A few years ago I was pretty shaken by a phenomenon I had never heard about: the intense, chaotic, life-or-death struggle that ensues when one dog gets his jaw stuck in another dog’s collar. It happened to two dogs that live a few houses down from my home office. I was working at my computer when I heard a dog’s horrifying screaming. I leaped up from my desk and ran outside toward the screaming.
It was a young Malamute and a Lab-mix in the back yard of a house down the street. One had grabbed his friend’s collar and then mostly likely rolled over, twisting his lower jaw in the collar. His tooth had somehow gotten stuck under the collar; he was the one making all the noise. His buddy was not screaming; he was fighting for his life, and being choked to death by his own collar. Both dogs were thrashing in pain and fear. The owners were not home but thankfully a neighbor and I were able to help. I grabbed one dog by the scruff; he grabbed the other. The neighbor quickly found the collar with a quick release buckle and it released. These dogs survived the experience. A couple days ago a dedicated NWBR volunteer encountered a similar situation and her dog wasn’t so lucky. We share this story so you can be aware of this risk and take preventative measures when your dog is playing with other dogs. Here are five things you can do to keep your dog safe when he’s playing with other dogs. 1. Play Naked! Remove your dog’s collar or harness. 2. Use a Collar With a Quick-Release Buckle. If you’re nervous about having your dog naked (and without ID), get your dog chipped or use a collar with a buckle that can be released even under tension. Another option is a safety breakaway collar (but do not use when walking your dog). 3. Don’t Allow Your Dog to Play With Dogs Who Are Wearing Gear. At times, this may mean your dog won’t be able to play at a dog park, because it’s nearly impossible to get everyone to comply with sensible rules at a dog park. 4. Spread The Word. Share this story so others can consider this potential hazard they can prevent a tragedy happening to their dogs. 5. Keep Something Sharp Handy. This is quite a long shot – and yet, this may be your only option to help a dog quickly.