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Prong Collars: The whole lot it is advisable know (2023)


    As topics go, Prong collars are fairly divisive within the canine world. 

    When the mother and father of a big canine (notably, although small breeds should not exempt) increase the query of unfastened 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” “Stability harness” and so on and so on. After which comes the controversy of aversive vs optimistic. Inevitably inaccuracies get thrown round and general? There’s plenty of myths and a lack of awareness as a result of all of it comes from a passionate place.

    I imply, afterall, in case you’ve been utilizing a instrument for 30 years along with your canine (and even 3 months) you don’t wish to discover out that you just’ve been doing a foul factor, or that in case you’ve been sucking it up and utilizing a harness, you don’t wish to discover there’s probably a neater choice. 

    So, I wish to focus on a kind of choices for you now, so that you just, my expensive pet mother or father, perceive what you’re taking a look at when assessing these choices for you and your little pup. Since you deserve data that’s clear, truthful and backed by science or the knowledge of the producer. 


    Discovering one of the best methodology for each you and your canine is de facto vital, so I have to focus on 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 isn’t essentially for you, my expensive new pet mother or father, however I’ve a dedication to my coaching methodology and must overtly state this.
    For causes defined under, I’m not a fan of prong collars, nevertheless, with a purpose 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 personal selections.

    All the photographs on this publish comprise canine who’re sporting prong collars incorrectly.
    That is deliberate! As you undergo the article, see in case you can inform why they’re improper.


    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 normally replaces a flat collar. It’s an adaptation of choke chains, the hyperlinks develop into bigger and there are “enamel” 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.

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

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

    While which may be true, it’s not one thing we’ve got information for, and taking into consideration {that a} canine neck is 3x extra delicate than ours, they usually positively prohibit airflow for a short while, it’s debatable that this machine goes towards animal welfare rights and are subsequently banned in sure international locations like Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland and the Canadian Province of Quebec. 

    After all this may be argued as human error, however generally it’s simply simpler to regulate the state of affairs 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 secure?

    How Does A Prong Collar Work?

    This one is de facto vital, earlier than you utilize any instrument along with your canine that you just perceive how they work and why your canine will reply to it – particularly once they can not 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 completely different a few prong collar is that because the martingale tightens it brings in “enamel” or prongs. These are then used while 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 purpose to talk that your canine has carried out one thing incorrectly.


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

    Nonetheless, 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 purpose to have an impact. This offers respect for the instrument, and implies that you’re much less seemingly to misuse it. And in case your coach tells you that that is not the case, then they’re not a coach you ought 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
    This can be 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 detrimental reinforcement.

    When To Begin Utilizing A Prong Collar

    So, the time to start out utilizing it’s everytime you’ve genuinely exhausted your choices while you’ve tried the kinder methodology, you’ve tried knowledgeable optimistic coach, and also you’ve gotten to a degree the place your canine can not progress regardless of your dedication, persistence and addressing all the elements of your canine’s life which may be inhibiting their studying.

    Based on Herm Sprenger: 

    “They [Prong Collars] should not really useful until 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 generally it may really feel like you’ve carried out so, however sometimes? That’s not the case.

    A prong collar is a tool that has good and dangerous 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 constantly over lengthy intervals of time), it additionally doesn’t surpass the truth that you may in all probability obtain your unfastened 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 aren’t 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 ought to be contemplating this instrument. 

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

    All it’s a must to do to unlock that? Is to determine talk with them. When you can determine that out? You don’t want a prong collar. You may 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’ll hearken to you each step of the way in which. 

    Oh! And in case you observe my steerage with pupdates? You received’t ever get to this stage, since you’ll be practising a unfastened 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 definitely will 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 right.
    ❌ used within the automobile (particularly to safe within the automobile)
    ❌ worn in a crate
    ❌ Making an attempt to resolve 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 periods
    ❌ 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 improper that may trigger injury 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 plenty of pro-prong folks 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 may have taught a unfastened 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 correct on the prime of the neck, the place the cranium meets the neck muscle as that is essentially the most ‘weak’ a part of your canine, the place the prong collar will yield most impact for coaching and consequently the specified end result. Nonetheless, the instrument 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 Go away A Prong Collar On A Canine


    Prong collars are designed to be in your canine at some point of 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, injury and dangers that simply should not value 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 dimensions and timing of it’s utilization?

    How To Practice Your Canine Off Of A Prong Collar

    This can be a actually easy. Determine 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 at least one 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 go away the prong collar on, however unattached (nonetheless for brief intervals please, and beneath fixed supervision!) and finally? Take away the prong collar completely.

    After all, in case you see regression, then ensure that the earlier coaching methodology is reverted to. 

    Is A Prong Collar Unhealthy? 

    They definitely have the potential to be.

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

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

    Sure, optimistic coaching will take longer and shall be tougher work, however is that any excuse to resort to one thing that can 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 unquestionably a very good factor. 

    The opposite cause I might advise towards prong collar utilization is due to the time wherein it’s a must to apply the ‘correction’. 

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

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

    With optimistic reinforcement, you should use a marker phrase, and reward to present you a little bit longer for the deal with/play reward. However for corrections? You need to interpret the motion, and inform your arm to maneuver at a sure velocity/tempo/no matter else and ship it rapidly, or else your canine is not going to perceive what you’re correcting. 

    If that window is that small and also you make a mistake, would you like 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 earth. 

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

    Canine develop into reactive (largely) by worry or pleasure. Damaging experiences that they’ve realized 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 abruptly, rapidly prohibit airflow because the enamel of the prong squeeze the neck, typically misappropriated as a ‘mommy chew’ – I’ll focus on that each other time…)  truly simply reinforces the concept they had been proper to be scared of the oncoming menace. 

    Over time? This forces the canine right into a state of realized helplessness. This type of state 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 slightly unhappy trying Rottweiler sporting a prong collar, actually shut right here… however what’s the problem?

    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 aim. Consequently, it’s my recommendation to not use ‘corrections’ as a result of they’re too simple to overlook. When you’re going to overlook one thing, would you slightly that your canine misunderstood a reward, or a punishment? The previous associates you as a very good factor, the latter associates you with dangerous issues. 

    With the usage of a prong collar, you instantly develop into your canine supply of punishment.

    Using these instruments in any ‘physique’ of labor (similar to 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 reality dates the police academy’s coaching methods again to the 1990’s, together with their laptop techniques and their method 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 straightforward classical conditioning, such that your canine recognises which means coaching or walkies, that doesn’t imply that they really feel optimistic concerning the expertise when the prong tightens round their neck. 

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

    It’s a instrument that I imagine, like headcollars, folks use as a shortcut of their coaching. They take the simple route, versus instructing correct, strong cues and instructions.

    Oftentimes, breed is an excuse “Oh, he’s a German Shepherd, he wants a prong or he’ll be uncontrolled” nicely… no… that’s not likely 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 grasp 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 preserve 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 dangerous conduct. This must be carried out with good coaching. A prong collar provides you with a little bit of “energy steering” with a bigger canine that pulls exhausting, however it’s no substitute for coaching.”

    Herm Sprenger

    So… in case you’re coaching? Simply practice the proper method… the primary time and don’t search shortcuts. 

    If You Do Determine 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, notably stress indicators.

    While I don’t agree with them, that doesn’t imply it’s a must to. When you resolve that is your proper path, simply just remember to’re going into this as ready as you may, 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 little bit overkill… huh? However aside from that, what’s improper?

    A Word About Herm Sprenger

    While the product is clearly high quality, and I like that they really provide you with most of this data – the knowledge is slightly buried. It must be one thing a little bit louder and prouder on their website. It’s a big a part of what drove me to put in writing this weblog publish was as a result of persons are utilizing these instruments and should not truly trying on the entire web page, studying all the knowledge and are consequently making poorly knowledgeable selections. 

    Or, they’re making their determination 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, heaps. That it seems on google when folks search “Prong collar for my canine” they usually 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 folks overtly 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 comfy 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 in case you genuinely really feel like that’s the case? Advantageous, however I promise you (problem me if you would like! Positively, constructively and with an open thoughts) there’s a optimistic answer you may take to attain the similar aim. Irrespective of how prey pushed, regardless of how sturdy. Irrespective of how ‘cussed’. You are able to do it with persistence and steerage. 

    Actually, I do know, I’ve taught an awesome, dependable unfastened leash (even with out the leash) loads 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.

    In order for you the bones of practice your canine to stroll on a unfastened leash with out a prong collar? Do this publish, and in case you want extra assist? Have a learn of practice your canine to stroll unfastened leash.

    Writer, Ali Smith

    Ali Smith is the Constructive Pet Knowledgeable, canine coach and is the founding father of Rebarkable. She is keen about serving to pet mother and father get issues proper, proper from the beginning. To assist create a pet able to being a assured and adaptable member of the family and preserve puppies out of shelters.

    Ali has received a number of awards for her canine coaching, and has had her weblog (this weblog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ greatest pet weblog!

    P.s. Pssssst – Each single picture I may discover on my inventory picture supplier was a prong collar being misused. Are you able to inform me why they’re being misused? I’ll let you realize in case you’re proper!