July/August 2003
Formal Collaring Protocol

by Lord Wolf

Collaring is an outward sign of the deep commitment to a relationship between two people. The mistress and the slave, the master and the slave or the dominant and the submissive.

This act signals this commitment to others as well as within the relationship and should not be taken lightly. There are many types of collars and even collars that signify the level of that commitment in Particular communitys. Although there are varied Ideas as to what a collar means, for some it is used simply as a tool for sessions < Play> meaning for a time that person is in service. For others it is a deep commitment not unlike a marriage.

Collars are not confined to the physical collar around the slave's or submissive's neck. Sometimes collars consist of waist chains, ankle bracelets, piercing, tattoos and branding. the idea is that there is an outward sign of ownership , and belonging. Just as the styles of collars differ from the simple plain chain link collar and padlock, to the ornate and highly decorated collars made from either leather and/or metal. So to the meanings differ from person to peron , but overall the idea is " I belong to someone and they belong to me.

A charge may be " given" a collar however, each collar is actually belongs of the mistress/ master/ dominant, and is their property. Upon release from the collar, it is customary and within formal protocol and etiquette,for the submissive or the slave to place the collar into the hands of the mistress, master or dominant of whom they were collared by . Returning their property as they are returned their freedom.

The slave or submissive, should when released attempt immediately to return the collar to that Owner master/ mistress/ dominant, that gave them that symbol and only if all efforts fail, Or if the master/ect chooses that they should hold on to it as a keepsake, then only should the slave or submissive keep the collar.

To keep the collar, against the wishes of the top/master/mistress is a great disrespect to the formal customs, traditions and rules of etiquette within the leather community perhaps more so then disrespecting that dominant or owner. One of the changes in " new leather" is that a top may wear a collar that has no attachment points . As you shall see this is not the form of the past, But each new generation makes their own rules.

In some communitys the collaring of a slave or submissive may entail levels of collaring, just as there are levels of commitment. Some formal stages of collaring are as follows:

Application Collar:

The "Application Collar," signifies that the dominant and submissive are exploring the possibility of continuing the relationship beyond a casual level. This is usually seen in polyamourus houses , or houses that hold more than one submissive/slave. It is usually a plain black collar with no attachment ring, and never a lock.

When a submissive wears the "Application Collar " it is a sign that this charge is applying to a particular house or dominant and is " off the market" so to speak. It is a serious breach of ediquitte for another dominant/master/mistess to " chat up" a Sub/Slave in collar. This period of application is critical and if a outside dominant interferes, it is considered extremely rude. The top is possibly thought of as a "slave/submissive" thief. Should either the dominant or submissive in the "Application Collar " find that the relationship will not succeed, the collar is returned and there is no "harm done." There will be no fault found in either party. This is not a failure of either party it just signals that there was no "magic" to make a relationship work beyond the casual.

Although there will be emotions involved, it is not the higher emotions and feelings of failure that may accompany the break up in a master-slave dominant-submissive situation , the trauma is not so severe because of the lack of higher commitment.

The Training Collar:

This collar is usually again of plain or of a sturdy design. Made from leather, but it can be made of chain. It contains an attachment point to show that the subject is owned and " Attached" to another. But does not lock.

The collar is in the rank of "mid-level" of the relationship, much like being "engaged." it shows that casual play and exploring has past now, As the Submissive/Slave is moving from the "application Collar," into the "Training Collar," The training and the commitment and the bonding begins at this level . This level is a committed level, yet the level of commitment is not as Intence as "slave." Often the "Training Collar," equals the Dominant and submissive level. The training collar is also used when a dominant/ master gives his charge to another for a particular training. Or in a situation where a dominant/master takes a charge under his wing as a mentor or trainer until that charge finds their " One and only"

The Slave's Collar:

The "Slave Collar" is at times highly decorated and designed or of simple design. Sometimes made by the master or mistress themselves, and is usually only for that one slave. Either to be put aside, destroyed ,or kept by the master/mistress or the slave as a keepsake if there is a release. it is NEVER given to another.

The collar is usually made of leather or metal, If Leather, black is formal and the proper color but other colors are not frown apon, With either brass or silver metals attached. It carrys an attachment point and a lock. Often if chain the collar may have no clasp or lock but would be a continous chain with no break.
The "Slave Collar," is usually presented in a private ceremony with few guests or in public with guests, the words of commitment and desire are verbalized and witnessed. The master or mistress, then affix the collar on the slave's neck, and much like a marriage ceremony continue into the highest level of service. Many write their own " Vows" but some ceremonies exist such as the D/S rose ceremony.


The act of "branding" is the placement of a pattern from a heated iron, or sections of iron, similar to a cattle branding iron, but due to the difference in skin, the brand usually has to be done in sections. The brand is of course a permanent mark burned into the skin. The brand is usually selected by the master or mistress, created to adorn the slave's body. The brands are usually found on the buttocks cheek, the thigh or inner thigh, which is not easy to see in society. Some brands are very fancy, some are plain and some are just a plain letter, to identify the Owner.

It is stressed by this author, that when masters and mistresses talk of branding, the slave or submissive then give plenty of thought and time into receiving one. And being that dominants should "know better," wait for a few months before getting branded. This is a deep and irreverable sign of commitment, it is impossible to hand a brand back to an owner. Many times I have seen an eager desire to have a brand on their body, being caught up in the immediate emotions, but when time passes the relationship crumbles and the slave or submissive wears the brand of what was instead of what is.
The author suggests if the master or mistress wish to mark their slave, use temporary tattoos, henna, or if a branding "scene" is wished do so with wire and dry Ice to cool the metal. This wears well for parties without damaging the skin permanently.

Further, although it is a master's or Mmistress's final decision it is suggested that the slave also participate in the choice of brand as well. This mark will be worn forever and should only be left to the MOST committed and permanant relationships.


Piercing has become quite popular these days . In BDSM Piercing is a permanent puncture in the skin, in which jewelry is inserted and worn as adornment and as a symbol and mark of Ownership. The piercing can be anywhere on the body, such as nipples, labia, clit hood, clit, penis head, testicle sack, nose, ears and tongues and of course the standard ears.The piercing as a "mark" or "symbol of Ownership," is selected by the Master or Mistress and the jewelry is selected by that Owner and placed into the piercing. Again, the author suggests that time and caution be used in piercing. Although it is more socially accepted, the marking of a slave's body involves their consent as well.


Cuttings are a cutting of the skin, much like the one used in surgical procedures, placing a design on the skin and using particular techniques to prolong the design or make it permanent.. The cutting is a scarification process, and much like a brand Most cutting is a permanent mark showing ownership. Some light cutting designs can and do fade with age but its not something to count on as most people heal differently.

Although cutting does not involve burning of the skin, the lines of the "cutting" are finer and well defined when properly done. The pattern is usually selected by the Master or Mistress as a symbol or mark of their ownership on that slave, again the author stresses to take the time and not go with compulsive emotions Further, the author stresses to go to a tattooist who does cuttings or a medically trained person to cut the slave. This way that person can instruct the slave in the proper care of the cutting and keeping it from infection. Usually you should care for a cutting the same way you care for a tattoo with a few differences, Unlike a tattoo you may want to remove the scab periodically to ensure that the scar shows better.

Once healed, the cut is a faint mark, yet visible when naked. The design can be of any shape, meaning or size.

The cutting that will draw blood, is known as "blood Play," and is not allowed in most dungeons, public or private. Some "professional" cutters use "cigar Ash" as an application onto the fresh cutting to keep the cutting from healing. It is also Known to use light inks and even grafite to add color to the cutting so it shows better. These professionals should stress not to use cigarette or pipe ash as they are not pure compounds. Most cuttings will be found on the back, buttocks, chest, breasts, belly or thighs.

Chain collars and Body chains

The chain is a visible sign of commitment much like a collar and may be placed around the neck, waist or ankle or worn as a harness. The ideal use of a chain collar or body collar is to finish the chain with a lock or as a continous loop. things like chainmaille collars can be finished in such a way as the connection cannot be seen. regular link chain can be done with a Binding link that either screws on or is closed with tools. Welding a chain is not reccommended as the heat is a problem But it is not unknown for this to be done. Gold is the easiest metel to do this with Finer chain, much like a necklace chain, may be worn under the clothes and is socially acceptable. Should the ankle be selected as the site for a slave to wear a chain, the right side or right ankle is proper. Left ankle signals dominant. This comes from the root use of the hanky code and extends to the arms and ankles.

The Collaring Ceremony

The "Collaring Ceremony" is usually conducted within the leather community or in private. Try to do it in an accepted BDSM or D/s location. Such as at an event or a dungeon. Most times though such ceremonies are held in a private dungeon with selected guests. Since such ceremony is much like a marriage, there is a "Master of Ceremony" who performs this binding. The master/mistress and slave exchange words and commitment. The attendants then assist the slave and master/mistress and the master of Ceremony in any way that is outlines , usually only watching and in congratualtion but its not unknown for a slave to walk to each attendee and bow.

If any person has attended a wedding, the general picture is received, however with a few differences. The dominant will be on the right while the slave walks down the floor, and takes their position to the left and kneels in the Formal Presentment Position. Depending on where the ceremony is held, the participants may be wearing fetish wear or not. The slave may be clothed or naked. The main thing is to make the ceremony special between the celebrating couple. Hand fasting is often used if one knows a person In the pagan community to officiate.

It is perfectly acceptable to collar in a quiet setting, private and between the master/mistress and his/her slave, it is not necessary to be public. The slave, being on their knees, may be allowed a pillow to make it more comfortable. Should the slave have physical problems kneeling, the slave may be allowed to stand When vows are exchanged, the collar is then presented to the owner/ master/ mistress to be placed about the neck of their slave and then locked into place. This signals the final stages of the ceremony.

The newly collared slave then may be taken by the owner/ master or mistress to a place and publicly whipped, reminding that slave that they are slave and to be reminded of their humility. Or they may be placed into bondage for a time to how they are no longer free. Or they may be taken to a party much like a reception and " presented" to the masters " house" or community. There are also some cases where the slave serves the guests and/or be flogged by the guests after the master or mistress has flogged their newly collared slave.

Should the slave be newly collared but in a private one on one situation, Then the importance of the first public appearance of the Slave cannot be stressed enough. The slave is expected to obey in an immediate manner at all commands and tasks their master or mistress gives them.

The master or mistress, when entering into a party or event with their new slave should introduce to his/her host or hostess their new slave and their name. The slave then must pay attention to the details of how their owner addresses the other dominants and their slaves or submissives. However, the slave should arrange their use of words as not to address any one other than their owner as master or mistress. And address their owner and others if asked to speak to them in a formal manner by saying sir or ma'am or madame. A slave should never use the title master or mistress for anyone except their owner. The slave/submissive should be familiar with the duties and positions and commands that their owner wishes them to use in public as well as private situations and maintain the formal and proper manners and etiquette on all occasions.

The main thing the slave must understand that he/she is to be of service and not the main attraction, even if it is their special day. The master/mistress has the final say in all. And the slave must understand that this does not mean that the slave is worthless or has no choices, it simply means the final say is their owners. Depending on the Master or Mistress, they will choose to uplift the slave for that special day or not. This becomes a judgment call and not anything else. This all should be discussed ahead of time before any miscommunication or misunderstandings occur during these ceremonial occasions or social functions within the Leather Community.

All and all a slave or submissive in a collar can achieve a sense of belonging with the right owner and experience a sense of commitment not known many other places. collaring is a deeply serious, beautiful and wonderful experience for all of those involved.

Copyright Master Wolf and Wolfhold 2000