Should I use a Prong Collar for Dogs?

Pet Training


September 8, 2020

Training your pets is important. Dogs especially need to be well trained so they can enjoy a happy, healthy social life. Proper leash training ensures the safety of your dog, you, and those you both interact with when in public.

But if you ask around the dog park for the best training method, chances are, you will get as many answers as there are breeds of dogs. 

Why Prong Collars Are the Best Option for Leash Training Your Dogs

Variations of prong collars for dogs date back to the Roman Empire. However, choke chains were the standard method of training strong-willed or large breed dogs until the mid-20th century.

The prong collar for dogs was championed in 1942 by Hans Tossutti in his renowned book “Companion Dog Training – A Practical Manual On Systematic ObedienceDog Training In World And Picture.” In it, Tosutti insists the prong collar is a less invasive way to correct unwanted behavior.

What Is a Prong Collar for Dogs?

A prong collar is made of metal links and comes in various sizes: small, medium, and large. Each link has two blunt-tipped prongs that rest against the dog’s neck. The collar is connected by an independent chain, which is attached to the leash. This design ensures that the collar cannot tighten past a certain point. The choke chain, on the other hand, has no limit, which results in injury.

Why Are Prong Collars Controversial?

The controversy surrounding training dogs using a prong collar seems to stem from its uncomfortable appearance. As humans, we can’t imagine having someone correct our behavior by putting pressure around our necks via metal spikes, blunt-edged or not.

Of course, we want to believe that positive reinforcement is enough to out-train generations of primal behavior. 

A dog’s reality is regulated by hierarchy – the pack has to establish an Alpha. Dogs set boundaries with each other through baring teeth, growling, and the occasional nip. As much as we all love our “fur babies”, dogs are not children. Training them to listen when on a leash ensures their behavior does not lead to an incident resulting in a court order to euthanize your pet.

How Does a Prong Collar Work for Training Dogs?

When dogs in a prong collar are walking or resting, they do not feel the prongs. If they start pulling on the leash, the collar tightens. The even pressure around the neck quickly lets dogs know to stop.

Controlling your dog on a walk is essential for everyone’s safety. The owner/trainer can easily make additional corrections. After performing the correction, positive reinforcement through praise and physical affection reaffirms acceptable behavior.

Is a Prong Collar Dangerous for Dogs?

A prong collar is a tool for training dogs. When used correctly, it offers a quick and effective way to communicate with your pet. The even pressure doesn’t damage the trachea, like extended use of a flat collar or over-use of a choke chain. 

A prong collar needs to be sized to your dog’s neck and placed correctly. When making corrections, they should be quick, slight flicks of the wrist. Also, you should never leave your pet tethered in a prong collar. Experts agree that prong collars are a safe training tool when properly fitted and used.

Why Is the Prong Collar Better Than Other Collars for Dogs?

There are many types of collars for dogs available. The most common alternatives to a prong collar are:

  • Flat collar

When we think about dog collars, the traditional flat collar is the first one that comes to mind for most people. They usually have a flat buckle like a belt and are made of a range of materials from nylon to leather. If your dog pulls on walks, or you jerk the leash to get your dog’s attention, this collar can damage the trachea or vertebrae.

  • Martingale training collar

This collar is a cross between the design of a flat collar and a prong collar. The nylon portion wraps 75% of the dog’s neck, while the remainder is joined by a chain that connects to the leash. A tug of the leash tightens the collar. Unlike a prong collar, though, this does not give equal pressure around the dog’s neck, which can lead to neck and throat injury.

  • Choke chain

The choke chain has been a popular choice for a long time. It may not look as harmful, but it can do a lot more damage. The choke chain has no stopping point and will continue to tighten. This pressure cuts off airflow. A lack of oxygen over an extended period can lead to brain damage. Also, like the flat collar, the choke chain damages the trachea and vertebrae.

  • E-collar

Also known as the “invisible” leash, the e-collar is worn snug against a dog’s neck and emits a vibration. Many say this is cruel, but if you were to hold it against your own skin, you would feel that it’s not painful. This collar is not ideal for walking in a neighborhood or for commands. Rather, it’s most suitable for training on distance commands or teaching free-roaming dogs their boundaries.

Can a Prong Collar Be Used to Train My Small Dogs?

It’s important to note that you should never use a prong collar on less than three-months-old puppies. That’s the general rule. If your furry companion belongs to one of the smaller breeds, you can get prong collars for small dogs.

However, the dog community is divided on using them with teacup varieties and naturally small dogs. Experienced trainers insist that you can use a prong collar with all dogs.

How Do I Properly Fit My Dog With a Prong Collar?

Prong collars are sized based on your dog’s weight. Once you determine the proper size you need for your furry companion, familiarize yourself with how it works. It is best to work with an experienced dog trainer to purchase and learn the collar’s appropriate placement.

If a prong collar is not placed just below the dog’s ears, it will not be effective, so you’ll need to perform harder corrections.

There are a few other things you should keep in mind. The prongs are designed not to puncture, but some dogs have sensitive skin. If your dog’s skin is easily irritated, try putting a handkerchief underneath. It’s best to avoid solutions with plastic and rubber tips. The metal of a prong collar slides over your dog’s fur, but plastic and rubber will catch, pulling the fur and causing undue discomfort.

Are There Plastic Prong Collars for Dogs?

There is a plastic version of a prong collar, called a Triple Crown. Many prefer this option because it has a gentler look. It can be a great choice if your dog mostly requires minimal corrections. The flaw in plastic links is the tendency to break open when too much pressure is involved.

In case the collar pops open while you are on a walk and there’s some pulling, your canine companion could end up free to chase whatever caught their attention. Still, many people say this variant offers gentle control and makes obedience training a lot easier.

What Is the Best Prong Collar for Dogs?

While we don’t know much about the prong collar’s origins, the different variations have been around for centuries. The prong collar has evolved since the first patent as we have learned more about dogs.

While many companies offer prong collars, this continues to be the most trusted brand. They provide prong collars for all sizes of dogs and have many variations you can choose from. Some of the varieties include: 

  • Stainless steel

Your classic prong collar, it is sturdy and made to last.

  • Curogan 

Rather than using plastic or rubber tips that can pull your dog’s fur, use this prong collar if your dogs have sensitive skin or allergies.

  • Neck tech

If you’re worried about public opinion, this is a great discreet prong collar. While it is less likely to fail than other similar hidden options, a backup collar is still recommended.

Choosing the right collar depends on the size, weight, sensitivity, and level of training required. Consult with your dog training instructor for assistance to ensure you have the right tool for your dog.

Should I Use a Prong Collar for Training My Dog?

With all the information available and a wide variety of methods for training your dog, the decision is ultimately yours. If you decide to train outside of a purely positive method, the safest and most humane way is to use a prong collar for dogs. When used correctly and under the guidance of an experienced trainer, you will find that prong collar training is smooth and effective.

Remember, proper training ensures a lifetime of happiness, both for you and your canine friend!