You will notice if you visit our dog daycare, none of the dogs in the playroom are wearing collars. Often we get asked why they aren’t. The answer is for safety. We used to allow safety release collars on the dogs in daycare, but pretty early on we had a frightening incident where two dogs were playing happily and one dog got it’s jaw stuck into the other dog’s collar. As the stuck dog struggled to free himself, he twisted the other dog’s collar tightly, effectively choking him in the process. The collar was twisted so tight, we couldn’t find the buckle to snap it off, and had to cut him free. Both dogs sustained minor injuries, but it was very scary and could have been a lot worse.
After having this happen, we learned from speaking with vets, clients and friends this was quite a common problem. A friend of mine left her two huskies alone in the backyard to play while she went for groceries – when she returned she found one dog nearly choked to death and the other severely scratched and bitten from the choked dog trying to free herself. After talking recently to a client who sustained a similar ordeal, I decided it would be a good idea to post about safety surrounding collars.
Collars with an affixed ID tag can mean a swift return to you if your dog ever gets lost. However, there are times when you should remove a collar for safety. If you have more than one dog, you should strongly consider removing their collars if they are left unsupervised to play. Collars should always be removed if your dog is left in a crate as well.
It is extremely dangerous to leave a dog unsupervised on a choke, martingale or prong collar. Because these collars do not have any safety release and constrict around the dogs neck, if they get caught on something your dog can easily strangle to death.
This is still of concern with a buckle or snap-release collar, however, because these styles don’t constrict (and a snap-release might come apart) they are considerably safer. You may want to consider having your dog not wear a collar at all when unsupervised, but you will have to weigh the risk with the benefit of your pet having a collar with ID tags for quick contact to you should he ever get out of the safety of your yard. The risk of strangulation with buckle and snap-release collars is mainly a concern if you have multiple dogs, as the collar can become twisted up in play.
Because you may want to reconsider leaving a collar on an unsupervised dog, we recommend permanent identification such as a tattoo or microchip on your pet. These types of ID have been responsible for pets being reunited with their families years after going missing! Our preference is a microchip, as tattoos can fade. Or better yet, consider both! You can speak with your veterinarian about these permanent identification options.