Prong Collars: All the things that you must know

When the mother and father of a giant canine (significantly, although small breeds should not exempt) increase the query of free leash strolling or stopping their canine from pulling on their leash, the topic will get heated quick. “Prong collar is the one method”, “Headcollar” “coaching” “harness with a entrance level” “Steadiness harness” and so on and so on. After which comes the controversy of aversive vs optimistic. Inevitably inaccuracies get thrown round and total? There’s numerous myths and a lack of understanding as a result of all of it comes from a passionate place.

I imply, after all, if you happen to’ve been utilizing a device for 30 years along with your canine (and even 3 months) you don’t wish to discover out that you simply’ve been doing a nasty factor, or that if you happen to’ve been sucking it up and utilizing a harness, you don’t wish to discover there’s doubtlessly a neater choice.

So, I wish to talk about a type of choices for you now, so that you simply, my pricey pet guardian, perceive what you’re when assessing these choices for you and your little pup. Since you deserve data that’s clear, truthful and backed by science or the data of the producer.

Discovering the very best methodology for each you and your canine is basically vital, so I need to talk about it.

I’m going to debate what they’re, how they work, why they work. Focus on with you when they need to be used and once they shouldn’t. What they’re made to do, and what they’re not made to do.

Caveat Inbound

I’m stating it like this so it’s tremendous apparent for any coach coming into this piece to know my stance, this caveat just isn’t essentially for you, my pricey new pet guardian, however I’ve a dedication to my coaching methodology and have to brazenly state this.
For causes defined under, I’m not a fan of prong collars, nonetheless, with a view to give a view into why, this piece is required. I’ll write as unbiasedly as I can, and be informative and factual, permitting you to make your individual selections.

The entire photographs on this submit comprise canine who’re sporting prong collars incorrectly.
That is deliberate! As you undergo the article, see if you happen to can inform why they’re flawed.

weimeraner in a prong collar
Weimeraner in a prong collar… see that tag?

What Is A Prong Collar

A prong collar (additionally referred to as a pinch collar) is an instance of a canine coaching collar, and often replaces a flat collar. It’s an adaptation of choke chains, the hyperlinks change into bigger and there are “tooth” on every hyperlink that encircle the neck. The collar is designed to create even stress across the neck and distribute the ‘correction’ so it may be thought-about ‘kinder’ than a choke collar, choke chains, or slip leash various.

Nevertheless, it’s good to notice that the prong collar works by giving a ‘leash pop’ or ‘correction’ via the leash, a fast jerk on the leash ends in a sudden constriction of the neck.

Now, numerous trainers will inform you that this doesn’t damage the canine, that it merely tells them no in a language they perceive.

While that could be true, it’s not one thing we’ve information for, and allowing for {that a} canine neck is 3x extra delicate than ours, and so they undoubtedly prohibit airflow for a short while, it’s debatable that this machine goes in opposition to animal welfare rights and are subsequently banned in sure international locations like Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland and the Canadian Province of Quebec.

In fact this may be argued as human error, however typically it’s simply simpler to manage the scenario than treatment the fallout…

dog tethered to a railing by a prong collar
canine tethered to a railing by a prong collar, would we deem that protected?

How Does A Prong Collar Work?

This one is basically vital, earlier than you employ any device along with your canine that you simply perceive how they work and why your canine will reply to it – particularly once they can’t talk their wants or emotions clearly.

The prong collar (just like a choke chain or slip lead) works on constriction. It’s structured like a martingale collar, the place the majority of the collar is tightened by a cinching chain which attaches to your leash. What’s totally different a few prong collar is that because the martingale tightens it brings in “tooth” or prongs. These are then used if you wish to apply a “Correction” (additionally referred to as a leash pop) that press into the pores and skin round your canine’s neck to use discomfort or ache with a view to talk that your canine has achieved one thing incorrectly.

Then, once they do one thing proper, or are questioning themselves, the very fact you don’t pop the leash implies that they get a rush of reduction.

Nevertheless, it’s actually vital that all through the method of coaching a canine with a prong collar that we’re conscious, that we admit that it causes ache or discomfort with a view to have an impact. This offers respect for the device, and implies that you’re much less doubtless to misuse it. And in case your coach tells you that that is not the case, then they’re not a coach you have to be working with.

These are the "quadrants of operant conditioning" that exist within dog training, with Positive reinforcement, negative punishment, positive punishment and negative reinforcement
It is a nice perception into how canine coaching boils down. These are the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning – which is what motivates any learner (be they human or canine or in any other case) is motivated by. Using a prong collar falls firmly on that backside row, it’s optimistic punishment and destructive reinforcement.

When To Begin Utilizing A Prong Collar

So, the time to begin utilizing it’s everytime you’ve genuinely exhausted your choices if you’ve tried the kinder methodology, you’ve tried an expert optimistic coach, and also you’ve gotten to some extent the place your canine can’t progress regardless of your dedication, persistence and addressing all the features of your canine’s life that could be inhibiting their studying.

In line with Herm Sprenger:

“They [Prong Collars] should not beneficial except different coaching strategies have been exhausted.”

Herm Sprenger

You ought to be exhausting different means earlier than resorting to a prong collar. And I do know that typically it may well really feel like you will have achieved so, however usually? That’s not the case.

A prong collar is a tool that has good and unhealthy factors to it, however as we’ll go into later, it’s ripe for misuse. While I might hope you’d use it proper (although, I don’t assume I might belief myself to make use of it proper persistently over lengthy intervals of time), it additionally doesn’t surpass the truth that you possibly can in all probability obtain your free leash strolling objectives method simpler than banishing your pup or canine to this machine.

Can I Use A Prong Collar On A Pet?

No, they don’t seem to be appropriate to be used on a pet. While Herm Sprenger advise that 5-6 months is the minimal? I might argue a 12 months to 18 months is the minimal you have to be contemplating this device.

Why? As a result of puppies be taught actually simply. Like… actually simply. I don’t care what breed you will have, how sturdy they’re, or how small you might be. You possibly can have a canine who listens properly, learns properly and as a pet? They’re primed for that. That’s what they had been constructed for, is to be taught.  (In the event you’re struggling to show a free leash, that is for you.)

All you must do to unlock that? Is to determine the way to talk with them. In the event you can determine that out? You don’t want a prong collar. You possibly can stroll your canine round with out a collar, harness, leash (please don’t do it in public, there are legal guidelines in place) and they’re going to hearken to you each step of the best way.

Oh! And if you happen to comply with my steering with pupdates? You gained’t ever get to this stage, since you’ll be practising a free leash lengthy earlier than they’re giant and unruly!

large dog in a prong collar getting out of a pool on a leash
giant canine in a prong collar getting out of a pool on a leash…

Are Prong Collars Dangerous To My Canine Or Pet?

They actually may be if misused.

Misuse covers :
❌ poor or incorrect placement on the canine.
❌ poorly fitted collars or incorrectly sized.
❌ incorrect timing of ‘corrections’
❌ permitting canine to self appropriate.
❌ used within the automotive (particularly to safe within the automotive)
❌ worn in a crate
❌ Trying to unravel incorrect issues with a prong
❌ lengthy durations sporting a prong
❌ when used on the underaged
❌ when used on shy canine
❌ when used on scared canine
❌ when used on aggressive canine
❌ when used while not outlined coaching classes
❌ when used while unattended
❌ when used with something aside from a brief leash

With this quantity of no-no’s it’s so freaking simple to get flawed that may trigger harm to your canine bodily, mentally, or simply to the bond between you and your canine. To not point out that the window of alternative to be used turns into so slim that these canine are literally in all probability very easy to coach anyway.

That is the place numerous pro-prong individuals will say “However my canine loves their prong” – which is nice, however in the identical method you’ve conditioned them to like that prong? You might have taught a free leash with out a prong. Or I may truly educate them to like a jellyfish on their head…

So sure, Prong Collars can have the flexibility to be very dangerous, very simply.

How To Place A Prong Collar

The right positioning for a prong collar is true on the prime of the neck, the place the cranium meets the neck muscle as that is probably the most ‘weak’ a part of your canine, the place the prong collar will yield most impact for coaching and consequently the specified consequence. Nevertheless, the device will work regardless of the place it’s been positioned.

It’s good to notice {that a} canine’s neck is 3x extra delicate than a human neck, so we actually don’t want to make use of a lot stress.

Can You Depart A Prong Collar On A Canine


Prong collars are designed to be in your canine all through coaching solely. ID tags shouldn’t be placed on a prong collar, and your canine ought to not be left in a single for lengthy intervals of time. Doing so exposes your canine to an inordinate quantity of hazard, harm and dangers that simply should not price speaking about.

two dogs with their heads out of windows, prong collar on spaniel
two canine with their heads out of home windows, prong collar on spaniel, what do you assume on the scale and timing of it’s utilization?

How To Prepare Your Canine Off Of A Prong Collar

It is a actually easy. Resolve which gear you desire to your canine to stroll on, and seize a double ended leash, like a halti coaching leash, and clip the prong to 1 finish of the leash, and the harness or collar to the opposite.

As your want for corrections reduce, enable the steadiness of the leash to lean in the direction of the harness, and away from the prong.

Slowly, you’ll switch all of the leash to the harness or collar, and depart the prong collar on, however unattached (nonetheless for brief intervals please, and below fixed supervision!) and finally? Take away the prong collar completely.

In fact, if you happen to see regression, then make it possible for the earlier coaching methodology is reverted to.

Is A Prong Collar Dangerous?

They actually have the potential to be.

It is a actually subjective query. My private stance? Sure they’re unhealthy, as a result of they’ve far too giant a capability to be misused. While I do know that the potential for misuse just isn’t a motive to name one thing unhealthy, it’s primarily a way of coaching that I see no motive for.

In my years of canine coaching (at this level, I’ve been concerned in coaching over 1300 canine and gained awards), I’ve by no means discovered a motive for a prong collar that can’t be resolved with optimistic coaching.

Sure, optimistic coaching will take longer and might be tougher work, however is that any excuse to resort to one thing that may make your canine life uncomfortable? I don’t assume so. Additionally, the results of optimistic coaching isn’t depending on the presence of the machine… which is certainly a very good factor.

The opposite motive I might advise in opposition to prong collar utilization is due to the time by which you must apply the ‘correction’.

little bully breed wearing a prong collar
little bully breed sporting a prong collar – How do you are feeling in regards to the sizing right here?

You will have 2 seconds to seize a behaviour, proper or flawed, reward or correction.

With optimistic reinforcement, you should utilize a marker phrase, and reward to provide you a bit longer for the deal with/play reward. However for corrections? It’s important to interpret the motion, and inform your arm to maneuver at a sure pace/tempo/no matter else and ship it rapidly, or else your canine won’t perceive what you’re correcting.

If that window is that small and also you make a mistake, would you favor to be delivering complicated rewards, or complicated punishment?

Are Prong Collars Appropriate For A Reactive Canine?

No. That is supported by Herm Sprenger, the highest producer of prong collars on the planet.

Something ache primarily based just isn’t appropriate for a reactive canine.

Canine change into reactive (largely) via worry or pleasure. Damaging experiences that they’ve discovered to drawback remedy with trying mighty scary, scare the opposite canine away, after which security is restored. It’s one other self-rewarding cycle.

Including in a prong collar and ‘correcting’ their worry (aka. A jerk on the leash to instantly, rapidly prohibit airflow because the tooth of the prong squeeze the neck, typically misappropriated as a ‘mommy chew’ – I’ll talk about that each other time…)  truly simply reinforces the concept they had been proper to be scared of the oncoming risk.

Over time? This forces the canine right into a state of discovered helplessness. This type of state just isn’t a state the place studying can happen, it’s a state the place all their choices have been eliminated.

The analogy utilized by lots of people is think about your worst worry, after which somebody sitting there and forcing you to face it.

Prong collars should not appropriate for something fear-based, which is the place reactivity falls.

a rather sad looking rottweiler wearing a prong collar
a somewhat unhappy trying Rottweiler sporting a prong collar, actually shut right here… however what’s the difficulty?

My Opinion On Prong Collars

No matter my coaching preferences. Prongs are extensively, extensively misunderstood and consequently extensively misused.

The truth that a reward or a correction can solely be given inside 2 seconds of the motion for both to be of impact implies that your reactions have very slim home windows to attain their purpose. Consequently, it’s my recommendation to not use ‘corrections’ as a result of they’re too simple to overlook. In the event you’re going to overlook one thing, would you somewhat that your canine misunderstood a reward, or a punishment? The previous associates you as a very good factor, the latter associates you with unhealthy issues.

With using a prong collar, you instantly change into your canine supply of punishment.

Using these instruments in any ‘physique’ of labor (reminiscent of on police k9’s) is not an excuse so that you can use them on a pet canine. It doesn’t lend them any credibility. It in actual fact dates the police academy’s coaching methods again to the 1990’s, together with their pc methods and their strategy to the legislation… is that one thing you actually want to stand with?

The “My canine loves his prong, and get’s all excited when he sees it” is easy classical conditioning, such that your canine recognizes meaning coaching or walkies, that doesn’t imply that they really feel optimistic in regards to the expertise when the prong tightens round their neck.

I imply, I can practice your canine to see a lemon and assume it’s the very best factor on the planet – it doesn’t imply they’ll just like the style of lemon.

It’s a device that I consider, like headcollars, individuals use as a shortcut of their coaching. They take the simple route, versus educating correct, stable cues and instructions.

Oftentimes, breed is an excuse “Oh, he’s a German Shepherd, he wants a prong or he’ll be uncontrolled” properly… no… that’s probably not true is it? It implies that you’re not in management. That implies that you have failed in coaching your canine and have taken a shortcut as a substitute of studying to know and work along with your canine.

I imply… zookeepers practice tigers. A bloody Tiger!!! With optimistic reinforcement. That creature is method stronger and far more harmful than a german shepherd… so why hold perpetuating the identical garbage?

Coaching continues to be required.

Even with a prong? You continue to want to coach your canine. And Herm Sprenger agrees.

“No collar will completely repair a canine’s unhealthy habits. This must be achieved with good coaching. A prong collar provides you with a little bit of “energy steering” with a bigger canine that pulls laborious, however it’s no substitute for coaching.”

Herm Sprenger

So… if you happen tore coaching? Simply practice the best method… the primary time and don’t search shortcuts.

If You Do Resolve To Use A Prong Collar

✅ Exhaust different choices
✅ Match it correctly
✅ Use an skilled coach (who admits what it’s and the way it works)
✅ Use as designed
✅ Choose a high quality one (no rubber ideas!)
✅ Don’t neglect to coach them off of it.
✅ Familiarise your self with canine physique language, significantly stress indicators.

While I don’t agree with them, that doesn’t imply you must. In the event you resolve that is your proper path, simply just be sure you’re going into this as ready as you possibly can, since you owe it to your canine to take action.

belgian malinois wearing a prong collar, an ecollar, a regular collar and harness.
belgian malinois sporting a prong collar, an ecollar, a daily collar and harness. Greater than a bit overkill… huh? However aside from that, what’s flawed?

A Notice About Herm Sprenger

While the product is clearly high quality, and I like that they really offer you most of this data – the data is somewhat buried. It needs to be one thing a bit louder and prouder on their web site. It’s a big a part of what drove me to jot down this weblog submit was as a result of persons are utilizing these instruments and should not truly trying on the complete web page, studying all the data and are consequently making poorly knowledgeable selections.

Or, they’re making their choice primarily based on the phrase of a coach who’s training with outdated methods – which is a very easy mistake to make.

My hope? Is that this data will get shared, tons. That it seems on google when individuals search “Prong collar for my canine” and so they have the chance to be taught. The knowledge is available, however it is a bit more buried than I wish to see.

So please Herm Sprenger! Stand behind your product and inform individuals brazenly the reality!

Problem Accepted.

Oftentimes Prong collars are brandished round because the holy grail of proudly owning a canine. However they’re not.

Merely put? They’re a shortcut.

A shortcut that compromises an excessive amount of for me to really feel snug utilizing one or recommending one when there are tried and examined strategies that don’t require one.

There’s hardly ever a time the place a prong is genuinely wanted in a very good relationship along with your canine. And if you happen to genuinely really feel like that’s the case? Tremendous, however I promise you (problem me if you would like! Positively, constructively and with an open thoughts) there’s a optimistic resolution you possibly can take to attain the similar purpose. Regardless of how prey pushed, regardless of how sturdy. Regardless of how ‘cussed’. You are able to do it with persistence and steering.

Actually, I do know, I’ve taught an incredible, dependable free leash (even with out the leash) quite a bit with all types of canine, all types of breeds. It’s about persistence and consistency. That’s all. You will have that. All of us have that. We simply have to use it.