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You’re in a rush but you need to walk the dog before work. It’s cold and dark outside so you just want to get it done. However, your dog has other ideas. He simply refuses to let you put a collar and leash on him. He’s just a puppy so he’s still confused and unsure about the collar. He doesn’t realize it’s not going to strangle him or do him any harm. It’s making the walking procedure and even taking him out of the house a nightmare. You try to get him to sit still but he’s just not having any of it.
Training him to accept a collar will make your life a whole lot easier. He can’t roam around without a collar. He may end up leaping into the road and seriously injuring himself in a traffic accident, or worse.
Thankfully, training your dog to accept a collar is nice and easy. At the moment, he’s simply not used to it. But as with anything, once he’s had it for a few weeks he won’t even know it’s there. Getting him to accept it though is a hurdle. You can overcome that hurdle by incentivizing him with some mouth-watering treats. You may also need to take a number of steps to distract him from the device being fit around his neck. If you can make wearing a collar fun and a game, then your task will be far easier.
If he’s a puppy you can expect results in as little as a day. If he’s older and won’t accept a collar then it may indicative of something more sinister and you may need several days.
Before you start, you’ll need a few things. If he’s not accepting his current collar then you may want to invest in a new, comfier collar. You’ll also need a decent supply of delicious treats. Alternatively, you can break his favorite food up into bite-sized pieces. This will be used as an incentive.
You’ll need to dedicate just a few minutes to helping him accept his new collar. It shouldn’t take long, he just needs some reassurance.
Once you have all of those things you can grab your collar and head for your dog!
The Cold Shoulder Method
Fit the collar
Hold him still and fit the collar on him. Make sure it’s not so tight he can’t breathe, but that it’s also secure enough that he can’t get it off. You wouldn’t like something choking you, so its important you put a mark on the hole you use so you can fit it with ease again next time.
No choke collar
Avoid using a choke collar to start with. These are usually used for training purposes and can be extremely uncomfortable, especially if he’s not used to wearing a collar yet.
Now let him get used to the collar. It may take several hours but eventually he’ll stop trying to get it off and accept his fate. During this adjustment period, keep an eye on him to ensure he’s not in pain and he can breathe properly.
Make sure you don’t give him the attention he seeks when he’s rolling around trying to get the collar off. Don’t laugh, talk or try to comfort him. He needs to know that this type of behavior won’t get him what he wants.
Wait until he’s accepted the collar before you secure him to the leash and head out for a walk. Otherwise, you might find he has a problem with the leash too. So be patient, he’ll eventually give up trying to get it off.
The Right Collar Method
If he’s a puppy, it’s important you buy him a collar that fits now, not one that he will grow into. Bigger collars, he’ll find easier to slip out of and are often more uncomfortable. Think of the now and you’ll find the process far easier.
Small & lightweight
You want his first collar to be minimally intrusive. That means get him a collar that is small and light. It will feel less like a strain on his neck and he’ll accept it far sooner.
Opt for clips
Instead of a traditional buckle collar, opt for one with clips. These are straightforward to fit and remove. This will prevent you snagging some of his skin when he’s fighting to stop you put it on him. The less time it takes to put on the less stressful it will be for him.
If he’s really going crazy when you try to put the collar on, hold out a treat to distract him. Just hold it firmly in your hand so he tries to sniff and get it. You can then use this moment to fit the collar around his neck. When it’s on, let him have the treat and give him some praise.
Fitting a collar for the first time can be a frustrating experience. However, it’s important you remain calm throughout. Don’t shout at him. If you scare him he may become aggressive and you don’t want to instill that as a coping mechanism into him.
The Distraction Method
Fit the collar
Hold him still and then carefully fit the collar. Make sure it fits correctly. Also try to make sure the identification tag on the collar can be seen. If he seems in genuine pain, take it off or loosen it.
For those first few hours he’s probably going to be jumping around trying to get the collar off. You can offer him a means of distraction. Give him a food puzzle for him to sink his mouth into.
Tug of war
Take out one of his favorite toys and distract him with that. Encourage him to hold it in his mouth and then play tug of war. This will keep him distracted until he barely realizes he’s wearing a collar anymore.
Have him perform a trick for you. If he can’t do one yet, start teaching him. You can begin with something simple like ‘sit’. This will keep his mind off the collar and channel his energy into something more productive.
When he’s performed the trick or calmed down, you can give him a treat. It’s important he gets a reward at the end. This will show him that in future, the best way to get food is to behave as instructed and calm down.
By James Barra
Published: 12/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021