Why Do Dogs Freak Out When You Take Their Collar Off?

With a little patience, you can change his hyper ways.
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It can be quite a task getting Zeus’ collar off if he’s freaking out and refusing to hold still. That collar could be bothering him or he may just be trying to get attention. Before you try to fix the behavior, check to see the collar fits him correctly.

It’s Too Tight

Your four-legged buddy’s collar could simply be too tight. As excited as he gets when you put on the collar -- he knows he’s going for a walk -- he gets even more excited when you finally take it off. It may rub up against his chin, chafe the skin around his neck and make it difficult for him to swallow. The next time you snap on that collar, make sure you can comfortably fit two fingers underneath, between the collar and his fur, suggests The Humane Society of the United States. It should be snug enough that it stays on, but not so loose that he can snag it on something and get caught.

Mimicking You

Your dog’s behavior is often a reflection of your actions. So if you get all excited when you take Zeus’ collar off, chances are, he’ll freak out. Maybe you excitedly tell him to go play, toss him a toy or tell him to go eat when you unfasten that collar. Because he sees how hyper you get, he acts in the same way -- gyrating around and barking happily.

Getting Freedom

Of course your fur pal adores you, but after a long walk, he might just want some time to himself. Taking that collar off means he gets that breather -- a chance at freedom. He’s able to wander around the house, explore the yard or curl up on his pillow and take a snooze. It’s similar to that feeling you get when you clock out for work at the end of the day. The chains break free and you have nothing else to focus on but yourself.

You Encouraged It

Dogs learn most behaviors through reinforcement. It’s possible that you actually encouraged Zeus’ freak-out behavior, accidentally of course. If you bend down, pat him on the head and repeatedly tell him to calm down while you’re taking off his collar, he’s getting attention. He’s learning that you’ll pet him and talk to him every time you go near his neckwear. That’s exactly what he wants from you.

What to Do

Once you determine that Zeus’ collar is fitting him properly, you know his cause of spazzing out is probably behavioral. The next time you reach down to remove the collar, don’t touch your pooch -- or even make eye contact -- until he holds still. You’ll probably feel silly bending and then standing up repeatedly, but that’s what you need to do. He needs to learn that his collar isn’t going anywhere until he relaxes.

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