Have you ever seen a dog wearing a really wide collar?
Sometimes more than 2x the width of a standard buckle collar, agitation collars
are often padded, use a special buckle, and have a handle attached. These
training collars do not “agitate” a dog as their name may imply, but they
are designed to encourage a dog to pull against them, which is very useful in
some types of dog training.
Bitework, also known as “agitation training” actually requires a dog to pull on
the leash. Because of how excited most dogs get during training, the use of an
agitation collar or agitation harness is required
to keep a dog from hurting himself.
The width of a dog collar is directly proportionate to its effect on the dog.
Very narrow collars, like choke chains, actually produce a very harsh effect
because they only have a small amount of contact with the skin. A good analogy
would be how it feels for someone to grab you with their hand vs. with their
nails. Agitation collars are wide to distribute pressure away from sensitive
points, like the dogs trachea, to the stronger muscles of your dogs neck.
The best designed agitation collars place the buckle and the handle or d-ring
as close as possible.
On traditional buckle collars, the buckle can be placed anywhere. If it's placed
on the opposite side of the D-ring, it will place the most pressure on your dogs neck.
In agitation collars, when you see a D-ring opposite a buckle, you should see
an inner leather "flap" on the collar to protect your dogs neck from the buckle.
Collars that are not designed this way can be uncomfortable to wear, or actually
hurt your dog, and should not be used.
Why Use an Agitation Collar?
If you’re looking to get into protection sports like IGP/IPO, French Ring, or
Mondio, you’ll probably need an agitation collar or agitation harness
for your dog. As a rule, agitation collars are better for adult dogs and dogs
who have already been started on an agitation harness, because it is still better
to use a harness for young dogs in protection sports than collars. The muscles
around your dogs chest and shoulders are stronger than their necks’, and better
able to tolerate the rigorous work of protection training.
Some people like to use agitation collars as a replacement for a buckle collar,
because the look of a thicker collar is more appealing. Technically, this is fine,
but for some dogs, wearing an agitation collar for long periods of time can be
uncomfortable. The width of the collar can cause chafing around your dogs neck,
and wear down or flatten the fur.
Can You Use an Agitation Collar With Puppies?
Yes, but for any type of work where you expect your puppy to do a lot of pulling
against the leash, it's better to start with an agitation harness,
because this is even milder than a collar and can help keep your young dog from
getting injured. Every dog is different and you should evaluate yours individually,
but with most puppies, nothing more is required for daily wear than a regular
buckle collar. Save agitation collars for training (or photos) only.