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how to use a choke collar

26 July 2011

We’ve been very successful training our Great Dane puppy Luna with a choke collar. (It’s also commonly known as a choke chain). It’s been an important part of developing the controlled behavior that’s an imperative when you’ve got an eight-month-old Great Dane puppy that weighs in the vicinity of 90 lb.

Here are some suggestions that will help make your choke collar training effective and safe:

Dogs should sleep naked

Selecting the right choke collar or chain

shopping for a choke collar, luna reviews the wide assortment for the color that will best compliment fawn

At night, Luna doesn’t wear a collar. Whenever she’s in Azkaban, she’s naked. In the morning, we snap on her quick-release fabric collar. We slip on the choke collar whenever we take her for a walk or to the dog park. It remains on her even if we take her into the off-leash area where she runs wild with her buddies.

Buy the correct length

Select the correct length. It should comfortably slip over your dog’s head without tearing her ears off. To measure your puppy, place the chain around the dog’s neck, pull it until it just closes on her fur and measure the remaining length. Luna’s collar has about 4” loose when I do this. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, take your dog with you to a store with a good selection of chains and ask someone knowledgeable for help selecting the correct length and size. We were with B2 at the Woofstock dog show, and took her suggestion to buy a 20” long chain.

Keep chains high up on neck

When you’re out walking your puppy on a leash, keep the choke collar high on her neck. It will naturally drop and rest on the top of her shoulders where her neck is most muscular. Choke collars tightening around thick neck muscles don’t have nearly the same effect.

No choke collars off leash in wooded areas

Remove choke collars if your dog is going to be running in an off-leash area with lots of bushes and trees. (Our dog-park has a wide-open off-leash area where there are very few trees). Choke collars can be very dangerous because there is no limit to how tightly they can encircle your puppy’s throat. The metal ring to which you attach your leash can easily catch on branches, stumps….basically anything.

No choke collars around the home

Remove choke collars as soon as you enter your home. Probably wise to hang it wherever you hang your car keys. Someone I met at a dog park earlier this Spring told me a sad story about a Great Dane that was wearing a choke collar and went outside to lie on a wooden deck. The collar was too long and the ring dropped between the deck boards and spun, making it impossible for the dog to sit up.

There ensued anguished pandemonium for both the dog and his family. The frantic animal tried to get up. The family couldn’t reach down to free the ring. The dog was quickly strangling itself as the family panicked. Finally, the father grabbed a crowbar and wrenched up some boards to free their terrorized pet.

That’s stress you don’t want to experience. We experienced something similar this year when Luna caught her paw in her corral (“Great Dane Puppy Survives Leghold Trap”). It was extremely unpleasant for all.

In summary, here’s the preaching:

  • Buy the correct length
  • Use commonsense
  • Your dog only needs to wear it when you need to exercise control
  • Otherwise, stick with a fabric collar

Good luck with your training.

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