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.

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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 Cricket from Parkton, NC

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June 18, 20090 found this helpful
Top Comment

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 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.

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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 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.

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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.

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Leerburg.com 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.

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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.