Are Dog Training Collars Humane?


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The function of a dog training collar is to get your dog to do what you want, and they are unquestionably precise in this regard. Using these collars to discipline your dog when he steps out of line or chooses to disobey a direction is usually a trainer’s short-term objective.

But the point here is that most training collars use aversive methods, as they generate certain uncomfortable stimuli for a dog. Some people believe that using collars for training is inhumane because it is a form of ‘negative reinforcement.’ Positive reinforcement or the reward approach, according to experts, is more effective and humane in training dogs. Let’s see if all dog training collars are inhumane or if some aren’t.

Flat Collars

Flat collars are the most basic type of dog collars. They are considered the best collars to train dogs. They have a plastic snap or a metal buckle enclosure that makes wearing these convenient. They also have a ring for attaching a leash or identification and vaccine cards. However, please don’t wear it too tight as it can damage the dog’s neck. Sometimes dogs try to escape the training session and, in doing so, can make themselves choke on the collar if worn too tight. The best practice is to leave a distance of two fingers between the neck and the collar.

Martingale Collars

The martingale collar looks similar to that of a flat collar, except it has an additional strip of fabric. Whenever the dog or the owner pushes the leash, the additional strip tightens and delivers more tension to the collar, tightening it in the result. Though the collar does not tighten more than the dog’s neck size, It’s better to check the collar from time to time.

It is considered the most humane collar for the dogs who slip through the flat collars or have a small head or throat size as compared to other dogs. There are some guidelines that you need to know to ensure the safety of the collar for your pet.

Shock Collars

Shock collars have been underrated because the old ones were not made in the right way. Secondly, people don’t know how to use the new ones. Shock collars work by giving the dog a minute electric shock whenever the trainer or the owner gives the command. Old shock collars had no option of setting the electric shock intensity. They all worked at the same stimulation level, and dog trainers used them without considering the harm to dogs’ health. Too much electric shock can make the dog undergo stress and fear. They were really inhumane and led to negative reinforcement. Interestingly, the latest shock collars in the market can vary the electric shock intensity. A dog trainer can easily set a different shock range for different dogs.

All you need is a shock collar around the dog’s neck. Set the stimulation level to zero. Press the command, the dog won’t respond. Now gradually increase the value and give the command each time. Set that stimulation level at which the dog responds to you or was a bit shocked because of the signal. This signal is neither painful nor cruel. The shock is not enough to penetrate the muscles or cause significant harm.

Before buying a shock collar for my dog, even I thought of these training devices as the most inhumane option with an image of a dog suffering from convulsions due to a severe electric shock with all those goosebumps and smoke from the ears.

Vibrating Collars

If a dog is scared of a shock collar because he had a bad experience, consider buying a vibration collar. These collars work by vibrating whenever a dog barks. For this reason, they are also called bark collars. Some of these collars are automatic and start vibrating when it detects a bark. Some vibration collars are manual with their controller in the trainers’ hands. So, whenever a dog is barking, the collar can be made to vibrate with the help of the controller.

Some vibration collars also have a clicker. For example, when a dog is barking, it makes a sharp “click” sound, diverting the dog. But it fails most of the time as the dog’s bark is often louder than the sound, and he doesn’t notice it. But he is definitely going to notice the vibration around its throat. Moreover, it is a great training collar for a deaf dog who is unable to hear at all.

Vibration collars are perfectly humane as they cause no pain. They just cause a vibrating sensation to refrain the dog from unwanted behavior, for instance, barking for no reason. Furthermore, these collars turn out to be the best when used in addition to positive reinforcement, like when a dog stops barking, feed him his favorite treat.

Pinch Collars

Pinch collars, also called prong collars, are the worst and the most inhumane collars to achieve the desired behavior of a dog. Every trainer using pinch collars out there is cruel. It is similar in its construction to a martingale collar but is made up of chains instead of fiber. On the inner side, there are prongs that have a sharp edge and are the worst part of the collar. Just imagine wearing those prongs around your neck; won’t they hurt? The collar looks like it was made by a cruel person who has no empathy for animals.

On a walk to the dog park, if the dog tries to run, the collar tightens, and the prongs can pinch the dog’s skin around the neck. The dog’s skin is thinner than the humans’ skin, causing more damage. The esophagus and trachea are also prone to damage. Veterinary associations have acknowledged that even if the pinch collar is fitted rightly, it can still harm the dog. The point is if it remains tight around the dog’s neck, it can be life-threatening.

Prong collars have been banned in many countries that have announced them as illegal. Though they are legal in the U.S. Some societies and activists are taking action against their use; let’s hope for a piece of good news in the future.

Choke Chain Collars

A choke chain collar is another inhumane training tool. It is made up of a metal chain. Whenever the trainer pulls the chain to take control of the dog, it tightens and causes a lot of pain. It can suffocate your pet to death. In addition, the thyroid and the salivary glands can be damaged. The nerves in the forelimbs are also at risk of damage. Last but not least, collar stress increases the risk of glaucoma. Considering the harms posed by this collar, it would be the last choice that any owner can make for training their pooch.


Headcollars, also called head halters, let the owner have maximum control over the dog without hurting him. A neck collar puts the dog at the peril of choking hazard, larynx, or thyroid injury. No injury or pain is associated with the head collar and can speed up the training process. They can be worn on and off with the help of some support materials. Though a dog may have some issues at the start, he will adjust to the collar over time.

Another thing that makes it better than the flat collar is that the dogs with a small neck can slip through the flat collar, but the headcollar has a strap that encircles the muzzle and a strap behind the neck – leaving no chance for the pup to run. When the dog is barking, pull the leash a bit, and the strap over the muzzle will make him close his mouth.


The Elizabethan collar, also called E-collar, is a great option to help your dog while he is healing from a wound. It is a wide cone-shaped collar that lets a dog eat and drink but prevents him from scratching his wounds so that they can heal quickly. It can be attached to another regular collar for attaching a leash. The collar is made up of soft plastic material and is not rigid in its place. Some may think of it as a hurdle for dogs, but dogs can rest or play freely in reality. They are available in all sizes to fit around the throat of different animals of different sizes like cats and dogs.

GPS Collars

GPS collar doesn’t have much role in training dogs, but it’s a great device for keeping a check on the dogs. Sometimes, owners think it would be great to let the pets enjoy their own company and free the leash. Unfortunately, most of the time, animals get lost. According to the American Humane organization, only a small number gets to meet back with the owners. So, investing in a GPS collar would be thoughtful.

Some people are concerned regarding the safety of GPS signals for the dog’s health. They are worried if these signals would affect the dog’s behavior. You only need to be worried that if a certain device is transmitting the signals, it can be a hazard to health. But GPS devices only receive signals; they don’t transmit them, making them perfectly safe for your dog.

Flea Collars

Sick of fleas on the training site diverting dog’s attention? Flea collars can help. Trainers mostly use flea collars that deliver a strong odor and repel the fleas. They are safe for pets. But the modern collars release toxic chemicals to kill the fleas. These chemicals slowly spread all over the dog’s body and to everything they come in contact with. Not only the pet but also you, your children, and the trainer are at the risk of harm due to these chemicals. So they are not recommended, not even by a vet.

Some of these chemicals are strong insecticides that can cause nervous disorders, and many of them are labeled as potential carcinogens. Society needs to stop using them and should opt for non-toxic options.

Dog Harnesses

To overcome the cons of training collars, harnesses were made. They are way more comfortable and won’t let the dogs slip through. They don’t pose health hazards. But there are definitely disadvantages of harnesses too. They are uncomfortable in hot weather. Tight harnesses can be painful.


Not all dog collars are made the same. If used rightly, some of them are great enough to train the dog with positive reinforcement, like martingale collars, shock collars, and vibration collars. While some are extremely inhumane options like prong collars and choke chain collars. Besides these, some collars don’t contribute to training directly, but buying them is thoughtful, like a GPS collar and E-collar. However, another such collar, a flea collar that is considered necessary, is not a safe option.

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