Training Collars and Tools
Below is a list of common dog training collars and tools. What is most appropriate for your dog should be based on your personal goals and needs. There is absolutely nothing inhumane about any of the items listed and it is essential to realize that a dog's physiology is very different than a human being's.
Nylon, Leather, and Chain leashes: Nylon and leather leashes are the most suitable for training. A leash that is fairly thick will be much more comfortable on your hands than one that is too thin. A 6 foot nylon or leather leash is an essential tool of any dog owner. Chain leashes often have a nylon or leather handle, however, they are not as preferable for training since holding the any other part of the metal chain is uncomfortable on the hands. However, chain leashes are sometimes used to teach a dog not to chew on its leash since the metal is uncomfortable on the teeth.
Retractable leash: The retractable leash's main benefit is the ability to hold a very long line without tangling. However, the handle is mainly designed to be held with a single hand. The line is very thin and designed to be pulled in and out, so you cannot grip anywhere else with your other hand comfortably. As a result, use of the retractable leash can be very difficult for those who have very strong dogs. The retractable leash is seldom used in obedience besides for one situation in a certain method of e-collar training.
Harness: A harness is designed for one thing- to allow a dog to comfortably pull forwards as hard as possible. So, for obedience training, the harness is not a preferred tool. However, for personal protection and protection sports, the harness is essential.
Halti Head Collar (aka Gentle Leader): A halti works on principal that that dog does not like to walk with its head turned to the right or left. As a dog begins lunge forward, taking all the slack out of the leash, the halti will turn the dog's head. The dog learns not to forge ahead in order to avoid having it's head turned. The halti is not used for anything except prevent the dog from pulling hard on the leash when walking. It is not used in the teaching of obedience and dogs will often forge forward when the halti is removed. Many dogs have also been able to figure out how to remove the halti themselves.
Choke Chain/Collar : A choke chain tightens and begins to cut of a dog's air supply when tension is applied by either the owner pulling on the leash attached to it or if the dog pulls forward itself. The dog behaves appropriately to avoid the choking effect. There are 2 main disadvantages to the choke chain. First and foremost, most dogs seem to be able to develop a certain tolerance to the choking effect. A dog's neck is very strong and you will often find that a dog will eventually ignore the discomfort and pressure on its neck. You will hear a dog wheezing to get air, but even that does not stop some dogs from continuing to pull forward and a dog will often ignore corrections given on a choke chain. Secondly, because of a dog can begin to build tolerance, owners often pull harder on the leash in an attempt to increase the choking effect.
Pinch/Prong Collar: A pinch collar contains prongs that clamp down when tension is applied by the owner pulling on the leash or if dog pulls forward itself. When tension is not applied, there is no pinching effect. The dog behaves appropriately to avoid the pinching effecting. Unlike choke chains, most dogs are unable to develop a tolerance to the pinch collar. In addition, pinch collars contain a safety ring that prevents the collar from clamping down past a certain point to ensure that no damage can be done to the dog's neck or throat.
Electronic Collar (e-collar): An e-collar consists of a collar that is attached to the electronic unit and a remote held by the owner. With the remote, the owner has the ability to control the intensity of the stimulation and find the suitable working level for their dog. The electrical stimulation given to a dog in most obedience training situations is often very mild- so mild that any owner should be able to put the e-collar on their own wrist and be given the stimulation. Most people describe the stimulation as a tingling.
Bark Collar: The bark collar is similar to the e-collar, however, it is not controlled by the owner. The electronic unit has a sensor that is activated by a bark and delivers an electric stimulation. The unit has a dial that allows the owner to find the appropriate level of stimulation for their dog. The dog learns quickly that barking causes the stimulation and being quiet allows the dog to avoid any discomfort.