A choke collar can be an invaluable training aid for you and your dog.
Used properly, a choke chain is both humane and effective. Used improperly, choke collars are ineffective and dangerous. Be aware pug dogs or other flat-faced canines should not use a choke chain or collar as it can cause serious harm. Luckily, it's very easy to use one properly.
A Good Fit
First, you should select the collar appropriate for your dog. Choke collars tend to come in one of three varieties: nylon, chain, or a prong collar. While all three operate on the same principle, this article discusses the effective fitting and use of a chain collar.
Start by measuring your dog's net. No need to be terribly scientific, just wrap a piece of string or length of fabric around his neck, an inch or so behind his ears. Slip two of your fingers under the string, and then cut it so that it's 2 1/2 inches longer than that. This is the collar length you'll need.
Now take your string--and your dog, too, if you can--to the store. Purchase a collar the same length as your string. The "collar" will be a straight length of chain made of specially shaped links with a circular loop or ring at either end. If you brought your pooch, try it on your dog.
Note that a choke chain is not a do-it-yourself proposition. The links are designed so that the metal rings slide over them easily, without catching.
A collar that fits properly is one that can still slip over your dog's head, but is slightly snug when fitted behind your pup's ears. It should have room for you to slip at least two fingers underneath while still having about two inches of leftover chain.
To form a collar out of the chain, drop the chain through one of its rings. If that's too difficult to visualize, try it this way: place the chain on a flat surface. Fold one third of the chain over itself. One of the end rings should be on top of the chain. Pull that bit of chain through the ring.
Wear it properly
Even though the collar is just a loop of chain, there's a proper way to wear it. These instructions assume that when you work with your dog, he is to your left. If you walk your dog to the right side, then reverse the instructions.
With your dog in front of you, arrange the chain in your hands so that it forms the shape of the letter P. The end of the chain with the empty ring should be on the left, and the ring should be down. Now slip it over your dog's head. You do this because a choke collar works on a yank and release principle. It'll yank no matter how you have it on, but it will only release quickly if you've done it right.
Pull the collar up a little, so it rests behind the dog's ears.
A choke collar means no nonsense
Your dog should only wear the collar when it's business time. No matter how dashing, it's not apparel for every occasion.
Use the collar when you're training or whenever you're sure you're going to enforce commands. Putting the collar on the dog tells your dog, "you need to pay extra attention to me for what we're doing next."
Do not use the collar on everyday, meandering walks, when the dog is unsupervised, or without a leash attached. A choke collar chokes. An unattended animal could get caught on something and then choke himself.
Attention and correction
A choke collar is used both to remind your dog you need his attention and to correct the dog. The former is simply a matter of procedure and routine. The latter is the "choke".
Don't think that choking is going to leave your dog coughing and wheezing. Worn correctly, the collar releases very quickly. The device is meant to simulate the way in which momma-dogs grab miscreant offspring by the back of the head with a little shake. That's why you move it up around the ears.
To perform a correction, pull the collar or a leash attached to it firmly and quickly. Say "No!" while doing so in a firm voice. Release the tension just as soon as you apply it. The release is the difference between a humane, effective correction and literally choking your dog.
In time, you'll hardly ever need to issue a correction. The collar is helpful for people who can't communicate authority with their voice, or for dogs that are easily distracted. The dog will view the collar as a signal that he's working and should give his attention to you. So get a good fit, wear it properly, remember to release the chain, and, while you correct a dog for misbehavior, remember to reward him for the good.