At first glance, a prong collar looks like a barbaric device. Many write it off as a tool that can stab the dog’s neck, and consider those who use it as being harsh to their pets. Misunderstandings about the prong collar prevents dog owners from taking advantage of its benefits. Let’s debunk the misconceptions, and show you the value of this important tool that’s widely used by dog trainers. For a complete guide on all dog collars read this article.
A Walk Through History
One of the most influential dog training books in history is the “Companion Dog Training“, published by Hans Tossutti in 1942. During that time, the choke chain was being used, and Tossutti came forth as a proponent for the alternative prong collar.This collar was also known as a pinch collar.
Prong collars were designed with a simple principle: magnify the corrective effect of a tight leash on the dog’s neck, while eliminating any risk of injury to one’s throat. You get to teach your dog everything from heel position to leash manners faster—including large dogs with thick necks and hard-headed temperaments. It simulates the action of a mother dog on her pups. As you can easily note from watching puppies learning, whenever they do something unacceptable the mother actually bites their necks, usually at the back. All they do is give out a little yelp, but there is no harm that has been inflicted on them.
Over the decades that followed, prong collars became a popular training device, which stoked massive controversy in its wake. This was because of looks, where it resembles a torture device. However, looks are deceiving in this case.
How Effective Are Prong Collars?
The evenly applied pressure is gentler on the dog compared to the quick jerks and damaging effects of a choke chain, and provides more effective training. Instead of the relentless pressure witnessed with flat collars, or the muzzling that comes with using gentle leader harnesses, the prong collar leads to self-limiting action by the dog, which is particularly beneficial for dogs that keep on strongly pulling at the leash. While slip or choke collars can completely cut off the dog’s air supply—especially when one is not careful, you won’t have to worry about that when using prong collars.
Are Prong Collars Safe?
When used properly, they are completely safe. In fact, they are safer than alternative methods. For instance, when using a flat buckle collar and Fluffy pulls on his leash, then there will be constant pressure around his neck, especially the trachea region. Walking him around like this regularly will result in long term injuries. On the other hand, prong collars will distribute the force around the neck while still discouraging the pet from pulling, making it the safer option.
The action of the prong collar mimics what happens in nature. In case you’ve observed some dogs interacting with each other, you will notice lots of mouthing taking place. From young dogs playing with each other, the posturing when in heat, to mothers dealing with the puppies- dogs can handle the toothy attention they receive from their pet pals and family. When fitted properly this is actually a really humane training collar for your dog.
The tools in the market also come with their design attributes that add to the safety of the process. Take the Ultra-Plus Prong collar from Herm Sprenger for instance. This is one of the most popular brands, and this particular unit comes with steel chrome plating, to ensure that the collar lasts all through the training period. The center plate of the collar enables you to correct the pressure being distributed, protecting the dog’s skin. There’s the variation that comes with quick release snaps, which make it easier to set the size and ensure that the collar has properly fit the dog. It is chrome plated as well, providing you with service for years. You can also opt for the stainless steel product.
Working With The Prong Collar
First, ensure you get the fitting right. The prong collar should have a snug fit—not too tight. It should ideally be set right below your pet’s ears (just under the jawline). This particular position is for better control, due to its higher position on the neck. The snug fit is to prevent the claw from keeping on slipping down the neck.
Do not slip the prong collar over your dog’s ears and move it down into position. This is a common mistake. The devices are designed to be put on and taken off using the links, hooking and unhooking them respectively. Unsnap the collar from the neck— don’t drag it over the dog’s head. To unhook it, simply pinch one of the collar’s links, then pull it apart.
In case this is the first time that you’re using the prong collar on your pet, you’ll first want to train him on how it works. Take some time to simply walk around with the dog, and do it slowly. Don’t nag or drag Fluffy. Just guide him in your direction. Treats brought along in a snack bag will come in handy here, awarding him when he responds to your call. Throw in some praise as well as part of the positive reinforcement. He’ll quickly understand that he should pay attention and walk with you, instead of pulling away.
How Attach The Leash Correctly.
The leash can be attached to the collar in two ways:
- Fixing it to the dead-ring: This is for first time users, and when dogs quickly grasp the corrective measures being given.
- Using the live-ring: Provides amplified correction, since there is less slack on the collar when you pop the leash. This is the preferred option for dogs that are not responding well with the snap placed on the dead ring.
Do not use the collar as a disciplinary tool—so you shouldn’t pull or nag your pet with it. A quick snap of the prong collar will communicate to your dog about what you want from him. Also, don’t leave it on your dog 24/7. It should only be worn during training or taking walks. This also means that you should not tie your dog outside with a prong collar. That would simply be abusive. Just like any other training tool, it needs to be properly used for you to derive its benefits.