A martingale collar is a specialized type of dog collar that helps prevent a dog from slipping out of their collar. Unlike traditional collars that have to be buckled uncomfortably tight to prevent escape, a martingale collar is loose and comfortable until engaged. Adjusted properly, a martingale collar never chokes, but contracts snugly to prevent escape. A martingale collar is made with two loops. The large loop is placed around the dogs neck and adjusted to fit loosely. The leash is then clipped to the D ring on the smaller loop. When the dog tries to pull their head out of the collar, the tension on the leash pulls the small loop taut, which makes the large loop smaller and tighter on the neck-- preventing escape.
Some dog trainers find a martingale collar, adjusted slightly tighter, a valuable training tool- more corrective than a buckle collar but much milder than a choke chain or prong collar. The problem with standard buckle collars is that for the collar to be tight enough that it can't slip over the ears when pulled, it must be uncomfortably tight all the time. The martingale collar allows the dog to wear a comfortably loose collar that is only tight when it needs to be tight.
Is it safe to leave a martingale collar on my dog unattended? All collars can be potentially unsafe and a martingale style collar carries a slightly greater risk of injury if left on 24/7. However, you should evaluate whether the risk of choking or getting a collar caught is greater than the risk that you'll find yourself, without warning, in a situation where you'll need to be able to grab a collar that will not slip off. BigDogBoutique does not endorse either policy but we do stress that a martingale left on all the time MUST be adjusted so that it cannot choke the dog when the smaller loop is tightened. Remove all collars when crating your dog.
See also our article on Training Tips for Working with Dogs who Pull Back or Slip Out of Collars
Below is a list of popular martingale collars