Prong Collars and Why I do not recommend them.

  Recently I have had an increase in clients asking me if they should get a prong collar to have their dogs walk better on leash.  While in some extreme cases a prong collar may be necessary, I do not recommend them for inexperienced owners.  I personally get a more efficient result from a simple slip or martingale collar with tags on them.  

  Prong collars were designed to mimic a dogs mouth.  The theory is: it is like having teeth around their  neck, like an alpha dog would do for a correction.  Problem here is an alpha does not bite a pack member on the neck for any minor mishap.  This makes your dog lose respect for their leader.  Just about every client I have been to who has a prong collar, has had it so tight the dog was getting a constant correction.  It bites all the time.  I have seen quite a few dogs become handler aggressive when receiving a correction from a prong collar, when they get that severe bite from the collar, they quickly turn and retaliate against you.  I recently went on a call where the owner had been using a prong collar on a dog-dog aggressive dog.  This dog was high energy, and horrible on leash (even with a prong collar).  The owner had told me a trainer before was shocked that the dog could take a such a harsh correction with the prong collar and not respond.  Needless to say, this dog was becoming increasingly aggressive towards her own pack.  Causing such extreme bites, the owner now has to keep her completely separated.  This dog has completely lost her bite inhibition.  She has been “bitten” so hard by the prong collar that it is perfectly normal for her to inflict the same intensity in her bite to another dog.  With one proper correction with a slip collar the dog responded and completely avoided her main target in her house, a nervous male.  This is the same dog that literally bent the prongs on her prong collar from being corrected so hard.

  There is alot of contraversay about slip collars and how they damage a dogs neck.   My question to you is if your dog is on a regular flat buckle collar and continuously pulling, aren’t they choking?  How can this not cause damage to your dog’s neck?  I have been on some calls where a dog will literally turn themselves purple, and be gagging from being choked with a flat collar.  With one or two proper corrections of a slip or martingale collar with tags, they respond and the leash is loose.  The sound of the “pop” is what they respond to. I would rather give my dog one good correction then nag them 1000 times or bite them constantly with a prong collar.  If you need help leash walking your dog correctly please contact us.

Tara, Brandie & the “pack”


7 thoughts on “Prong Collars and Why I do not recommend them.

  1. I have been using a prong collar on my lab pup for 1 month. I took him to training class with a buckle… we moved to a martingale* and now a prong (on the advise of the trainer).

    I have noticed a huge difference since the prong collar (it was immediate). He does not pull, he does not try and walk ahead and he sits when asked and his stays are getting much better. It is very rare for it to be tight (only the odd time when we meet with another dog and he gets excited). I just do a quick correction and he settles immediatly.

    I’d love to discuss it further with you, as I have found that it worked very well for me.

    1. Hi Kathleen
      Thank you for reading my article. I have been working with aggressive dogs for nearly 20 years and have many documented cases of dogs losing their bite inhibition due to the over correcting bite they recieve from a prong collar. Many trainers call it “power steering” in dog training, I myself have been fixing aggression caused by them and have worked with plenty of dogs who have changed over from a prong to a martingale or slip successfully. As with any training tool, if you have to correct repeatedly, it is not being used properly. The unfortunate truth is that too many owners and trainers alike, use a prong collar as a “quick” fix, and do not look at the long term results caused by them. We all know dogs have a high threshold for pain, but it is a fact with canine aggression that each bite a dog takes, whether from a prong collar or another dog, their own becomes more intense. We are actually teaching them how hard to bite if we have to correct harder each time.

  2. Hi Tara,
    I have a six month old boxer who’s a puller. I’m 5 feet tall and 100lbs, and even though she’s only 45 lbs, she’s strong!
    I’ve been using a choke collar on her when leash training and it doesn’t seem to be working. I usually stop the walk when she begins to pull to let her know it’s not ok. Once she stops pulling (which doesn’t happen all the time) or sits we begin again. I’ve been trying this method for a two months now with no real results. The walks will vary from pulling most of the time, to pulling only some of the time. I considered getting a prong collar since a co-worker suggested it as it’s been working on his pup. However, after reading this I’m not so sure anymore. Do you have any other suggestions? Do I maybe just need to be a little more patient? 🙂

  3. What kind of cases do you use a prong collar in? Do you find that when you use it (aka, a skilled trainer who knows about timing and pressure and when it’s fair to correct a dog and what will and won’t make sense to them) that it has the same bite inhibition reducing results? I completely agree that they are overused and mostly by people who just slap a prong collar on their dog with no training, without trying a choke first, and that it is a recipe for disaster. But, I also think they have a place in less-than-extreme cases, as a tool for more subtle communication than a choke. It’s my opinion that the redirecting is more from not understanding what they’re being corrected for (or, as you pointed you, too tight and being constantly bit) than something intrinsically offensive to them about the prong: just from my experience seeing dogs get far more upset about a novice handler inadvertently applying collar pressure when they shouldn’t, when the same dog has no objection to a correction that is fair and that they understand but involves more discomfort.

    Are you planning on releasing your findings with your behavior studies to the public? I think the work you’re doing is SO important, because you can exchange theories all day long, and people are fallible with seeing what they want to see, but objective research of what works best for the most dogs is badly needed. Thank you and I look forward to hearing more of what you find out!

    1. Jot
      I do plan on releasing my findings and my research to the public. This being the end of the year, my interns and I are hard at work gathering statistics from the cases I have worked with.
      I personally have worked with experienced trainers that have been on the receiving end of a re-directed bite, due to a prong correction. It is more common than people realize, unfortunately. The cases that are referred to me, from other trainers that have tried to use prong collars to correct aggression, are severe cases. These cases started with reactiveness and a few months later, they are very confident in thier bites (which now makes them dangerous). Just about all of them have escalated into successfully breaking skin with every bite, where they had been air snapping or giving corrective bites (quick muzzle punches) prior to the use of a prong collar. The problem is, we as humans forget that dogs do not bite each other continuously and if they are biting repeatedly or intensely, a fight naturally follows. Each successful fight/bite makes the dog even more confident. We all know about pain elicited aggression, take a unstable dog or an over confident dog and slap a prong on for a correction, you will have a true receipe for disaster.

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