Why Does My Dog Always Scratch His Collar? (Solved & Explained!)

Dogs will scratch their collars if they are uncomfortable. In other words, there is something about the collar (or the dog’s skin and fun under the collar) that feels irritating, painful, unpleasant, or simply strange to the dog.

This article looks at why dogs continually scratch and worry at their collars and what you can do to relieve your dog’s discomfort.

Can a collar make a dog itch?

Dog collars can cause skin irritations that will itch constantly if they are not attended to and treated. If you dog is scratching at his or her collar, check the skin underneath for lumps, welts, or some kind of inflammation.

Skin irritations need to be treated and the collar removed and checked for the following issues:

  • Wear and tear to the edges of the collar – this can cause fibres to rub and irritate your dog’s neck
  • Breaks, tears, and splits
  • Broken or crooked buckles
  • The collar is too tight
  • The collar is too loose – a loose collar can catch on objects and scrape or injure your dog’s neck
  • The collar is soiled
  • The collar has not been removed for a long time causing fur to build up and matt underneath the collar
  • Fleas can accumulate under the collar

Can a collar cause a dog pain?

Any of the above issues, if left, will eventually cause your dog pain. Even a slight rubbing from a frayed collar will become painful over time.

Dog collars should be constantly checked, mended, cleaned, and replaced. Collars that do not fit your dog properly must be altered immediately because they can cause serious injuries.

What should I do if my dog won’t stop scratching at his collar?

If you notice your dog constantly worrying at his collar, it’s time to check the collar and examine your dog’s neck directly underneath it.

If the collar seems to be in good condition, but any of the following issues are present, it may be time to try a new type of collar:

  • Lumpy, matted, fur
  • Fleas or tick bites
  • Inflamed skin or dermatitis
  • Patches of fur loss

If your dog’s neck is healthy and symptom free, your dog may be experiencing some “collar anxiety”, which means that they simply don’t like this particular collar (or maybe any collars in general).

Can dogs be allergic to their collars?

Unfortunately, collar allergies are quite common, and are usually associated with metal collars. Metal dog collars can be nickel-plated, brass, chrome-plated, and silver.

Nearly all collars will at least have metal buckles and clips, and the metal allergy occurs through constant skin contact with the metal on the collar. Symptoms can occur gradually, which is why they are difficult to diagnose:

  • Skin lesions
  • Flaky skin
  • Fur thinning or loss
  • Blisters or pustules
  • Changes in skin pigmentation
  • Surface skin infections

If you suspect your dog has some kind of allergy to a metal collar, remove it and replace with a nylon or leather collar. Consult a vet to have the condition diagnosed and treated.

Why do puppies bite and scratch at their collars?

It is very normal for puppies to agitate at their collars, especially when they are undergoing “collar training” and still getting used to the experience.

Puppies will scratch and bite at collars simply because they’re not used to them. However, they will also show discomfort (or distress) if the collar is too tight or too loose.

Always make sure your puppy’s collar is fitted correctly. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar and her neck. Any looser than this, and they’ll pull the collar off. Any tighter, and they won’t be able to breath, bark, or eat comfortably.

A badly fitting collar can injure a puppy (or any dog), so it’s important that the collar is fitted correctly and kept in good condition.

Puppies are best introduced to their collar in stages: perhaps just five minutes at a time at regular times of the day.

A treat given each time the collar is fitted is a good motivation, and if you do something pleasant (a walk or a game) each time the collar is on, the pup should begin to associate these activities with the collar.

What should I do to get my dog to accept his collar?

There are a number of ways you can help your dog adjust to wearing a collar, ranging from offering regular treats to finding a collar which doesn’t agitate them.

It’s important that your dog accept a collar each time they accompany you into public places. A dog collar displays identification, without which they have a slim chance of being reunited with you if they become lost.

Make sure your dog’s collar fits comfortably, is not worn or frayed or too heavy, and does not have any attached jangly hanging features.

Try offering an edible treat and lots of praise each time you manage to fasten the collar. Insist that the collar remain on for short periods of time to begin with. Gradually lengthen the periods of time.

Remember that some dogs may have experienced trauma earlier in their lives, which they now associate with a collar.

Finally, each time the collar is on, play a game or go for a walk. Hopefully your dog will begin to associate her collar with a fun outing.

Should a dog wear a collar all the time?

All dogs need to wear a dog collar (with identification) if they are in any public place, but when they are secure in your own home, collar free time is a matter of owner discretion.

Some dogs are happy wearing a collar all day and all night and really only have them off during bath time or when the collar needs some attention.

Other dogs welcome a break form their collar, especially overnight. Providing your dog cannot escape from your home or yard, most dog owners agree that collars can come off at certain times of the day or evening.