My Puppy Hates His Collar!? What Do I Do?

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My puppy hates her collar. What should I do?
My puppy hates her collar. What should I do?

Does your puppy hate his collar?

If you just brought your puppy home or only had him for a few days I’m guessing your answer is a resounding YES!!!

In fact, people tell me all the time in a frantic mood…”My puppy hates his collar!?  What do I do?

The answer is not that difficult: “just leave the collar on your puppy until he gets used to it.”

But he’s scratching at it, trying to bite it, chew it…he hates his collar!  In a calm voice…”leave the collar on your puppy until he gets used to it.”

Of course make sure you have it sized properly, but besides that you need to just sit back and let your puppy get used to his new collar.

It’s that easy, but you didn’t think that’s all I had to say about this matter did you…you’re correct!

QUICK TIP: We start our 8 week old puppies out with a basic nylon buckle collar. See the pic of Dublin below.

My Puppy Hates His Collar!

Puppy Collars
Dublin doesn’t hate his puppy collar when he’s sleeping 🙂

I’ve been raising guide and service dog puppies for over 12 years now and every puppy I’ve ever brought home absolutely hated his collar and none more than my second guide dog puppy in training, Derby.

He didn’t just hate his collar, but he had a vengeance against his pet tags.

Here are a few things I learned about puppy collars and pet tags after raising Derby.

UPDATE: I’ve now raised several Golden Retriever litters, a German Shepherd mix litter, and a Chihuahua mix litter and one of the things we do very early on is start training our puppies to get used to their collars. By the time our puppies go home with their puppy raisers they have no problems wearing a collar. Unfortunately, not all litters have the advantage of being raised and trained to wear a collar.

Tips For Wearing A Puppy Collar

  • I actually learned this one before Derby. Just leave the collar on your puppy and he’ll get used to it within a few days/weeks.
  • Get a puppy collar with a buckle system. The buckle makes it easy to remove the collar when needed.
  • Make sure the collar fits properly. I usually make sure I can fit a couple fingers under the collar while it’s on my pups neck. You want it tight enough so it does not slip over your pups head, but as mentioned you want it loose enough to fit a couple fingers underneath while it’s on your pups neck.
  • Certain materials may stretch or loosen while your puppy is wearing the collar (plus your puppy will grow) so make sure you check to make sure the collar has not become to loose or tight over time.
  • Have fun with your collars! We have some seasonal collars, different designs, and materials. Have fun! Just make sure whatever you get is safe for you puppy.
Some puppies don't collars nor the jingle of the pet tag.
Some puppies don’t collars nor the jingle of the pet tag.

Tips For Wearing Pet Tags

  • Guide Dogs of America issues us school tags, but I also recommend getting a personal tag so if your puppy gets lost people can contact you. Make sure you register your puppy. You’ll receive another tag for registration.
  • Even if you have tags you should microchip your puppy. Collars/pet tags can fall off and if you’re puppy gets lost people will have no way of knowing how to find you.
  • Are you tired of the jingling of your puppies tag? Try the Pet Tag Silencer. I got a couple from our guide dog group and love them.
  • Is your puppy chewing on his tags? Derby taught me this one. While the pet tag silencer did stop the jingling of pet tags it did not deter Derby from chewing on his tags. What did I do? Simple really, I taped his pet tags to his collar with a little bit of cloth tape. No more jingling and no more chewed up tags. A very inexpensive solution to what was at the time a big problem.
  • Have fun with your pet tags! There are different designs and materials. I also like to get tags for certain accomplishments. For instance, I bought the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) pet tag for Stetson when he past his CGC test.

In no time your puppy will be used to wearing his brand new puppy collar and his shiny new pet tags just leave them on and they’ll get used to it.

By the way, this probably doesn’t apply to most people, but most of my puppies hate wearing their “Puppy In Training” bib/jacket a couple of my pups even chewed up the sides of the material.

I try to get my pups used to the service dog jacket by making them wear it quite often at home even before going out in public. Nowadays I keep a close eye on my pup to make sure he doesn’t chew on the material when wearing his jacket.

First things first. Make sure your puppy is comfortable wearing his collar (and service dog jacket). Once he’s used to wearing his collar your might start introducing him to other products he might need to wear during training like a leash and harness.

QUICK TIP: As mentioned earlier if you don’t like the jingling of pet tags then you can DIY it and tape them together or get a fancy pet tag silencer like the Thundercover from the same folks who brought you the Thundershirt (a tool we use for our dog’s when they have anxiety).

Do you have any tips for puppy’s who hate their collars and pet tags?

Tell us about your experiences with puppy collars and pet tags.

Yellow Lab puppy, Adelle taking a nap.
Does your puppy hate her collar?

UPDATE: This post was originally published March 6th, 2012. We made some updates and left some of the content the same. We’ve learned a lot over the years and it reflects in the new information.

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40 Comments

  1. I’m wondering if you know where I can get service dog training in my area? Are the ones you buy on line with vests, I’d, certificate, real, authentic? They don’t involve training.
    Thank you
    Cheryl Park

    1. You can start by checking some of the schools at the Assistance Dogs International website. Some of these schools may offer assistance to owner trained service dogs. Also, you might start checking with your local area trainers to see if they have experience working with service dogs. We’ve worked with trainers from Karen Pryor Academy and CCPDT Certified trainers that can train dogs to perform certain tasks required of service dogs.

      Regarding the websites that sell IDs, vests, and certificates these things are not required for a service dog. A service dog does not need to be certified, nor do you need an ID, and a service dog is not required to wear a vest. I’ve been meaning to write up some more in depth information on this subject, but for now a good place to start is looking at the laws – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that protect service dogs. Check out the FAQ about Service Animals for more information.

  2. My puppy hid from me after i put his collar on and then kept distance for awhile (besides scratching it like crazy. it’s a small nylon one and appropriate size and fit). Once i took it off, he still seemed mad at me and avoided me for about 15 minutes. I later tried just putting it on floor and then praising him when he came near it (that even took awhile) and he did approach it more, but now he started to chew it when left. Any tips?

  3. I have a 15 week old Chi /basset she chewed the flea collar of my older dog last the collar is 6 months old it was a 7 month flea collar. Not sure what the brand was. She even ate the buckle will she be ok. What should I Do

  4. I’ve had my minpin, Thalia, for almost a month and a half now and I can proudly say that we’re getting along just fine despite the fact that she was already eight months when I got her.

    Recently, I bought a collar for her and immediately tried it on her. She didn’t resist and I thought it was a good thing. She never showed any signs of dislike towards it. She didn’t try to bite or chew. However, after a few minutes of leaving it on her, she started moping and she showed an expression of sadness. I know, it sounds exaggerating but I swear her eyes became droopy and the mood she was emitting was sort of a depressing feeling. I thought she was just a little uncomfortable since it was new to her so I dismissed it.

    It started to feel a bit weird to me when she wouldn’t look at my face anymore. When I called her, she wouldn’t come and she wouldn’t let me touch her. I finally took the collar off and it took me a short while to get her in her normal mood with me. I tried showing her the collar again but then she turned her head to the side, avoiding the thing as if she was afraid of it. I asked my mum about how she was treated at the shop and I was told she was in a crate so it suggested that no trauma has been done that would cause her to dislike a collar. I don’t know what to do. When we go out, I have to carry her because I’m afraid I might lose her. I apologize if it’s quite a lengthy comment. I am just concerned for my dog.

    1. Mine is the same? What did you do. My heart breaks when he looks so sad and won’t come to me. Please tell me what you did to make it work?

      1. I got her a harness instead. I think the collar being around her neck gives her discomfort. Since she was kept in a crate, I assumed that wearing a collar made her feel restrained. So I bought a harness to at least lessen her burden. I made sure to have fun with her and distract her when she’s wearing it. Also made sure to let her wear it as often as possible. I take it off at home so that she doesn’t feel like she has to restrain herself from anything. And so far so good! Whenever I show her the harness, it tells her that we’re going somewhere fun. And I just love her reaction everytime! Hope it helps.

        1. Good tip! We have some friends who use harnesses as well. On the reverse, we had one of our guide dogs not make it because he was sensitive to wearing a harness and ended up career changed. Every puppy is different!

  5. My Bernese Mountain Dog doesn’t like her’s either. When we go on walks, she always is trying to bit through her collar. Always!

    In the end, I think it gets better overtime as the dog gets used to it (as long as their fitting properly).

    Great article, thanks!

  6. Yeah, I have my fair share of experiences with dogs who totally hate their collars. Took me some training and acclimatizing before they stop trying to take them off.

  7. Have never had a pup that hated their collar…the kennel? Yes. Not the collar. I am with you on this one, though. Leave it on. They will get used to it. It is a necessity. They can’t go without one.

  8. If your dog gets used to his collar do you think he would be used to any type of collar after that? Or would you have to go through the same “wait it out” technique each time you switch collars? Like if you started with a fabric collar and the switched to a leather one?

    1. We usually start out with the nylon buckle collar. After out puppies have gotten used to the nylon buckle collar they don’t have issues with the other collars we’ve tried. In the past we’ve also used leather and fabric collars. We also sometimes use martingales with our dogs. Raven even has a rubber collar.

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