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  • Writer's pictureLily Wear

Does the Collar Make the Dog?

As a dog walker and small business owner, I can be pretty nosy. I want to know what dog owners are thinking, talking about, etc. It’s how I stay relevant and provide the services that people want before they know they want them.

The other day I was at the dog park, eavesdropping shamelessly, and overheard a conversation between a couple. They were discussing the other dogs at the park, when the husband/boyfriend of the couple said, “You know, the collar makes the dog.”

Let that statement sink in. It took me a few moments too.

After the initial processing time and shock wore off, I became upset. How could someone be that unaware of a dog’s perspective in life? Dogs don’t go to the store and say, “Hey there human, I really feel that this collar expresses my personality. Buy it for me, would ya?” A collar is an accessory that a human chooses and puts on their dog. The canine has no say about what they’d like wrapped around their neck. Also, how could someone define a dog by an accessory? It’d be like defining a woman by a necklace that her grandma gave her, or an employee by the uniform that they have to wear. I went to play fetch with a frisky lab to restore my mental calm.

A couple days later and I’m still thinking about it.

This sentence is haunting me.

Another perspective emerges. A dog wears a collar every day. It affects how he/she experiences the world. For example, a dog that pulls on the leash during the walk will often wear a harness or a head collar. This accessory shapes how a dog feels about exciting situations such as greeting strangers, sniffing, and when or how often they look at their human on the other end of the leash. A head collar forces a dog to look at you every time that they pull. A front clasp harness slightly lifts up a dog’s torso every time he/she pulls. A flat collar allows a dog to optimistically lunge at whatever they are interested in. Over time, these actions make up a dog’s personality and how they respond to stimuli. Also, as much as I wish these were never invented, what about shock collars and choke chains? Don’t they shape a dog’s personality just as much?

Is a dog collar just a simple accessory, chosen without canine consent? Or is it a behavior modification tool that shapes a dog’s perspective?

As you can probably tell, I don’t have a definitive answer for you. Maybe it’s a little bit of both depending on the human involved. What I do know is that the choice of which collar to use can greatly impact your dog’s world view and is not a choice to be made lightly. It will affect the relationship between you and your canine companion by shaping their life experiences and associations that your dog will form. So, maybe there is something to this “collar makes the dog” sentiment.

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by tagging #MamaWalksDogs. Got ideas, suggestions, or wanna share your experience? Comment below!

With puppy and kitty love,

Lily the Dog Mama


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