Training collars have been a controversial subject in recent years as positive methods have become more popular. Many positive trainers abhor slip collars and prong collars, which many call “choke collars” and “pinch collars.” They prefer flat (buckle) collars and head harnesses to control their dogs. The truth is that the training collar is a tool, and like any tool, it can be misused. If you use these collars correctly, they are very humane, and your rottie will learn commands easily. However, there is a potential for abuse. If you are determined not to abuse your rottie, you can use these without inflicting pain or punishment. Let's look at the collars and investigate their proper applications.
Fitting your rottweiler's training collar is very important. In the case of slip, semi-slip, snap chokes, and prong collars, the collar should fit snugly high around the neck without any leftover collar hanging down.
Flat Collars and Slip Collars
Your rottie should wear a flat collar (buckle) at all times and should have identification tags attached to it. Slip collars have been called “choke chains” in the past, but of course you should never use them to choke your rottie. They are made of nylon, rope, or chain with a ring at either end. The chain or rope slips through the opposite ring to form a collar. Your rottie should only wear his slip collar during training or while you're present. A limited slip collar tightens, but it has a catch that only lets it tighten to a certain point, thus making it difficult to choke a dog.
There's a right way and a wrong way to put on a slip collar. When you get ready to put the slip collar on your rottie, have him sit facing you. Hold the collar up and look at it. It should look like the letter “P” when it is going over his head. If it looks like a backward “P,” you are putting it on backward.
Snap chokes are slip collars that are made of parachute cord. Instead of two fixed rings at each end, they have a ring and a snap device with a loose ring around the parachute cord. When you put the snap choke on your rottie's neck, you affix the snap to the loose ring, thus making it a better fit.
Prong collars look like medieval torture devices, but they are actually quite humane. They're called pinch collars by some because the prongs pull inward against the dog's skin and hold it. Prong collars work well for dogs with thick necks that tend to pull hard. The collars work with a minimal amount of pressure, providing good control over the dog without choking him or ripping his fur. AKC forbids the use of prong collars on show grounds. You should only use a prong collar under the supervision of a professional trainer. Never leave a prong collar on your rottie unsupervised.
Head halters control the dog's head by applying pressure to his muzzle, which makes it easy to lead him around. Many dogs respond well to head halters, and thus many positive trainers use head halters as a “humane alternative” to other types of training collars. However, head halters too have their problems. If improperly fit, a dog is able to paw one off. Because the head halter wraps around the muzzle, it can restrict breathing. Dogs that fight the head halter can injure their necks and spines. Head halters look like muzzles, and they tend to increase other people's apprehension about your rottweiler. In most dog shows (AKC and others), head halters aren't allowed.