Puppies are notoriously difficult to deal with in just about every way. One of these difficulties is getting your new pup to wear their collar.
Sure, collars might look cool, but they’re more than that. Collars are necessary for both you and your dog. Because of this, it’s always important to teach your puppy to get used to a collar. If this is something that you’re currently struggling with, we’ve got you!
Following our method, you can train your puppy to wear their collar in a week or less. Some dogs will take to collars much faster than others, so you just need a little patience! Your puppy will get there eventually.
Training A Puppy To Wear A Collar
Step 1 – Pick Out The Right Collar
The first, and possibly most important step, is picking out the right collar for your puppy. This collar should be an expandable flat buckle collar. You can forget about the tags for now, as puppies will only find them distracting for the time being.
Only when your puppy is completely used to wearing a collar should you put tags on it.
Harnesses can also be used, but you need to ensure that they don’t restrict movement or make your puppy uncomfortable in any way. A lot of harnesses apply too much pressure to areas and run against the skin.
Never use a choke chain, prong collar, or cloth slip collar. This applies to both puppies and adult dogs, as they have the potential to harm the dog. Be kind, and use a collar that will always be safe and has a flat buckle.
Step 2 – Give Your Puppy A Food Stuffed Toy
This is the real trick for getting a puppy used to their collar. Before first introducing your puppy to their collar or harness, buy a toy and fill it with food. Freeze it overnight, then get it ready for use. The moment you attach the collar to your puppy, give them the frozen food toy.
This will help get her used to it while being distracted by something else, but it will also create a positive relationship. When the puppy finishes with the toy, remove the collar and toy. Place both items somewhere high so that the puppy won’t be able to reach them.
This is something you can do several times a day, as long as you don’t overfeed your puppy! To get extra sessions in, you can put your puppy’s regular food in the toy around mealtime, too.
It’s important to teach your puppy that collars are harmless and actually equal good things! When they begin to make the association, they won’t feel uncomfortable or anxious in their collars. It’s a gradual process for most dogs, so have a little patience. Think back to the first time you wore a necklace – it felt weird, right?
When your puppy associates their collar with positive things, they will get used to it sooner. They will also look forward to wearing a collar because of the positive associations!
What If They Don’t Like The Collar?
Chances are, your puppy won’t like wearing their collar initially. It’s something new and probably uncomfortable. When your puppy starts scratching or pawing at their collar, it’s your job to distract them! Avoid telling your pup “no” and “stop”, or else you might attach negative associations to wearing a collar.
Instead, distract your pup so that they have something fun or different to focus on instead of their annoying collar. You could always play with your dog, or you could use the time to teach them something useful! The “touch” cue is always a good one to start with, as it’s an essential part of dog training.
Taking the time to teach your puppy this cue isn’t only beneficial for you, but it will distract them (See also ‘Teaching Your Puppy To Walk On Leash‘)! That way, they can get used to the collar without even realizing it.
Step 3 – Collar Pressure Means Treats
Once your puppy is comfortable with how a collar feels, you need to teach them collar pressure! This can often cause them to freak out a little and “pancake” (refuse to move), but you need to train them out of it. If your puppy pancakes, you must stop the pressure by walking to your pup and releasing the collar.
It’s important not to pull against your puppy when you’re teaching this. Instead, you should hold the collar in place and the pulley pulls against it. As soon as they stop pulling against the collar, click and reward them with a treat.
It’s natural for them to pull against the pressure (opposition reflex), but you need to teach them to move with the pressure. It’s the first step to teaching loose leashing, but also decreases the risk of your puppy injuring themselves by pulling too much.
This collar pressure should be practised multiple times a day to get them used to it and remind them that collars are good things. Make sure to use treats!
Step 4 – Add The Leash
Once you’ve mastered getting your puppy to wear a collar and collar pressure, it’s time for leash training! Never try to attach a leash to a puppy’s collar who isn’t ready for it. In other words, after a week of your pup wearing a collar has passed, only then should you begin introducing the leash.
It can be a scary thing for puppies, and they aren’t going to be used to it. This is a whole different training issue to deal with, but it isn’t usually too difficult for them to master. With some patience, they will get the hang of it in no time!
Getting a puppy to get used to a collar can be challenging, but it can be done in a week if done correctly! You first need to pick the correct collar, then find a way to distract them while they first wear it. Work up to collar pressure training, and finally leash training.
Your puppy will get the hang of it in no time!