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

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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.
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The Right Collar Method

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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.
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The Distraction Method

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
Yoshi
Shiba Inu
9 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Yoshi
Shiba Inu
9 Months

Takes a long time to get collar on to begin with. Yesterday he was screaming like it was hurting him. Then he went to his cage and wouldn’t come out. He kept holding his head down like he was in pain. So I decided to take it off of him and then the challenge began. It took two of us and a bag of treats to get the collar off. He was screaming and flopping all over. Suggestions would be wonderful. I am at my wits end.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
78 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, To begin with, introduce him to the collar with treats. Show him the collar and give him a treat, let him touch the collar and give him a treat, hold the collar against his neck and give him a treat, put the collar on him and take it off again and give him a treat, put the collar on him and give him a treat every few seconds while it is on and then take it off again, and finally, put the collar on him and leave it on. Make the entire experience extremely rewarding. Use an upbeat, confident tone of voice when you praise him and ignore any dramatics. Try not to sound anxious, angry, or sorry for him. Your confidence and happy attitude will help him feel more secure. If you are using a properly fitted buckle collar that is not too tight, then the collar is not hurting him and he is simply protesting having something around his neck. Make the experience of putting on the collar and taking it off extremely rewarding by practicing each of those steps with treats until he becomes comfortable enough to move onto wearing it, but once he is wearing the collar leave it on him for at least fourteen days straight. Ignore the screaming and the sulking. The more you give into that the more he will do it simply because it gets him what he wants, the collar off and your attention. He needs to wear the collar for enough time without taking it back off for him to become used to the sensation of the collar. It is normal when you introduce collars and leashes to dogs older than twelve weeks for them to strongly protest them when you first introduce them. It typically takes at least two weeks for them to become comfortable with the feeling of the collar and learn to ignore it. After you put the collar on him you can distract him with his favorite game, a walk, or dinner. Do whichever one he likes best and will take his mind off of the collar the most. As long as he is still drinking water and is not loosing weight because of the collar, then he should adjust. When you take the collar off again use the treats also, so that he will learn to trust you touching his neck. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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