Dog Training Star

The Prong Collar
Love To Hate It, Hate To Love It

No prong collar will ever win a prize as as a work of art. In fact, it looks more like an instrument of torture than anything else. And in untrained hands, it can be just that. So why is it that the ASPCA endorses the use of prong collars, with some caveats?

What Is a Prong Collar?

Prong CollarWikipedia describes the prong collar (also called pinch collar) as "a series of chain links with blunted open ends turned towards the dog's neck so that, when the collar is tightened, it pinches the naturally loose skin around the dog's neck".

Unlike slip collars, prong collars have a limited circumference which limits how much they can constrict a dog's neck. The dog pulls on his leash, feels the pressure of the blunted links against his neck, and quickly stops pulling.

Cons of the Prong Collar

  • Prong collars look scary and are often viewed as mere instruments of torture;
  • Requires very clear understanding of how to fit and use properly (ASPCA recommends use under supervision of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer);
  • Ineffective and even painful if used or fitted improperly;
  • Use on some dogs can cause serious behavior problems or exacerbate existing ones such as fear and aggression;
  • Cheaper prong collars can fall apart if the dog shakes his head, so a backup collar may have to be used to retain control of the dog;
  • If the chain gets twisted, the dog can only be released manually if the swivel prong collar is used, whereas the quick release prong collar has a snap to facilitate release;
  • Unless removed promptly after dog training or walking exercise, there is a chance that a dog could get his paw or jaw stuck in the collar or that the collar could get entangled in something and strangle the dog. The same could happen if dogs wearing pinch collars were to start playing or fighting, the main reason prong collars are not allowed in dog training classes.

Pros of the Prong Collar

  • Little strength needed to get the dog to pay attention compared to a flat buckle collar;
  • The limited circumference of the prong collar means that constriction is limited, as opposed to a choke chain;
  • Pressure on the neck is spread out over a larger area than with choke chains, and even most buckle collars;
  • A prong collar with quick release snap allows for faster and more efficient release of the dog compared to a flat buckle collar;
  • A hard pulling dog is more likely to gag or choke and get a damaged throat from receiving repeated hard corrections wearing a flat buckle (and even worse, a choke collar) than a mild correction from a prong collar;

Who Benefits From Using A Prong Collar?

A prong collar may end up being a more humane solution for some dogs, always provided it is used properly, which is why the ASPCA endorses the use of prong collars under the supervision of a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT).

The Jekyll-and-Hyde canine, calm one minute and bursting into action the next, will quickly acquire better control of himself and quit putting himself and his owner at risk.

A gentle pull is likely all a disabled person will need for her dog to remember good manners.

A small person will quickly and easily be able to regain control of a large dog and keep them both safe and sound.

Consider how many good but unruly dogs are euthanized daily, just because they were too hard to handle, and decide wisely whether a prong collar is right for you and your dog.