Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Training: The Prong Collar

Since we have been having some obedience problems with Bruno- we have been searching for low-cost temporary training solutions until we can afford a behaviorist. Through searching other blogs and resources, we came to find that, not only do all the pit bulls in our neighborhood wear pring collars- most large breed dogs do also.

We noticed that all of our favorite bloggers have been using them as either training collars or as permanent obendience solutions. Even though I thought they looked terrifying and painful, I asked around.

Our blogger-friend Corbin told us,
"I highly recommend the prong training collars. Unlike the choke collars, the prongs don't allow a dog to choke if they pull too much, instead they get a quick pressure around their necks - similar to a correction they would get from their mom as a puppy. I have been able to successfully leash train foster dogs in 5-10 minutes. We had a trainer come out to work with Corbin last year, and that's how I was introduced to them."

Notice Corbin and his pit bull friends are all wearing them:

Watch here how to properly fit a prong collar:

Fitting a Prong Collar from BADRAP.org on Vimeo.

Pit Bull Rescue Central reminds us that while they are useful tools, prong collars should not be used during dog introductions. In addition, if they are used improperly, they can be harmful to your dog.

In this article by Suzanne Clothier, Suzanne explains that dogs learn how to act by understanding (very clearly) that there are advantages and disadvantages to different actions. The advantage to sitting when asked is the potential of getting a treat or a pat on the head. The disadvantage to barking when on a walk is a slight pinch on the neck. With continuous training, it becomes clear which behaviors he or she can and can't do- which actually reduces stress and confusion over time for the dog. Walks ideally become more enjoyable because they know they will not be punished if they avoid unwanted behaviors.

Problems arise when it is not made clear to the dog which behaviors result in positive outcomes. Inconsistent or overly-harsh training may have the reverse effect and cause the dog to act out. Pulling the dog while he is sniffing the sidewalk nicely may confuse him by making him think that that is an unwanted behavior. By only pinching the neck when the dog pulls or barks or behaves inappropriately, he will understand what not to do. We have been letting Bruno sniff and explore and meet other dogs, and getting his attention to continue to walk with other methods- like using treats, toys, and praise.

In addition, the prong collar should not be worn in-doors or left on for extended periods of time, and under no circumstances should the dog be tied or chain with a prong-collar on.

Bad Rap/Facebook
So far, Bruno has been responding to this very well. He has been able to go on longer walks and wait more patiently in the elevator bank. He even is making some friends because he has been barking less.

Hopefully, with time and consistent practice, he will be able to enjoy a walk without agitation and anxiety.

And  remember- Just because a dog is wearing a scary metal collar, it doesn't mean he is not friendly... see?


  1. Walking Addie used to be a nightmare. She would just pull the whole way and choke herself. I stopped taking her for walks. Now that she has a prong collar, she is the BEST walker in the world. It's amazing. She walks calmly and when we greet people on the side walk she doesn't jump. It's great! I hope it works just as well for you!


  2. Hi Y'all,

    I used to get so excited when I'd see other dogs. I'd leap straight up like I was going to catch something, all the while yelping in excitement! I even knocked my Human down a couple of times. I thought she was playing so I jumped on top of her trying to lick her face.

    You see I weigh 100 lbs and it didn't take much to knock her off her feet. My Human got a prong collar and started walking me with that. Now I can walk with just a little leather slip loop lead. Sometimes she just snaps a lead on my leather collar.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    Ooops! Your blog doesn't recognize my blogspot blog, so I'm logging in under LiveJournal.

  3. I am glad that you posted about this. We recently purchased one for Pauley. His trainer brought one out to try on him & I was horrified , until she showed us how it works & that it is not painful for the dog. As soon as we tried the collar, it was like walking a different dog; no pulling or crisscrossing. We walked Ciara with it on last night & the same thing happened :)

  4. Before using a prong collar on your dog I would encourage YOU to put it around your neck, or even arm, and see how it feels when pulled. IT HURTS! I must agree with dogtrainer Victoria Stilwell, or "It's Me or the Dog" who calls these collars an "inhumane form or torture." Anyone who tells you this is like the correction from a mother dog on their puppy is absolutely mistaken.

    We have a 60 lb pittie who, like all young dogs, used to pull on the leash when walking. We used the Whiggles Wags and Whiskers harness, which trained him humanely without causing him any pain. he is now an expert walker with just a collar. I'd encourage you to consider this!

  5. I understand the use of these very occasionally and I'm happy to see that you've researched the proper use of the collars, you've clearly done your homework. That said, in general, they absolutely shouldn't be the default collar of choice and I'd say 90% of the dogs I see wearing them don't need to. If it's the right option for your pup that's fantastic - especially as you're clearly thinking about long-term solutions - but please don't promote it as as easy option for bullies in general.

    When I got Bilbo he pulled like a steamtrain (he's over 70lbs and I'm a size 4), can be pretty leash reactive at times and has some crazy prey drive going on. It can sometimes be hard work but for the most part I have no problem walking him with a harness. If I can do it, anyone can!

  6. ALthough I have no problem with prong collars, Havi was not leash trained with he got her. Havi used the gentle leader and easy walk harness and it was life changing.


  7. It’s worth noting that Suzanne’s article was written in 1988, and she since states that “I do not use or recommend prong collars.” She has written a new foreword to that article, and it is available on her website. http://flyingdogpress.com/content/view/53/70/

  8. We recently adopted a sweet 1 year old female and started her on the Sense-sation harness. She has a few behavior issues that we are addressing :dog aggression, pulling on the leash and being mouthy.

    The harness only aggravated her dog aggression when in the presence of others and we tried a martingale during a pack walk, and she choked herself out for a mile and a half. 5 min of having the prong collar on and she was a new dog.

    It might seem inhumane to the ignorant, but it's a godsend for certain dogs.

  9. Born in Michigan, Duchess Bellakiss Rustovia’s illustrious career has included acting, modeling, aeronautical engineering and midget tossing. Pitbull

  10. I love Pitbulls, and perhaps there are alternatives to training your pitbull. The usage of the best pitbull training collars might be useful!

  11. Please remove the video from this page. That prong collar is NOT fit properly and you should not be advertising it. First of all, a prong collar should be snug all around and there should be no slack between the collar ring and the leash (i.e. where there are 8 inches of chain coming away from the dog's neck). Second of all, this collar itself.is improper. This dog needs a 2.25mm prong collar, not the 3mm that they put on it. Everything about this video, especially the lack of knowledge of the people in it, really grinds my gears.


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