Q&A: Help! My puppy doesn’t like his collar?

Hello, we have a chihuahua puppy (4months) that we just got from the breeder. We put a collar on the dog and he is really reacting very negatively to the collar. We had the dog for about 2 weeks before we got the collar. Our mistake for sure. But during that 2 weeks the dog was very happy, playful, engaging, just a good dog. But we have to get a collar on him in order to train him and be able to keep him from running off as he is getting more and more adventurous. So now the dog is really acting like he is being tortured. He will not walk around now he just lays in his bed or under a chair. He is whining and acting like the collar is hurting him. We have checked and it is not too tight and there should be no reason why it would be hurting him. Its only been about 24 hours but this reaction seems extreme so I wanted to reach out. We are thinking to just leave it on him and he will eventually get over it but again since his reaction is so extreme we wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing. Thank you.~Gary

Hi Gary, I wouldn’t use a collar with a Chihuahua, or any other breed that size, due to their delicate body and potential for injury. My first bit of advice- consider investing in a harness for the wee one (pay close attention that it doesn’t apply pressure to the trachea). A good, effective harness for a dog that size shouldn’t run you much more than a standard collar would anyway, so cost really shouldn’t be a problem. He may not want to wear it at first regardless, so be prepared for at least a little bit of drama.

If your dog has gone this far without wearing a collar/harness, there is a good chance he simply won’t like the way it feels.

Now that that is out of the way, my next stop (if this unusually avoidant and skittish behavior continues) would be a basic veterinary check up, just to make sure there is no injury anywhere. In fact, I would highly advise you take him to see a veterinarian if you haven’t already, just to make sure he is in good medical condition. That should be one of the very first stops for any adoption.
Did you also get vaccination and registry paperwork from the breeder? Were you able to check on the medical history of his parents, or did the breeder not tell you? This is always important information to have, especially if you buy a dog you haven’t actually seen in person. Ignore this advice if you’ve already done all that!

On the training side, try looking into counterconditioning. Pair the collar (preferably harness) with praise, a cheerful attitude on your part, and treats every time you put it on him. Always present a confident and happy persona, avoiding any overly worried or anxious feelings (or at least don’t let him know you feel that way). Dogs often judge situations based on our reactions; you don’t want him to think you are insecure.

If this is your first dog, or/and you have little experience raising a puppy, don’t be afraid to read up on the breed, socialization training, and anything else you might have questions about. Chihuahuas are notorious for developing poor social skills, so be sure to get right out in front of that while he is still a puppy. Again, if you’ve already done this, go ahead and ignore that bit.

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Junior Watson

Junior is the DogTrainingBasics.com resident "Top Dog". He enjoys walks in the park, chasing invisible cats, and of course... bacon strips!

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  • We have a similar scenario with our 6month cavalier X. Just got the dog a few days ago and without the collar on she is happy as but with it on she seems to hate life and hardly moves at all. The collar was planned to be only as a back up and for the I’d tag and registration. And for walks we will use a harness. She doesn’t like the harness either and yesterday when going out for a walk she simply stopped.

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