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Zeno Martingale Guide

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Our Martingale Dog Collars are handcrafted and held to the highest standards. They boast unique and attractive designs to make sure your pooch stands out in the pack. Perfect for training, our Martingale Collars are the ideal solution for dogs that may try to back out of their collars or need to be reminded not to pull. Browse our collection below and find the perfect style for your dog, or continue reading to find out if a Martingale Collar is right for you.
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hemp martingale
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Martingale collar guide

No matter what lifestyle you and your dog enjoy, a safe and secure way to take them for a walk is a necessity. With a skittish pup or a tough puller, walks can quickly become a stressful activity for you and your dog. Experienced trainers and rescues recommend our martingale collars because they are the perfect tool to help take back control of your walks. These collars are reliably safe and comfortable for dogs of all shapes and sizes. If you are instead looking for a flat collar, you can find our selection here.
Why use a martingale collar?
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Escape-proof Functionality
Martingale collars are composed of two sections: a fixed portion (neck loop) and a control loop. The leash is attached to a D-ring on the control loop, which adjusts. This loop can only tighten to the length of the fixed portion -- allowing enough tightening to keep your dog from slipping out no matter how hard they pull, but ensuring the collar will not be able to tighten so far as to injure your dog. Rescue organizations, such as Lucky Dog Rescue, use and recommend martingale collars “because shelter dogs can be more skittish at times, [Martingale] collars are the safest way to prevent escapes".
Escape-proof Functionality
Martingale collars are commonly used for dogs who need to be reminded of their manners when walking on a leash. The tightening of the control loop does not hurt the dog but does cause discomfort that encourages them to stop pulling while on leash. It is important that your dog does not lean into the collar and consistently pull. Martingales are designed to tighten when necessary and remain relaxed the majority of the time. When your dog pulls, gently pull back. Stop walking if necessary. As soon as your dog releases the pressure applied to the collar, continue walking. Your dog will quickly learn not to put pressure on the collar. If you find your dog pulls constantly, we recommend seeking the assistance of a trained professional to help you with some basic loose leash walking skills and training.
Benefits of a Martingale Collar
  • - Reliable safety features provide peace of mind on every walk
  • Escape-proof even if your dog pulls very hard, suddenly, or from an unexpected direction
  • Comfortable to wear for dogs, easy to use for humans
  • Hundreds of color combinations to choose from to keep your dog looking stylish
  • Fabric neck loop does not snag or chafe fur like other materials are known to do
  • Suitable for any size, shape, or breed of dog (although not recommended for new puppies)
    Pressure is evenly distributed around the neck so that the collar doesn’t pinch or choke
Benefit of adding a buckle
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Standard vs buckle
The standard martingale is a collar without a buckle. This style must be adjusted large enough to be slipped over the dog’s head, then adjusted again to be properly fitted. This lightweight design is a good choice for smaller dogs that would not appreciate the added weight of a buckle but is still durable enough for the strongest of dogs.


The buckle martingale was made with convenience in mind. These collars sport a quick release buckle, removing the need to readjust the collar for each use. This style is an excellent choice for dogs with large heads or those that do not tolerate their ears/face being touched. Martingales with buckles are also preferable for skittish dogs that may be fearful of something being pulled over their head.
Buckle Material Choices
Plastic - Plastic buckles are lightweight, durable, waterproof, and are included in the base price for all of our collars. They are strength rated for even the toughest of pullers.
Metal & Plastic (hybrid) - Hybrid buckles combine plastic and aluminum to offer a light weight, good looking, and strong option. The aluminum side of these buckles are engraved for increased longevity.
Aluminum - Aluminum buckles are the heaviest option, providing both style and security in a compact package.
Benefits of a Personalized Buckle
You can eliminate the jingle of traditional tags by having the buckle on your new collar personalized.
  • Safer than wearing traditional ID tags, that can get snagged while your dog is exploring or playing
  • Never have to re-order lost dog tags again
  • Less bulk compared to tags, perfect for small dogs
  • NO MORE TAG JINGLE!
Properly sizing a martingale
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Measuring for a martingale collar
Step 1 - Measure Dog's Neck: Using a (soft) sewing tape, measure around your dog’s neck where their collar normally sits. Pull the tape until it is snug but not tight. You should be able to comfortably put two fingers between the measuring tape and your dog's neck. Record this measurement, it will be the primary factor to consider when selecting a size.


If you do not have a soft tape, use a piece of string (or similar) and measure around your dog’s neck using the above instructions. Lay the string flat and use a ruler or tape measure to obtain the measurement.


Step 2 - Measure Dog's Head: If you are ordering a standard martingale (without a buckle), the collar will need to comfortably fit the dog's neck, but also adjust to be large enough to fit over their head and ears. Using the same method from Step 1, measure the head starting at the throat and going over the ears.
Record the measurements and use while determining the correct size collar to order.
Custom Sizing is Important for Martingale Collars
It is recommended that Martingale Collars be ordered as close to the true size of your dog's neck as possible. This will ensure not only the best possible fit but also the accurate functionality of the collar. To help you find the perfect fit, we offer custom sizing for all of our collars.


  • Custom sized martingale collars are typically made with your dog’s neck size at the center position, allowing the collar to adjust both smaller and larger in size
  • The smaller the collar, the less material it will have to adjust (when compared to large collars) -- ordering a custom sized collar gives you the most possible room for smaller dogs
  • For puppies, custom sizing allows you to purchase a collar slightly larger than currently needed, giving your pup room to grow into the collar
  • Safer than wearing traditional ID tags, that can get snagged while your dog is exploring or playing
  • Never have to re-order lost dog tags again
  • Less bulk compared to tags, perfect for small dogs
  • NO MORE TAG JINGLE!
Choosing a Width for Martingales
In general, we suggest ordering a martingale in a 1" or 1.5" width. A wider collar will distribute the pressure across a larger area of your dog’s neck, making it more comfortable and more effective. For strong dogs, heavy pullers, or puppies expected to grow rapidly, a wider collar would be ideal.
 
  • 3/4" may be appropriate for very small dogs
  • 1" is perfect for medium-sized and larger dogs -- this is the most common size for Martingale Collars
  • 1.5" is best suited for large dogs or those with long, delicate necks such as sighthounds
How to use a martingale collar
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Multiple Functions
There are two different adjustments for martingale collars that you should be aware of, detailed below. Please note that none of our buckles are strength rated for continuous jerking and as such should not be used with a tie-out -- martingale collars especially should not be used without supervision, on a tie-out, or with a retractable leash. Doing so may endanger your dog's safety.
Walking and Training: On-Leash
  • To ensure the proper fit, pull the collar up to the top of your dog's neck, so that it sits just behind the ears. You want to adjust the collar to be snug in this location, as this is the smallest part of the neck (before going over the head). This will prevent your dog from being able to slip out of the collar.
  • Once tension is relieved from the collar it should sit comfortably mid-neck and be slightly looser fitting than a flat collar. The measurements of a martingale collar are that of the collar in use. When in use and pulled tight the hardware on the control loop should never touch! There should always be two fingers width (about 2") between the hardware.
Supervised Use: Off-Leash
For safety, many professionals recommend only using a martingale collar under direct supervision, (during walking or training) and removing the collar when not in use. Should you choose to leave the collar on your dog while off leash, the collar should always be loose enough to slide off of your dog's head -- this will prevent accidental strangulation should the control loop get caught on anything. The two slides on the control loop should easily touch when adjusted in this way. The collar should sit comfortably, roughly mid neck once adjusted. It will be looser than a flat collar, and looser still than a martingale used for walking. You should easily be able to slide your entire hand under the collar.
 ** The first image is CORRECT. The second and third are INCORRECT.


  • The control loop on the collar should have enough slack to pull into a symmetrical triangular shape when a leash is attached and pulled
  • If the control loop is flush against the collar and does not provide slack when pulled, the collar is too tight
    If the hardware at the base of the loop is touching, the collar is too loose
It is important that your dog does not lean into the collar and consistently pull. Martingales are designed to tighten when necessary and remain relaxed the majority of the time. When your dog pulls, gently pull back. Stop walking if necessary. As soon as your dog releases the pressure applied to the collar, continue walking. Your dog will quickly learn not to put pressure on the collar.


If you find your dog pulls constantly, we recommend seeking the assistance of a trained professional to help you with some basic loose leash walking skills and training.
Safety when using a martingale
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Safety Comes First
Not for Unsupervised Use - Martingales should not be left on your dog when they are unsupervised, they can be snagged and pulled off or pulled tight on your dog.


Not for Sole Restraint for Constant Pullers - Dogs that constantly pull against the leash should have a harness to restrain them in addition to the martingale.
Not for Off leash Play - Because martingale collars sit looser on a dog's neck than flat collars, they may be more easily snagged when a dog is playing with other dogs or adventuring. For this reason, it is best to switch to a flat collar with your dog's ID after your walk to the dog park.


Not for Retractable Leashes - The constant tension from retractable leashes can tighten the martingale collar at inappropriate times and make it difficult for your dog to understand whether she is pulling too hard or not. Additionally, these leashes come with their own safety concerns and should be used wit caution.
Not for Tethering or Use on a Tie Out - Martingale collars should never be used to tether your dog to an object, even for an instant. Always be within reach of your dog's leash when they are wearing a martingale collar.
Not for Use When Crating - Most experts recommend removing your dog's collar before crating, no matter the style. Crating your dog with a martingale collar could result in potentially life threatening consequences.


Not for Pet Tags (Unless an Extra D-ring is Added) - Pet tags should never be hung from the d-ring on the control loop of a martingale collar for safety reasons. Tags can be hung from the slides or an optional extra d-ring.
What about harnesses?
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What about harnesses?
Dogs can wiggle out of body harnesses of any type. A harness that seems to be well-fitted may still allow room for a dog to get a leg through without you noticing, causing the harness to fail when your dog pulls.
If your dog wears a head harness like a gentle leader, she may be able to get a paw up and wipe off the muzzle part and slide out of the collar part. This can happen surprisingly quickly.
What about buckle, slip, choke, or pinch collars?
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Alternatives to Martingale Collars
Flat collars are perfectly fine for carrying ID tags, but it can be very easy for a dog to back out of these collars, even if they are fitted very tightly. Dogs have incredible determination and may not care if the collar hurts their neck or ears while they are pulling their way to freedom. If your dog tries to pull out of their collar, a martingale is the perfect solution.


Chain martingale collars are a popular design that uses a chain control loop, rather than a fabric one. Unlike fabric, the chain control loop of a martingale collar can chafe skin and pull out clumps of fur if not used carefully. Additionally, skittish dogs may be fearful of the noise the chain makes when the collar is in use.


Slip and choke collars allow the collar to tighten indefinitely. This means that the harder your dog pulls, the tighter it will get. If a slip collar is pulled harshly (either to discipline a dog or to pull them back from a sudden obstacle) it can quickly tighten enough to injure or dog or cause significant pain. If your dog lunges after something on a slip collar, they could seriously injure their trachea, which is where these collars distribute their pressure. The Professional Pet Guild recommends against using these collars because, in their experience, they result in soft tissue injuries and damage the human-animal bond.
Pinch or prong collars are designed to tighten to a specific degree around your dog's neck, trapping the skin between the prongs of the collar and creating a sharp pinching sensation. These collars are often used in training programs that use punishment an adverse of training, which we do not condone. Find out more information at Positively.com. Modern trainers agree that these collars are not only dangerous for your dog but often result in adverse behavioral consequences. Dogs are likely to become more fearful and aggressive when such techniques are used, even if the behavior at the moment appears to be suppressed. Numerous studies point to the negative consequences of prong and pinch collars and negative reinforcement training.


A study from Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that dogs trained with negative reinforcement-based methods like prong and choke collars showed signals of stress and lowered body postures when displaying the behaviors they had been trained to perform. On the other paw, dogs trained with positive reinforcement were more attentive to their owners and didn’t show these signs of stress.

What trainers are saying!

For health and safety reasons, these collars are the best!
"The main reason I chose If It Barks is their martingale collars and the effectiveness in teaching leash training. The collars add control and do not allow dogs to back out. The way the collars fit on a dog, when done correctly, distributes pressure around the entire neck and avoids simply putting pressure on the trachea like a typical dog collar. So, for health and safety reasons, these collars are the best. I use If It Barks collars for all 5 of my dogs"


- Kate Jackson Trainer Jabula Dog Academy