sounds horrible, it's so sad ... and it shows that bad things can happen within a second :o(

    1. That's a good idea Easy. I sometimes have Shiner's harness + collar on. The dogs with the choke chain incident was kind of a crazy story and so sad. Sometimes, weird things happen that we would have never even thought of.

  2. We love the Martingale collar :) it was the only thing Luma couldn't get out of as a puppy. She slipped out of everything else with her crazy escape-artist abilities.

    1. I like those too. :) I know a lot of shelters will use them when walking dogs because they are harder to escape from.

  3. We are always dressed except at night, or if we are in a kennel. Our collars are tight enough we can't slip out easily, but if we should get away and get stuck somewhere we could wriggle out before we choke to death. If they are too loose, what is the point?

  4. That's very interesting to learn about dog collars ! Purrs

  5. The poor family with the Rottweilers, they must have just been sick with grief after such a bizarre accident. On a recent walk, Theo nearly slipped his collar, but I saw it just in time. He is the kind of dog who would take advantage of some unexpected freedom. I try to always check the collars now before taking them out on a walk.

    1. Yes, she was heartbroken and they were such sweet dogs. I had to readjust Shiner's collar yesterday too.

  6. Gentle leads are great too! I use them with the Boys if we're in large crowds so I can have better control of them. Harley really doesn't need it, but Jax is another story. Great breakdown.

    1. Oh that's a good idea. I haven't used a gentle leader before, but I see how they could be helpful.

  7. my dogs never have their collars on when in the house. and i use harnesses when i have a leash on them. i dont even turn them out with their collars on when they are in the pen...

  8. my dogs never have their collars on when in the house. and i use harnesses when i have a leash on them. i dont even turn them out with their collars on when they are in the pen...


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