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The 5 Best Alternatives to Aversive Dog Collars

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Home » Blog » The 5 Best Alternatives to Aversive Dog Collars

Harnesses, head collars, and martingale collars provide gentle control; clicker training uses positive reinforcement; flat buckle collars offer simplicity.


Harness is a humane dog walking gear that can drastically increase the walking experience of both the dog and the dog owner. The harness creates the pressure on a larger part of the dog’s body and does not damage the dog’s neck and back. The dogs, that are likely to have respiratory and trachea issues, making the standard collar unbearable, are to be walked by the harness. Most Pugs, Bulldogs, and similar breeds with delicate tracheas are much more comfortable walking wearing the correct harness.

Types of Harnesses

There are several types of walking gear, each made for different purposes:

  • Front-clip harnesses reduce the risk of choking as they direct the dog’s attention back to the owner each time they try to move ahead. It is used for training: startling resuls state that dogs walked with the front-clip gear are seen to decrease their ”pulling” behavior by at least 50%, compared to walking with an aversive training collar between neck and throat [

  • Dual-clip harnesses that have a place to attach the leash on both the front-back side are the most versatile. It can be used for training and walking in leisure. Owners of Canicross and FLyball dogs find the double-clip gear perfect for the dogs that tend to keep pulling.

  • Padded harnesses provide extra protection and are especially useful when the dog has a thin coat or has sensitive skin, saving them from the roads’ or throughs’ rub and irritation.

Attaching the Harness

Correct fit and match with the dog’s lifestyle are crucial to which gear to choose. The tightness with which the harness is on the dog is mandatory: the perfect fit is snug, leaving just enough room to fit two fingers under any strap, a bit more on the areas of the girth, including the chest strap. Chest and neck measurements should be taken carefully, the former especially on breeds with bulky heads. If the gear reaches over the dog’s rump, it is too large, while if it slips as the dog is walking, it is too little. Feet need to be taken width included into account, legs the hind and the fore, the first being more robust, to estimate slipping or forward motion.

Training Tools

Apart from being an excellent opportunity to learn the right ways of walking a dog, the tools we use on our dogs can increase their obedience level. Front-clip gear, through no physical punishment, is ideal for reward-based training. A well-fitted harness makes the dog more attentive to walks and commands and as a result, more obedient, making an even more pleasant and operant dog and handler relationship, as indicated by the Association for Force Free Training. Hilfe applies the use of those principles on puppy training, providing a well-fitted, as tight as they potentially grow, adjustable harness.


Head Collars

Head collars are an effective tool for controlling dogs that pull or wander in different directions during the walk. When the pet pulls, the choking effect is not produced by the neck but to the head, as if the hand clamped the jaw under the chin and turned the dog to itself. Such a method of control makes the animal obedient because it is similar to how a dog introduces discipline to a puppy, grabbing its neck. The topic of the paper will be the effectiveness of head collars, as they are a useful instrument for managing dogs during walks and training. In general, it will discuss the most common types of head collars in the market and the ways to train a dog to use this tool.

Effectiveness of Head Collars

First of all, head collars are efficient for managing large dogs that pull their owners or dogs with a strong desire to run to all the directions during the walk. This tool can help find immediate control reducing the time for pulling. Owners of dogs usually agree that their pets reduced pulling to at least 70% after they put a head collar in contrast to usual neck collars.


The process of training a pet to use a head collar can be completed in several stages. First, it is necessary to let your dog be accustomed to a new item on the ground. Chumcho discusses that this stage is the most critical part of adjusting your pet to use a head collar. Thus, let your dog wear it for some time at home with treats and rewards to associate wearing with positive emotions. The second stage can be walking, but it is better to start slowly to prevent stress for the animal.

Types of Head Collars

There are several types of head collars available on the market: The Head Collar stores have different design and padding and can be made of different materials for durability requirements. It is crucial that such collars usually have sliding straps for a perfect fit and adjusting. The company discusses that some head collars have extra padding at the front for reducing bother and rolling at the dog’s eyes. Different designs and materials are created for different breeds and dog sizes.

Martingale Collars

Martingale collars are employed to have a peaceful method of control over dogs without the risk of choking. These collars can be especially useful for those dogs that have narrower heads, such as Greyhound, Whippet, and other greyhound breeds. These dogs are sighthounds and are equipped with very strong necks and heads, so when they decide to pull and walk fast, the head can easily slide out of the collar. One function of these collars is that they are made up of two loops. The first and the largest loop must be put on the dog’s neck. When the dog is pulled on the leash, the loop tightens gently but does not tighten to the dog’s neck sufficiently much to start choking. The second loop is used to regulate how much the main collar inflates. This function helps ensure that the dog will never escape by accident and the training will be safe and comfortable.

It is important that the martingale collar is properly selected so that the function of this tool is fully met, and it will not hurt the dog. To do this, the owner must measure the dog’s neck and head so that the selected collar falls on the upper neck snugly but pulls up when trying to slide off the head. The width of the collar can be quite wide – up to 1 inch for very small dogs and for larger dogs – wider and more massive. Martingale collars help support and control the dogs in a way that suits their size and strength. If the dog is being trained with this method, the owner must approach it gently but correctly. During training, the dog must be slightly corrected in the desired direction when the pet starts to run ahead or pull hard. This must be combined with verbal commands and animal rewards for the command he has performed. This positive approach is pleasant and fun, so the dog will tend to walk and train with great joy.


Flat Buckle Collars

Flat buckle collars are one of the most popular types of dog collars, widely used for their simplicity and practicality. They are a great option for dogs who are not prone to pulling, as they are comfortable for daily wear and ensure the dog’s safety.

Features of Flat Buckle Collars

Flat buckle collars are typically made of nylon, leather, polyester, or other similar materials, each of which is durable and long-lasting. The typical feature of this type of collar is a secure buckle closure, resembling a belt’s buckle, as well as a D-shaped or circular ring for attaching an ID tag and a leash.

Size and Material Selection

In order to choose the right size for the flat buckle collar, the owner should consider whether it will be loose enough for the dog to slip, yet tight enough to put no more than two fingers between the collar and its neck. Based on the materials, leather collars are usually more expensive than those made of nylon or other similar materials, as they are more durable and look better with time, whereas nylon collars tend to wear out.

Recommended Applications

Best of all, flat buckle collars are suitable for dogs that are not prone to aggression when walking, as well as for regular walks, during which the dog follows the owner at a normal speed. The cases when it is better to opt for a different option include training in confined spaces and cases when some aggressive dog breeds are walked on the streets.

Pros and Cons

Flat buckle collars have become one of the most popular solutions as they are highly convenient and reliable in use. In particular, they never contract, so the owner can set the collar size once and never worry about it. The main drawback of this type of collar is the risk of a dog slipping out and getting lost.

Clicker Training

Clicker training is a reward-based dog training method, where a sound the clicker produces marks the exact moment a desired behavior has been demonstrated, followed by a reward. In other words, the dog is rewarded for performing good behavior. The condition required for clicker training to work is operant conditioning. It is based on the principle that dogs will repeat behavior that is followed by something generally viewed as positive by the dog. One of the most important aspects of clicker training is pinpointing the behavior that needs to be learned. The conditioning part involves getting a dog to understand that the sound of a clicker is always followed by something good usually, by food. This allows for a high level of precision to the training and serves as a means for conditioning.

Implementing the Technique

To start clicker training a dog, the owner should ‘charge’ the clicker their dog, which means to practice making clicking sounds followed by the treat for the dog several times. Once the dog begins to anticipate the treat whenever it hears the click of the clicker, the owner can start measuring their behavior, such as sitting on command, responding to the command to stay, and coming when called.


One of the greatest advantages of the clicker training technique is that it is based solely on positive reinforcement, which allows the dog to have a much better time learning and the trainer a more enjoyable time showing them how. When clickers are properly used, the first round of successful training can clearly show that the dog is much more engaged and learns everything faster than it would with a more traditional, correction-based method. In the same manner, by using clicker training for two to four sessions, the trainer can expect the first positive signs, as the method itself is easily accessible, clear, and consistency-producing.

Real-life use

Clicker training can be used for all possible activities; from establishing basic manners to advancing to complicated tricks or agility training. For example, a trainer could use a clicker to make a dog work on an agility course by emphasizing and therefore marking each successful jump or turn the dog makes. In the same manner, it is extremely effective for teaching service dogs direct commands and helps them complete basic tasks they are trained for.

Long-term benefits

Beyond teaching dogs good behavior, clicker training serves to build a healthy, positive relationship between them and their owners. This relationship is structured and based on understanding and not fear or pain. Since it encourages good behavior, it helps in minimizing common dog problems.

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