The Top 5 Reasons You Should NEVER Use Prong Collars

Cute Dog Without Prong CollarThere are lots of aversive training tools out there, and pinch or prong collars are among my least favorite. Prong collars have metal spikes turned inward that pinch a dog’s neck. If used inappropriately, they can actually put holes in a dog’s skin and cause major damage to a dog’s neck. A lot of people use them because they’re old school tools used to teach a dog to behave and not pull on the leash. The owner simply has to jerk on the leash and the dog goes “OW! I’ll stop whatever I’m doing!” Often times the poor dog doesn’t even know what they did wrong.

There are so many reasons to not use these terrible devices, so I decided to outline just a few of them. If you know anyone who still uses prong collars on their dogs, please send this article to them right away.

1. Prong collars are an OUTDATED and ineffective dog training tool.

There are still dog trainers out there using prong collars, but that doesn’t make it right! There are still several trainers that use a variety of aversive training techniques and tools. I just saw one recently. A local animal shelter had a video on their social media page of a trainer who was proudly showing off a shelter dog’s leash walking skills. Here’s the problem, the dog had a prong collar on.

It shocked me, to say the least, especially because it was being used in a shelter environment, where dogs are supposed to be SAFE FROM HARM. And all I could think, besides feeling terrible for the poor dog, was: “Of course he’s going to walk nicely for you on a leash, you have a prong collar on! As soon as you take it off, he’s going to run away from you!” If someone tells you that prong collars are perfectly safe for the animal, it’s not true. Even those with the best intentions get frustrated while dog training, and then that gentle tug they claim to use turns in to a rough jerk, which can really cause damage and serious behavioral consequences.

2. Using Prong collars cause dogs a LOT of pain.

When a prong collar is used, a dog obeys because they’re afraid of the punishment and pain of pulling away, not because they are well-disciplined and respect you or your directions. Some people call them prong collars, and others call them pinch collars, which are basically the same thing. Simply put, they are an aversive tool used to train dogs.

Several people are taught to use prong collars by their dog trainer. and they don’t even realize that they’re causing their dog endless amounts of pain and discomfort. Not to mention, the dog owners who use these look terrible to the rest of us, which leads me to:

3. There’s a strong STIGMA against using prong collars.

happy black labPeople who would never use one of these cruel tools are judging those who do. I won’t lie. I’m one of them. Even if I think you don’t know any better, I believe that in this day and age, you should. If someone takes their dog out in public with a prong collar on, rest assured several people will regard them as inhumane or just not smart. The worst part is, most people don’t even know it’s a bad idea. Most likely, an uninformed dog trainer told them it was fine to use prong collars. Sadly, there are still many trainers who use this tool – I personally think if they were truly a good dog trainer, they wouldn’t need any aversive tools to get the behaviors they want. 

Dog owners and aversive trainers don’t understand the stigma that’s following them around, and usually they don’t realize that they’re abusing their dogs in a passive way. It’s so serious that there are movements to get these collars banned entirely because of how easily they injure dogs when misused. According to The British Police and Service Canine Association, any use of prong collars could be considered animal cruelty, not just the misuse of them. In fact, most European countries have banned their use altogether. 

4. Prong collars would NEVER be used on humans.

Anything remotely resembling a prong collar would not be allowed on humans. So, why do we allow this sort of abuse for our pets? Putting a prong collar on a dog is like walking around with your hand gripping the back of a child’s neck saying “Don’t! Don’t do that! Don’t!” That would never be acceptable. Quite the opposite. If someone were doing that to their child in public, it’s likely that they might have the authorities called on them.

If a person had a prong collar on, and every time they said something stupid they got yanked, eventually they would stop saying stupid things. But, would they be happy? Probably not. And, what happens when you take the threat or cause of pain away? My bet is aggressive behavior would ensue. 

5. Prong collars teach your dog the WRONG things.

bernese mountain dogIf you are using a prong collar on your dog, what you are doing is teaching dogs to behave out of fear or out of a need to avoid pain. You’re not teaching your dog to trust. You’re definitely not teaching your dog that you want it to be happy and safe. You’re teaching it the opposite. Most importantly, you’re hurting your relationship with your dog too, not just their neck.

Take action against prong collars

At DogBoy’s Dog Ranch, we want to help. I’m not just here to hatefully point fingers at people who use prong collars. If they don’t know any better, we want their pets and their owners to get help. People can’t stop doing something harmful unless they realize that there’s a better way. There are so many alternatives to prong/pinch/shock collars and better dog training techniques available to dog owners. It’s never worth sacrificing your relationship with your dog, and often their health, by using these outdated and ineffective devices.

If you know someone who is still using prong collars as a training tool with their dog:

  • Understand that they might not know it’s wrong.
  • Ask them if they know that prong collars are considered harmful and outdated.
  • Ask if they know anything about non-aversive dog training techniques.
  • Refer them to this article or directly to DogBoy’s. We’d be happy to talk to them. 

Please share this article with others who might benefit from the information. You can always contact us or our highly experienced dog trainers if you have more questions. For more information about positive, force-free training techniques, check out the Pet Professional Guild.

 


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4 Comments

  1. L April 10, 2016 at 6:26 am - Reply

    The post is strong on emotion, which I understand, but light on facts or research. Posting opinion is great, but for the article to be taken seriously, it must be followed not by hyperbole, but with some actual research, fact sheets, something.

  2. L April 10, 2016 at 6:26 am - Reply

    The post is strong on emotion, which I understand, but light on facts or research. Posting opinion is great, but for the article to be taken seriously, it must be followed not by hyperbole, but with some actual research, fact sheets, something.

  3. Cliff Tyllick April 11, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

    L, if you follow the links in Courtney’s post, you will find more authoritative articles that link to other sources themselves. Please follow them and see if they convince you. If they don’t, please check out the still more authoritative sources they cite.

    I also failed to perceive the hyperbole and emotion you picked up on. Maybe it’s just that I know Courtney well enough to hear compassion and reason in her words. Or maybe I just don’t see the need to find refereed studies documenting that other vertebrates feel pain when metal rods poke into their necks from all directions all at once. I imagine I would, I know their nervous systems and soft tissue are similar to ours, and that’s good enough for me.

    Or maybe it’s the experience our family has had with Daisy Mae, a pit bull dumped when a puppy mill was done with her. Daisy Mae was terrified of people when we found her. Using what we learned from the classes we’d taken with Buddy at Dogboy’s, we soon had a loving, devoted, and healing companion. Three years later, it dawned on us that somewhere along there that pitiful and terrified compilation of flea bites had become the friendliest, gentlest, and most outgoing dog we’ve ever had.

    If you know Buddy, you know that’s saying a lot. And we owe it all to what we learned at Dogboy’s about making dogs feel comfortable, safe, and secure in your presence.

  4. Cliff Tyllick April 11, 2016 at 7:19 am - Reply

    L, if you follow the links in Courtney’s post, you will find more authoritative articles that link to other sources themselves. Please follow them and see if they convince you. If they don’t, please check out the still more authoritative sources they cite.

    I also failed to perceive the hyperbole and emotion you picked up on. Maybe it’s just that I know Courtney well enough to hear compassion and reason in her words. Or maybe I just don’t see the need to find refereed studies documenting that other vertebrates feel pain when metal rods poke into their necks from all directions all at once. I imagine I would, I know their nervous systems and soft tissue are similar to ours, and that’s good enough for me.

    Or maybe it’s the experience our family has had with Daisy Mae, a pit bull dumped when a puppy mill was done with her. Daisy Mae was terrified of people when we found her. Using what we learned from the classes we’d taken with Buddy at Dogboy’s, we soon had a loving, devoted, and healing companion. Three years later, it dawned on us that somewhere along there that pitiful and terrified compilation of flea bites had become the friendliest, gentlest, and most outgoing dog we’ve ever had.

    If you know Buddy, you know that’s saying a lot. And we owe it all to what we learned at Dogboy’s about making dogs feel comfortable, safe, and secure in your presence.

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