A collar needs to be one of the first things you deal with when a new puppy comes home.

I usually purchase a cheap nylon collar long enough to allow room for the puppy to grow. I put a collar on my puppies within the first day or two home. My adult dogs have collars just loose enough to pull over their head (with a little difficulty), however, that is too loose for a puppy collar. A little leg can get caught in the collar very easily (especially since it is a new sensation around his neck). The puppy collar is put on so I can just fit a couple of my fingers under it.

Puppies do not like strange, new things. This collar will cause quite a trauma! Since pups cannot express their displeasure, or take their "hands" and try to remove it, they will scratch at it. This does not mean it "itches" - it just means it feels strange and somewhat uncomfortable.

Since I have a leash on my puppy whenever I take her out to "go potty" (see Thoughts on Puppies for details), she had to get used to a leash rather quickly! Puppies dislike a leash more than they do the collar. When you first attach the leash to puppy’s collar, let him drag it around for a little while (supervised, of course!). Next, pick up the end and let the puppy feel the resistance. You may experience anything at this point - from crying to twisting the neck, bucking, pawing, - some of the more resistant pups may actually urinate or defecate. Just remain calm and hold the leash. When the pup has calmed, you can either try the next step, or end the "lesson".

After the "big fight" is over, you can attempt to encourage the pup to follow you with gentle tugs and a lot of "good dog" vocal encouragement. With very resistant pups, some delicious treats (soft, moist, TINY bits) can be great motivation. You should be upbeat and positive with the pup and there should be a lot of praise for correct behavior (i.e. walking with you while on the leash).

A couple of notes about leashes/collars:

Although I have never myself had a problem, and I do crate my dogs with collars on, I know of dogs that have died by getting their collars somehow caught on their crate. Crate manufacturers recommend NO collars when crated.

Many pups, especially retrieving breeds, tend to mouth and chew their leashes. Generally, they outgrow this. If it gets so bad that there is a tug of war happening every time you attempt to walk, try spraying the lower end of the leash with a bitter type spray (available at your local pet supply shop) or wrapping the leash in tin foil (have you ever chewed on it…?)

"Choke" or "Slip" collars, especially chain ones, are ONLY for training and should NEVER be left on a dog when the leash is not on!

Be sure to check your puppy’s collar weekly and increase the size as he grows. Collars will imbed in dog’s necks!

Get an ID tag for your puppy’s collar as soon as possible. (See Safety Tips for more suggestions).


Pam Young, LVT CDBC CPDT  
Dog Gone Good LLC
Dog Behavior Consultant
Personal Dog Trainer