Choosing the right dog collar is one of the most important decisions you will make for your dog. This dog collar buying guide should help you make the right choice.

No collar or harness can function as a panacea for behavior problems (there are no "miracle cures"), nor can it replace the need for consistent and dedicated training. Actually, some training collars and harnesses can exacerbate physical and behavioral problems, particularly in inexperienced hands. If you are concerned about a significant behavior problem or obedience hurdle - from aggression to shoddy recalls, consider enlisting the services of a great dog trainer near you. Your trainer and your veterinarian can work together to help you choose the right tool for your dog.

Some of the tools mentioned should only be used under the tutelage of an experienced trainer. Any of these tools can be a safety risk when used inappropriately.

How To Choose A Dog Collar

Your dog may have a license tag, a microchip tag, a Dogster TogetherTag , or other identifying tags. Generally, these tags are attached to a traditional/standard collar. Buckle collars can be made from nylon, leather, or other fabrics. These are the collars that many dogs wear all the time (as identification collars as opposed to training tools). If your dog always wears his buckle collar for I.D. and is ever left unsupervised, it is worthwhile to consider a "break away" or "quick release" collar.

Dogs in collars can strangle themselves during play with other dogs, in crates, on fences or gates, and in myriad other ways when running and romping - "break away" collars are designed to release under pressure in these situations. You may want a "break away" collar for your dog's "all the time" collar and a different tool for walking your dog.

Another popular collar is the martingale collar. While these are widely recommended for sighthounds, martingales are a good collar for any dog prone to backing out of the leash. A martingale collar fits loosely when walking, but tightens if the dog tries to back out of the collar - not enough to cut off air or hurt the dog, but enough to keep him safe.

Certain collars may be recommended for medical purposes including the Elizabethan collar (the infamous "conehead") and parasite repellant collars. Other collars may be recommended for behavioral reasons, most notably the D.A.P (Dog Appeasing Pheremone) collar which disperses a calming canine pheromone.

The final category of collars is correction collars; which includes choke collars, prong collars, shock collars, and citronella collars.

According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, "punishment (e.g. choke chains, pinch collars, and electronic collars) should not be used as a first-line or early-use treatment for behavior problems. This is due to the potential adverse effects which include but are not limited to: inhibition of learning, increased fear-related and aggressive behaviors, and injury to...