How to Train Your Dog to Accept a Collar

Easy
1-3 Days
General

Introduction

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.

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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

ribbon-method-2
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1 Vote
Step
1
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
Wait
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.
Step
4
Cold shoulder
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.
Step
5
Head out
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.
Recommend training method?

The Right Collar Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
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Step
1
Puppy size
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.
Step
2
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
Reward
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.
Step
5
Remain calm
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.
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
2
Food puzzle
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.
Step
3
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.
Step
4
Obedience commands
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.
Step
5
Reward
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Ellie
Australian Shepherd
6 Months
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Question
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Ellie
Australian Shepherd
6 Months

We have just now started to get her used to her collar but she is butting it quite hard. She refuses to eat, play, go potty outside, etc. She has also resorted to peeing in the house again even though she is fully potty trained. She no longer walks, she runs where ever she goes with her head to the floor. I'm afraid she will hurt herself doing this as she has run into things rather hard. Ellie is now screaming and crying occasionally when doing her running bit. I have tried to distract her with a stuffed kong when first putting the collar on and as soon as the kong is empty she goes into this whole routine again. I'm at a loss.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, How long has this been going on? If it's been less than a week she may just need more time plus as much distraction as you can give her (I would feed all meals in kongs throughout the day to ensure she is eating but also distract her). I would also try things like a flirt pole with her to entice her through her prey drive enough that she may forget about wearing the collar. What type of collar are you using? I would start with something extremely lightweight and work up to other types of collars by heavier ones very gradually once pup is used to the lighter weight versions first. Keep any collar a reasonable weight even once pup is used to it though for comfort sake. When small puppies are first introduced to wearing collars If you don't see improvement or you have already been doing this for at least a week, you may need to slow down the training a good bit, and do more counter conditioning with the collar over the next month. Do you have a fence she is being let out to go potty in, or are you dependent on being able to walk her on a leash? This part will only apply if you have a way to take her potty without a leash or she is okay with a harness and that can be used instead. When counter conditioning, instead of trying to get pup's head in the collar all at once, spend one day simply laying the collar on the ground and sprinkling treats around it several times a day. Do this until pup is comfortable touching it without you holding the collar - go at pup's pace. Watch their body language and stay at this step until pup is relaxed again around the collar. That may take one training session or a week - depending on how suspicious pup is of the collar at this point. Practicing for short periods multiple times a day can help things go more quickly. Once pup is comfortable just touching the collar, hold it in your hand and have pup eat treats out of the hand that is holding the collar. Do this until pup isn't worried about you holding the collar up anymore - don't try to suddenly put it on pup yet or that will set you back. Practice at this step until pup looks happy and confident again with the collar just being held up. End the training session while pup is doing well still. Next, loosen the collar as much as you can so that it makes a large loop, hold the collar up with one hand and hold the treats through the collar's hole with your other hand, so that pup has to move their head toward the collar hole to eat the treats - don't require pup to put their head through the hole yet, just in front of the hole. Do this step until pup is happy and confident about the collar being held up and approaching it - do NOT suddenly try to throw the collar over pup's head or move it toward them - pup is the one moving, you are keeping the collar still at this point. Practice that step until pup is relaxed - even if that takes several sessions. Next, hold the collar the same way, but offer the treats a bit closer to the collar, so that pup has to poke the end of their muzzle through the collar loop to take them. Practice this until pup is comfortable doing that. As pup relaxes, move your treat hand a bit further back so that pup is poking their head through the collar more and more as they improve - again, don't move the collar toward pup at this point. Let pup move their head in and out of the loose collar freely to get treats. Practice until pup has no issues with placing their head through the collar. Go back a step and practice at that step for longer before continuing if pup becomes nervous again. Next, once pup is comfortable poking their entire head through the collar, move the collar very slightly back and forth while holding it up, and holding treats in the collar for pup to move their head through it - you are just getting pup used to the collar moving, not putting it on yet. The collar should still be a large loop at this point - not fitted. Practice until pup can handle the collar moving. As pup improves, gradually increase how much the collar is moving back and forth while pup reaches their head through it. Next, have pup poke their head through the collar, and reward pup with several treats at a time for keeping their head in the hole for longer. Gradually increase how long pup holds their head in the collar for by spacing out rewards as they keep their head in the hole. Next, when pup can hold their head in the collar for longer, have pup poke their head through the collar, sprinkle several treats on something that's at pup's chin height so that your hands are free, and slide the buckle that adjusts the collar size back and forth while pup eats the treats. Start with small movements then stop touching the collar - you are just getting pup used to you messing with the collar a bit. Practice this until you can gradually work up to being able to adjust the size of the collar completely without pup feeling worried, while they eat the treats off the object at chin height. Once pup is can hold their head in the collar for several minutes while you adjust it, without being worried, adjust it to the proper size and either leave it on pup for at least two weeks if pup is doing well at that point, or do keep it on for short periods of time and gradually increase how long pup wears it for as pup acts more comfortable wearing it with practice - using treats to encourage a good association with the collar while its on. Check out the video linked below for an example of getting pup to poke their head through an opening. The dog in that video wasn't afraid of the harness during training - so the training was done in one sitting for the sake of showing the steps, but expect your pup to need several sessions between each training step - moving too quickly will likely set pup back. Pup needs to get to the point where they are completely relaxed at the current step before you proceed to the next step - how long that takes will simply depend on pup's specific temperament. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5b8u1YS_g&feature=emb_title Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ayana
Dachshund
12 Weeks
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Question
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Ayana
Dachshund
12 Weeks

Hi,
I’ve a female dachshund and it’s now in her 12 weeks.
I started to try to put a collar on her for a week and every time I put it on. I rewarded her, gave her treats, play games with her. When the distractions gone, she didn’t want to walk to anywhere and just sat at the same spot. Sometime treats even didn’t work and she just kept whining at the spot that we end.
I have noticed the length of the game have increased. The way that she became inactive after wearing a collar made me sad 😞
Should I keep trying?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ange, First, what type of collar and how heavy is it. If you are using anything other than a basic flat buckle collar I would just introduce a buckle collar first, instead of a no pull collar. I am assuming you are using a regular collar for this though. How heavy is the collar? Pup is very small so I would make sure whatever you are using for a first collar is comfortable and lightweight. Will pup still eat and drink while wearing the collar? If so, I would leave the collar on pup for a week once it's on at this point. Try doing puppy's favorite things throughout the week. At first, pup will probably freeze and seem more concerned but just watch their level of stress to make sure their eating and drinking is still adequate and they aren't developing an upset stomach. Most puppies need to wear the collar for a week or two to really get used to it once you are able to put it on them. The first collar should be something superlight weight. You may even want to leave off tags until pup is used to the feeling of the collar. Expect pup to seem a little worried and not as interested in treats and play while they are noticing the collar. Pup needs to be given enough time wearing the collar for it to become boring and familiar and for them to see that nothing bad happens while wearing it. Once they are relaxed enough to be distracted again with treats and play, give extra treats and play this week. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Chester
English Springer Spaniel
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Chester
English Springer Spaniel
4 Years

His collar came off and now he won't let me put it back on. I think it might have gotten caught on something and he had a problem with it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello James, I would break the training down into smaller steps and go slower. Spend one day simply laying the collar on the ground and sprinkling treats around it several times a day. Do this until pup is comfortable touching it without you holding the collar - go at pup's pace. Watch their body language and stay at this step until pup is relaxed again around the collar. Practicing for short periods multiple times a day can help things go more quickly. In the meantime, if pup will accept a harness, use that to take pup outside to go potty if you don't have a fenced yard. Once pup is comfortable just touching the collar, hold it in your hand and have pup eat treats out of the hand that is holding the collar. Do this until pup isn't worried about you holding the collar up anymore - don't try to suddenly put it on pup yet or that will set you back. Practice at this step until pup looks happy and confident again with the collar just being held up. End the training session while pup is doing well still. Next, loosen the collar as much as you can so that it makes a large loop, hold the collar up with one hand and hold the treats through the collar's hole with your other hand, so that pup has to move their head toward the collar hole to eat the treats - don't require pup to put their head through the hole yet, just in front of the hole. Do this step until pup is happy and confident about the collar being held up and approaching it - do NOT suddenly try to throw the collar over pup's head or move it toward them - pup is the one moving, you are keeping the collar still at this point. Practice that step until pup is relaxed - even if that takes several sessions. Next, hold the collar the same way, but offer the treats a bit closer to the collar, so that pup has to poke the end of their muzzle through the collar loop to take them. Practice this until pup is comfortable doing that. As pup relaxes, move your treat hand a bit further back so that pup is poking their head through the collar more and more as they improve - again, don't move the collar toward pup at this point. Let pup move their head in and out of the loose collar freely to get treats. Practice until pup has no issues with placing their head through the collar. Go back a step and practice at that step for longer before continuing if pup becomes nervous again. Next, once pup is comfortable poking their entire head through the collar, move the collar very slightly back and forth while holding it up, and holding treats in the collar for pup to move their head through it - you are just getting pup used to the collar moving, not putting it on yet. The collar should still be a large loop at this point - not fitted. Practice until pup can handle the collar moving. As pup improves, gradually increase how much the collar is moving back and forth while pup reaches their head through it. Next, have pup poke their head through the collar, and reward pup with several treats at a time for keeping their head in the hole for longer. Gradually increase how long pup holds their head in the collar for by spacing out rewards as they keep their head in the hole. Next, when pup can hold their head in the collar for longer, have pup poke their head through the collar, sprinkle several treats on something that's at pup's chin height so that your hands are free, and slide the buckle that adjusts the collar size back and forth while pup eats the treats. Start with small movements then stop touching the collar - you are just getting pup used to you messing with the collar a bit. Practice this until you can gradually work up to being able to adjust the size of the collar completely without pup feeling worried, while they eat the treats off the object at chin height. Once pup can hold their head in the collar for several minutes while you adjust it, without being worried, adjust it to the proper size and leave it on pup for at least two weeks, to help pup get used to the feeling of wearing it again. Make sure the collar you are using is comfortable also. Training collars like prong collars or gentle leaders shouldn't be left on when not walking pup on leash. Check out the video linked below for an example of getting pup to poke their head through an opening. The dog in that video wasn't afraid of the harness during training - so the training was done in one sitting for the sake of showing the steps, but expect your pup to need several sessions between each training step - moving too quickly will likely set pup back. Pup needs to get to the point where they are completely relaxed at the current step before you proceed to the next step - how long that takes will simply depend on pup's specific temperament. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn5b8u1YS_g&feature=emb_title Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
brio
Boxer
15 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
brio
Boxer
15 Weeks

doing pee and poo all around house , how to stop him doing such things

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Febian, Check out the Crate Training method from the article below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Pattu
Beagle
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pattu
Beagle
4 Months

My pet is always out of control, it's biting and very destructive.
I feel like I can't train my puppy

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out this free PDF e-book download, After You Get Your Puppy that can be downloaded at the link below. That book covers many of the common puppy behaviors you are probably dealing with. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when they attempt to bite or are tempted to bite. Reward pup if they makes a good choice. If they disobey your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told them not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup gets especially wound up, they probably need a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Puppy Class videos: Week 1, pt 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhJGU2NO5k Week 1, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-1-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 1 https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 2, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-2-part-2-home-jasper-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 3, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-3-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 4, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-4-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 5, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-5-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 1: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-1-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1 Week 6, pt 2: https://www.dogstardaily.com/videos/week-6-part-2-sirius-berkeley-puppy-1-0 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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