written by Ed Frawley
on My Dog?
When people get a new dog, they know they need a leash and collar. But first time dog owners never start with a prong collar. Fact is: the subject of a prong collar only comes up if a behavioral problem develops. Then, a friend or local dog trainer tells them they need a prong.
That’s when they do a little research and find this article.
On the right dog, prong collars are a great training tool. I describe them as putting power steering on your leash. They allow small people to control large dogs. They produce behavior changes at a correct level that is often 90% less effort than what is required on a flat collar.
The impression people have when they first see a prong is “they look like some kind of a torture tool” and like every single dog training tool they can be abused. But that’s not a good enough reason to not use it in your training protocol. The absolute truth is when prong collars are used correctly, they produce far fewer injuries to our dog’s necks than flat collars or choke chain collars.
So let’s start with the important issues of training with Prong Collars:
- They are not meant to be left on overnight. Leaving the collars on overnight is a dangerous practice.
- They must be sized correctly or they can and will accidently come apart. That always happens when the dog is misbehaving and gets a correction.
- When a prong is fit correctly, it is snug right behind the dog’s ears and right up snug under the dogs jaw. They should NEVER hang loose on the dog’s neck.
- Prong collars should always be used in conjunction with a second backup collar (like our “Dominant Dog Collar"). That way, if the prong comes apart, the dog will still be on leash and not running around off leash in the face of a distraction.
- When you start training with a prong, go slowly. Don’t take the dog to a dog park and give the level of correction you have been using. Rather take the dog for a walk and let it self-correct by pulling into the leash. With many dogs this is enough of a correct.
- As a general rule, prong collars are great for stopping dogs from pulling and dragging the handler down the street on walks.
- The right way to give a leash correction is to POP the leash. Do not PULL ON THE LEASH! This is a skill new dog trainers all need to learn.
- Make an effort to understand the theory of corrections in dog training. The purpose of a correction is to produce a positive behavior change, not to punish the dog. Every dog is different; some need very soft corrections, while other dogs need very hard corrections to get a behavior change – and then the majority are somewhere in the middle. I have written an article on this topic.
Which Dogs Should NOT Have a Prong Collar
- I would seldom recommend using a prong collar on a dog that has aggression issues. Doing so on the wrong dog can result in the dog becoming more aggressive and redirecting onto the owner. These kinds of dogs need to be worked with a “Dominant Dog Collar”.
- I would be a little careful about using a prong on a flighty dog, one that acts like it’s on speed. Putting a prong on this kind of dog can make it “MORE HECTIC” not less hectic. Again these kinds of dogs need to be worked with a “Dominant Dog Collar”.
- I would be cautious on using a prong collar on a very sensitive soft temperamental dog. Over-correcting your dog is a good way to destroy a relationship.