Collar sensitivity often takes place when a dog associates being grabbed by the collar with something negative. There are many dogs with this problem.
Most dogs learn to wear a collar from a very young age. They are ideally gradually introduced to it and then the collar is finally put on. At first, the collar may feel awry, the dog may paw at it, shake its head, or attempt to scratch it off. With time though, the dog adjusts to it and acts like if it has worn it its whole life. While learning to wear a collar takes generally little time, no time is allowed to teach dogs to be grabbed by a collar, and this can cause ”collar sensitivity”.
How Collar Sensitivity Starts
Usually, collar sensitivity is a result of mishandling. A dog owner may get upset with a dog for misbehaving and he or she will most likely grab the dog by the collar and roughly shove the dog inside a garage or basement. After repeating the scenario over and over the dog begins resenting being grabbed by the collar. Depending on the dog’s temperament the consequences may range from escaping or cowering to growling or snapping.
The circumstances, however, do not always stem from being mishandled. At times, the dog may be associated being taken by the collar with being put inside a crate or having the leashed snapped on and leaving the park. Therefore, pain or some other unpleasant consequence is at the root of the problem.
How to Prevent Collar Sensitivity
It is much easier to prevent collar sensitivity than treating the problem. It is important therefore to prevent bad associations from forming. To prevent collar sensitivity from happening to avoid the following circumstances:
- Do not take your dog by the collar to crate him
- Do not take your dog by the collar to reprimand him
- Do not take your dog by the collar to snap the leash on and stop his play session
- Do not take your dog by the collar to drag him away from something
While this may sound like a long list of things not to do, truth is, there are several more positive ways to teach and correct a dog without making it associate collar grabs with something unpleasant. While an occasional collar grabs to prevent a dog from being exposed to something potentially dangerous (such as dragging him away from a car) is a must, there are several circumstances that do not collar grabs. For instance:
- Lure your dog inside the crate by tossing a treat inside.
- Use your voice to show displeasure towards your dog without touching him
- Play with your dog after snapping the leash on instead of abruptly interrupting play
- Call your dog to you or show a treat to remove him from a situation
How to Treat Collar Sensitivity
If your dog is already suffering from collar sensitivity rest assured you are not alone: according to Dog Star Daily, 20 percent of dog bites occur when an owner is attempting to take a dog by the scruff or collar. Luckily, there is some work you can do to undo the negative associations and start building positive ones.
For instance, if your dog mouths at your hands upon grabbing the collar, start by touching the collar slightly and giving a treat, then holding the collar slightly and giving a treat, then holding the collar and walking one step and giving a treat, then finally grabbing the collar and walking several steps. If you are familiar with clicker training, this will work wonders too.
If repeated long enough, the dog will soon learn that great things happen when you hold the leash!
This way should an emergency arise where it will be necessary for you to grab the collar, your dog will be easily accessible and will care less about the whole event