Dogs and collars seem to go together and are a normal, important part of dog ownership. But do dogs actually like to wear their collars? We don’t really give them a choice and just assume they will like wearing them.
The good news is that most dogs do not seem to mind wearing them. In fact, many, if not most, dogs actually enjoy sporting a collar. Dogs become so used to wearing collars that it becomes part of their identity and they associate their collar with good things. However, if your dog really seems to hate his collar and paws or scratches at it a lot, you should investigate why.
Keep reading to learn more about dog collars and your dog’s reaction to them.
Why Dogs Usually Enjoy Wearing Collars
Puppies may have some resistance to a collar since it is a new thing to them. But they usually get accustomed to it over time, especially if it is a comfortable fit and introduced slowly. Once your pup is used to his collar he may actually begin to enjoy wearing it! He knows that it is something you want him to do and may have praised him for or given him treats when your first put it on.
Other reasons dogs like wearing collars:
- It becomes part of their identity
- Putting on a collar means fun things like going for a walk
- A collar may give them a sense of security and normality
- Wearing a collar is like getting dressed for the day — now your pup is ready to go!
Dogs really like consistency. It helps them to feel more secure when they know what is coming each day. Dogs also want to please their owners as part of the bonding process in addition to getting rewarded with praise and treats. Wearing a collar is all part of this, so most dogs will wear their collars proudly when postively reinforced.
Why Dog Collars are Important
Going for Walks
It is pretty hard to walk a dog without a collar! We need something to attach a leash to. Although trainers often recommend using a body or head harness instead to save the dogs neck if he pulls a lot. Even so, a collar is important for identification purposes. Most cities and counties require dogs to be registered and to wear tags at all times when in public. Collars are great for attaching tags.
Additionally, you can attach a name tag with your contact information such as these LYP Soundless Pet Tags that I purchased recently from Amazon for my dogs. They don’t jangle because they are made from silicone. The name and contact information are deeply embedded so it does not wear off over time and they come in great colors. I had purchased several other types of engraved metal tags, but the information always wore off after several months.
Even if your dog is microchipped, you will still want to have an identity tag on your dog’s collar for a quick return if he gets lost. Microchips are great, but they require a special reader which only vets and shelters have.
Managing Your Dog
Collars are also important if you need to quickly grab your dog for some reason. Although I do not normally like to yank my dog’s collar since it is hard on her neck, it comes in handy in an emergency.
As an example, I took my dogs to the car wash with me once as a fun outing for them. They both jumped out of the car as I held their leashes but one of my dog’s leashes had become unhooked. My little dog started to run straight into the car wash! But luckily I was able to grab her collar and redirect her in time.
Does Your Dog Have to Wear a Collar 24/7?
I think it is fine to give your dog a break from her collar periodically. This give her a chance to scratch her neck and be totally unencumbered at times. And, there are times when the collar must come off for practical reason:
- Going to the groomers
- Vet exams and medical procedures
- Collars need to be washed periodically
- Your dog may relax and sleep better without a collar
- Some doggie day cares remove collars when dogs play together for safety reasons
I started removing my dog’s collars recently at night so they could relax better. It just seemed to me that they would be more comfortable, just like we are when we remove clothing and slip into nightgowns or loose pajamas at night.
At first, they seemed startled and wanted to sniff their collars when I took them off. They seemed to be able to identify the smell of their collars as their own scent and probably wondered why they were being removed. I rubbed their necks and scratched them a bit as they settled into their doggie beds. The next morning they seemed eager for me to put their collars back on. They were ready for their day!
If Your Dog Hates His Collar, Find Out Why
If your dog is a rescue or shelter dog and seems to hate his collar, he may have had some trauma with collars in his past. He may have been chained up or forced to wear a spiked collar or pull chain. He may have been yanked around a lot or his collar may have been too tight.
If you suspect trauma, work with your vet or a trainer to try to reorient him to a comfortable collar. Offer a lot of praise, treat rewards, and go slowly over a long period. He will need to relearn that collars are not scary but can be good things.
If your dog scratches a lot or tries to pull at his his collar, it may be too tight or scratchy. Or, he may be allergic to the dye or material such as plastic. You may need to experiment with different types of collars or try an all-leather natural collar that is not dyed.
How to Properly Fit a Collar
Measure the circumference of your dog’s neck and buy a collar that is at least an inch bigger. Most collars have either buckles or snap-on latches that can be adjusted. The collar should be snug but not tight. Make sure you can fit two of your fingers between the collar and your dog’s fur. If it is too loose it can get caught on things and choke your dog. If it is too tight, your dog may not be able to eat or breathe properly, or it could irritate his neck.
Make sure the material is smooth and not scratchy or rough. I personally do not like plastic as it can cut into a dog’s skin. I prefer leather or a soft, pliable nylon or strong neoprene material. My personal favorite for my dogs is the Blueberry Pet dog collar which I usually purchase from Amazon. They come in a huge array of colors including reflective options. They are made from a soft but strong synthetic material and have durable metal loops and latches. My dogs seem to love these collars and look forward to having them on each morning.
Most dogs seem to appreciate wearing collars if they are fitted and used properly. Afterall, it is a normal part of their everyday wardrobe!
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.