Friday, June 6, 2014

Product Review: RC Pets Training Collar

The RC Pets Training Collar is a martingale with a chain loop instead of a nylon webbing loop. This is also known as a limited-slip collar, and can be used like a choke chain. It is adjustable and machine washable. This collar comes in 39 patterns and four sizes to fit dogs with necks 7-26" around.

Photo by Erin Koski
This is the collar we used for obedience training. Brisbane and I did UKC obedience for nearly five years, and Briz does Utility obedience, which is the most advanced level. Unfortunately, he only does his obedience performance outside a showring, and at competitions and practice matches he suddenly forgets who I am and wanders off. After several years of work with zero titles or legs toward titles, or even qualifying scores, I gave up. Brisbane has his AKC Canine Good Citizen title and that's it.

Our obedience classes used positive training because aversive obedience training mostly results in dogs that look unhappy in the showring. I've read that many obedience competitors use aversive methods that include pinching ears or hitting dogs, but I would never hurt my dog like that. Brisbane's life has been blissfully free of choke chains and collar corrections.

Photo by Erin Koski
So why the chain training collar? The chain section makes a nice noise when I move the leash, allowing me to get Brisbane's attention just by jiggling or lightly tugging. A fast tug will make a distinctive zippy noise, but it won't hurt him because the collar is only tight enough to keep him from backing out of it.

A real choke chain collar correction involves a collar that gets much tighter, and a seriously forceful yank. A "collar pop" that doesn't hurt is just supposed to be a reminder that a much more painful correction can be used. Most people are using choke chains wrong. Any kind of choke or limited-slip collar can strangle your dog, but that's not a real deterrent to pulling.

Anyway, I have two of these collars. I thought mine were sizes Medium and Large, since I have a 1" wide flame-print (discontinued!) collar and a 3/4" wide Maltese cross collar. Both of these collars are at least six years old though, and it's distinctly possible that the sizes have changed since the current 3/4" collars top out at 14" and Briz has a 17" neck. I used the smaller collar for obedience classes, we tried the larger one once and Brisbane got a dewclaw caught in the chain during an off-leash exercise.

Pros: Awesome RC Pets patterns including my favorite Maltese Cross, so I can make everything match. The patterns don't fade and they continue to look awesome forever. These chains on these collars are long enough to make a good zippy noise, but not so long that the collar hangs super-loose. (I'm looking at you, Premier!) There is a separate ring on the collar for hanging tags without interfering with the chain.

Cons: The noisy chain can spook shy dogs. RC Pets advertises this collar as a pulling deterrent, demonstrating that they don't actually know how choke collars should work. Also, flame print has been discontinued.

Bottom Line: I used this collar every single day when Brisbane and I were doing obedience training. I got several years of use out of my Maltese Cross collar and it still looks great. I don't use the training collars often these days, but I still carry one in my training bag for times when I want to do some peppy heelwork with Briz. There's definitely something to be said for having a special type of collar for training time.

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