Should My Dog Wear a Collar all the Time?

Should My Dog Wear a Collar all the Time

Dogs and collars go together like cookies and milk. You can’t separate the two as being associated with each other. But in all seriousness, is there a time when a dog should not wear a collar, and are there risks to them wearing collars 24/7?

Yes, there are times a dog should not wear one. As a dog owner it’s critical you understand why.

Should my dog wear a collar all the time? No, dogs should not wear collars all the time. Collars should only be on a dog when the pet needs direct supervision. Dogs that wear collars all day at home and at night are at risk of choking, skin irritation and strain on the dog’s neck.

However, there are times when it will be necessary for a dog to wear a collar for prolonged periods, for example you might have moved house or are on vacation and want to reduce the risk of your pet being stolen.

But, in general, you should not keep a collar on your dog at all times, here’s why.

Should I take my dogs collar off at night?

Dogs should not wear collars at night. It’s simply not safe, because if something was to happen, you might not be there to help your dog. Risks include the dog getting the collar stuck in his mouth, or by strangulation if the collars snags on a crate door or bar.

It’s a very real threat.

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.

Also, think of your dog’s comfort and how he sleeps.

As you can well imagine, sleeping with a collar on will be uncomfortable for your dog. It’s just not fair on him, so take the dog’s collar off before he sleeps.

Should dogs wear a collar all the time
Dogs should wear collars on walks, but no all the time and indoors. (Image via

Should you take dog collar off at home?

The same goes for any time of day, as the risks I explained above can happen as soon as your dog is out of your sight.

I recommend taking the collar off your dog as soon as you come home, and only putting on when you need control. That might be on outdoor walks, or perhaps when a visitor comes.

That’s a very quick overview, but for more on the topic of should dogs wear a collar all the time (I say, no), read on.

Why do dogs wear collars?

Dogs wear collars for several reasons including status, protection, control, and identification. It’s been this way for thousands of years, but that doesn’t mean dogs should wear collars all the time.

Here’s those reasons in depth.

1. Status

Historically dogs wore collars to indicate the status of the owner. Ornate collars dating back to Mesopotamian times have been found that attest to this.

This symbolism is still used today to indicate celebrity status, spawning a luxury dog collar industry.

2. Protection

To this day, dogs such as Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, spend whole seasons without human contact, guarding flocks of sheep up high in the mountains.

They wear spiked collars to protect them from wolves, bears and other predators.

3. Identification

According to the Humane Society in the USA, one in three pets get lost or stolen during their lifetime. A collar does not substitute for a microchip, because it can be removed, but it does lessen the stress and time taken to return the dog to its home.

“Each year, approximately 10 million pets are lost in the United States, and millions of those end up in the nation’s animal shelters. Tragically, only 15 percent of dogs and 2 percent of cats in shelters without ID tags or microchips are reunited with their owners.”

Today, in many countries, and particularly in urban centres, the law requires your dog to carry an ID tag that clearly states its name and address. This helps the authorities to recognise that the dog is not a stray and to facilitate a speedy reunion with its owner.

Even outside of urban areas, you should ensure that your dog carries this identification, either on a collar or harness. This includes walks in the park, hiking or when you are travelling away from home.

If your dog is an escape artist, you might consider leaving the collar on all day in case the dog does manage to get out of your property. If your dog has the freedom to use a dog flap at all hours, you may want to consider leaving its collar on at night as well.

Similarly, you will want to leave the collar on if you have recently moved to a new home. Once you feel that the dogs is settled and not likely to head back to its old abode, this will no longer be necessary.

However, as I’ve explained, for me the risks outweigh the positives here. So if people ask me whether their dog should wear a collar 24/7, my response is no, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Why a dog should not wear a collar

Many people, such as myself, believe that a dog should only wear a collar when it is under direct supervision. There are other times when the use of a collar is ill advised.

For control when walking

In most public places that are suitable for walking dogs, they will be required to be on a lead.

If your dog tends to drag you when you are out walking, this will place considerable pressure on its larynx, the area around the thyroid, and even the neck bone.

Consider using a harness instead of, or in addition to a collar, bearing in mind the requirement to carry a dog tag. There are various types of harnesses available that are suitable for all sizes, strengths, and occasions.

Dogs with necks that are wider than their heads, such as a Staffordshire Bull Terriers, can easily slip out of their collars, and disappear into the middle distance before you can catch them. They are candidates for harnesses as well.

When in a crate or kennel

If your dog is confined to a crate at night or for a period of time while you are not home, you should remove its collar. There is a possibility that your dog could snag the collar or the dog tag between the bars.

This situation is not harmful in itself but it will cause the dog to panic and try to free itself. This will create a great deal of stress, and result in injury to the dog. The worst-case scenario is that the dog chokes itself to death which would be unthinkably tragic.

Most dog kennels have a policy of removing dog collars when dogs are not under direct supervision, such as being taken for a walk.

When playing with other dogs at home

There is a time, around an hour before their evening feed, that our dogs become giddy and seem obliged to use up all the energy they have left for that day. They do zoomies or invent boisterous games to play with each other.

In times like this, a dog should not wear a collar at home. Collars can become a hazard under these circumstances and should be removed.

When being groomed

Much like dog kennels, pet groomers usually have policies to remove dogs’ collars when they are awaiting grooming or being attended to. These establishments have their own apparatus and techniques for controlling dogs during the grooming process.

When your dog is sleeping

Dogs should not wear collars when sleeping at night. Except perhaps for dogs who act like Houdini. If they have access to a dog flap, there should be no need for your dog to wear a collar at night.

It is a good idea to give Fido a breather from wearing this constraint.

If left on continuously, a collar can rub off the hair around your dog’s neck and cause skin irritation. If your dog persistently scratches its neck, this will exacerbate the problem.

Best practices for dog collars

The fit of the collar

The collar should be custom fitted to your dog. It should be loose enough for you to comfortably fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck.

Any less space and the collar will chafe your dog’s neck. Anymore, and it will be too loose which could give allow it to snag on something, or to come off altogether.

If your dog is still growing, check the fit on a regular basis. Puppies should be at least three months old before they are fitted with a collar.

If your pooch is a chubby couch potato, its fat rolls will redistribute with each movement. Make sure that the collar fits well when the dog sits, stands, and rolls over.

The width of the collar

If your dog has a long neck, you will want the collar to be wide. This lends support, as a slender neck is an inherent weak point. You will also need a wide collar on a dog with a strong neck.

A thin collar will cut into the neck tissue if it subject to any pressure.

Only indolent toy breeds should wear thin, delicate collars.

Choose the right material for your dog’s needs

Nylon collars are a waterproof and durable option. They come in a range of colours and patterns, and you can even order one with your dog’s name on it. The colours do fade, unfortunately and they are easier to chew through than leather.

Leather is sturdy and is suitable for strong dogs. If treated correctly and often, it can withstand getting wet.

If not, it becomes stiff and can cause skin irritation and abrasions. It also becomes heavier when wet and would not be suitable for a featherweight dog.

Choose the correct fastener

In the past, the only choice of collar fasteners was a buckle. This made putting a collar on the dog difficult, especially if the dog was uncooperative or excited to get going. Thankfully progress has been made since then and clip on fasteners make this process easier.

When to put a collar on or take it off

To reduce stress further, you may want to take the emotion out of the act of putting on a collar or taking it off. Associate these actions with something pleasant and removed from an event that may generate excitement or anxiety. For example, do not put the collar on immediately before going for a walk or outing.

Likewise, if you only take the collar off when you leave the house or put your dog in the crate, the dog will develop a negative association to the action. Make your life easier by separating the two events in time and space.


In conclusion, a dog should not wear a collar all the time. Take it off when at home and at night, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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Marc Aaron

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

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