Many dogs associate having their collar grabbed with getting corrected, or some other form of aggression from a human. It can also mean that the dog will be removed from a situation in which he wants to stay.
Grabbing a dog’s collar in a negative fashion will eventually give you a dog who tries to avoid it, or you. This is obviously NOT what people want but they often create it in their dogs by accident.
In some dog sports, you NEED to be able to grab a dog by the collar. You may also need to restrain your dog in certain emergency situations.
This means that any time you put your hands on your dog or his collar, your dog should actually LIKE it.
There is a basic way to train your dog to like having his collar grabbed. Starting whenever you get your dog do very short regular training sessions where you get your dog used to this (as long as there is no already established serious behaviour issue surrounding the collar or being touched by a human).
You will want to be knowledgable about where your dog is with regards to his training and this particular behaviour. You may want to start with just click/rewarding when your dog does not move or flinch as you put your hand near his face or neck.
This is what I mean when I say you need to know your own dog. If you have trained with corrections in the past, this may be a challenge depending on your dog’s past reinforcement history. If you dog is afraid when you put your hand near his face you will need to start with something easier OR possibly get professional help.
In my opinion, most adult dogs are not this bad, so starting near the neck could be possible. Certainly most puppies will not have issues around collar grabbing.
You may want to start with light touches on the neck, working up close to the dog (as opposed to standing over your dog). Progressing to one second collar grabs could be your first goal, and then go on from there. To start, put your hand around the collar for one second, click/reward and then let go and feed. As the training progresses, you increase the amount of time your hand is around the collar before you click/reward, working up to several seconds.
It is crucial that this type of training be done with puppies. It is so much easier to start them off right than to fix a problem. You never want your dog to be afraid of you of you coming close to him or putting your hands out to him. To help prevent this, avoid grabbing your dog’s collar repeatedly to take him into the house, put him in a crate or some other unpleasant thing. This is another way to train a dog to hate being grabbed by the collar and to possibly avoid coming to you.
In the dog sports of disc dog, flyball, agility, dock diving and conformation, collars are grabbed regularly to restrain the dog, and to move dogs from one place to another. This is the most convenient way to do this and so it is important that you can control your dog well in this way without causing fear.
Another place a collar grab could be useful is when you want your dog to drop something he has in his mouth.
Assuming your dog is NOT possession aggressive, grabbing the collar and preventing a dog from tugging with a toy can be used to teach “The Drop”. Doing this is NOT a correction for the dog, nor is it unpleasant. It simple prevents a dog from self rewarding by tugging on or playing with the toy in his mouth. Eventually your dog will learn that the game stops when he doesn’t let go of the toy. Holding the collar also makes it virtually impossible for a dog to play with the toy. It gets boring and he drops it.
This method is particularly good for dogs with whom you can’t use food for training. Such a dog would be one who would start to focus more on the food and simply quit playing with the toy. If you are trying to teach a certain behaviour, this can be problematic.
The most important type of collar training is where you make sure that you don’t inadvertently train your dog to cower when you approach him. This is a form of hand shyness from being grabbed in anger or frustration by the collar too often.
There is no need for that. Instead, teach your dog that collar grabbing is good, fun and leads to other good things. Then a dog can be secure that nothing bad will happen and you can be assured that your dog will be less likely to run away from you in emergency situations.