Should I Take My Dog’s Collar Off At Night?

dog without a collar before bed time

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One question that dog owners tend to agonize over is whether or not they should take their dog’s collar off at night. There are pros and cons to both options of leaving it on and taking it off. 

So, should you take your dog’s collar off at night? What’s the safest option?

Veterinarians and dog trainers agree that the best option is to take your dog’s collar off at night. Keeping the collar on can pose safety and health concerns and even death. Taking your dog’s collar off at night is the safest option. 

Now, you might be asking yourself, how are dog collars unsafe?

After all, a collar’s purpose is to display identification and keep our dogs safe. In this article, we’ll be discussing why our dogs wear collars to begin with and the supporting reasons why taking your dog’s collar off at night is the safest and best option. 

The Importance of a Dog Wearing a Collar

One of the first things most dog owners do when welcoming a new dog into their home is to buy them a new collar. Collars come in a variety of materials and designs. Some collars are even designed to be breed-specific. For example, Bulldogs might be best with a soft, lightweight collar that doesn’t bother their sensitive skin, while German Shepherds are better off with thicker, sturdier collars. 

Regardless, the options are endless, whether you want a plain collar or an ornate one with lots of jewels.

Collars serve two purposes. First, dogs should have an identification tag, and it’s easy to clip this ID tag onto a collar. If your dog ever gets lost and picked up by someone, the ID tag is the first thing someone will see. You’re much more likely to be reunited quickly if your dog wears a collar with an ID tag.

ID tags usually include information like your pet’s name, your phone number, and even a secondary phone number. Some ID tags will also have information about any relevant medical conditions. Some ID tags are just decorative and pretty to look at or have funny sayings. 

The second purpose of collars is to provide a piece of material you can grab onto in an emergency. Dogs can be sneaky and fit through doors that are barely open. Sometimes as a dog tries to weasel their way past you, you can grab its collar to prevent them from going somewhere it shouldn’t. 

Why It’s A Good Idea To Take Your Dog’s Collar Off At Night 

As we’ve mentioned, collars do serve a good purpose. Collars are used to identify dogs in case they get lost and are meant to keep them safe in an emergency. 

Even though collars serve a good purpose, they can quickly become a safety hazard. Most veterinarians and dog trainers agree that dogs shouldn’t wear collars at night. Wearing a collar at night is too risky, especially if you’re a deep sleeper! When you’re in a deep sleep, you may sleep too soundly to hear any noises. This means that if your dog is struggling with their collar, you may not wake up in time to help them. 

If your dog sleeps in another room or part of the house, it’s likely you wouldn’t hear any sounds from them to wake you up. Taking your dog’s collar off before bedtime will ensure that you and your dog can both rest easy knowing that your dog is safe and comfortable. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the specifics of the three big reasons you should take your dog’s collar off at night to keep your dog safe. 

Reason 1: Accidental Strangulation

Dogs can quickly get their collars stuck in places. When a dog is stuck, its instinct is to try back out of the collar to free itself. Unfortunately, they aren’t always able to get out of their collar. 

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), upwards of 26,000 collar strangulations happen annually. 

In most cases, dog collars get stuck on wire crates or in air vents on the floor. The dog will naturally stand up and attempt to back out of the collar to free itself, but that’s not always possible. Unfortunately, the dog can strangle itself to death in those cases. 

Leaving the collar on at night would be too risky if your dog sleeps in a crate. Throughout the night, your dog will get up to change positions and get comfortable. As your dog shifts or changes positions inside the crate, its collar can get stuck in a hole or between the bars of a wire crate. 

If your dog isn’t crated at night but instead has free roam of the house, or even just your bedroom, it’s possible that your dog could lay on top of an air vent on the floor to either feel the warmth of the heat or the cool AC, depending on the time of year. As your dog is lying on the air vent, its collar or dangling ID tag could get stuck in the cracks. 

Unfortunately, dogs can accidentally strangle themselves in other ways too. If the collar has a looser fit, it’s even possible for the dog’s own lower jaw to get stuck in its collar.

If you have another dog in the household, there’s also a risk of the two dogs feeling frisky and playing or wrestling at night. When dogs play together, they often use their mouth, dart around each other, and even grab onto each other’s necks. It’s possible that during playtime, the other dog’s jaw could get stuck in the collar. You can see this in the video below and you can also hear that owner doesn’t fully understand how serious this issue could have become if she wasn’t there to help: 

Reason 2: Skin Issues

Leaving your dog’s collar on too long, like overnight, could result in skin problems or irritation. 

Collars that are too tight can be uncomfortable for your dog and cause a rash. Collars that are so tight that they restrict blood flow can cause many more severe problems. Any blood flow restriction caused by a collar could result in swelling or damage to the eyes and ears.

Ensuring that the collar is appropriately fit will help prevent these issues, but it’s still not a good idea to leave your dog’s collar on at night. 

Even if the collar is properly fit, it’s possible that your dog is uncomfortable and not used to wearing it. This could cause your dog to scratch its collar and neck throughout the night, which could cause abrasions. 

Taking your dog’s collar off at night will ensure that your pup is the most comfortable he can be. He’ll be able to sleep through the night without waking up due to discomfort or itching. 

Reason 3: Leg Injury

While this may not be as common as the other two reasons, leaving a dog’s collar on at night does leave some concern about the dog injuring a limb.

Like people, dogs sometimes get an itch that they need to scratch! Some dogs with allergy issues are also more prone to itching. Even though your dog should be sleeping through the night, he may wake up to scratch at various times. 

If your dog is scratching his neck area with his back feet, it’s possible that his rear feet could get stuck in his collar. This could be incredibly painful to your dog and even cause issues as your dog tries to free his leg. 

Benefits of Taking Your Dog’s Collar Off at Night

As we’ve discussed in the three reasons above, taking your dog’s collar off at night is the best thing to do. If your dog isn’t wearing his collar, there is no risk of accidental strangulation, skin problems, or leg injuries. 

In addition to being the safer option, your dog is probably most comfortable at night without his collar on. Dogs like to sleep in weird positions and can get more comfortable if nothing is being prodded into their skin.

What To Do In Case of Emergency At Night

One of the common arguments in support of dogs wearing collars at night is to ensure that they can easily be grabbed or identified in case of emergency. There are many other ways to do this, though, that doesn’t pose any risk to your dog!

If you’re worried about an emergency at night, I recommend keeping your dog’s collar and leash near your bed or on a hook by the door. This way, you’ll always know where they’re at and can grab them quickly and easily. 

Do Dogs Like It When You Take Their Collar Off?

Anytime you grab your dog’s collar to put it on them, your dog is likely to get excited and even start wiggling their body around. It’s easy for our dogs to associate wearing their collar with fun activities, like going for a walk or a car ride.

But the question is, do our dogs enjoy it when we take their collar off? 

Of course, our dogs can’t talk to tell us if they love their collar or not, but we can assume that wearing something can be a bit odd for a dog. They’re not used to wearing things out in the wild! Plus, most dogs roll around frantically after you talk their collar off. This wacky behavior might indicate that our dogs feel better when their collar is off. 

The fact that our dogs are probably most comfortable without their collar on and that leaving their collar on overnight is risky are two big reasons that should make you feel confident in your decision to take your dog’s collar at night. 

Final Thoughts

Every dog should have a properly fitted collar with an identification tag. Dogs must wear these anytime they’re out on a walk or traveling. When your dog is safely and securely tucked away inside during the night, though, it’s essential to remove your dog’s collar before bedtime. Regardless if your dog sleeps in your bedroom, in a crate, or has free roam of the house, removing the collar at night is the best option to keep your dog safe.  The exception could be when your dog is wearing an e-collar but in that case, your pup should sleep closer to you for the night. 

Keeping a dog’s collar on overnight poses many safety risks and can even lead to death. Many people are deep sleepers; some even use earbuds, music, or white noise machines to fall asleep. If your dog was wearing a collar and ended up having an emergency, it’s possible that you may not even wake up, even if your dog is making loud sounds. It’s much safer for your dog to leave the collar off at night. 

In addition to being the safer option, leaving your dog’s collar off at night is likely more comfortable for your dog anyway. They’ll be able to move around throughout the night to find a comfortable position to sleep in, and they won’t have to deal with a collar digging into their skin. 

If you’re worried about having an emergency at night, there are other ways to be prepared that don’t pose any risk to your dog. Designate a specific place, like next to your bed or a hook by the front door, to keep your dog’s collar and leash. If you have an emergency at night, you’ll be able to grab these items quickly and put them on your dog. 

While collars are meant to keep our dogs safe, it’s too risky to leave them on at night when you’re sound asleep and possibly wouldn’t wake up to any noises. Taking your dog’s collar off at night will keep them safe and comfortable so he can have a good night’s sleep!