Should a Dog Sleep in a Crate with a Collar On? (The Real Dangers)

Do you take dog collar off in crate

Without using a collar with your dog, you will never be able to train them properly, take them for walks and social events, or direct and correct their behavior. I think everyone would agree that dog collars are essential… but it comes with a huge caveat, the crate.

Should dog wear collar in crate? No, your dog should not wear a collar in the crate. Dogs should not sleep in crates with their collar on due to not just a strangulation risk, but also the possibility of them chewing the collar through boredom and choking.

Whilst all dogs, except for some working dogs, wear collars, none should be wearing them in a crate at night or during the day, and there’s good reason.

According to statistics, more than 26,000 collar related injuries happen each year to pet dogs. Whilst the data does not expressly say how many of these injuries happen in crates, you can imagine it’s a lot… and here’s why.

Dog collar strangulation statistics
Dog collar strangulation statistics – it’s not clear on how many occur with crates though.

Do you take your dog’s collar off in the crate?

Yes, you do, and it’s because it’s more dangerous to leave the collar on than you might think. If a dog is left unsupervised in a crate and the collar gets caught, it can only take a few minutes of strangulation for a dog to die.

There have been reports in the press down the years of owners who let their dog sleep in crate with collar on, only to find their worst nightmare the following morning.

The dangers of strangulation in the crate

The reason being, if a dog snags the collar on a hook or bar in the crate, it will very quickly start to panic. As the dog tries to free itself from the snagged collar, it can stress the dog, and start to tighten around the neck.

One would hope that the worst-case scenario will an injury, it could lead to a strangulation fatality.

Such is the potential danger, that most if not all, professional dog kennels have a policy of removing dog collars when animals are not under direct supervision, for example, when taken for walks.

Signs of dog strangulation

Signs that a dog is suffering from strangulation include:

  • Distress.
  • Pawing at the mouth.
  • Salivation.
  • Coughing.
  • Gagging or retching.
  • Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
  • Rubbing their face against the ground.

The dangers of choking in the crate

Another reason to take a dog’s collar off in the crate is due to boredom. When dogs are left alone for long periods of time, they will start to find ways to amuse themselves. This can often mean they start to chew, scratch, or paw at the collar.

I’ve also heard a report of how a dog managed to get its bottom jaw into the collar, so the collar stuck in the mouth. You can imagine how stressful and painful that was for the dog when it was left overnight in the crate in that position.

In fact, the same study I referenced earlier said that more than half of pet professionals (e.g., vets, kennels, dog walkers), have experienced a collar related incident with dogs.

The dangers of flea collars being toxic

It’s not just strangulation. Flea collars have recently come under the spotlight due to the chemical dangers. There have been 75,000 reports of dangerous incidents!

The safest collar for dogs

You can’t keep an eye on your dog all the time, and there could be occasions where they are out of your sight with their collar on. Given what we now know about dogs potentially strangling themselves in a collar, it’s sensible to look at a safer option.

Below is a Petsafe KeepSafe Break-Away Collar from Amazon. The manufacturers says it’s the only dog collar with a patented buckle specially designed for quick release to help prevent tragic collar accidents.

Safety tips for using dog collars

The Ryder Safe Foundation give these tips for safe collar use with dogs.

  • Remove collars when crating or boarding. ALWAYS take the collar OFF before placing your dog in a crate.
  • Check daycare, and kennel facility policies. They should NOT be putting your dog in a crate or kennel with a collar on, either of these are dangerous practices with deadly consequences.
  • Make sure dog groomers are NOT leaving your dogs tethered to walls, or kenneling with collars/leashes. Also make sure they do NOT leave your dogs on the grooming table unattended (EVER)
  • Look for opportunities to live and “play naked” (without collars).
  • Remove the collar when your dog is home alone.
  • Remove the collar when you kennel/crate your dog.
  • Remove the collar when you leave the house.
  • Good Rule of Thumb – No collars when your dog is left unattended – ever.​
  • Your dog doesn’t need to wear their collar inside the house when you are not home. This is especially important if you have more than one dog. Play biting is the top-reported collar accident. Dogs can also hang themselves on kitchen knobs, door knobs, furniture, bed springs etc. Dogs can also get their tags stuck in heater vents.
  • Do not let dogs wear cat flea collars (here’s why).

Incidents where dogs were strangled by the collar in their crate

There are various reports on social media about why dogs should not sleep in a crate with a collar on. They are very tragic stories, but need to be told to help raise awaress. The first one here was on Reddit’s ”r/dogs” section.

“I just wanted to warn the general dog owning public about collars. We had the worst happen a little over 2 years ago, my husband came home from work one day and found our 95lb 7-month-old old Great Pyrenees puppy hanging by his collar in his crate. He had tried to escape the crate via the top door, managed to get his head out and when he pulled his head back in the collar got caught and he panicked and choked to death.”

Conclusion

To conclude, the risk of your dog strangling itself in a crate with a collar on is probably quite low. However, it’s still a risk, so it’s dangerous enough for me to not even contemplate.

The only times my dogs ever have collars on is when I am leaving the house and taking them for walk. Other than that, our home is a collar free zone.

Dogs should only wear collars under supervision. Remove during play and whenever unattended.

Dogs should not sleep in their crate with a collar on.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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