If your dog has ever slipped out of his collar or harness, you know how terrifying that moment can be. Even if you’ve just watched another dog owner scrambling to get their loose dog back, you’ve seen the chaos that can ensue.
One solution, particularly for dogs prone to startling or who often slip out of their collars, is to use a martingale dog collar.
What is a martingale dog collar?
You actually have probably seen dogs wearing these already. They look a lot like flat collars, but have an added loop of material. This loop is attached to the rest of the flat collar with two rings, with the D-ring for attaching a leash moving freely across this loop between the two attachment points.
When a dog pulls back on a flat collar their heads may slip out. When they pull on a martingale collar that loop tightens based on the tension on the leash. The D-ring pulls forward with the leash and the two rings cinch closer together, preventing them from slipping out and running free.
When should you use a martingale collar?
Martingale collars, also called “no-slip collars,” are a smart option for dogs prone to slipping out of their collars. There are a couple of common scenarios where that might happen:
- The dog has a slender head, the same size or smaller than their neck. Think about greyhounds and whippets. This shape makes it too easy for a collar fitted to their neck to slip over their ears.
- Dogs who startle easily or are otherwise fearful and reactive may back up and turn away suddenly. Even if your flat collar is properly fitted, a motivated dog can squirm out in these high-stress situations.
If you’re hesitant to use a collar that can tighten on its own, consider this: The Humane Society says a martingale dog collar is the most humane option for dogs who slip out of their collars.
How to use a martingale dog collar
The most important thing about using a martingale collar is to make sure it fits properly. With the collar positioned behind your dog’s ears, pull on the D-ring. If the two rings that attach the loop to the collar meet before it is tightened smaller than your dog’s ears then it’s too loose. This is the feature that will keep it from slipping off.
You also need to make sure it’s not too tight. Release the tension on the D-ring and let the collar settle back from the ears to a natural position. In this spot you should be able to slip one or two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. If you can’t, or it’s uncomfortably snug, then your collar is adjusted too tightly.
A few of the best martingale collars
The best martingale collar will be the one that fits your dog well. Petsafe’s version is affordable, highly rated, and comes in a range of sizes to ensure a good fit. It also comes in a variety of colors, so you and your dog can look sharp while walking smart.
If your dog is a heavy puller or otherwise wears out his collars too quickly, a chain instead of a nylon loop may be helpful. This Max and Neo collar features a stainless steel chain that tightens when pulled on. Just be sure your dog isn’t pulling so much or for so long that they are putting intense pressure on their neck.
This collar from If It Barks is extra wide, which is great for larger dogs and better distributes any pressure when the collar tightens. It’s also reflective, for nighttime safety, and comes in both a buckle and slip-on version.
Whichever martingale collar you choose, you can rest assured that it’s a tool backed by many veterinarians as well as animal shelters and rescues. A well-fitted martingale collar will set you up for many happy and safe walks.