Shopping for that first puppy collar almost feels like buying the first pair of tiny booties for any new parent. Just me? No, it’s not. Everybody goes through this. 

But with such an array of materials, finishes, colours, patterns, designs to pick from, it can be pretty overwhelming to decide on the right one. Nobody has that much time to spend at the pet shop. 

Well, lucky you, we’ve done the legwork for you in this article. We’ll share everything you need to know about puppy collars

  • Why are puppy collars used?
  • How to look for a good collar
  • Things you should keep in mind when your puppy is wearing a collar

In some countries, it’s the law for your dog to wear a collar, often with an ID tag too. It’s the case in the UK anyway, so be sure to stick to the rules. Wouldn’t want you to get in any trouble!

dog looking over a log at the camera
Photo by Tom Hills on Unsplash

In our Zigzag puppy training app, we have a whole section called ‘collars and harnesses’ for you to have a read through. Of course, there’s also loads of lessons on lead walking, recall, and other training you’ll find very useful. Oh, and our team of puppy training coaches will also be ready to talk to you at almost any time of day. Download and trial the app today, and get started right away on a new puppy training journey.

All done? Lovely.

Why are puppy collars used?

They’re not just a way to accessorise your puppy. Puppy collars are used for a few reasons, mainly safety. They are one of the least fussy ways of attaching a lead and walking a dog. They’re used for ID and licence tags and used for getting a puppy used to having something worn around their neck when they’re young.

Collars are the easiest way to walk a dog

Clip the lead on, and away you go. It’s not really rocket science. Oh, if only teaching loose lead walking or heel was that easy, but you can do it.

You may already be wondering about harnesses. Dogs don’t necessarily HAVE to wear a harness, but you should teach your puppy not to pull in a collar. You’ll want to be careful if you choose to walk your puppy on just a collar, especially if you have a brachycephalic or toy breed, as the collar sits on their windpipe and could potentially do damage if misused.

A puppy collar will keep your dog safe

Many people, myself included, often use a soft collar as somewhere to fasten their puppy’s ID tag on. In UK law and many other countries worldwide, your dog must wear an ID tag with the owner’s name and address, plus the telephone number is always a nice to have. Why? Well, in case your puppy decides to pull off an escape plan or sprints into a run around the neighbourhood (God forbid). With an ID tag, whoever finds your puppy can easily contact you and reunite you with your precious runaway pooch.

golden lab puppy photo
Photo by Berkay Gumustekin on Unsplash

A soft puppy collar is excellent for getting your puppy used to a collar.

When looking in your local pet shop, you’ve possibly noticed that the puppy collar sets are rather soft. This is for a good reason since we need to get puppies used to having something around their neck. When they’re a bit older, you might opt for a sturdier collar, but something soft and gentle will do when they’re only babies. Even if you never plan to walk your puppy on a collar, they might still get walked on a collar somewhere like the Vets, so it’s good to prepare them.

How to look for a good puppy collar

What should you look for when shopping for a collar for your puppy? It’s not that hard, actually. First, we have to choose a fabric. We suggest you look for a soft puppy collar that isn’t too stiff or uncomfortable. Thick leather and studs can wait a while.

Alright – this next step is entirely up to you. What colour or pattern will you go for? Soft puppy collars come in all forms. Perhaps a lovely tartan or floral number? Or would your puppy appreciate a bow on their collar? Maybe they’d like some skulls with a bow to keep things a little edgier.

One last thing you might consider is if you want a buckle or a clip. Clips are easier to get on and off and can generally be adjusted more than a buckle. But if your puppy is a bit sound-sensitive, then a buckle may be a better option.

Things to look out for when your puppy is using a collar

When you first introduce a collar to your puppy, do it just for short periods throughout the day to give them time to get acquainted with it. Treats, of course, will help everything go much smoother. 

Your puppy may scratch when you put on their collar.

If your puppy acts like they want to scratch the collar off when you first put it on, don’t worry about it – it’s quite normal. The collar might feel like it’s irritating them a little, which is why we recommend a soft collar – it will feel much better. Scratching can also be a clear sign of puppy body language that they don’t like wearing a collar, and that’s fair enough. We probably wouldn’t either, but just like us wearing clothes, it’s a bit of a non-negotiable.

Check the collar doesn’t make your puppy’s skin sore or irritated.

Since your puppy wearing a collar is quite mandatory, you need to ensure it’s comfortable to wear. That way, there’s less chance they’ll want to take it off, but also so they are happy to wear it overall.

Watch out for dyes in your puppy’s collar

Yes, this happened to me. I had a white dog. She had a red leather collar. Then she went paddling, and well, you can guess the rest. A pink necklace appeared on my little snow dog’s fur! It’s worth checking your puppy’s collar for colour fastness after purchase to be sure, especially if your puppy is a water lover like mine.

puppy wearing name collar licking nose
PhPhoto by Shane Guymon on Unsplash

Check how tight your puppy’s collar is.

You should be able to get two fingers under your puppy’s collar. If they fit, it means they’re just tight enough, and it’s not digging in. As they grow, you’ll probably need to change their collar since they’ll need a bigger one each time.

Don’t leave your puppy’s collar too loose.

While wearing a collar too tight is a problem, having one that is too loose isn’t great either. Puppies may try to bite on their collar and get it stuck on their teeth or hooked on something which can be pretty dangerous. Not so fun.

Take the collar off to wash your puppy.

Collars can hold onto water and soap, which you can only imagine can cause irritation to the skin if they’re left on. If you must leave the collar on them when they have a bath or when they go for a swim, make sure you take it off and wash and dry it afterwards.

Choose a breakaway collar if leaving your puppy home alone or crated.

I won’t get into the horrors that can happen when your puppy is home alone, but let’s just say that when you’re away, you’ll want to either take your dog’s collar off or use a breakaway collar when they’re home by themselves.

Breakaway or safety collars either have elastic under the buckle, which allows the dog to fit their head through if they get stuck, or the buckle comes apart when put under pressure.

A pretty good solution that helps everybody’s peace of mind.

Who knew an entire article about soft puppy collars could be written? We hope you’ve found the information you were looking for, along with a few tips along the way. If you’re looking for some more things to get for your new puppy, we’ve also written a great article on choosing the right bed for your puppy. Get ready for more decision making.

If you have any questions about your puppy, whether it’s about what collar colour you should go for or whether to choose a collar or a harness, our puppy training coaches in the Zigzag puppy training app will always be happy to lend you a hand. They’ve got heaps of great suggestions and advice – just ask them anything, really.