Teaching your dog to accept collar grabs usually isn’t at the top of the training list, but it’s an important skill! Many dogs find collar grabs slightly aversive and will fight by pulling back when you take the collar. It’s important that you are able to take your dog’s collar and guide them around if necessary. I also use collar grabs to reconnect with the dog and settle them.
Colar grabs are a skill that we practice in both puppy classes and Basic Manners at Golden Paws! Check out our local classes here!
Teaching your dog to accept a collar grab is fairly easy. First, touch your dog’s collar, say “yes,” then feed a treat. When your dog is fine with you reaching toward and touching the collar, you can start to slip your fingers through it. Don’t forget to mark and reward each repetition.
Here is Rise’s first session with the collar grab.
As your dog catches on, you will find that they will start moving into your hand. My cue for a collar grab becomes my hand next to their shoulder, and the dog moves to my hand so I can take the collar. Put a lot of value in this behavior by rewarding every time it happens.
He was a tiny bit more confident during this second session.
Once your dog is comfortable with you taking the collar, start to teach him to give to pressure. With the dog standing, put a little pressure forward on the collar. As soon as the dog gives to the pressure, even slightly, mark with “yes” and reward.
Here is Rise learning some movement and to give to the pressure on his collar.
When your dog readily gives to pressure, you can teach the dog to back up when they feel pressure backward. This is an important foundation for loose-leash walking. When your dog feels pressure on the front of their neck, they will learn to back up to relieve that pressure. It’s exactly what your dog should do if they are pulling on the leash: back up to relieve that pressure.
Remember to mark and reward the second your dog gives into the pressure at all. As you do this more and your dog starts to understand what you’d like, you’ll notice that you won’t need much pressure. You can also expect more steps in the direction you gently pull.
Taking the time to teach this skill will definitely pay off in the future. Ensure your dog is comfortable with their collar being grabbed by training it early and often!