Choke collar, choke chain, chain collar – whatever you call it, if you do not put it on correctly and use it correctly, you can choke your dog. End of subject.

A few rules of the road:

  • These are not everyday attire; they have one purpose, and that is training.
  • The collar goes on when you begin a training session and comes off as soon as you are finished training. Not a few minutes later.
    When I use a choke collar, I put it on Phoebe right before a training session, which includes walks. I have her sit and then I face her as I put it on. When the training session is complete, I have her sit, again facing me, and I take it off before I undo the leash. That way she cannot go running around around the yard before I remove it.
  • They are not for punishment.
    Do not let the well-known name fool you. You do not need to choke your dog to get them to listen during training. Its design is to provide a means for giving a gentle correction. To clarify, a gentle correction does not mean yanking, twisting, turning, or pulling your dog off the ground. Personally, I limit the amount of correction to whatever I can manage by pulling up on the leash with my fingers. A flick, if you will.

I am not a professional dog trainer, but common sense tells me that I am going to achieve much more if I gently guide Phoebe into what I want her to do than I would if I yank her around, causing her to fear and despise the choke collar.

There is a right way and a wrong way to put on a chain collar

If you put it on correctly, the chain will easily release once the correction is complete. If you put it on wrong, the chain may still release, but not as quickly or easily as is should. This is where a dog may learn to hate these things. “Hey! I did what you wanted, why won’t you let up?”

So here goes:

Note how the chain freely drops through the ring.
Note how the chain freely drops through the ring.


  1. Facing your dog, position the collar so that it makes a letter “P”

  2. Have your dog sit (facing you)

  3. Place the chain over the head, maintaining that letter “P” shape

If the collar is placed correctly, the chain will pull straight through the ring. Again, this is for when your dog will be on your left during training. If, for some reason, you put your dog on your right side, you will need to reverse things. The key is to make sure the chain pulls straight through, as shown in Figure 1.

If the chain circles around, like in Figure 2 and Figure 3, then the collar is on incorrectly.

You see that Phoebe doesn’t want to wait for me to put on the collar (I bet she would do it herself if she had the ability). I attribute that to creating situations that will not make her dread having it on. For us, putting on the choke collar means we are about to go out and have some fun.

She wants her chain, but I have her sit - note that the collar is still shaped like a "P"
Phoebe wants her chain on, but I make her sit before I put it on her (usually, I remove her regular collar, but since this is a demo I left it on).
Note that the collar is still shaped like a “P”
Have the dog sit, and then place it over their head.
Have the dog sit, and then place the collar over the head; keep that “P” shape going.
The chain freely moves; when a correction is made, it quickly releases
Figure 1: The chain freely moves in a straight line through the ring; when a correction is made, it quickly releases

When placed correctly, assuming she will be on my left as we walk along, the chain freely moves through the ring, just as it did when I had it in the air.

What is so wrong about putting it on any other way? If you put it on backwards, the chain does not flow freely through the ring. Instead it wraps around in a “U” formation, making it harder to release. This is dangerous and, well, wrong.

Figure 2. Compare this to Figure 1. See how the chain to wraps-back? It is incorrect.
Compare this to Figure 1. See how the chain to wraps-back? That means it will not release quickly
Figure 3:  WRONG- If the chain wraps back, it will not release easily. It is on backwards; and dangerous.
Figure 3: WRONG
If the chain wraps back, almost like a “U”, it is on backwards and it is dangerous.

So here is my stupid little reminder:

When my dog is standing next to me: If the chain is straight, all is great; if it looks like a “U” then boo, boo, boo!