Don't Use Choke Chain as a Collar

Warning! For those who use a choke chain as a collar on their dogs, please don't. Take them off! Only use choke chains during training sessions, or if necessary, when walking on a leash.


We used to have a friend who used a choke chain as a regular collar on her Chihuahua mix. She used to bring her dog over to play with my Tibetan Spaniel. One day the dogs were in the yard playing and all of a sudden we heard the worst yelping from both dogs we had ever heard before. We ran out and the two dogs were caught up together and tumbling all over the place trying to get free. My dog's lower jaw was caught in the other dog's choke chain and the more they tumbled the tighter it got. It almost ripped her jaw right off her face, along with almost choking the other dog to death.

If it wasn't for another neighbor hearing our screams for help and coming with a strong set of chain cutters, we'd have both lost our dogs that day.

Choke chains are fine, but they have their place. And using them for every day collars is extremely dangerous.

By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC

June 18, 20090 found this helpful

This is so correct! Really, I believe that dogs can be trained without choke chains, instead, using positive reincorcement training. It just takes the patience of Job and lots of consistency.

But you're right, they can be ridiculously dangerous.

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June 18, 20090 found this helpful

We used a choke chain on our Chinese Pug all the time and had no problems. That was the only kind of collar he couldn't get out of. I think he must have been related to Houdini.lo.

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June 18, 20090 found this helpful

We use a choke chain on our Chow Chow's leash but we take it off after every walk, it just stays attached to the leash. She would have to wear a harness otherwise. We did have another type of collar that would tighten slightly but she always got mats around her neck from it. She has a regular leather collar that she always wears with her dog tags but her neck is as broad as the rest of her head (maybe like the pug!) and she would just slip right out if we tried to restrain her with it.

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Redhatterb, If you need the choke chain on your pug for walking or training, there's nothing wrong with that. I was talking about keeping it on the dog 24/7. My dogs never have a collar on. Like Jess, I keep their collars attached to their leashes and if we are going to go someplace then they get them on. Otherwise they go without.

Jess, I know what you mean about the Chow's hair. I had a friend who had several Chow's and I remember how thick their hair was.

And Fab-tmom I agree totally that training can be done without choke chains. Thru the years I've learned beter ways. But there are still people out there who insist on using them. I just hope these people and others don't leave the choke chains on their dogs.

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Choke chains are kind of out of style. They can literally kill a dog if used incorrectly or crush the throat of small dogs. I have seen dogs with choke chains used on them at the shelter when they come in and the shelter always removes them and there are usually scars under them. sells collars that are much safer. Robyn

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June 19, 20090 found this helpful

Also if the choke chain is on backwards, there is never any release and it is very dangerous for the animal.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Our dogs wear leather collars with their ID/rabies tags, but we use the metal training collars for walks with Daisy the Enormous Boxer and Mister Jones the Monster Hound because the large breeds are easier to handle that way. Little Dinah Lou the Rat Terrier does just fine with a leash on her normal collar. I have never liked choke chains because that's what they do: compress the neck and severely compromise the airway. Training collars with their small series of "hooks" simply pinch the skin, offering just enough negative feedback to encourage proper behavior. Our dogs come running excitedly when they hear the metal collars rattle, they know they are going "bye-bye."

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Omg! That story almost made me sick to my stomach! I can't believe anyone could be that stupid to use a choke chain for a collar! Don't they know it gets tighter? Are there really people that stupid?

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

I am presuming you are talking about the metal choker chain collars. We switched from a regular collar to the choker collar but it is fabric webbing. Our German shorthair loves it. It does not rub on her like the leather/other ones, no snap or buckle. We have found for walking, we need to use a full body harness, she apparently likes the security feeling of a hug like (this is the dog who likes her blankie, even at 9 yrs, and will snuggle up in a t-shirt. started out as a joke but she likes to curl up wearing one) and will not pull on the leash with the harness. I have been with the local human society for over 5 years, and the horror of buckle collars being cut from the dog, healing the sores from it are terrible pain.

We never use Allie's collar as training just speak to her, tell her what you want. Right down to reminding her to wipe her feet when she comes in from outside and she stands right there till it is done.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

I don't think it was very nice to call this person stupid. I had the same thing happen with my two Rotties who were goofing around in the living room and one got its teeth caught on the others chain. We were lucky enough to be able to push the dogs together and unwrap the teeth from the collar. Both dogs were just as scared and confused on why they were hurting each other. It was one of my worst experiences and it scared the living day lights out of me. This experience also made me switch to a cloth collar. Thank you for sharing this with us because a lot of people just don't realize what could happen with choke chains. Very scary.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

We had a Chinese Pug that managed to work his way out of very type of collar he had, even the harness type. The only thing he couldn't work his way out of was the choke chain. However, he wasn't the type of dog to be outside playing, he went outside to do his business and maybe sit on the step for awhile. If we were outside, he would be outside, and play with the neighbors really elderly cat, or chase birds that were flying.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Cricketnc, your post is an important warning. We have a large, active and strong dog who only wears it during a walk; and, at that, owners must be sure there's some slack and the dog is not consistently pulling at it. That can do tracheal damage on its own, never mind what can happen with two pups tangling as you mentioned in the OP.

One of my pet peeves as a big dog owner are those owners who have their dogs wearing a choke, prong collar (or otherwise tied up with over-the-top chaining) constantly and unnecessarily, as sort of a misguided badge of honor of having a "big bad dog", rather than using metal collars as the occasional training tools they are meant to be.

If an owner is taking the time with proper training and affection, most dogs, whatever the breed, do not need such drastic constraint on an ongoing basis.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

That may be true for little dogs together outside unattended, but I have a Golden Retriever that is mostly a house dog and she always wears her choke chain, except when I take her out into public. She is perfectly safe and happy, knowing that her chain means obedience.

Good luck!

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks you for sharing this! I once had some neighbors who lost a dog to a choke collar. Very important info.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

While I use a regular fabric flat collar for daily wear and training, I use what's called a martingale collar for walks. A martingale collar is a flat cloth collar most of the way around with a loop of chain where the leash attaches. It's recommended for dogs whose heads are smaller than their necks and provides the quick "reminder" that tightening a choke chain does, but without the risk of damage to the neck and windpipe. Our trainer recommended it since Mason doesn't exactly pull but likes to be right at the edge of the leash where the collar is a bit tight when loose leash walking and I don't want to keep him in a heel all the time. Anyway I strongly recommend it to anyone who is using a choke chain because their dog slips a flat collar when walking.

<a href='""> Martingale collar</a>

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November 22, 20120 found this helpful

Really sorry to hear of your near tragedy with the two Dogs who constantly wore their "choke chains" but you have learned the hard way and had the courage to warn others by your mistake. Dogs have died from owners allowing the chain to remain on the Dog after they remove the lead by jumping over a fence and hanging themselves. So why leave it as a permanent tragedy waiting to happen?

And you would be surprised at the number of owners who have no idea of the correct way to place the choke chain on the animal.

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December 13, 20120 found this helpful

Choke chains are tools of dog training compulsion methodology. Much debate exists about the use of choke chains as a good or safe or even necessary teaching tool for dogs. Emotion aside, lets just look at the facts, both as a necessary AND an unnecessary tool.

Note: To be completely transparent, The Pet Teacher (that's me) does not use or support the use of choke chains, prong collars, or shock collars. There are much better ways to teach your dog without these potentially dangerous tools! Please contact The Pet Teacher with any questions or to schedule sessions where you can learn to work with your dog. The Pet Teacher is a full-time professional and certified dog trainer and dog behavior expert with 15 years of teaching experience and more than 6,000 hours of dog behavior study.

Necessary Tool?

Those who support the use of a choke chain claim that when used skillfully, correctly and consistently, a choke chain (also called a training or correction collar) can be a successful training tool:

Should be used on dogs at least six months and older; dogs younger than six months can suffer soft tissue damage from a choke chain. Before starting use of a choke chain on any dog, get your veterinarians approval first to ensure your dogs growth is ready.

The snap and release action when using a choke chain can prevent pulling-on-leash issues.

The snap and release action when using a choke chain can be used to control a dog with aggression issues.

TIP: The dominance theory in dog behavior has been invalidated by the American Veterinary Society Of Animal Behavior (AVSAB). This group of veterinary professionals no longer supports the dominance theory and in the following Position Statement, they show the science behind their stance. http://www.avsabonline.



Unnecessary Tool?

Those who do NOT support the use of a choke chain claim that when used incorrectly, a choke chain can be a dangerous and unnecessary tool:

If fitted or put on incorrectly or used incorrectly, it can:

Choke a dog

Cause a collapsed trachea

Cause connective tissue and neck damage

Cause permanent throat damage

Cause permanent coughing issues

Cause broken blood vessels in the eyes

Cause severely sprained neck

Cause fainting

Cause transient foreleg paralysis

Cause laryngeal nerve paralysis

Cause hind leg ataxia

The choke chain must be worn HIGH on a dogs neck at all times, at flat collar position it can cause serious injury to a dogs throat, esophagus, trachea, and neck.

Use of a choke chain is not safe or effective by all family members, such as children. Using Positive Reinforcement methodology, however, can be used safely and effectively by all family members without fear of injury to either dog or person.

Over-correction or incorrect timing can cause fear and increased

aggression issues.

Cause choking, strangulation and possible death by getting caught on something (a fence, crate, furniture, tree or other landscaping, another dogs tooth).

May teach a dog not to do something by causing fear of the correction but generally does not teach a dog the wanted behavior. Teach a dog the wanted behavior by use of Positive Reinforcement methodology and motivation.

Positive Reinforcement methodology can be safely used on a dog as young as three days old (versus 6 months old when using compulsion methods), can be used by all family members no matter their age which is important for the children in your family, and has proven to be consistently effective in teaching dogs. Marker-based methods have been proven in scientific studies to have quicker, more accurate recall than fear-based methods. Because you can start teaching a dog at a young age, you can stop the unwanted behavior from developing, thus eliminating the potential that a dog will think the need to use dominance and aggression.

Dominance and aggression is merely fear. What you think of as dominance or aggression is a dogs attempt to control their environment because they are trying to prevent or stop something happening they think is dangerous to them. The dog is trying to stop or prevent the danger. A dog uses dominance and aggression in order to control their world, not as an attempt to control your world. Rather than meeting the dogs aggression with a choke chain (a method of aggression) it is far more effective in the long-term to use Positive Reinforcement methodology. Positive Reinforcement demonstrates to the dog that whatever s/he is fearful of is no longer a threat. The use of desensitization and counter-conditioning methodology works on all aggression issues without the use of correction tools.

Pulling on leash doesnt need a correction collar. Pulling issues, no matter how strong the dog, can be stopped with the use of Positive Reinforcement methodology and something as simple as a red light, green light training method. If necessary, add the use of a Head Collar, and there can be quick and safe success. Please note that the Head Collar must be acclimated correctly according to the dogs acceptance. Please contact The Pet Teacher for detailed instruction.

TIP: There is a theory in dog training that if you can control a dogs head, you can control the dog. Using a head collar gives you control over a dogs head; a choke chain gives you control only over a dogs neck. With control over a dogs head, you can teach them not to jump, not to pull on leash, how to stop barking, gives you control over a dog with aggression toward people and other dogs, teaches the dog that you have leadership control. Work only with a professional who has experience with using a head collar and can teach you that same expertise.

Positive Reinforcement methodology is rewarding your dog for the correct behavior,rather than correcting your dog for the wrong behavior. Throw out the choke chain and use marker-based training techniques and tools to eliminate the potential for neck and throat injuries that can result from the use of choke chains. Please contact The Pet Teacher for additional information. and

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