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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Alternatives To The Dog Cone Of Shame For Your Australian Shepherd

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

Adog cone can sometimes be a necessity but anyone who has ever had to use one on their Aussie knows that it is not the most pleasant of experiences. There's a reason that the stiff plastic, "Elizabethan Collar" used by most vets has become popularly known as the "cone of shame". It's uncomfortable, irritating, and frustrating for both dog and owner, but if you have a dog that is recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery what else can you do?

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The plastic, cone-shaped "Elizabethan Collar" wasn't just designed to be some sort of doggy torture device. There is an actual, practical reason for it. Unfortunately, dogs are prone to lick, rub, and bite at injured or irritated parts of their body and this can hamper their ability to recover from an injury or surgical procedure. To deter this type of behavior, some sort of barrier is required between their mouth and the injured area—hence the cone.

While a dog cone can help to protect healing areas on the body, it also has some distinct drawbacks. Due to the stiffness of this design, it can be hard for dogs to get around with the cone on or to go about their regular activities such as eating, sleeping and playing. Also, because they generally stick out so far along the side of the dog's head, they can limit peripheral vision, causing your dog to bump into things as he walks.

Alternatives To The Dog Cone Of Shame For Your Australian Shepherd - Photo: Border Collie wearing a dog cone.

pennyhayward /

So what is a dog owner to do if they need to protect healing areas but don't want to cause their pet any undue discomfort or stress? Fortunately, there are now several products on the market that provide functional alternatives to the "cone of shame".

There are collars made of soft materials or inflatable collars that are softer and more flexible than plastic cones. This allows the dog a greater range of motion, making it easier for him to go about his regular activities. Also, because they are more comfortable dogs will be less apt to try and get them off, which is an added benefit.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

This is particularly helpful for owners of active breeds like the Australian Shepherd that don't like the feeling of confinement caused by a dog cone and are intelligent enough to figure out a way to escape despite your best efforts!

This has been a regular complaint among owners who have found themselves struggling to keep a traditional cone collar on their dog and want a more effective alternative.

Other Dog Cone Options Available

The BENCMATE Protective Inflatable Collar and BiteNot Collar are soft, pliable alternatives to traditional cones come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and feature comfortable materials like nylon and foam. Their design allows dogs maximum movement while still providing that all-important protection of injured or healing areas.

Not every collar will work for every breed, but there are enough options to choose from that every owner should be able to find something that works. They are available at most major retailers and are very affordable.

SurgiSnuggly Dog Recovery Suit - Dog Cone Alternative
SurgiSnuggly Dog Recovery Suit
Dog Cone Alternative - The Original Pet Surgical Recovery Suit

Another option is not a cone at all. It's an E collar alternative called the Surgi Snuggly. It was developed by Dr. Paul Williams, a veterinarian with over 40 years of experience. It kind of looks like a ThunderShirt or dog rain jacket, but it's made of a soft, stretchy, anti-microbial material that covers the affected area. You can find out more about the Surgi Snuggly and see the reviews on Amazon here.

All of the above options will come in a range of sizes, so it's important to take the time to get an accurate measurement and use those measurements when ordering rather than guesstimating. Use the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer but don't be misled by the "suggested breed" for a given size. Even if you see "Australian Shepherd" listed it doesn't mean their size will fit your dog as Aussies can vary significantly in size. Of course, if you have a puppy you'll need a smaller size than what you would need for an adult. Long story short... measure twice, order once.

If you need to prevent your dog from irritating an injured area but don't want to resort to using a traditional dog cone, then do your homework and check out the other available options. You should be able to find something that will let you breathe easier and your dog heal in comfort, with no more shame involved!

For more information about Aussie health issues see the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute (ASHGI).

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Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

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