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Prong Collars

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

There is heated debate about the use of a prong collar. Opponents accuse of cruelty and adherents claim great measures of success. No amount of argument will ever cease this debate. However, as a professional trainer, I have been taught how to use the prong collar correctly and I have formed my own opinions based on fact- not misinformed emotions.

Opposition to a to a prong collar is due to unawareness and lack of education. Like a lot of tools, people only know the wrong way to use them. Sometimes trying to change the opinion about the wrong use can be like pulling teeth. But, I will say, I have had much success at educating my clients on the prong collar and they hop on board. They trust my professional opinion and they love the results!

Many people, including trainers and clients, often resort to letting their emotions get the best of them. These people, even well-intentioned trainers, think the prong looks mean, therefor it has to be mean. In fact, many trainers will deride other trainers who use the prong. My goal is to only inform clients with knowledge of the tool that is available and the individual can decide to use it or not. Either way, it doesn't hurt my feelings and we can still train the dog with another tool. In reality, not every tool will work the same for every dog. I see the prong as one tool among many that I can utilize to get the job done professionally, efficiently, and dependably.

Some of you may not have known that the prong collar mimics the nip of the dog. Every pup's mother corrected it many times in this same manner. The dog's litter mates also used this form of communication. The prong collar speaks a language that dogs understand. With other tools, even a clicker, the dog has to learn how to communicate, much like learning a foreign language. But this is not the case with the prong. Most dogs, the exception being shy or fearful, do not dislike the use of the prong. In fact, most dogs seem satisfied with the fact that you are communicating with them on at level they can understand.

The downside of the prong collar is that it looks like a hungry beast and undoubtedly can be misused. But when properly used, the collar is an effective and humane tool. Its looks can be repulsive but the prong collar is a useful asset in producing and/or maintaining a dependable, confident, obedient dog.

Prongs are a corrective tool. Because it mimics Mom, it is virtually impossible to harm a dog when the collar is used correctly. A simple "pop" and release is all it takes. It very seldom requires a great amount of force to accomplish the desired goal. About the only way the prong can harm the dog is when the handler/trainer applies force and does not release the collar.

Prongs are especially helpful in correcting lunging, jumping, and wandering in the heel position. In fact, many times the dog will actually correct itself. Because the dog get a "nip" from Mom when it lunges or jumps, many dogs learn to sit when meeting new people, instead of jumping, and cease lunging when being walked.

Tips for successful use of a prong collar

2. Use prongs that you have manually connected the prongs, not an easy on slip. Easy on slips also become easy off slips and then you are left with a loose dog.. We recommend Herm Sprenger and Titan.

2. Use prongs that you have manually connected the prongs, not an easy on slip. Easy on slips also become easy off slips and then you are left with a lose dog. They do make back up connectors from the prong and flat collar if you need one.

3. The prong is all about mimicking a nip, what we call a "pop" and release. "Pop" or tug on the leash and immediately release it. Remember that mom didn't bite her pup to crush it into submission. Rather she simply nipped and the pup got the idea.

4. When heeling, the leash should form a "J" from the dog's collar, looping down loosely, and back up to your hand. Use a loose leash as much as possible when working with your dog. That is make sure the leash is not tight and taunt. You will need some slack to properly "pop" the prong.

5. The dog is not required to wear the collar constantly. Use it during maintenance training or in any behavior you're having problems with: meeting new people, jumping, ect. It is not recommended to leave the prong installed while the dog is in a crate or kennel. When the dog's behavior is completly dependable you can discontinue its use. Sometimes this may not be until the dog reaches 2 years of age.

6. Most prongs include more prongs if necessary. Therefore, take out enough prongs to make it snug on the dog's neck. As the pup/dog grows you can add prongs as needed. If taking a link out makes it too tight but leaving one in makes it too loose, go with loose.

Rules for the Prong

1. Never put the prong over the dog's head. You could accidentally poke the dog's eye or injure an ear. Loop the collar around the dogs neck and insert the prongs together. Some dogs will be active while putting on the collar and leash so this can be easier said than done. I usually require a dog to sit, reward, then install the prong, and reward again for calm sitting after the prong is installed.

2. The prong should fit snugly on the dog, preferably high on the dogs neck, just below the ears. It should not freely rotate on the dog's neck. You should be able to fit a finger between the prongs and the neck. It should be snug not "tight." A prong that is too loose will not have the "nip" affect and will therefore loose its effectiveness.

3. Hook the leash though the "d" shaped ring on the collar. Sensitive dogs may act better when you utilize both rings to minimize the "pop."

The prong collar is sometimes confused with a "choke" collar. But the prong collar is designed not to choke a dog, but rather "nip" him when he needs correction.

Choke collars....

  • Are easily misused

  • Tightens too much

  • Can cause trachea damage.

This is a great example that shows the correct position of the prong

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