HOW TO: Collars

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Types: Flat Collar & Martingale Collar (you may NOT place a prong collar, choke chain or shock collar on any DWB dog for ANY reason)

What is a FLAT COLLAR?

A flat collar is a regular collar – the kind you’re probably most familiar with. Usually with plastic snap, or metal buckle closures.

Flat Collar Pros

  • There are many different types and colors to choose from.
  • Dogs adjust to wearing this collar easily.
  • It’s easy to fit and adjust.
  • You can easily attach tags and leashes to it.

Flat Collar Cons

  • Until dogs learn to walk politely on leash, they might pull against the collar
  • Nylon collars can loosen with time and do not have “no slip” systems built in to their designs

Trainer Tip: Don’t pull on the leash to try to get your dog’s attention, which will inadvertently teach your dog to pull back—and make a flat collar useless.

“If you pull back to get their attention when they’re sniffing, or pull on the leash to tell your dog to sit, you’re trying to control your dog by pulling on the leash instead of controlling him vocally,” Ulbrich explains. “You’re teaching your dog, ‘you pull, I pull.’”

How to use a FLAT COLLAR

Flat collars should be fit using the “two finger” rule: Once the dog’s collar is fastened, you should be able to easily slide two fingers under the collar. When you slide the width of your two fingers between the collar and neck, the collar should feel snug, but not tight.

If the collar is LOOSER than this, the dog can be a slip risk. Tighten the collar until you hit the “two finger” tightness.

NOTE: If your foster dog’s collar is always coming loose, or cannot be tightened to follow the two finger rule alert the staff immediately.


A Martingale is a “no slip” collar, traditionally used on narrow headed breeds (like Greyhounds) and dogs who are prone to “backing out” of their collar when frightened or startled. They typically do not have a closure but instead slip over the head and then are tightened after being put on.

Martingale Collar Pros

  • Virtually impossible to escape if properly fitted and leashed in the correct manner.

Martingale Collar Cons

  •  Can cause damage to neck if dog pulls excessively over time.


Martingales work by sitting loose until pressure is applied by the dog pulling against the leash and then it SLIPS (or tightens) to a closer fit so that the dog’s head can’t slide out.

They are comprised of 3 rings

  1. Loosen the collar so it’s big enough to go over your dog’s head
  2. Slide the collar over the dog’s head

  3. Pull the collar up just behind the dog’s ears and adjust. It is crucial to adjust the collar here because this is the point at which the collar could slip off the dog’s head. The two metal rectangles should be at least two inches apart from one another
  4. Pull up on the D ring. Pulling up on the D ring will test how well you’ve fitted the collar. If the hardware on the collar is touching (where the control loop meets the larger loop around your dog’s neck), the collar is too loose and needs to be tightened.

    • The control loop should close when you pull up on the D ring.
  5.  Test the fit with your fingers. Be sure to leave around one to two fingers of room on the loop around the dog’s neck when the control loop is closed so that the collar isn’t too tight

    1. Adjust the slide buckle on the outer loop so that the hardware is approximately 2″ apart
  6. Look to make sure the collar is properly fitted. A properly fitted Martingale collar should rest around the middle of the dog’s neck. If it is still tightened up behind their ears, the collar is too tight and might cause them discomforttrs between the collar and neck, the collar should feel snug, but not tight.
  7. Check the fit of the collar before leaving the house. Martingale collars do stretch over time and need to be adjusted and occasionally completely refitted.
  8. Attach the LEASH to the CENTER D Ring of the control loop — The two outer rings are like pulleys to facilitate the “no slip” function.