pros and cons of pinch or prong collars

14 10 2008

In our comments section we had someone asking about more training collar options, so I’ll start working on these as time allows:-)

The “pinch collar” also called the “prong collar” is a fairly controversial piece of training equipment. As with any training collar, it can be abused, or it can be used as an effective training tool.  There are trainers that will rant and rave about how the use of them says that a handler is abusive at best. There are other trainers that use them on every dog.

I personally use them fairly regularly though there are many situations that I won’t use them for. Generally I like to use them for hyper dogs with a propensity for pulling on the leash. I will NOT use them for fearful dogs, and have found that they can create aggression problems with certain dogs if not used appropriately. I normally highly recommend that anybody who wants to use them, do so under the eyes of an experienced professional. 

PROS: These collars can serve as “power steering”. It takes very little from the handler to gain control quickly. Because of the nature of the collar, the pressure when tightened is almost totally around the neck, and not just on the dogs trachea (as would be the case on a buckle or slip collar). This can help prevent against trachea problems caused by training collars. It also is easier to switch a dog back to a regular collar once training is completed. For me at least, weaning a dog from this training collar is much easier then when with a head collar. The concept behind the collar is the same as the use of teeth by another dog. 

CONS: the collar (as with ANY collar) can be used incorrectly and those learning to use it should do so with the help of someone who absolutely understands what they’re doing. The collar LOOKS severe. It can cause problems for fearful or aggressive dogs and again, should be used under supervision. Also, the collar (as with all training collars) should NOT be left on beyond training time. I once had a dog come to a private session because the owner complained the dog yelped when she pulled on the leash and collar. Come to find out, the owner had left the dogs prong collar on the dog from the time he was a pup. She did not notice that the dog had grown and the collar had embedded! Granted this is a bit extreme, and I never would have considered it that someone could make this mistake, but I now never underestimate the idea that someone may not know something like this. Common sense and supervision is the key to this collar. 

BRAND: I ONLY like the Herm Sprenger brand of pinch collar. These are well made, and the ends of the prongs themselves are much smoother then other brands. They don’t tend to pop open as much as other brands as well. 

FITTING: these collars can be used a few different ways. Generally they need to be fitting snugly around the dogs neck, but not with the prongs digging in. Make them TOO loose and the prongs can irritate the neck. I almost never use the large collars, I like medium collars for most large dogs, and small collars if I really have to. Again, proper fit is important, so it’s best to use this collar while supervised by someone that knows how to use them.

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