Many puppies do not like their collars, so it is a good idea to give them time to get used to the smell and taste of the collar first. Hold the collar in your hand and let your puppy sniff and put it in his mouth if he wishes to check it out. When he begins to get bored with the collar, take it away.
Next, let him see the collar again and have some wonderful, tiny, tasty treats while you simply drape the collar over his neck. If he is apprehensive, stop. Wait a few minutes and try again. Drape the collar over his neck while distracting him with a tasty treat. Move slowly and with confidence. If he leaves the collar draped over his neck for a few seconds, mark and reward his bravery by telling him what a brave little boy he is and giving him many tiny treats. Repeat the exercise several times until he becomes comfortable with the collar being draped over his neck.
The next time you work with the puppy on wearing his collar, show him the collar and offer him a tiny treat. Then place the collar between your two hands and go under his neck to give him a nice neck rub for just a few seconds. Repeat the exercise, and this time clip the collar on his neck. If the collar has a clip that will make a noise, try to cover the sound by catching the clip before it opens and closes in place. If it is a buckle collar, put one end through the other and quickly fasten it. If the puppy pulls back, stop. Wait a few minutes and give him another nice little neck massage while holding the collar between your two hands for just a few seconds. Tell him what a great little boy he is and walk away. For now, that is enough training.
Later on, try again. Start with the collar between your hands and with confidence place it around his neck and close it. If he struggles, stop what you are doing and walk away from him. Come back in a few minutes and try again. This time, offer him a treat and place a few more treats on the floor for him to eat. While he is eating the treats, place his collar on his neck for just a second. When it slides off, pick it up and hold the collar between your two hands. Drop a few tasty treats on the floor, rub his neck, and attach the collar. If he is still concerned, stop and go back to draping the collar over his neck for a second, giving him a treat, and telling him what a good boy he is. For now, the lesson is over.
Over the next couple of days, repeat the exercises above, starting from the last place he felt comfortable with the collar touching him. In time, he will let you put the collar on.
Simply demanding that the collar goes on now works much faster, but you will have to make the decision whether you want to build this relationship on trust or fear. When you stop doing something your puppy is afraid of, it is a gentle way to let him know you understand and are listening to him. When you listen to your animal's concerns, you are building a stronger relationship that is built on trust.
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