Dogs should wear collars all day if they are anywhere in public places or they have the potential to access public places (whether intentional or not) during this time. If your dog is at home, always consider the consequences of your dog leaving the premises without your knowledge – before you remove their collar.
This article takes a look at the issue of dog collars: where and when they are necessary and how you can persuade your dog that sometimes he just has to wear one.
Table of Contents
Where Should A Dog Always Wear A Collar?
Your dog’s collar contains his or her identification, and if they are out in public and somethings happens to you or your dog, this ID could save their life.
There are certain places we love to take dogs and many places where we can take dogs. These places can be vast (such as parks and beaches), or compact and crowded (such as markets and fairs), or long term (caravan or camping parks).
It’s natural to want to take dogs with us wherever we can, but it’s important that your dog can be retrieved and identified if anything goes wrong.
The American Humane Association estimates that around 10 million dogs (and cats) become lost to their owners in the US each year, and only around 15% of those animals without ID make it back to their owners.
Therefore, if you are out anywhere in public, your dog needs a collar and lead or a harness (with attached ID) and lead.
What If My Dog Hates Wearing A Collar?
It’s normal for dogs to find collars irritating at first, but you can help them adjust gradually to wearing one. Pet lovers recommend the following strategies:
- Make sure the collar is the correct fit. Collars that are too loose are a choking hazard, and tight collars can hurt your dog. You should be able to slip two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck
- Check under the collar regularly for matted fur, irritated skin, and bent or crooked buckles
- Keep the collar on for short periods of time at first, and gradually lengthen them
- Give a treat each time you fit the collar
- Never put on your dog’s collar just before doing something he does not like (such as being crated, for example) because he will associate the collar with the event.
- Always do something your dog loves (a ball game) immediately after putting on the collar.
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When Should I Introduce My Puppy To A Collar?
Once your puppy is vaccinated, she’s ready for the outside world, and this is when she needs a collar and ID. Therefore, you’ve got until she’s around 12 weeks to introduce her to her very own collar. Here’s what’s important:
- Purchase a collar that fits properly (not one she will grow into)
- Choose a wide lightweight collar (that won’t dig into her neck) and a thin lightweight lead
- Get a collar with simple easy to use clips
- Offer the collar with a treat
- Leave the collar on for around 5 minutes only at first, and repeat the process as a game as many times as your puppy likes
- Gradually lengthen her collar time
- Always wait until she is calm before removing the collar
When Is It Ok To Take A Dog’s Collar Off?
Experts advise that there are certain times of the day when family is home and your dog can enjoy some collar free time:
- Bath time – when it’s best to remove the collar anyway
- Bedtime – some dogs prefer to sleep without a collar
- Playtime – sometimes collar tags and buckles can cause injuries
- If your dog is injured or unwell
Why Do Dogs Need To Wear Collars Anyway?
A dog’s collar is the only way to identify a dog quickly and begin the process of reuniting them with their owners. A dog without a collar is immediately referred to as “stray”.
Unfortunate, when we are out and we see a dog without a collar we tend to assume the following things:
- The dog is a stray (otherwise it would be wearing a collar)
- The dog probably isn’t microchipped either
- The dog is likely not trained (and possibly not safe)
- The dog may not be vaccinated or healthy
- The dog shouldn’t be there
- There is nothing we can do for it (except report it)
It is possible that none of these things are true, but we are also not likely to try and find out, especially if we are with our own dog or with children.
It is also possible that a dog without a collar has been microchipped, but microchips are not visible, and they need microchip scanners to read them – nobody carries these around!
The most common response is to avoid approaching the dog and to instead photograph and post the dog on social media for identification and/ or alert local animal control.
What If I Find A Dog Without A Collar?
It’s always best to do the right thing when we come across a dog without a collar; one day it could be our dog that has escaped without a collar, and we have no clue as to their whereabouts. Experts offer the following advice:
- Never put yourself in danger to catch a stray dog
- Take photos if possible, or memorize a description of some kind, and take note of the location where the dog was found
- If the dog is approachable and cooperative, make an emergency lead and take the dog to the local animal shelter. Without ID, the only hope for the dog is that the owners visit to find it.
- If the dog is approachable but injured, you’ll have to consider taking it to a vet and accepting the associated costs. A vet will also check for a microchip.
- If the dog is not approachable or cooperative, leave it alone and alert animal control immediately.
- Consider downloading a “Found Pet” flyer and distributing around the neighbourhood or online.