How many times a day do you grab your dog's collar? Me? never; they don't wear them, at least not in the house. The reason that my dogs do not wear collars is that accidents happen. I have heard so many horror stories of dogs strangling and choking from getting their collars snagged on something that it just isn't worth the risk. When we go out they have harnesses or a collar on but as soon as we come back in the door it's all taken off. Years ago when I had two male dogs; they were playing an got tangled up. One boy got his mouth stuck in the others collar; both didn't know what was going on and luckily I was there to untangle and calm them.
This decision has had a huge impact on canine/human relations. With the collar gone; you quickly discover whether or not you have some or any control over your dogs. As a dog trainer; I see collar reliance often. It is that habit of grabbing the collar when you feel the need to get control. For the folks who have a quick reflex to collar grab we take it off. It may seem like no big deal as you read this but if you are in the habit of grabbing for control it is a very strange feeling for it to be gone. There is a definite loss of control sensation which can be a very big deal.
So here is my challenge; take it off. How much control do you have with your dog if you cannot rely on a collar for it? You will soon find out once you take it off. As a photographer I am often asking guardians to move their dogs around. "Can you get them to go over there?" The answer many times is "I'll try." And it usually ends in the dogs being dragged around by the collar; not good. If you pull on a dog; they pull back, you push, they push. It just becomes a power struggle.
I use visual signals and verbal cues to move my dogs. Not so easy with Jessie now that she can barely hear or see; but I just pick her up most of the time now and move her. Beats screaming and waving my arms around like a mad woman. But for the others I simply tell them; "come here," and point. If they don't make it to the correct spot I tell them "wrong," and point them in the right direction. I try very hard to maneuver dogs hands free.
Once you get use to the collarless life; you won't miss it. You become more connected to your dog without an actual material connection. You learn how to better communicate and attain a much more harmonious relationship. Without a collar to grab hold of you become much more aware of your movements as well as your dogs. And you will be able to achieve a point A to point B without dragging your dog by the collar.
Sure there are times when we need to grab a hold of our dogs; but they are very few and far between once you obtain mental control. Do it for your dog.
June's Newsletter will be covering this subject extensively.