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Dog Training

09/18/2012

The Purpose and Benefits of Using the Prong Collar

Author: Melanie Benware, Trainer, Glen Allen Of all the tools used in dog training, perhaps none is more widely misunderstood…

Author: Melanie Benware, Trainer, Glen Allen

Of all the tools used in dog training, perhaps none is more widely misunderstood and maligned than the prong collar (also known as the pinch collar). Many well meaning but misinformed people assume that judging by it’s looks, the prong collar is a barbaric device intended to “stab” a dog’s neck in order to correct misbehavior. While walking my own dogs I have encountered complete strangers who think nothing of telling me how cruel I am to use such a harsh device. While I am indifferent to this type of comment, I worry that similar incidents will drive responsible dog owners away from using this excellent, effective, kind (yes, kind) training tool on dogs that benefit from it the most.

Purpose of the Prong Collar

The prong collar works on the concept that evenly applied pressure is gentler and more effective on a dog’s neck than the quick jerk and impact of a choke chain or the steady, relentless pressure of a flat collar or muzzling and constant pull of a gentle-leader. The self-limiting tightening action of the prong collar also makes it a safer bet for stong-pulling dogs. A prong collar can only be pulled so tight, unlike the choke or slip collar, which has unlimited closing capacity and in careless or abusive hands, can cut a dog’s air entirely.

Another aspect of the prong collar is its simulation of a natural “correction” that one dog gives another. If you watch a couple of dogs interacting, you will notice that a lot of mouthing behavior takes place. Dogs have evolved over tens of thousands of years to tolerate the toothy attention of their canine friends and family, usually in play or posturing and sometimes in a more serious mode.

Using the Prong Collar to Discourage Biting

Biting is a challenging issue for dog owners and trainers, and it is vital to address it early and effectively. A prong collar can be an invaluable tool in teaching a dog not to bite. When a dog tries to bite, a quick but gentle tug on the prong collar can simulate the “correction bite” another dog would give. This type of correction helps to communicate to the dog in a language it inherently understands, saying, “This behavior is unacceptable.”

Remember, a prong collar is just one tool in a comprehensive approach to train a dog not to bite. Other essential components include socialization, bite inhibition training, and positive reinforcement for non-biting behavior. Patience, consistency, and positivity should always be the underlying principles of training.

As balanced trainers, we believe in utilizing all resources, including prong collars, to promote the best behavior in our canine friends. Proper education about the usage and benefits of a prong collar can lead to more effective training and a happier coexistence between dogs and their human companions.

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