The Prong Collar, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Rescue Dogs 101

The Prong Collar, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Are Prong Collars Cruel?

I know some people cringe at the sight of a prong collar, it looks barbaric and cruel. The prong collar training gets a lot of attention from pure positive or force free dog trainers. These trainers believe that the prong collar is cruel and should be banned.

But are prong collars cruel? The prong collar controversy is real! But we all need to know the truth about prong collars before passing judgment.

You are most likely reading this because your dog pulls on the leash, is leash reactive or you can’t control your dog on leash, right?

The fact is, the prong collar, when fitted properly, is designed to be the most humane way to train and to NOT harm your dog. Many people have never seen a prong or pinch collar properly used in dog training. I personally never used a prong collar before being introduced to it a couple of years ago.

Prong collar for dogs

Don’t Judge the Book by It’s Cover or the Prong Collar in this Case!

Now before you pass judgment, please read on to learn more and then decide for yourself…

The training program we used 20 years ago used a choke collar, so that is what we were used to. I thought prong collars were for out-of-control vicious dogs! But, after attending a seminar with a balanced dog trainer and doing a lot of research, I realized what a great dog training tool the prong collar can be.

We now use the prong collar to train our own dogs and our foster dogs when needed. Some foster dogs come to us without any leash skills and in order for me to be able to walk them with my dogs, I need to quickly teach them how to walk on the leash without pulling, and a prong collar is a great tool for this.

The prong collar made the below photo possible… my 10-year-old daughter riding her bike with our 95lb yellow lab, Bear. When we first adopted Bear he had no leash manners at all. He was literally a wild and crazy dog! With the prong collar, we’ve been able to train him not to pull on our walks.

The prong collar made it possible for my kid to ride her bike with her dog

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8 Things You Need to Know About the Prong Collar and Your Dog

The Good

  1. Don’t judge the book by its cover! The prong collar may not be a pretty, and it defiantly gets a bad rap among some people and pure positive dog trainers. But the prong collar is a great training tool to communicate with your dog. It is designed to NOT harm your dog. The prong collar puts universal pressure around the entire dog’s neck, kind of like a mother dog does with her puppies. It does NOT damage the trachea when properly used.
  2. The prong collar can be a life-saving tool. The prong collar may have its pros and cons, but there are so many dog owners that do not take their dogs for walks because their dog pulls, lunges or is leash reactive. And when a dog doesn’t get walked on a regular basis, it can create bad behaviors at home… such as chewing, barking and jumping. These bad behaviors can spin out of control if not corrected immediately, so then the dog owner gets fed up and decides they can’t deal with it anymore. So they take the dog to a shelter, and is that the dog’s fault? I don’t think so!
  3. The collar must be fitted properly around your dog’s neck. It should fit snug but not too tight and sit right below the ears. The higher on the neck you can keep the collar, the better communication you will have with your dog. This can be a challenge, as the collar does seem to slip down the neck if not snug around his neck. There are many videos available from trainers showing how to fit the prong collar, here is a great one from SolidK9Training. Proper prong collar fitting is essential, so make sure to watch this video!
  4. When first putting a prong collar on your dog that has never worn one, you want to start out by training him on how it works. Take a day to simply walk slowly around with the dog. Do not drag him, or keep nagging him, but simply guide your dog in your direction. You can give him treats when he comes to you when called and definitely give him lots and lots of praise. Your dog will quickly pick up the fact that he needs to pay attention to you and will start to walk without pulling.

Buy the Prong Collar on Amazon

Buy the Prong Collar on Chewy.com

Not all prong collars are created equal. The best prong collar brand is Herm Sprenger and is the only brand I recommend. The is based on the top balanced dog trainers that use prong collars, and my own experience with the prong collar. Herm Sprenger prong collars are made of high-quality material and have a rounded point on the tips so they do not poke into your dog’s neck.

The Bad and The Ugly

  1. Like many tools, the prong collar is often misunderstood and misused. The prong collar is NOT to be used to pull or nag your dog. It should be a quick snap of the collar to communicate what you want from your dog. DO NOT use it to discipline your dog. The prong collar should be used as a training tool only, it is NOT meant to wear 24/7. The only times your dog should be wearing the prong collar are when you are training, working on behaviors or taking walks.
  2. You may get evil looks from other dog owners that just don’t understand the power of the prong collar. You may have pure positive trainers tell you there are more humane ways to control your dog. It is unfortunate that some people just aren’t willing to see past that book cover, and see what the prong collar really is… a very humane dog training tool.
  3. Yes, you will hear horror stories about prong collar injuries and dogs that were found with their necks torn apart by a prong or choke collar. These cases are always the result of a very irresponsible dog owner; a dog owner that ties his dog outside while wearing a prong collar or is abusive with the collar. Any collar can result in injury to your dog’s neck. If your dog is a hard puller, a flat collar can damage his trachea. Just like any tool, it must be used properly for it to work.
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So you may be asking yourself now, should I use a prong collar for my dog?

In full transparency, we do use the prong collar for our dogs. It has been a life-saver. But I am also aware of how other people view the prong collar. I do worry about what other people think, even though I shouldn’t. I love my dogs very much and I know in my heart that I am not a bad dog mom.  And I also know that the prong collar is designed to be the most humane way to train and to NOT harm our dogs.

If your dog pulls you when trying to walk him or is leash reactive, I strongly suggest you consider using a prong collar. You will hear strong opinions about prong collars on both sides, for and against.

It is up to you to do your research and make your own opinion. I am certainly not here to push, either way, just to give the facts and my opinion on what a great training tool it can be when used properly.

Just remember, the collar doesn’t train the dog, it’s a tool to train… your training will train your dog.

I’ve heard a harness is more humane and will help my dog not pull.

There are many different types of dog harnesses. There are back clip harnesses, which promote pulling (think about sled dogs). Front clip harnesses that simply manipulates the dog into not pulling and does NOT FIX the pulling. And a Gentle leader or head collar that goes around a dogs muzzle… is that really comfortable for your dog?

I admit I have not tried them all. Although I am thinking I need to do a research project with every type of collar available on the market today! I have tried a few with our foster dogs, and they never truly work.

The leash is now in your hands…

So now it’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable using to train your dog. I urge you to not shy away from the prong collar just because of what it looks like or what you’ve heard about it in the past.

Give it a chance, try it out and see what a difference it can make with your relationship with your dog. And ask yourself, is it better for your dog to drag you through your walk, choking himself on his flat collar… or to have a peaceful walk with your dog walking next to you, enjoying the smells and scenery? Read our post about the importance of taking your dog for a walk.

Reminder, not all prong collars are created equal. If you decide you want to try a prong collar with your dog, make sure your purchase the Herm Sprenger brand.

IMPORTANT UPDATE 9/21/18: I noticed on Amazon there have been some complaints on not receiving an authentic Herm Sprenger brand. Please make sure to double check your order and receive the correct collar. The Herm Sprenger is engraved in the actual collar. With this new issue, you may want to consider purchasing from Chewy instead.

Click Here to Buy the Prong Collar on Amazon.
Click Here to Buy the Prong Collar on Chewy.com.

P.S. I’d love to hear about your success stories on using the prong collar. Comment below and share with the Rescue Dogs 101 Community that may be unsure on the benefits of the prong collar.

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About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a dog mom, volunteer foster dog home, and lifetime dog lover. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for our free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.

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