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Dog Training Collars: How to Choose the Best Collar 2023 Guide

Choosing dog training collar

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After purchasing a cozy bed, durable toys, nutritious food, and a few fashion accessories, it may seem like everything is ready for the newest canine family member to arrive at their forever home. But in the scramble to perfectly prep your pup’s space, it can be easy to forget about one of the most essential training tools for any four-legged friend – a training collar!

Why Is Choosing the Right Training Collar Important?

Well-fitting collars are a must-have for all dogs because they can:   

Most importantly, the right training collar can help you and your dog enjoy a more relaxed, harmonious life together.

What to Consider in a Dog Training Collar

Before you venture out to the local pet store or begin shopping online, consider the following:

Size

Finding the best training collar for your dog starts with two easy measurements:

Pro Tip: Regularly check your pup’s neck for potential irritation from the collar, and adjust for his comfort BEFORE injury occurs.

Start with your dog sitting in front of you. Use a soft tape measure (or non-stretchy string) to loosely measure the neck where the collar normally sits (this is the neck circumference). Record the measurement, as you’ll need this information when you’re ready to check out. Depending on the breed size, add 1-3 inches to the neck circumference to get the minimum collar size: 

dog collar fit two finger rule
Photo from Petmate.com Demonstrating Two-Finger Rule of Collar Fit. This is NOT too tight!

How do you know a collar’s fit is correct for your dog?  Use the two-finger rule: Slide two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. If two fingers fit without stress on the collar, the collar is neither too tight nor too loose. However, if only one finger fits between the collar and your dog’s neck, the collar may be too tight (depending on the collar type) and might require adjustment.

Cost

Are you shopping within a particular budget or is money no object when it comes to pampering your pooch? Whether you’re looking for something cute, stylish, waterproof, or durable, many great training collars are available at every price point ($15-300), both in stores and online. 

Material

Are you looking for a collar that is strong and durable, or is the focus on your personal style and aesthetic?  Does your dog have sensitive skin that requires a hypoallergenic material? Do you enjoy walking your dog early in the morning or late at night (many collars now include reflective fabric)?

Most dog training collars are made from nylon, leather, or metal. Nylon and leather tend to be highly durable materials and may even be waterproof, while metal collars eventually corrode and rust. Many durable nylon collars can even be tossed in the washing machine for a quick clean!

Your Dog's Training Goals

Consider what your dog needs to work on in their training and find a collar that supports the necessary behavior modification. After all, the best collar for training an incessantly barking Chihuahua probably won’t be an appropriate option for a Goldendoodle that struggles with pulling while walking on a leash.

NOTE: Animal behavior research supports Positive Reinforcement as the best way to train your pup. In this article, we describe some collars (like e-collars and slip collars) that can be used with older, outdated methods — these training methods are best reserved for experienced trainers or under the supervision of a certified dog trainer.

4 Types of Training Collars with Top-Rated Collars to Try

With just a little knowledge about dog training collars, you can make an informed purchase to help your pup learn better behaviors in a healthy way. The four most common types of dog training collars to choose from are:

Flat Collar

Flat Collars

Customizable, Affordable, and Commonly Sold in Stores

When shopping at a pet store or large chain store, you will likely find many standard flat collars on display. They’re typically made from durable materials like nylon or leather in a wide range of colors, styles, and sizes. This type of collar is available from widths of 5⁄8″ for small breeds to 2″ for larger breeds. Flat collars can be easily customized to include a dog’s name, a pet parent’s phone number, or other text.

E collar with Flat Collar ID
  Pro Tip:  Attach your dog’s ID tags to a Flat Collar + use a Martingale or E-Collar for training.

Not for Escape Artists or Leash Pullers

While the flat collar is an affordable, easy-to-find option, there are better choices for slimmer breeds like Greyhounds or Whippets that could easily slip out of the collar. Additionally, this type of collar may not be suitable for more muscular dogs who pull while walking on a leash.

Recommended Flat Collar:

If you’re searching for a great flat collar for your own pup, we like this fun, well-reviewed nylon option from Lupine Pet.  

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Rolled Collar

rolled collar sensitive skin

Best for Long Fur and Sensitive Skin

Are you looking for the perfect collar for a dog with long hair or sensitive skin? If so, a rolled collar may be your best choice. Rolled collars can help avoid matting or fur tangling for long-haired dogs such as Afghans or Collies. Plus, rolled collars are often made of leather, which can be more comfortable and odor resistant than nylon.

Recommended Rolled Collars

Best Collar for Fluffy (Long-Haired) Dogs

CollarDirect’s Rolled Leather affordable leather option, described by one reviewer as being made of “buttery soft leather,” comes in a variety of colors, ranging in sizes XXS-XXL. With a quick wipe of a wet cloth, these durable soft dog collars are easily cleaned– no washing machine required!

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Large Breed - Best Dog Collar for Sensitive Neck

Dogs with sensitive necks will love this sheepskin leather collar from Soft Touch. With over 300 reviews, this collar is a favorite for larger breeds such as Cane Corso, German Shepherd, and Rottweiler. According to reviewers, this collar is durable, comfortable, and strong enough to last for years. The collar is functional and stylish without sacrificing your pet’s comfort level – money well spent!

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Small Breed - Best Dog Collar for Sensitive Neck

Are you shopping for a pint-sized pooch with a sensitive neck? Go for this comfortable collar from Wild One. For under $40, these collars come in several colors and can be purchased with a matching leash. Reviewers report that this collar fits tiny dogs well and is more comfortable for dogs with longer hair than traditional rolled collars. Made of a soft yet durable material, your sensitive-necked dog can play all day without the collar irritating his sensitive skin.

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Slip or Martingale Collar

Recommended for Escape Artists & Leash Tuggers

If you like the style of a flat collar but are looking for a better fit for your dog’s neck, the Martingale Collar is a smart option. These collars are often made from nylon (or a combination of nylon and metal chains) and feature a two-loop system designed to tighten or create tension when a dog pulls or tries to back out of the collar. Higher-end collars may be cut from quality leather and feature soft sheepskin to reduce skin irritation.

The Martingale is recommended for doggy escape artists because this collar will tighten without choking or causing serious injury to a dog’s neck. Martingale collars are used as a safer alternative to a traditional “choke” chain or prong collar. They can even be used alongside a Flat Collar as a failsafe for sneaky dogs!

How to Measure for a Martingale Collar?

When it comes to Martingale Collars, size matters. By taking a few measurements, you can be sure to purchase the right size and style of collar for your dog. First, use a tape measure to determine the size of your dog’s head and neck. This process can be confusing, so check out this quick tutorial for clarification. Use the larger of the two measurements to determine the correct collar size to purchase.

If you’re using the Martingale for training purposes, it’s important to adjust so that only two fingers can be slipped between the collar and the dog’s neck. Though a looser fit will do for folks using the collar as a walking tool for dogs who don’t pull on the leash.

Recommended Slip and Martingale Collars

Best Customizable Martingale Collar

This customizable Martingale Collar from Yellow Dog Design at HotDogCollars.com comes in three sizes and is available in a rainbow of colors to match any pet parent’s style. In addition to adding customizable text, there are 17 optional icon designs for added flair. For under $20, these machine-washable collars are made in the USA and come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

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Best Collar for Dogs that Slip Out

At a slightly higher cost of $33-56, this highly-reviewed Martingale Collar from IfItBarks.com is a clear winner for dogs who tend to slip or back out of traditional collars. Available in an astonishing array of sizes and color patterns, this Martingale is lightweight, made of military-grade nylon, fully adjustable, and safe for dogs with sensitive necks. If It Barks’ Striped Comfort Martingale Collar also allows you to customize the buckle material (plastic or aluminum), add printed contact information, or add a matching leash.

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Best Leather Martingale Dog Collar - Any Breed Size

If a slightly higher-priced option fits your budget, take a look at Auburn Leathercrafter’s Leather Martingale Collar. Lined with cozy sheepskin, this collar is designed with sensitive-skinned pups in mind. Available in a few colors and widths ranging from 1 1⁄4 – 2 1⁄2 inches, this collar is highly-rated for small and large breed dogs alike. 

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E-Collar

What is an E Collar for Dogs?

Dog Shock Collar E CollarE-Collars — often referred to as “shock collars” — are designed to address unwanted behaviors or provide long-range control for dogs that are off-leash. An e-collar delivers a vibration, sensation, or tone that, with proper training, can help a pet owner control or extinguish behaviors such as excessive barking or jumping.

Use with Caution Under the Guidance of a Certified Trainer

Proceed with caution when using e collarElectric or e-collars are a controversial topic for many pet parents and dog trainers. While some people feel they are cruel and unnecessary, others believe e-collars can be an excellent training tool for easily-distracted dogs when used correctly. Here’s what the ASPCA says about how to deal with barking, including e-collars.

More Expensive than Other Collars

E-collars range in price from around $50 to more than $200, so a fair amount of research should be done before clicking the “add to cart” button.

What to Consider BEFORE You Buy an E-Collar

Given the vast number of e-collar options available, how can a pet owner decide which one is the right one? Before purchasing an e-collar, it’s crucial to consider:

Recommended E-Collars

After spending some time getting to know your dog, you may feel your dog would benefit from the additional training support provided by an E-Collar. Plenty of safe, effective options are available to help you and your pup create a successful training routine, but we’ll focus on a few of our favorites.

Best Bark Collar for Large Dogs

For large-breed dog parents who want to end excessive barking, PatPet’s 350B Anti-Bark & Remote Dog Training Collar Set is an excellent solution for silence. Available in one size that adjusts to fit dogs with necks between 10″ and 25″, this set comes with two collars and a remote for under $70–handy if you have more than 1 dog.  Reviewers report that the sound/tone and vibration modes are enough to curb excessive barking, rarely resorting to the shock mode. One satisfied customer claims the collar has been a game changer in controlling both of her barking pups after other methods failed–no more non-stop barking!

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Best Bark Collar for Small Dogs

Do you have a small dog with a big dog bark? Check out BarkMute’s Ultrasonic Vibration (shock-free) Collar designed to fit pups with neck sizes starting at just 9 inches. This safe, effective anti-bark collar offers three modes: sound, vibration, or a combination of both that can be tailored to match your dog’s barking level. At a price point of less than $25, coupled with over 600 reviews from satisfied pet parents, the value of this collar is hard to beat!

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Best Collar for Stubborn Dogs

If you have a strong-willed dog who loves to explore, PetSafe’s Stubborn Dog In-Ground Receiver Collar may be best for you. This e-collar sends automatic, safe, shock-free signals to your dog if she ventures too far from the area enclosed by the included underground wiring. With the purchase of additional wire, a pet parent can secure a space for a dog to safely roam up to five acres around the home.

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Pro Tip: For best results, dedicate a few minutes each day for at least two weeks to fully train your dog to respond to an e-collar and fence system.

Best Corrective Collar for Small Dogs

Smaller dogs who need more training support would be perfect candidates for Yawpet’s IPX7 Waterproof Bark Vibrating Collar. Pet owners who reviewed this collar were impressed by how well small dogs responded to the four training modes. In addition to being waterproof and sized appropriately for dogs as small as 8 pounds, this collar features prongs designed to work safely on a dog’s sensitive skin. Another great feature of this set is the ability to lock the remote keypad to avoid sending signals (or shocks!) accidentally. 

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Best Dog Training Collar with GPS

For pet parents looking for a way to keep a close eye on their beloved pup’s whereabouts, the Halo Dog Collar is an excellent solution! This comfortable, lightweight e-collar offers top-of-the-line GPS technology that allows pet owners to keep track of their furry friend’s location when out and about. With easy-to-use notifications sent directly to your smartphone, you can quickly check up on your pup’s location and ensure they are within your designated boundaries.

Owners can also easily create customized safety areas that will generate an alert if their pup travels outside the designated area. And when your pup pushes the boundaries just a little too far, the Halo Collar will enter training mode and release a gentle vibration that encourages your pup to go back within the boundary lines. This e-collar is perfect for the pet parent who wants peace of mind and ultimate protection for their four-legged best friend.

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Best Dog Training Collar under $100: Large Breed

For a reasonably-priced option for big dogs, the PatPet P610 Premium Remote Medium & Large Dog Training Collar (under $60) is the way to go. Pet parents have used this plastic collar and remote to eliminate the most annoying behaviors, such as excessive barking, jumping on guests, and running out of designated areas. Best of all, your water dog can swim in his e-collar at the lake or on a hike without damaging the waterproof receiver! 

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Best Dog Training Collar under $100: Small Breed

If you have a small dog and a similarly-sized budget, the PatPet P680 Lightweight Remote Dog Training Collar is a fantastic choice for your furry friend. This waterproof collar is adjustable and designed to be worn comfortably by smaller breed dogs. Reviewers say they have successfully used this collar when training small pups who needed support with excessive barking, darting through doors, and even housebreaking. Coming in at under $60, this collar is as budget-friendly as it is effective.

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Best Dog Training Collar under $300: Large Breed

If your dog is over 35 pounds and you’re looking to spend a bit more, this weatherproof Dogtra 1900S training collar is an awesome option. With its vibration strength up to level 127 (NO electric shocks), the Dogtra model can help you train even the most stubborn or distracted pups. Reviewers recommend using this amazing tool ONLY after teaching basic commands and obedience, as it’s best suited to reinforce previously-trained behavior. The ergonomically-designed remote with belt clip makes this unit a winner for pet parents whose dogs roam the woods and fields with them.

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Best Dog Training Collar under $300: Small Breed

The Educator Mini Waterproof Dog Training E-Collar is a high-end model perfect for dogs as small as 5 pounds. Offering both tone and vibration correction signals, this collar includes a stopwatch-style remote, which can be locked at any level to deliver the most effective signal for your dog. Another added perk is the LED light on the collar, which improves safety for your dog in dark or low-visibility conditions.

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Summary

By educating yourself on the different types, functions, and tips for using a training collar, you will soon have a happy, obedient pup in no time. Choosing the right collar can make a world of difference in the success of your training program. Keep these key points in mind, and you’ll be able to find the best fit for your pup. Don’t waste any more time – get out there and start training with confidence!

*Prices are accurate at the time this article is published and are subject to change. For the most recent price, click on Check Store buttons.

Morgan Messick
Morgan Messick

Morgan is a content creator for Dog Training Newbie, a website that is all about dog training tips, techniques, news, and more. Morgan has two dogs, three cats, and a lovely wife who support her passion for writing.

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