The best dog is a well trained dog. Unfortunately, dogs usually don’t enter a family already fully trained. One of the most frequent training complaints is the ability for a large breed dog to drag its owner down the block in less than 20 seconds. It is for that reason that dog owners seek out methods of controlling their dogs while on walks or during training session. One such method is the use of the Prong collar.
What is a Prong Collar?
A Prong collar (also called pinch collar) is a series of chain links with open ends turned towards the dog’s neck so that, when the collar is tightened, it pinches the naturally loose skin around the dog’s neck. When properly adjusted and used, it startles the dog and gives a sharp correction, but it is very difficult if not impossible to actually puncture the skin. And while it looks painful, it’s actually less harmful to the dog than a slip or choke collar. Opponents argue that pain is never a good default way in which to train animals. Some dogs are nearly oblivious to leash corrections of any kind, but the prong collar might make such dogs pay more attention than milder collar types. The advantage of the prong collar over the choke collar is that the circumference is limited so that it is impossible to compress the animal’s throat. Another advantage is that any pressure on the dog’s neck is spread out over a larger area than with most buckle collars, and with all choke chains.
Study of Prong Collars in Germany
(Information about study taken from an Anne Marie Silverton Seminar)
- 100 dogs were in the study. 50 used choke and 50 used prong.
- The dogs were studied for their entire lives. As dogs died, autopsies were performed.
- Of the 50 which had chokes, 48 had injuries to the neck, trachea, or back. 2 of those were determined to be genetic. The other 46 were caused by trauma.
- Of the 50 which had prongs, 2 had injuries in the neck area, 1 was determined to be genetic. 1 was caused by trauma.
Type of Prong Collars
- Swivel – prevents chain from getting twisted and owner must release dog by manually separating the links of the collar.
- Quick Release – has a swivel to prevent chain from getting twisted and comes with a snap or special link to quickly release dog.
When should a Prong Collar be used?
A Prong collar should be used when milder training collars have not worked and your Lab is still not listening to commands. These other training collars include the flat collar, martingale collar, halter collar, or harness. Each of these training collars is less forceful and may be suitable for most owners and their Labs. For the most stubborn puller or for those Labs that have “selective hearing” when giving commands, the Prong collar can be very useful. Please use the mildest collar that gives you the results you want before trying a Prong collar.
Who should use a Prong Collar?
Any dog owner that has a stubborn Lab that need a more forceful training method. Only adults should use this type of training collar as there are some rules that a child may have difficultly following. Training must remain consistent and the alpha individual in the family should be the one to use this training method.
Please note: The pup should be at least 6 months in age before using a Prong collar for training due to development growth and age. This should not be used on young puppies.
Correct Use of a Prong Collar
Most people are misguided in the use of the Prong collar and how it should be worn. A majority of owners will secure the Prong collar loosely under the flat collar of the dog and believe this is the best fitting. Unfortunately, they are very wrong and can cause serious tracheal and neck problems for their Labs. Here are the facts:
- Prong collars are ordered by weight – Extra Heavy; Heavy; Light; etc. They all come in a standard length which is adjusted to fit the neck of the dog by removing or adding links to the collar.
- Prong collars are meant to be put on and taken off before and after daily training sessions. They should never be left on the Lab all the time. That is what the flat collar is meant for.
- A snug fit is mandatory! Enough links need to be removed so that the collar fits snug.
- Positioning of the Prong collar is crucial. The collar should sit right behind the ears and up under the jaw. Not down at the shoulders.
- Rings on the Prong collar should be positioned ideally for training. For most, the rings (that you attach your leash to) should be towards the top right of the Lab’s neck as to allow the trainer to be standing to the Lab’s right for training.
- Links should always remain under the dog’s chin for more effective training.
- Attach the leash to the dead-ring for normal dog training. The dead-ring is when the trainer attaches the leash to both the swivel ring and the stationary ring. This will allow the Prong collar to remain the same size when training and provide less force.
- Attach leash to the live-ring for more stubborn dogs. The live ring is the swivel ring alone and allows the Prong collar to tighten further on the Lab when training. Do not use the live-ring method of training unless you have first tried the dead-ring method.
- The Prong collar should be placed on the Lab 20 minutes before training and it should be removed 20 minutes after the training has been completed. This will allow the Lab to become accustomed to the collar and not directly link the correction during the training with the collar.
The Prong collar itself is not a cruel device to use on any dog, so long as it is used properly during training. As with anything, there are opportunities for any training method to be used in a cruel and inhumane fashion. Prong collars should never be used for punishment after the Lab has done something wrong. The collar should only be worn when the owner is actively training the Lab. If left on, the collar can hurt the Lab if it were to become tangled or caught on something. Prong collars are used solely for correction during training and should not be used in any other way. If you suspect someone of purposefully using the Prong collar to hurt their dog, please contact your local officials immediately.
Just because an owner chooses to use a Prong collar does not mean he or she has a bad dog. Both of our lovable Labs use the collar during their daily walks, as they tend to pull hard, and it is used during our more rigorous training sessions. When used properly, the Prong collar can make even the most energetic and stubborn Lab become well mannered and easy to handle.
If you are unsure as to what training collar may be best suited for your pup, please contact a local Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT), which you can find through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Please note: This article is intended to provide general information on the Prong Collar and does not serve as a full training manual or definitive answer on dog training. The author is a responsible Labrador Retriever owner that uses the Prong collar on her own Labs and is not a Certified Pet Dog Trainer. References are provided to assist readers in gathering further information prior to making decisions on whether or not to utilize this type of training on their own dogs.