If you worry that your dog will slip out of their collar, or you want more control during leash training, a martingale dog collar could be a great choice for your dog. Martingale collars tighten when your dog pulls on the leash to prevent your dog from slipping out of the collar.
While these collars are typically seen on sighthound breeds like greyhounds and whippets, they can be great options for breeds of all kinds, if used properly.
Learn more about martingale dog collars, how they work, and whether they’re the right choice for your dog below.
How Does a Martingale Dog Collar Work?
Martingale collars are also called no-slip collars because they prevent your dog from slipping out. They look like normal flat collars but feature a smaller loop of fabric or chain that loops through two metal rings, with a D-ring on the front to attach your leash.
When your dog pulls on the leash, the smaller loop of fabric tightens, which constricts the collar. If fitted properly, the collar never tightens far enough to choke or hurt your dog. Because of the two-loop design, the collar can only tighten to the size of your dog’s neck.
When your dog stops pulling on the leash, the collar loosens again to keep your dog comfortable. This can help reinforce good walking habits and prevent leash tugging.
Is The Martingale Dog Collar a Good Fit for Your Dog?
While the martingale dog collar can be an effective training tool, it isn’t right for every dog and their owner. If these situations sound like you, the martingale dog collar could be a great option:
- You have a Sighthound
Martingale collars were originally designed for sighthounds because of the shape of their heads and necks. Sighthounds are fast dogs with lean bodies and small heads. Their necks tend to be wider than their head, so they easily slip out of traditional collars.
The tightening design keeps these dogs safe and secure, and they give you more control over your dog’s walks.
Sighthound breeds that martingale dog collars can work well for include:
- Irish wolfhounds
- Afghan hounds
- Scottish deerhounds
- You have a reactive dog
Reactive or easily scared dogs are more likely to slip out of their collars while they try to retreat. In these cases, a martingale dog collar can provide additional safety and peace of mind for your daily walks.
Even if your dog isn’t a sighthound breed, martingale collars can still be effective. No matter the size or shape of your dog’s head, the tightening design still helps keep your dog safe and secure.
- Your dog is still learning to walk on a leash
Teaching a dog to walk on a leash can be tough, but the martingale dog collar can be an effective training tool.
Leash pulling with a traditional dog collar can cause painful choking or neck irritation, but martingale collars prevent this. The collar will only ever tighten to the size of your dog’s neck.
It’s important to not use the martingale dog collar as your sole leash training method, as constant pulling can still be uncomfortable for your dog. Pair the collar with loose-leash walking techniques, or talk with a local trainer for tips.
How Do Martingale Collars Differ from Choke Chains?
Because of the tightening design, it’s easy to draw comparisons, but the two collars serve two very different purposes.
Choke chain collars have no limit on how tight the collar can pull, while Martingale collars will only ever tighten to the size of your dog’s neck. Because of this, martingale collars are intended as a safety precaution and not for corrective behavior.
The pulling mechanism for both types of collars is similar, but martingale collars are fabric collars, and no metal ever touches the dog’s skin.
Martingale collars are also made to be worn only under strict supervision when you take your dog for a walk, and not all day.
Best Practices for Using a Martingale Dog Collar
Despite the safety benefits of the martingale collar, they can still be risky for your dog if you don’t use and fit them correctly. Here are 4 best practices to keep your dog safe with their martingale collar.
Fit Your Martingale Collar Properly
For the collar to be effective, it needs to fit so the tightest setting is the same size as your dog’s neck. Just like with any collar, if the fit is too tight, your dog could hurt their neck or restrict their breathing.
First, measure your dog’s neck behind their ears. This measurement should be the same length as the collar when it’s at its tightest.
Then, fasten the collar around your dog’s neck. You should be able to fit two fingers snuggly beneath the collar. If your fingers don’t fit, the collar is too tight, and you need to make adjustments before taking your dog for a walk.
If your fingers easily slide underneath the collar with no give-back from the collar, you should tighten the collar until it fits snug against your fingers.
Only Use the Collar for Walks
Martingale collars are not indoor-use, playtime, or sleeping collars. Because the collars are designed to tighten, they are loose when there’s no leash attached. Your dog could potentially slip out of or accidentally get their paw stuck in the collar if left unattended.
The D-ring on the front can also be a safety hazard if it gets caught on something while your dog is playing or sleeping. It’s especially important for your dog to not wear this collar inside of their crate or kennel. The D-ring can get caught on the grating and injure your dog.
Don’t Place ID Tags on The Collar’s D-Ring
The D-ring on the front of the martingale collar is only for the leash. Anything else attached to the ring, like your dog’s identification or rabies tags, could get caught on something while walking.
If the tags catch on something, the collar could tighten and injure or confuse your dog. If you absolutely need to put your dog’s tags on their collar, look for a martingale collar with a built-in safety ring.
Re-check the Fit of The Collar Frequently
The effectiveness of the martingale collar is dependent on proper fit. The more your dog wears the collar, the looser the collar will get as it naturally wears and stretches.
Check the fit of the collar before each use with the two-finger test to make sure the collar fits properly. If the collar is ever too loose, tighten it to keep your dog safe.
Stop Using the Collar if Your Dog Doesn’t Like It
All new collars and training tools take some adjustment. Ease your dog into the collar by offering treats and positive reinforcement until your dog is comfortable wearing it.
If your dog continues to pull and react visibly uncomfortable, even after positive reinforcement and training, the martingale collar might not be the best choice for your dog. Consult with a trainer for other potential options.
Shop High-Quality Martingale Dog Collars for Your Dog Today
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