Updated: Nov 20
Many dog owners have questions about training, and with that comes questions regarding training tools!
From flat buckle collars, to harnesses, to prongs. Unfortunately, many dedicated dog owners are told that prong collars are dangerous. And while this could be true, I like to remind people that everything can be dangerous, if not used correctly!
A prong collar, also known as a pinch collar, is a training tool that is constructed out of metal and is designed to distribute an even amount of pressure around a dog's neck when there is tension/ pulling. It has limited tightening ability when pressure is applied. Unlike a choke chain, which has no limit and can quite literally choke a dog.
How is a prong collar used?
A prong collar simply links around a dog's neck in a similar fashion as a regular collar.
An all too common (and dangerous) mistake many dog owners make with prong collars:
A properly fit prong collar will be snug and tucked high up under the jaw line, behind the ears. This is a very sensitive area of the neck, so pressure can easily be felt. The collar can then not slide around.
It should NOT be loose, low on the neck, near the shoulder or be able to easily slip over the dog's head.
Prong collars were designed to disperse an even amount of pressure around the neck when pulled on, so any slack can be dangerous and create pressure points when tension is applied.
What about flat buckle collars?
Flat buckle collars (or any regular collars) create a single pressure point at the front of the neck, directly on the trachea.
FACT: I have seen far more damage via a flat buckle collar on a dog that pulls than I have ever seen from a prong collar.
Dogs can actually develop what's called a collapsed trachea from chronic leash pulling. It literally damages the cartilage in the neck and trachea. This can lead to coughing, breathing problems, and more.
Aren't Prong Collars Dangerous?
As I mentioned earlier:
Anything can be dangerous when used incorrectly. This is so very true for E-collars!
That's why I'm writing this post!
As I have mentioned above, damage can be done with the normal (and highly recommended) "safe" collars.
So how do we ensure a proper fit on a prong collar?
If the prong collar is too lose, it will create slack, and any correction given poses a potential for damage on the neck, and pain for the dog.
A tight fitting collar will need less force to give a correction, and properly disperse the pressure around the neck, therefore making it's overall use safer and more effective. As it was designed.
Think of it as a fishing line..
Depending on the exact brand of collar, you should have available the 'live ring' and the 'dead ring'...
Which one you use will depend on the dog and what your training techniques and goals are.
The less slack, the better. So you may opt to use the dead ring as shown on picture (top left). This will allow a more snug fit and any correction made goes right into the dog, not the slack in the line.
Just as you would want in a fishing line, a nice tight line so less force is needed.... therefore, making the collar safer and much more effective! The more force that is needed to tighten up the slack, the more dangerous the use of this collar will be.
When I'm holding the leash, I can give my wrist a small flick that sends the message down my line to create a quick pulse of pressure and my dog reads that immediately.
*Note: prong collars come too big for the dog 99% of the time. That's okay. Just remove the extra links and correctly fit it to your dog.
I removed 4 links from the collar shown in the above picture on this post.
How do I train my dog on a prong collar?
I won't go into any details on desensitization and training technique use with the prong collar right now.
This post is strictly to display the proper fitting of the collar for those interested in using one, or those who already use one but may not have it fitted correctly.
I must advise caution:
As many dogs will NOT like the pressure right off the bat.
Some may be over-reactive and even 'throw a fit' into an alligator roll.
Some dogs will pull backwards, yelp, scream and bite at the leash. This is not because they are in pain, but it's more of an uncomfortable fear response.
These dogs need to be properly trained with a qualified professional into using and accepting the collar and desensitized to the feeling of it, learn what is expected and how to make the pressure 'go away.'
Other dogs won't mind, and will respond very nicely to the pressure and actually look to the owner for guidance. This is what we want!
Regardless, any dog will need to learn what the pressure means, and how to respond to it.
I strongly advise this to be done with an experienced trainer.
Do you use a prong collar?!
It has been a game changer for us! I never walk my dog without one!
She get SO excited when I grab her prong collar, or her E-collar for a walk/ outing!
The fact that she jumps around, spins and barks when it's time to go for a walk on either of these, proves that they are a safe, and positive experience for her!
I personally love Titan brand prong collars, but many folks prefer Herm Springer (these can come loose, so have a backup leash attached).
As always, be sure to do your research and make a decision that you personally feel is best for your individual dog and lifestyle!
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