My 9 month old chihuahua-yorkie mix refuses to wear a collar with her identification on it. She is a very small dog, weighing 4.6 pounds, and the vet says she is full-grown.

We have tried extra-small dog collars with the collar as tight as possible, but loose enough so we can still fit two fingers beneath it. Somehow, she is consistently able to get the collar wedged into her mouth and she either chews through the collar or it will get stuck in her mouth, keeping it open.

Example of her latest chewed-through collar:

enter image description here

As you can guess, this is very concerning. We are worried that she will choke when it gets stuck, but we don't like leaving her without any type of identification.

How can I train my dog to be comfortable with the collar on so she doesn't try to chew it off?

  • Something I'd experiment with is trying a harness instead. We went the other way, but some dogs are more comfortable with harnesses than collars.
    – Journeyman Geek
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 16:59
  • @JourneymanGeek That is actually what we are thinking about trying. We have gone through a variety of small collars (actually 6 collars since we got her 6 months ago) and we are willing to try just about anything.
    – Taryn
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 17:02
  • This isn't too common of a solution but I've seen a bitter apple spray to discourage biting. Spray the collar (not the dog!) Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 15:32

4 Answers 4


Firstly two fingers is a subjective measurement. Two large man fingers is quite a bit more space than two petite women fingers (No sexism intended!).

If the dog is able to slip the collar between his teeth, it's a sign the collar is too loose. While it is vital to not have a collar too tight, a loose collar can also be a hazard and can be effective as a noose for adventurous pets.

Try putting the collar (a new collar!) on a bit tighter. If you are a man, use one finger gap, or even a pinky finger gap, as it is difficult to give a guideline without seeing the dog. A chihuahua-yorkie cross should have a reasonably thick head, as opposed to a slimline greyhound, or whippet, so there should be enough differential between the neck diameter and head to secure a collar without the dog getting it between his teeth.

The collar needs to be tight enough that it cannot be chewed by the pet and loose enough that the pet can freely swallow and the collar will not dig into the skin. When dealing with such a tiny dog, it is not always viable to go by two fingers, as the two fingers can be half the width of the dog's neck.

If you are having a problem finding a small enough collar, try using a cat collar. They can work well for smaller dogs.

If the dog cannot pull the collar off he will eventually adapt to it.

If she seems bothered by a fitted collar, you can try putting it on her for an hour a day and increase the time. Try to distract her with interactive play and treats while she is wearing the collar. You don't want to teach her that when she struggles you take the collar off, you are the master not the puppet so to speak.

Giving her a reward when you put the collar on and lots of verbal praise, and a play session can turn the collar into something that she can be excited to see, over time she will eventually forget that she is wearing it. I personally like to take my dog's collars off when they are in the home, to give their necks that freedom and stop any unnecessary hair loss, from rubbing that can happen with some dogs. This is a safety decision, as a collar is also an asset to have if a dog can escape from a yard, so this is not a blanket recommendation.

The best way to train dogs to become used to collars and leads is to put them on as young puppies and let them run around with them, make them fun, but your dog is past this small puppy stage.

  • We tried a cat collar and had the collar pretty tight around her neck but she is a stinker who figures out a way to do this. We also have a flat name tag that we use to lock the collar size in place so scratching, etc doesn't loosen it but she still gets it in her mouth. We are trying a variety of things, and are leaning towards trying a harness instead of a collar.
    – Taryn
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 17:10
  • 2
    Not only is two fingers different from person to person, but it's different based on the diameter of the animal's neck. Two fingers' space on a St Bernard is a very small percentage of the collar, where two fingers' space on a <5lb dog is pretty loose.
    – PeterL
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 22:46

We had a similar experience, though with harnesses - our dog used to chew through harnesses, but seemed perfectly happy with a collar. In your case switching over to a harness might help - if nothing else if it fits right, its going to be harder to chew. She might even end up being more comfortable with it, which would be a good thing.


we don't like leaving her without any type of identification.

If your concern is ensuring your dog is identified, you should consider having your dog micro-chipped if the service is available in your area (nation). A microchip is a device the size of a grain of rice which is inserted under the dog's skin through a quick procedure. My experience is that the service has cost upwards of $35 to perform, and there are veterinarians who occasionally run "chipping" specials, as it is a good way to keep missing dogs identified and get them back with their owners.

Most veterinarians have access to a scanner which can be run over the dog and will beep with the dog's identification information. Many pet rescue organizations microchip dogs which they foster, so if you rescued your dog, it may already be micro-chipped. A micro-chipped dog will not prevent it from being stolen, but if it is brought to the vet, some vets will scan the dog on its first visit, and the owner will be identified.

  • She is already microchipped, but not everyone will check an animal for microchips if found. The collar with tag has phone numbers, etc printed on it.
    – Taryn
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:46
  • If someone is unconcerned about your dog being lost, they're going to ignore the collar tag as well.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:52
  • My point is reading a collar is much easier than taking a lost dog to a vet or place that can read the microchip.
    – Taryn
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 19:53
  • Well, I'll leave this answer up for posterity anyway.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 20:34

Not common but I have seen metal collars that are not choke collars. Google metal dog collar. You can also convert a metal choke collar to not choke. I had one dog that liked to chew the collar off the other. But if the dog cannot chew it then may just slip the collar.

Bitter apple or pepper might work but that close to the eyes and mouth it would be an irritant so I don't think I would do that but it is an idea.

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