When you are getting ready to bring home a new puppy, one of the most exciting things to do is shop! Buying all the new toys, beds, and treats for your new best friend is something special. When it comes to buying a collar, however, you must ensure that you are getting the correct size. There are many factors to consider when deciding on the perfect collar for your puppy.
The rest of this article will detail how a properly sized collar should fit, how to decide on the correct size for your puppy, and some other factors to help you determine which collar or harness is best.
Table of Contents
- How should a collar fit my dog?
- How do I know what size collar to buy?
- What if I haven’t brought my puppy home yet?
- What kind of collar should I buy?
- What is a breakaway collar?
- Should I use a harness or head collar instead?
- Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
- How can I get my puppy used to wearing a collar?
- What if my puppy freaks out when I put the collar on?
- When can I start leash training?
How should a collar fit my dog?
A properly fitted collar should be snug around your dog’s neck, but not too tight. There is a rule called the “two finger rule” which is a good one to abide by. This means that you should be able to slide two fingers easily between your dog’s neck and the collar once the collar is buckled on.
Make sure that the collar is not squeezing your dog’s neck, but that it is also not able to easily slide off over his head or get caught on anything.
How do I know what size collar to buy?
If you have already brought your puppy home, this is easy. Take a soft measuring tape and measure your dog’s neck. The measurement of their neck is the size collar you need! There is no guesswork here. If you do not have a measuring tape, you can try using a soft string or shoelace, then measuring the string on a flat ruler.
What if I haven’t brought my puppy home yet?
If you haven’t brought your puppy home yet, you may still want to have a collar waiting for him when he gets there. In this case, if you are not able to measure your puppy’s neck, buying the correct collar requires a little bit more guesswork. If you know how much your puppy weighs, you can estimate using this sizing chart from Mimi Green:
- Dogs up to 10 pounds will likely need a collar with a length of 12” or less
- Dogs between 11-25 pounds will likely need a collar with a length of 11”-15”
- Dogs between 26-55 pounds will likely need a collar with a length of 13”-18”
- Dogs between 56-80 pounds will likely need a collar with a length of 16”-24”
If you do not know how much your puppy weighs, you can estimate how large you think their neck is and try buying an adjustable collar in roughly the correct size. This will allow for some leeway once you are ready to put the collar on your puppy.
Remember—your puppy is going to grow out of his first collar, so if you accidentally buy a little too big, the collar will not go to waste!
What kind of collar should I buy?
There are many types of collars out there, and choosing the best one can be difficult. For a puppy, however, you should look for a flat collar made of lightweight nylon. Leather and metal collars may look nice, but they can be too heavy for a small puppy to wear.
Adjustable collars provide some room for growth as your puppy gets bigger, and breakaway collars add an extra layer of safety.
What is a breakaway collar?
A breakaway collar is designed to break off of your dog’s neck if it gets caught on something. This can prevent your puppy from choking or injuring himself if he becomes trapped by the collar. If your puppy spends a lot of time unsupervised, especially outdoors, you should consider a breakaway collar.
Should I use a harness or head collar instead?
A traditional collar is always a safe bet for holding your puppy’s identifying tags. However, once you begin to train your puppy to walk on a leash, you may find that you need a different type of specialty collar, such as a body harness or head collar.
These devices serve different purposes, such as preventing your puppy from pulling too hard on the leash. They can also be used in combination with a traditional collar.
Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
Choke chains and prong collars should never be used on a puppy. These are specialized training devices which should only be used on an adult dog under the supervision of a veterinarian or certified dog trainer.
How can I get my puppy used to wearing a collar?
Training your puppy to wear his collar is a simple process, but it requires patience and consistency.
You should start slow by allowing your puppy to acclimate to the collar: let him smell the collar and reward him with a treat so he will associate it with good things. Then, put the collar on your puppy and reward him with treats. Leave it on for a few minutes, then remove it—but when the collar comes off, stop giving treats and rewards.
Repeat this process, slowly lengthening the time spent with the collar on, until your puppy is completely used to the collar.
What if my puppy freaks out when I put the collar on?
If your puppy begins to scratch, whine, yelp, or otherwise freak out when you put the collar on, do not immediately remove it. Try to distract him with treats, running around, or playing. As long as the collar is properly fitted, it is not hurting your puppy, so don’t let him pull one over on you!
Only remove the collar when your puppy stops reacting to it and trying to get out of it.
When can I start leash training?
You should allow your puppy at least a few days to get used to wearing a collar before you begin introducing a leash. When you do so, you can use the same method you used when introducing your puppy to his collar.
Start slow, allowing your puppy to see that the leash is a good thing. Then, work your way up to attaching the leash to the collar and beginning to train your puppy to walk beside you.