The term collar training does not mean training the dog to wear a collar. What it does mean is the use of a collar to aid in the training of a dog. New dog owners usually have the experience of purchasing a leather or fabric buckle collar, snapping on a short leash, and then proceed to let the dog pull them around where ever dog wants to go. Corrections, if they are even attempted, consist of sharp pulls on the leash to physically yank the dog back into control.
The experienced trainer uses one of several different types of collars to both control and train a dog. One of the most popular is a trademark brand collar called the Gentle Leader. This collar buckles around the dog’s neck with nylon cords that fit across his nose. The basic idea of the collar is that it uses the nose as a control and correction focus. Where the dog’s nose goes, the rest of him is sure to follow. A similar training collar is called the Halti collar. It works much like the Gentle Leader, except it pulls the dogs head to one side. Animals, as a general rule do not like to go forward with their heads to one side or the other, so the tug of the head controls the dog.
The Prong collar looks like it belongs in the torture chamber of a medieval castle. When it is fitted around the dog’s neck properly, the prongs will press against the dog’s skin when he pulls against the chain. This is a very effective control collar for large dogs. Extremely hard jerks on the leash will cause the prongs to puncture the skin, and will be very painful for the animal. One of the better known types of training collars is the choke collar. The name describes the function fairly accurately. If the dog pulls against the leash, the collar tightens choking the animal until he stops pulling.
Another type of collar that can be used for training is the shock collar. This collar gives a controlled electrical shock to the animal; the level of the shock and when to administer it is determined by the trainer. A variation of this collar can be activated by the barking of the dog. When barking starts, it gives a warning beep, and if it continues, an electric shock follows. The use of shock collars is a very controversial issue and the use of these devices forbidden in many countries.
All of these collars can potentially harm the animal if not used correctly. Collar training is best done by owners with some experience in the training of dogs and works best when a basic relationship is already established. It is better to use a reward system in conjunction with the training collars rather than focus solely on punishment. A good rule of thumb is to use the gentlest type of collar that accomplishes the training objective.