Whether you're looking for a training tool* that's kinder than a prong or choke chain, or you have a Houdini dog that keeps slipping their collar, semi slip collars (martingales) are a great choice for almost every dog.
Most designs utilise a chain or fabric loop that allows the collar to hang loosely when the leash isn't tight, and that tightens the collar around the dog's neck when they pull or a correction is given. The benefit of these collars is that they can only tighten to a certain extent and they loosen easily, making them safer and softer than a traditional choke/slip collar.
This DIY design is slightly different to the classic style as I found that having a separate chain or fabric loop to tighten the collar caught in the fur of long haired dogs. It's also completely customisable!
If your dog is a huge puller then a head halter may be your best bet, check out my head halter tutorial here.
*as with any training tool, please research how to effectively and safely use it to avoid risk of injury and to speed up the training process.
Step 1: You Will Need
The items you will need:
- Nylon webbing of a length and width to suit your dog*
- A metal triglide fastener (plastic only for dogs <15lbs)
- A metal D ring
- Needle and thread OR sewing machine
- Fabric tape measure OR tape measure and string
- Tailors chalk OR other fabric marker
- (Optional) ribbon, velcro or patches to decorate
*I recommend 5/8" for dogs <15lbs, 1" for dogs <40lbs, 1.5" for dogs <80lb and 2" for 80lb+ dogs OR strong pullers OR those with long necks e.g sighthounds. Ultimately you know your dog best so go with what suits. Remember to choose a length far larger than your dog's neck circumference to allow for stitching, the martingale mechanism and as this collar must be slipped over the head.
Step 2: Measuring
- Measure your dog's neck snugly just behind the ears and minus 1/2" to 1", this will be the smallest you want the collar to be able to shrink to and is measurement A.
- Measure around the widest part of your dog's head and add 1" to 1.5", this will be the largest you want the collar to reach to ensure it can be easily slipped on and off, this is measurementB. Subtract A from B to get measurement C.
Step 3: Cutting to Size
- Mark measurement A with your tailors chalk on the webbing, making sure to add enough length to be able to attach the triglide. In fact, it's easier if you sew on the triglide and then measure outA from there.
- Starting from the mark you made for A measure out, mark and foldC on the nylon webbing, then measure C out again from that second mark, add another inch to allow for attaching the D ring and cut the webbing. Remember to melt the end of the webbing with a lighter to prevent it from fraying
- My measurement Ais 15", and my Cis 5". I will sew my triglide onto one end and make a mark on the webbing 15" from that point. From that mark, I will measure 5", mark and fold that point too. Then, I will measure another 5" from that mark and cut the webbing there (adding an extra inch for sewing). The total webbing length is 25" (plus any extra for sewing).
Step 4: Adding Decorations (Optional)
If you want to add a decorative ribbon to your collar, now is the best time to do so.
To add ribbon, simply line it up along your webbing and sew along all 4 edges to secure it in place. I would recommend that you only stitch ribbon from the point of the triglide you have stitched on, up until the fold that you made. This is because the remaining portion of ribbon will not be visible.
I added velcro to my collar as I want to have removable velcro patches. I marked out the length of my biggest patch, and sewed on 2 pieces of velcro to the collar.
Step 5: Stitching the Collar
- If you haven't already done so, stitch on the triglide to the end of the collar. Make sure you at least double stitch it to ensure it's strong enough.
- Where you have folded your collar you now want to insert and stitch your D ring so that it is sitting right in that fold.
- With the loose "tail" of webbing you will thread this through the other side of the triglide as show in the 3rd image, and you will sew the end of this down at the mark you made for measurement A.
- Your triglide should slide freely between the D ring and where the webbing is stitched at point A. Now tidy up any loose stitches.
Step 6: Finished!
To fit the collar, simply slide it over your dog's head.
Attach your leash to the D ring and now you're ready to go for a walk! If your dog pulls on the leash the collar will tighten as shown, and when the leash is loose the collar will be too.
If you'd like a customised leash to go with your new semi slip collar, have a look at my tutorial here.