Oct 19, 2023
The 3 Best Dog Training Collars of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
There's a collar for every dog and training style Jump to a Section We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation.
There's a collar for every dog and training style
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People / David Hattan
Gwenyn Nave-Powers of Powers Dog Training explains that while a regular flat dog collar works for walks and pet identification, you may consider a dog training collar (that is, after consulting with a dog behaviorist and your veterinarian). "A training collar typically has functions beyond a regular collar," she tells PEOPLE. This includes tightening and gentle pressure. However, it's important to remember that no training collar will address the root cause of the barking or behavioral issues, so you cannot rely on training collars alone and should follow the advice of an accredited trainer before purchasing.
Should you decide to use a dog training collar, you'll need to weigh which options are best for teaching your pup commands. We tried several designs on real dogs in real-life settings to find the most user-friendly, effective, durable training collars that pass the sniff test. Whether your training style uses rewards, stimulation, or a bit of both, you'll find the right collar here.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article included recommendations for collars with shock stimulation settings. After further research and at the recommendation of The Humane Society of the United States, we have been made aware that shock collars are often misused and can create fear, anxiety, and aggression in your dog toward you or other animals, and we have removed such collars from this list.
Gets dog's attention through gentle tugging/tightening
Quickly and easily gets dog to focus
Safe, humane, shock-free option
Heavier tags might put pressure on the neck
On a budget? Go with the PetSafe Martingale Collar. It's fairly easy to get on, but when you want to get your dog's attention, just lightly tug to tighten it. Once it tightens, they'll know you mean business. However, you definitely have to teach your pet what wearing their collar means and use it along with verbal commands. But once you establish that it's for training, it'll work great for your obedience routine.
This collar makes it easy to break your dog out of a distracted mode (like when they growl at another animal, launch forward, or try to pull away) and helps them focus. Though some collars lead to choking when dogs try to launch at other animals, this one feels safe, humane, and easy to control. One thing to note is that heavier tags could weigh the relatively thin nylon down, which might put pressure on the neck. Still, this is a great option for dog owners who want an affordable option.
Price at time of publish: $7.49
Material: Nylon | Closure: Loop strap | Features: Tug to tighten
Convenient two-in-one leash/collar design
Our dogs exhibited good behavior and obedience on walks when wearing this collar
Durable; looks new after months of use
Choking potential; not ideal for pullers
If you only need a training collar once in a while, the Ruffwear Just-a-Cinch is a solid choice. This leash-collar combo is, well…a cinch to get on. You just loop it over your pup's head and adjust the silicone bumpers. Taking it off is a piece of cake too. The two-in-one design can be quickly slipped on any time your dog isn't already wearing a collar (like right after a bath) and needs to go outside for a short period.
In our testing, dogs reacted well to wearing this collar, with minimal pulling on walks and good obedience overall. Having said that, if your pet is a big puller or tends to launch when they see another dog, they could inadvertently choke themselves by cinching it tighter around their neck. This collar is also notably durable, looking just like new after months of occasional use. All things considered, we think the price makes this an excellent choice for the right dog.
Price at time of publish: $29.95
Material: Nylon, silicone | Closure: Loop | Features: Leash, accessory clip, safety reflectors
Adjustable, non-tanging, over-the-head design
Prevents resistance and provides more control
Durable; minimal signs of wear after nine months
No top handle; could have better control
May not completely prevent pulling
Prefer a harness over a collar? The 2 Hounds Design Freedom No-Pull Harness might be your best bet. We found it easy to get on and appreciated the adjustable, over-the-head, non-tangling design, as it prevents dogs from resisting, especially with dogs that don't like their paws being touched. What's more, the front and back leash clasps give you more control when your pet becomes distracted or reactive during a training session.
It would be nice if there was a handle on top of the harness to help you grasp closer to your dog's body for even better control, but all in all, it gets the job done. This harness helps you move your pooch away from stimulants while on walks. We also liked how durable this collar is — it didn't break and showed almost no signs of wear after nine months of use.
Price at time of publish: $41.96
Material: Nylon, velvet | Closure: Loop | Features: Velvet-lined chest strap, multiple leash hooks
PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar: This $24 collar works pretty well for training and seems to signal to dogs when it's time for a walk. However, the dog we tested it on resisted when we tried to get it on, and we imagine the nose loop isn't very comfortable.
Many dog training collars you'll find today are electronic collars (a.k.a. E-collars). These collars typically vibrate, create a tapping sensation, or use auditory stimulation, such as beeping or Pavlovian tones. While some administer the use of shock, we do not recommend the use of a shock collar on your pooch.
"While positive reinforcement remains the best proven way to train dogs, the stimulation and sound function of an E-collar has its place," says Nave-Powers. Of course, you should speak with your vet and a pet behaviorist to determine the best training method for your dog and if they are a candidate for an E-collar.
Pay attention to the closure and adjustability of the training collar as well. Like the Educator ZEN-300, many are easy to get on with minimal resistance from your pet. You'll also want to be able to adjust the tightness around their neck to ensure it fits. As with the PetSafe Martingale Collar, tugging the collar to tighten it is sometimes part of the training process.
We tried many training collars on dogs of various breeds, sizes, and age ranges with different behavioral needs, like pulling and leash aggression. Each option was used for multiple months (sometimes up to a year or more) in various situations, including walks, obedience lessons, and hunting. They were all evaluated and scored for ease of use, effectiveness, and durability, and the collars with the highest overall scores are featured in this article.
Every dog is unique, and all dog owners have different preferences and levels of comfort when it comes to training. Collars with gentle vibrations can be highly beneficial for dogs that respond well to physical stimulation. But whether you choose something with a clicker or a non-electronic option that simply tightens slightly when you tug it, training collars are most effective when working with a professional trainer.
The best way to use a training collar is in conjunction with verbal commands and positive reinforcements. Ideally, you'll begin using one after your dog has been professionally trained (or in between professional obedience lessons). Give your pet some time to get used to wearing the collar, and slowly decrease the stimulation level over time as they learn commands and obedience.
Theresa Holland is a commerce writer and product reviewer specializing in pet, home, and recreation content. For this story, she interviewed Gwenyn Nave-Powers, owner and lead trainer at Powers Dog Training, who spoke on the different types and uses for dog training collars. Next, she compiled our in-house testing insights and combed through product specs to provide thorough, trusted recommendations to our readers.
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In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.Price at time of publish: $7.49Material:Closure:Features:Price at time of publish:$29.95Material:Closure:Features:Price at time of publish: $41.96Material:Closure:Features:PetSafe Gentle Leader Headcollar: