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.
Amanda and I consider ourselves “balanced trainers”. We would rather educate people and the public to the positive effects of the prong collar rather than putting down the use of other tools.