Collars are functional. Collars provide information about our pets when we aren't there by way of tags or embroidery. They provide a secure place to attach a leash or a quick place to grab if our pet forgets about personal boundaries. Collars also provide a means to identify our dog in places where maybe there's a few dogs that look similar. "Teddy is the one in the blue collar."
Collars are accessories. Hundreds of handmade collar companies can be found on Etsy, Amazon, and Google alone. Doting pet parents (like me) peruse the designs and fabrics to see if our dogs need any of them. (Sometimes they just do!)
This collar was handmade by Candi Wong at Designs By Wildside and purchased for Ruger. (He tried to model it, but his neck rolls got in the way. 🤣) I have now purchased two collars from her and love them both! (Gypsy loved her cloth collar to its last straggly strings so she is currently shopping for a new one. She's particularly interested in the Eco Canvas Collection!) Also, in case anyone was wondering, the tag on this is faux leather, but you'd never know it! The quality of her collars is just amazing and I look forward to spending lots of money with her in the future.
But collars can also be dangerous. You might be wondering about the title of this blog post since I've just gone a bit fangirl over my dog's handmade collars. Well, it's about every day collars becoming dangerous to unsupervised dogs.
A few years ago, we had a scare at our house that, despite lasting less than a minute, shook me up pretty good. If I had not been supervising play, it could have been so much worse.
Our dogs are rough and tumble players. They quite enjoy a rousing game of Bitey Face which often includes rolling and snapping and scruff grabbing. On this day, I was sitting on our back deck steps watching two of our hooligans roughing each other up when the tone of the play turned to panic and Ruger began making strangled screams. I rushed over to find Pippa's lower jaw had become caught in Ruger's collar and in her frantic attempts to dislodge herself, she was twisting and pulling and choking Ruger. Luckily, we always purchase quick release collars and I was able to unsnap Ruger's collar, but let me tell you, there was alot of tension behind the collar; it was not easy to unsnap. Disaster was averted on this day and I am forever grateful that I was outside watching them play.
Years have passed since our incident, but just the other day a friend messaged me that she had stepped outside for a just minute to talk to her husband and when she came back in, her dog Wilson's jaw was stuck on Sampson's collar! 😳 Luckily, she had also purchased quick release collars and was able to unsnap Sampson's collar. Her message prompted me to write this blog post because while I had shared our scare with close friends and family before, I thought maybe others could benefit from our experience now.
After that incident, our dogs were mostly naked around the property. I was not going to risk that again. Then I learned of break-away collars. Break away collars are designed to come apart when there is enough tension on them. Most, like the one pictured here, you can snap a leash to the two D-rings and it operates as a normal collar.
Our boy Ruger wears a break-away collar almost exclusively, these days. Firstly, because he's a typical "little boy." He adventures anywhere he can, even if it's technically off limits. It's not uncommon for him to come back inside naked. We often find collars laying around our acreage after the snow thaws. I once found one hung up on a cattle gate and was very grateful the collar did its job. Secondly, his sister Nessie realized she could grab his collar and swing him around with it. 🤦♀️ Imagine her surprise when his collar snapped open and she was left holding a collar without a brother to swing!
Our girls, on the other hand, used to wear break away collars but due to some behavior quirks, they require a solid handle at times. So, while I am extremely safety minded about collars, break-away collars are just not ideal in some situations and for some dogs. So, for our girls, their collars must be beautiful and functional. 😍
Again, break-away collars are not for every dog in every circumstance, but they could potentially be lifesavers if you are a multiple dog household and not able to directly supervise play. Or if you have a dog who goes in, out, and through tiny gaps while playing on their own, you may want to consider getting them one.
In the meantime, I shall continue to shop for cute, handmade collars for my dogs. Because while we are safety-minded, we are not uncouth monsters.