Sunday, May 3, 2009

Training Tools - Martingale Collar

To me, the martingale collar is an interesting training tool. It is generally made of a combination of nylon and chain.

I've heard the martingale called many things including a hybrid between the flat collar and a choke chain. Many trainers encourage people to use the martingale because of its durability as well as its flexibility.

The collar can be adjusted to the proper size for the dog's neck. Properly fitted, it should sit loose on the dog's neck and you should be able to pull it over his/her head.

As with most other tools, if it is used improperly, it can be a dangerous item. Anything you put around your dog's neck could potentially cause damage if you aren't careful (yes, including the flat collar!) so always be careful.

There are a few things to watch out for with these collars.

Some companies have swapped out the chain portion for fabric. It changes the look of the collar and I can only assume it is because it doesn't look as "mean". This isn't very good though, because the release isn't quick enough. It also isn't as strong and it doesn't make the same sounds.

Some companies have made the chain links rather large. This is more for look than of any benefir to use. Remember when choosing a collar for your dog that the smaller the links, the faster it will adjust itself during use. You want quick-release, so you will want smaller links.

See if you can find one that has non-slip fabric on it. I have found that if you get one that is all nylon, it will automatically adjust its size on you without you realizing it.

I use this type of collar with the foster dogs because I find it works well. I don't like the choke because if your dog is not at the proper angle to you, the release doesn't work well and the chain stays where you tug it. Also, if you use a choke, your dog always has to be on the side you set up the collar - with the martingale, it doesn't matter.

I really like to use positive rewards to train a dog rather than correction because I find most dogs respond better this way. There are some instances, however, where I have found an interruption works best and I have found that the martingale works well for interruption without the need for correction.

Remember that with all training tools, it is just that. You should aim to train your dog to respond to your commands beyond the need for tools.

Have you tried this collar? What are your opinions of it so far?


Cyndi and Stumpy said...

I loooooove that you made reference to link size. So many people look at the link size, thinking it relates to the size of the dog. Also, too many of those chain collars don't have soldered links and will just break apart if pulled on. A good thing for a dog whose owner over-uses a chain collar, or isn't familiar with a good correction. Not so good for the dog who is now running loose, or the owner who is left behind.

Generally speaking a good chain collar is not available in stores. No, not even the big franchised pet stores... look for European made collars, available on line and in some exclusive dog stores frequented by working dog people.

GoLightly said...

I'm glad you named that. Horsie people think "What the heck?"
Running, or German?
I know I did, when I first heard of them.
Where's the girth?

I'd like to try one, never found one I liked the make or fit of. My girls are hard to fit.
They prefer their collar free state, the most:)

Have you read Merle's Door, DDF?

What an amazing book.

Off to finish it.........

Viatecio said...

I like the martingale for the putpose of dogs who are too soft to use a correction collar but still need some sort of direction. It's more the ZIP sound fo the chain that gets their attention, but unlike the traditional choke collar, doesn't "noose" the neck...

On the other hand, I see it being used on dogs who need a lot more control than what it offers. It's both a good tool as well as a "politically correct" pinch collar. I know training isn't all "yank and crank," heck that's why we left that in the '40s, but as a balanced trainer, I still do correct for deliberate misbehaviors and blown-off commands that the dog already knows...sometimes even a softer dog can find the Finger in them...

Splash said...

I use this type of collar almost exclusively. I have dogs whose necks are bigger than their head. (hey you have to be kind of buff to carry around a big goose!). Regular collars slip off too easily, and I don't like chokes.

Actually, I've been using them since the mid-80s when this new guy, Ian Dunbar was his name, introduced them to me. Wonder what happened to that guy. ;)

I prefer the all fabric kind but a very specific brand. I've only found it sold at agility trials and dog shows and I don't know the brand name. It does release nicely, and unlike the chain style, it never resizes itself. Just my preference.

Sully said...

I LOVE THESE COLLARS. This is what I use with my bulldogs because their necks and heads are almost the same size. I do NOT leave these on them all the time, just when walking. I adjust it to be too big when not pulling, but so that it is just snug enough not to slip over the head so I have control when tight. I know this is not the actual purpose of this training tool, but it is PERFECT for my dogs.

I also use these adjusted differently when training a dog to walk on a leash. I do not adjust it to where it is "tight" when pulled to the closed position though.

Unknown said...

I used this collar. I don't know the fabric but found that it puts less pressure on the neck than the choke collar b/c it stops when the fabric sections meet. The sound of the chain should serve as a cue to the dog. Was it effective in preventing or eliminating pulling.. no. I switched over to the easy walk harness now. The leash is attached at my chest not the back allowing natural gravity to help keep me level. I have a bad jumping up habit. I still use my martingale but it's only for my identification tags.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

GSC - I hate that - big dog, big link ... I just wait for the grunt at the end. You make a good point about the quality of the link solder. I've seen a few that are simply bent into shape!

GoLightly - I didn't even think about that! I forget that a lot of the training tools have similar names.

No, I haven't read that book. Is it worth reading? By Ted Kerasote, right?

Viatecio - interesting comments you make about politically correct. Many of the decisions that dog owners make are made because they are PC and not necessarily right for their dog. Thanks for bringing this up.

Splash - I'll have to take a look around for that. If you find the brand name, I'd be interested in learning more about it. I haven't had much use for the ones with fabric because I do like the sound the chain makes (sometimes a sound is what you need for an interruption instead of a correction). You make a great comment about the chain ones resizing. I have found that if you get a nylon/cotton blend then the collar won't resize.

Sully - you're not the first person I've heard that doesn't keep them on all the time. Why do you take it off?

(I take mine off and keep a flat collar on them for ID purposes)

Norwood - Do you keep your martingale on all the time for ID?

Sully said...

My dogs stay loose in a fenced area together and they play all day. My one male is still young and has a tendency to grab the other dogs by their collars and try to drag them around when they do not want to play.

I don't leave the martingale on for fear they could have an accident and get hung by it.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Sully - I've heard a few people talk about the possibilities of dogs hanging by their collars, but I have yet to experience this ... have you ever had this happen?

Anonymous said...

Remote Shock Collars are one of the most effective, simplest and most humane training aids available. Remote Shock Collars are placed on a dog's neck, allowing a trainer to deliver small static corrections of varying strength by remote control. The correction the dog gets from the remote dog training collar is no different than static from walking on carpet. The benefits of working with a remote dog training collar is the trainer can immediately correct a dog's mistakes at a distance far greater than leash training allows. A Shock Collar is a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog.
A Dog Training Collar is a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog.