Leash and Collar Buying Guide

Leashes and collars are important safety and training tools. This leash and collar buying guide outlines the best options available to help you properly outfit your dogs and cats.

Leashes & Collars 101

Leashes and collars are two of the most important items you'll ever buy for your dog or cat. There are many factors to consider, for both you and your pet. Leather dog leashes are softer on your hands, while nylon leashes are more affordable and better suited to wet conditions. For a puppy or kitten, you may need a specialized collar or harness for training purposes. If your dog pulls, you can discourage the behaviour by using a chain collar or Martingale collar. An electric collar can be useful for correcting barking or roaming. For cats, breakaway collars protect against accidental strangulation, and reflective collars provide good visibility at night. With a bit of research you can find the right leash and collar for your pet, and for you.

Types of Dog Leashes & Collars


Standard Leash

The standard dog leash is generally made of leather or more affordable nylon and measures four to eight feet in length. This basic leash is good for everyday walking and training and comes in a wide variety of styles, colours and price points. When choosing a leash material, keep in mind that nylon leashes are water-resistant — great for the beach or walking in the rain — but rough on your hands if your pooch pulls hard on its leash. An advantage of leather is that it actually softens over time and should last longer than nylon if kept dry.

Retractable Leash

A retractable leash allows you to conveniently adjust the length of your dog's leash at the touch of a button. Length varies according to model, but 26 feet is common. This will give your pet plenty of room to explore and exercise while keeping you in control. Before using a retractable leash in potentially hazardous situations (traffic, dog parks etc.) be sure to first practice using the lock mechanism. Potential drawbacks to this type of leash are that it can easily become tangled if too much slack is given, and it can encourage pulling in untrained dogs.

Flat Collar

Flat collars, also known as buckle collars, are perhaps the most popular type of dog collar. They're typically made of leather or nylon and secured with an easy-to-use metal or plastic buckle. These basic dog collars won't tighten when your dog pulls and can conveniently display ID dog tags. You can find flat collars in a wide range of eye-catching colours and patterns, including reflective finishes to help keep your pet safe at night. Some models feature quick-release buckles for easy on, easy off. 

Chain Collar

A chain collar, also known as a slip chain collar or choke chain collar, is a training tool useful for training strong, hard-pulling dogs. The chain is formed into a collar when one end is passed through a ring at the other end. This allows the collar to easily tighten when your dog pulls at its leash. Once your dog stops pulling, the collar should loosen immediately. Choke chains stop dogs from pulling by putting pressure on their windpipes. You should not use a choke chain as an everyday collar.

Martingale Collar

A martingale collar is a variation on the choke chain. If properly fitted, it will tighten enough to get your pooch's attention, but not so much that it causes choking. Martingale collars are comprised of two loops, the larger of which slips over the dog's neck. The smaller loop is then attached to a leash. When the dog pulls, the large loop constricts, and it loosens once the pulling stops. The martingale collar is a more secure option for Greyhounds, Whippets and other breeds with necks larger than their heads, because the collar is less likely to slip off.

Electric Collar

Also referred to as a shock collar, remote collar or bark collar, an electric dog collar emits varying levels of electric shock, sound or vibration. The objective is to quickly correct unwanted behaviour such as excessive barking, aggression or roaming beyond a perimeter. For training, choose an electric collar with a handheld remote that lets you control when correction is delivered. It's important to administer the correction at the right time and with the right amount of strength for the lesson to be effective. Bark collars are generally activated by microphone or vibration, so they can work when you're not there.

Dog Harness

When your dog is wearing a dog harness, the pressure caused by pulling at its leash is distributed across the body. With a collar, all the force is concentrated on the neck. Collars can be detrimental for breeds like miniature poodles and pugs that are prone to collapsing trachea. You may also prefer a harness if your dog tends to slip out of its collar. A harness attaches around your pet's torso, keeping you firmly in control.

Head Halter

A head halter, or halti-collar, can be an effective training tool to prevent your dog from pulling while on the leash. The head halter usually attaches with one strap around your dog's head and one around its snout, with the leash attaching under the dog's chin. When your dog attempts to pull while wearing this type of halter, its head is directed down or to the side. This makes it difficult to pull forward and discourages the practice.

Pinch Collar

The pinch collar, also known as a prong collar, is similar to the Martingale collar and can be an effective tool for obedience training. If your dog pulls while wearing a pinch collar, the collar's inner-facing metal prongs will pinch the skin. When properly fitted, the Martingale design ensures the pressure distributes evenly and doesn't cause harm. Because of the pinching nature of the collar, less pressure is needed to correct unwanted behaviour.

Cone Collar

A cone collar is used to prevent your pet from licking wounds or post-operative stitches, which can slow healing and lead to costly vet visits. Other names for this protective device include Elizabethan collar, e-collar and pet cone. The narrow end of the cone, which is typically made of plastic, attaches to your pet's existing collar. From there, it flares out so the dog's mouth can't access the affected area. You should choose a length that allows your pet to eat, drink and sleep comfortably; the more you remove it, the less likely your pet will be to accept it.

Types of Cat Leashes & Collars


Breakaway Collar

Breakaway collars, or safety collars, have a clasp that will open automatically if the collar becomes caught on something such as a shelf or tree branch. This important safety feature prevents your cat from becoming trapped and potentially strangling itself. Most cat collars today have a breakaway feature. Instead of snaps, some breakaway collars feature a section of collar fabric that will give away, allowing the cat to run free.

Flea Collars

Flea collars are infused with flea repellent to combat fleas and ticks on your cat's head and neck. These cat collars are designed to kill existing fleas and ticks, and to prevent new pests from attacking. When using a flea collar on your cat, be sure to monitor it for allergic reactions. If your cat shows signs of irritation or rash, you should remove the flea collar and consult your veterinarian for alternative flea treatments.

Reflective Collars

Reflective collars help protect your outdoor cat by making it more visible to vehicles in the dark. This type of collar can be made entirely of a reflective material, or feature reflective strips or patterns. For added protection, choose an LED collar. These collars are studded with led lights that flash or glow to help ensure you pet is seen.

Cat Harness

You can let your indoor cat experience the outdoors in a safe, controlled way by taking it outside with a leash and cat harness. Some cats take to their harnesses right away, while others have a harder time adapting to them. Harnesses come in a variety of sizes that fit tiny kittens through to large adults. You can also use a harness for cat training, while travelling or visiting the vet, or anytime you need to keep your pet secure.

Leash Training Tips:

  • Train your dog to walk beside or behind you to show obedience and prevent pulling
  • Keep your dog on a short leash to maintain control
  • Remain calm and be patient so the training experience is pleasant for both you and your dog
  • Use rewards, such as treats or affection, to reinforce your pet's good behaviour while on the leash
  • For overly excited or energetic dogs, vigorous play or exercise before leash training can encourage them to be more attentive

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Leash & Collar Safety Tips:

  • Don't pull or drag your pet by the leash
  • Don't over-tighten the collar; two fingers should fit between the collar and your pet's neck
  • Remove collars and leashes when crating pets to reduce choking hazards
  • Never use dog collars on your cat, as they don't have breakaway clasps or fabric
  • Replace collars or leashes when they become frayed or damaged
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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