It can be difficult to place the first collar on a new pet, especially if that animal is not used to wearing one. However, it is important that all puppies and dogs wear collars and ID tags; in fact, in many areas, it’s the law!
Keep in mind that puppies grow quickly, but collars do not expand! If not loosened, collars can literally grow into your puppy’s neck and cause excruciating, constant pain. Check your puppy’s collar at least every week until it is full grown (which can be more than a year for large breeds).
Check adult dogs’ collars regularly to ensure the collar is properly fitted and safely secured. Adult dogs may gain or lose weight during their lives, and elderly dogs especially tend to lose weight. Also, some breeds of dogs have a heavier coat in the winter that will tighten the collar, then shed that coat in the spring and summer, loosening the collar.
You should be able to easily slip two or three fingers between the collar and your pet’s neck, although it shouldn’t be so loose that it can slip off over the head.
You should always keep ID tags on your dog with a properly fitted, flat-buckle collar made of nylon, cotton or leather. You may wish to display your dog’s ID tags on a body harness as well, but keep in mind that some dogs may chew off body harnesses when left unattended.
Training collars — such as head harnesses, choke collars/chains and pinch or prong collars — should never be left on a dog that is unattended. Such collars are intended only for training purposes while the dog is under supervision, and should be removed when the dog is not being trained or walked.
Microchips are an ideal way to provide permanent identification that will always stay with your pet. A microchip is a tiny capsule (about the size of a piece of rice) that is injected painlessly under the animal’s skin between the shoulder blades. Each chip contains a unique ID number that can be read by a scanner and then matched with owner information in a comprehensive database. Once your pet is microchipped, be sure to update your contact information in the database if it changes in any way. Microchips do not contain a global positioning system (GPS), so they cannot be used to track your pet. However, they are considered legal proof of ownership in case your pet is stolen.