Choices, choices! Too many choices! Your Weimaraner’s collar is one of the most important purchase you can make. Not only are they used to identify your dog, they can be used for adornment. (Collar collection, anyone? You know who you are!) Most people also use collars as training tools, and usually own more than one type. So what is the best for your Weimaraner, and when should use which type? Here’s what’s worked for our Weims:
Flat Buckle Collar
These are the classic dog collar. They come in a variety of colors, materials, and styles. They often serve to identify your dog (really important when you’ve got 5 gray bodies running around together!) with either a nameplate or a hanging tag.
After losing multiple tags — and becoming annoyed with the constant jangle that comes with them — we became huge fans of the nameplate, which is riveted to your dog’s collar. As far as materials go, living with Weims means that we live with dirt, muck, and grime. We prefer the Dura-lon or Dura-flex type collar. These are a soft plastic and come in tons of colors. They wipe down, can be bleached, and don’t fade easily. You can purchase collars like these (and nameplates) at most gun dog outfitters. To measure your dog’s neck, measure at the bottom of the neck, where the collar will sit most of the time.
These collars allow for excellent control of your dog. When they are used correctly! Slip collars come in nylon or metal, and can also be a “limited slip” or a “martingale” type collar that people with sight hounds or flighty dogs prefer. The dog can’t back out of a martingale type collar. What’s important to know about these collars is that if used incorrectly, they can really hurt the dog. The collar (chain or nylon) should be worn high up on your dog’s neck behind the ears. When you put it on, it should make a “P” shape, with the lead hanging down, not a “q” shape. When you correct the dog, you need to use a sharp “pop” rather than a nagging tug. It should be enough to get the dog’s attention! When you are walking, the leash and collar should always have plenty of slack. You want your pup to learn that he needs to pay attention to how tight his collar is, so your leash corrections can be at a whisper level — not a shout.
The pros? These collars are a great bridge from a prong collar to a buckle collar, and can help you teach a verbal command for “heel” or “easy.” Plus, they’re pretty!
The cons? These collars should not be used on young puppies or dogs that are completely out of control on their walks.
These collars get a bad rap. They look fierce and they are often misused. However, they can be a great training tool especially when dealing with tough or “independent” types. Just as with the slip collar, these collars need to fit well and sit at the top of the neck right behind your dog’s ears. You want it to fit snugly, not loose. Corrections need to be quick and enough to get your dog’s attention. With most dogs, the prong collar does the heavy work for you, which is why it’s often called “power steering” for your strong Weim. If your dog continues to drag you down the street, you’re collar isn’t positioned right.
The pros? They work. Great.
The cons? They’re ugly and shouldn’t be used for fearful or reactive dogs.
There are a variety of harnesses on the market these days. People often prefer to use them with young puppies since it doesn’t put pressure on their necks. We feel like it also teaches them to pull, since it’s a reflex for dogs to pull into pressure on their chests. They also may become less responsive to your guidance — have you ever tried to pull a dog wearing a harness? Can’t be done!
The harnesses we do like are the ones designed to teach a dog to pull, and the ones that are designed in a way that naturally helps your dog not to pull, a lot like leading a horse. These harnesses often attach at the front and work by turning that forward pull into a sideways one.
The pros? They work for most dogs, can be used on sensitive dogs, and come in lots of varieties.
The cons? They look goofy and won’t work on super aggressive pullers. Plus, once the harness is off, your dog pulls like a maniac again.
These collars are built a lot like a horse halter and are in fact a type of head halter. Gentle Leader and Halti both make them. They in essence lead your dog in the direction you want them to go and are great to keep your dog from pulling.
According to the manufacturer, they place pressure on calming points around your dog’s face and actually work against the instinct to pull.
The pros? They are a good tool to help your dog stop jumping, lunging and pulling, and seems to calm a reactive or aggressive dog.
The cons? They look like a muzzle and some dogs can’t tolerate them.
Oh, the controversy! Some people love them, others hate them. Electric or shock collars actually work really well for Weims, who learn well when they don’t associate a correction with their people. They can be used for shaping behaviors on a low level (think of it as communicating with your dog through vibration), stopping unwanted behaviors (think chasing deer!) and everything in between. In the wrong or uneducated hands, they can be horrible for a dog. For most confident dogs with normal temperaments they don’t pose any issues. Like the prong and slip collars, these collars need to be worn high up on the neck and tight enough that the prongs maintain contact with your dog’s skin.
The pros? When used correctly, they can serve as an invisible line of communication between you and your dog.
The cons? Intimidation factor and the $$$. They aren’t cheap!