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When you get a dog, the first thing you’ll probably buy for it is a collar. Collars are where the leash attaches to, so it’s important to find one that’s secure but also comfortable for your dog to wear. It’s also important to take into consideration the way your dog walks when choosing a collar. Here are some helpful tips for picking out the best collar for your pooch.


Size is perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a collar. A dog collar should fit comfortably, not too tightly and not so loose that it droops down toward the dog’s shoulders. The general rule of thumb is to be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and the collar—the collar shouldn’t be able to slip off the dog’s head without being unclipped or unbuckled. To find the best size, measure your dog’s neck, then add two or three inches to that measurement.


There are practically infinite styles, colors, widths, and materials used to make dog collars. What it looks like is up to you, but it should match the size of your dog—for instance, if you have a Chihuahua, your dog will probably be too weighed down by a leather or studded collar for it to be comfortable. Likewise, very large and heavy dogs may need something a bit heavier duty than a simple nylon collar. Width should also be considered – very thin collars can cut a dog’s skin if they pull too hard even once while on the leash. Pick something a bit thicker to avoid injury.

When to Use a Harness

While a lot of dogs do just fine with a collar, some dogs are better suited for harnesses. There are a few types, including halter or no-pull collars, which help train the dog not to pull during walks, and standard chest-and-neck harnesses, which take some of the strain off of a dog’s neck when walking. If a dog has a tendency to pull even slightly when walking, or is a heavy dog, harnesses are ideal since they distribute the weight of the dog a big better than just using a collar.

When choosing an accompanying leash, it’s also important to take into account the size and type of dog. Retractable leashes are often problematic, however, as they create a tension between the dog and its owner, which can cause protectiveness or even aggression in a dog—not to mention these types of leashes are so thin that they can cause injury if a person or dog gets tangled up in one. If you still need help choosing a collar, harness, or leash, talk to a trainer or your vet for advice.


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Cruisin' Canines logo of a white dog with an orange background