by Camilla Gray-Nelson

dog-training-deadly-collarDog collar dangers are REAL! PLEASE…Forward this to EVERY DOG OWNER you know!

I’m back from my trip, and was all ready to write a clever blog about by dog adventures in sunny Spain…but tragedy intervened.

Today I received a call from a dear client whose two dogs come so frequently to my kennel, that we all consider them family here. They are litter mates and inseparable. Cared for to the Nth degree, by an owner who is so careful and conscientious as to make all of us blush in shame.

Her call today, however, was to tell me that one of her two beloved dogs died tragically last week, after her collar became entangled in her brother’s mouth while playing. It was an innocent game of wrestling and running. One minute they were cavorting and having fun, and the next, the male’s jaw and canine tooth were embedded in his sister’s collar and he panicked to get loose. In the sudden fracas, his sister’s neck was broken. She was dead. It took only seconds.

Here at my kennel, sure we remove all collars before dogs are allowed to play together, because I had heard that this sort of “freak” accident could occur. But when I learned today that the dog watcher overseeing these two dogs had had a similar incident with two of her dogs, AND that the vet who was consulted after this tragedy had also had a similar incident with her two dogs…AND when I recalled that one of my own friends found her two dogs entwined by their collars last year, I realized that this was NOT a “freak” accident at all, but a VERY REAL RISK to ALL households with more than one dog! A message of collar safety MUST get out to the dog owning public who are dangerously unaware of the risk in their midst.

Any collar, other than a break-away style, is a potential death trap for a dog when he or she lives and plays with other collared dogs. Normal playing and mouthing can result in one dog’s lower jaw becoming twisted and/or entangled in another dog’s collar. Efforts to break free from a normal collar are futile, and can cause further damage – commonly strangulation or as in this case, a broken neck.

Break-away collars ARE available on the market. I did some research today. They are designed to stay on the dog in normal circumstances, but to break open if subjected to unusual pressure. THESE are the collars that dogs should be wearing if they are part of a multi-dog family. For walks in public places, go ahead and use a different style of collar that cannot break apart under the pressure of your leash…but for everyday living and playing, especially while unsupervised, a break-away collar is the ONLY safe option.

Breakaway collars are available through a variety of outlets, including Amazon.com and SitStay.com and range from $14.25 to $16.00.


About Camilla Gray-Nelson

When I started training dogs professionally, it was women who sought out my help. Responsibility for the family dog typically falls to them, after all. Their homes were in chaos; they were yelling at their dogs – and their kids – and couldn’t control either one. The life skills of personal power that I learned as a child (and assumed everyone else had, too), turned out to be rare among my clients. Since that time, it has been my personal goal to share Nature’s message of quiet power with women (and men) everywhere to help them become more effective not only with their dogs, but in their greater lives as well.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

lyn giammona June 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm

you’re so right, camilla. we’ve had a close run in here, with gitta and vinnie too. luckily, while gitta was tugging on vinnies’ collar, it loosened the tightness, and she pulled it over his head, and off. the next time, he did hook his lower teeth onto it after she’d loosened it, but thank god he was a good boy, and waited calmly for us to undo it. we do not let them wear collars while rough housing anymore. the break away sounds like the ticket for these two pranksters.:) thanks for the timely advice- lyn

Pam Osborn June 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I had this happen to me years ago. My aussie got her lower jaw in the collar of my Jack Russel while they were playing and she pulled back and twisted and flipped him over tightening it more. Thank God I saw it and grabbed the big dog who was did not panic but it took me a while to release his collar. God knows who would have been in worse shape if I had not been there her jaw or his neck.

Diane McClelland July 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

This is such a tragedy. Additionally if you do not have a break away collar, and you crate your dogs, please, please remove the collar while they are in the crate.
I have heard more than one story about a dog entagling themselves via collar in a crate where the collar gets hooked on part of the crate and the dogs strangle themselves in trying to free themselves. My dogs are never ever in a crate with a collar on.

Camilla July 24, 2010 at 5:52 am

Thank you, Diane. You’re right! I forgot to mention the potential dangers of collars in crates.

Speaking of break-away collars, I think ALL of us dog owners should start asking for breakaway collars for our dogs when we shop at our local pet stores. Being a former retailer myself, I know that customer requests had a huge bearing on what I chose to order and stock. Can you believe that I have not found ANY pet stores locally that carry canine break-away collars! The only source I’ve found has been the internet. It just shouldn’t be. We can change that!

-Diva Camilla

Ann Honeywell April 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

Thank you, Camilla! I ordered a breakaway collar as soon as I read your warning. Although we have only one dog, he’s a swim-happy Lab, and it frightens me to think what could have happened if his previous collar had gotten snagged on something in the water.

Jacque August 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

Thank you for posting this sad story. This has happened three times at our home! Thank goodness I am usually home to supervise play and we averted this type of tragedy. I will buy breakaway collars for all of our dogs now. Thanks!

Studded collars September 19, 2013 at 6:03 am

I am impressed, I need to say. Actually not often do I encounter a weblog that is both educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your thought is excellent; but the issue is that not so many people are speaking intelligently about it. I am very blissful that I stumbled throughout this in my endeavor to find a relevant content on this topic.

Camilla Gray-Nelson September 19, 2013 at 8:59 am

Thank you so much for the affirmation. Education is the answer. My goal is to make information fun. 🙂

Stay tuned for more educational (and entertaining) posts. Currently I’m working on a post about rescue dogs and the 5 most common mistakes their new owners make.


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