Under normal circumstances, all dogs, when not on private property, should wear a  SUITABLE COLLAR AND ID tag. This tag MUST show the owner's surname, address and contact telephone number. Do not include your dog's name. I always put my vet's phone number on the reverse, having previously given him/her my permission, in writing, for any necessary treatment to be given immediately, should the dog be brought in by a third party after theft, straying or accident.

The wearing, or not, of collars by working dogs, or indeed any dogs , is a topic guaranteed to initiate a discussion!l

Wearing of collars by dogs 2.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2) below, every dog while in a highway or in a place of public resort shall wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it.
(2) Paragraph (1) above shall not apply to—
(b)any dog while being used for sporting purposes, .
(c)any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin, .
(d)any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep,

The wearing, or not, of collars by working dogs, or any dogs, is always a topic guaranteed to initiate a discussion! For example, what is the definition of ‘sporting purposes’?  Nénu is trained to the gun and works with live game in the winter, but like any acquired skill, practice is needed in order to maintain, or improve, the level of performance, so training goes on throughout the year. Most of this training, or reinforcement, is carried out on dummies of various kinds. So is working on dummies “sporting purposes”? I’ll let that “stick to the wall” !

There seems also to be endless talk about the legal definition of a 'public place'  and what the precise definition of the term might be!  As I have  no training in law, I will not attempt a definition, but I suggest you find out .. It is not as straightforward as might be supposed!

Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start  . . . . . . . .  (with thanks to Oscar Hammerstein)

None of my dogs ever wears a collar at home or in the garden . . .

Reasons not to wear a collar - In the home/garden : on dry land

1. When dogs are tearing about and playing, (although no energetic play is permitted indoors in my house!!)  there is always an extra potential danger when wearing a collar; the collar could get caught on something e.g. furniture, vegetation, a protuberance from a wall or building of some kind or garden furniture, which might result in the breaking of the collar (easily and cheaply replaced) or the dog itself might be injured (definitely NOT as easily or cheaply remedied)
2. When two or more dogs are playing there is a very serious extra potential hazard which can (and has) ended in death! if two dogs are 'play wrestling' or (as is a particularly common trait in certain breeds) 'mouth wrestling', then there is a distinct possibility that one dog will grab the other's collar. If the collar-wearer should then twist around in an attempt to escape, the collar may also become twisted (especially if it is being worn too loosely) thus trapping the 'grabber's' lower jaw in the twisted loop; simultaneously the collar has been greatly tightened and in the general panic, one to get away and the other to free its trapped lower jaw, the collar-wearer can be strangled by its own collar. I know of two cases where play has had this tragic ending, so there must be more out there! OK .. it might seem  a 'freak' accident, but one that is only too easy to envisage once it has been explained . . . more to the point, it is totally avoidable.
3. There is no need to wear a collar! As long as the perimeter of your property is dog-proofed (of which there will be no doubt if you are a responsible dog owner) the dog will not suddenly be off down the road into a "public place"
4. Vanity on the owner's behalf; I am certainly guilty of this. A collar can both 'spoil' the appearance of the dog and damage its coat. To be effective, a collar must be sufficiently tight to prevent the dog backing out of it, and sufficiently loose to cause it no harm through constriction. The usual advice given by the myriad sources that seem to think that a reasonably intelligent person needs instruction on how to put a collar on a dog is "make it tight enough to slip two fingers between the collar and the dog" . . . or sometimes it's one finger or even three . . . it all gets rather ridiculous! It will vary greatly between a fine-coated dog, such as a GSP or a dog with a thick wooly coat such as a Barbet! The Barbet's coat Is meant to be protective, thick and wooly; wearing a collar at all for any prolonged period will, at the very least, flatten the coat and, if a collar is worn even semi-permanently the coat may well become abraded.  Of course this will not harm the dog, but (in my opinion) it detracts from its  appearance. If your dog is a show dog it is essential not to damage the coat, but even if it is not, it nice to see any dog always looking its best. Call me picky . . . I don't care, that's what I feel!

Reasons not to wear a  collar - Working dogs/pet dogs swimming

The argument most often propounded is "oh, he/she might get hooked up on something!" this is the same argument as described in the home/garden scenario above and is equally valid for working dogs as for companion/pet dogs. Reports of such accidents in the field are extraordinarily rare, however there is another reason to be considered when a dog is working in water, (or indeed  a pet dog who is swimming.) Some dogs swim with a very high foreleg action; the front paws come out of the water and there is a good deal of splashing . . .
as it can lead to several kinds of trouble!! The first scenario is not actually related to collar-wearing but is important enough to mention here anyway. It is the equivalent of the "feet-first surface dive" in human terms. The paws and front legs come so high out of the water that the dog's body becomes vertical, all its weight is aligned  over its centre of gravity and it can sink like a stone. I do know of this happening, more than once,  in a giant breed not a Barbet or other gundog breed, but the principle is  equally applicable and it could be an easily-avoided disaster just waiting to happen.

 This overly-high swimming action can develop in a long-coated breed if it has a curtain of hair over its eyes  (especially a thick wooly curtain) N.B. BARBET OWNERS!!! If the hair gets wet, it becomes heavy, more compacted and can, in effect, temporarily blind the dog. If this happens, it can lead to the dog to raise its head even higher in an attempt to see where it is going under its 'fringe', probably a fruitless exercise anyway, the front legs become yet higher out of the water, in a "climbing a ladder" action, and the vertical position described above may ensue with tragic results. . . the dog could sink and drown.

The third scenario DOES involve the collar and can occur with any swimming style. If manoeuvering in the water, maybe changing direction very suddenly, in pursuit of a pricked duck for example, one of the dog's front paws could get caught in the collar, panic would set in and again. The dog could drown before the handler, or anyone else on the land, realised what had happened!

If your dog swims with a high splashing style, it is not doing it for fun, or "just having a game", or deliberately and consciously splashing as a child might do when playing in water. It is potentially dangerous and you should attempt to do something about it!!

Of course the law always prevails
, so if your dog is a pet dog (or a working dog)  swimming "for fun" in a public place, it MUST wear a collar & tag, but all owners should be especially aware of the above potential dangers, some of which are increased if the dog is wearing a collar.

CONCLUSION! Make your dog wear a SUITABLE collar, with tag, when it is necessary to comply with the law, but always be vigilant and alert to possible dangers! In my opinion, if it is not legally necessary . . . DON'T!

- use a round leather collar if possible, (less friction against the coat) but they are hard to find, so a rolled leather collar is next best and is almost as good. Flat collars, especially broad, nylon ones, will tend to damage the coat (leather is a little better as it becomes smooth and softened with use) and often look unsightly on the Barbet's thick, wooly covering! A collar, with tag, is worn to comply with the law and to provide something to which you may attach a lead when necessary for safety (unless you are using a gundog slip lead) A collar is not there so that you can haul your dog about, keep control of it or let it pull you along for a "walk"!!!!
A good collar for a Barbet - oiled, rolled leather with a strong ring to which the tag may be attached

Sandie Sharpe
7/3/2012 05:40:57 pm

Interesting and some very good points. I can see some people, who only ever use a harness, wondering what their position is in regards to the law.Should their dogs, legally, wear a collar as well as a harness?

7/3/2012 07:19:44 pm

YES!! It is illegal not to wear a collar and ID tag in a public place. Even if there is an ID tag on the harness, it is not enough to comply with the law, and actually I don't ever recall seeing a dog with a tag on it's harness. Apart from "medical" reasons (dog with spondylitis for example) I can't see why people would ever need to be using a harness ... they should train thier dog to walk to heel properly!!


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