Like many, I learned about balanced dog training and using aversive tools just like the prong collar and e-collar after exhausting using positive reinforcement only training with a difficult dog.
Prior to using them, I misunderstood how the tools work, as a consequence of widespread misinformation about their usage.
After talking with many friends, skilled trainers, and watching many videos, I made a decision to offer it a try with my dog.
It was an evening and day difference.
After a one-hour training session, I went from dreading walking her to enjoyable, calm walks.
When used appropriately, the prong collar is a incredible tool that helps bridge the communication between a dog and their handler.
Remember, dogs don’t speak English and we don’t speak dog. Consider the prong collar because the translator.
The prong collar comes with a number of pushback from animal rights groups as a consequence of the best way it looks and the misinformation spread concerning the tool. This text explains how the prong collar works and the way it could help modify your dog’s behavior in a humane and effective manner.
What’s a Prong Collar?
A prong collar is a dog training tool utilized by some dog trainers to show loose leash walking and basic beginner obedience.
They might be great for behavior modification in reactive dogs to assist redirect them from their triggers. Petite individuals with very large or strong dogs also find them incredibly helpful.
The prong collar has a series of pronged metal links whose open ends lay flat on the dog’s neck. Its appearance has led to the common misconception that it’s a torture device, nonetheless, when used appropriately, it’s a particularly effective training tool for teaching a dog to know what’s being asked of them.
Prong collars will also be called “pinch” collars, not since it pinches the dog’s neck, but because you’ve to pinch the prongs together to open the collar to place it in your dog. This name likely also results in its bad popularity.
When used appropriately, the prong collar is definitely the very best tool for shielding a dog’s trachea since it applies an equal amount of pressure across the dog’s neck, in comparison with a flat collar, or perhaps a martingale, which puts pressure directly on a dog’s throat. This may result in collapsed tracheas.
In his book, The Well Adjusted Dog, Dr. Daniel Kamen, a veterinary chiropractor states:
“The improper use of collars is the primary explanation for cervical (neck) subluxations in dogs…The flat collar is essentially the most common type, and might be dangerous if misused…It mustn’t be used for obedience training…a frustrated owner who has difficulty controlling his pet will pull the dog in such a fashion as to cause tremendous cervical muscle tightening, thus producing subluxations.”
How Does a Prong Collar Work?
Before you go and buy a prong collar and put it in your dog, I urge you to work with an expert dog trainer to learn proper use, technique, and sizing.
You don’t just put it on and go for a walk, letting your dog pull and self-correct continually.
That won’t do anything except cause a number of discomfort and confusion, making a negative association with the tool. It’s not a magic wand!
Prong collars apply pressure evenly around a dog’s neck to show them how one can turn off pressure, giving them a really clear understanding of unwanted behaviors.
They’re useful tools for teaching dogs how one can walk nicely on a leash and to learn basic obedience, like sit, down, and place.
It’s also possible to use them to begin the idea of recall.
Unlike a flat collar, harness, head halter, or perhaps a martingale collar, the prong collar applies even pressure. Further, it releases quickly once the dog gives into the pressure.
Prong collars only require a small amount of force to speak the behaviors you would like out of your dog.
Use a High-Quality Prong Collar
It’s vital to make use of a prime quality prong collar, otherwise a poorly made one will hurt your dog and may puncture their skin. Herm Sprenger prong collars are the very best quality and advisable by every dog trainer I do know who uses them.
Herm Sprenger collars are designed with blunt ends that don’t cause the dog pain, while the middle plate creates symmetry to create the even pressure across the neck.
The prongs gently apply pressure across the dog’s neck, providing negative reinforcement when the dog pulls.
The one time the Herm Sprenger will not be the very best option is for very small dogs. In that instance, you’ll want to use a Kimberland Collar.
The right way to Place a Prong Collar on a Dog
Proper fit of the prong collar ensures optimal communication and minimal discomfort in your dog. Seek the advice of a trainer to assist with fit.
It needs to be placed high on the dog’s neck, just behind the ears. The collar should fit snugly, but not excessively tight. It’s possible you’ll must remove or add extra links to acquire the suitable fit.
The Herm Sprenger plate needs to be at the bottom of the dog’s throat, slightly below their chin, and the chain needs to be in between their ears.
You ought to ensure that that the chain forms a triangle and isn’t twisted, otherwise it won’t work properly.
Make sure that that the collar doesn’t droop because it could get caught easily, pinch the dog’s neck, and so they can easily back out of it and escape.
Most dogs will use the two.25 mm prong collar, where very large and robust dogs, like American Staffordshire Terriers (commonly mistaken as Pit Bulls), Dobermans, Mastiffs, etc might have to make use of the three mm prong collar.
Very small dogs, under 15 or so kilos can use the Micro Prong from Kimberland Collars.
Accurate sizing and width depends entirely on the dog, so please seek the advice of an expert trainer before purchasing one.
My favorite accessory for the prong collar is a Katie’s Buckle. Pinching the collar to take it on and off might be cumbersome, especially in cold weather or if you’ve small hands. Katie’s Buckles solve that problem!
Prong Collars will not be Cruel, and Here’s Why
Aversive tool adversaries argue that prong collars and e-collars cause pain to a dog and damage the connection between the owner and the dog.
This simply isn’t true.
Often, the “horror” stories activists describe are supposed to villainize these tools, making them out to be weapons of cruelty.
Antagonists of the prong collar focus more on its appearance and name and few have actual experience using the collar.
There may be a single image that has been making the rounds on the Web for years that depicts a dog with deep prong collar marks on its neck.
This isn’t as a consequence of correct usage.
It’s as a consequence of a negligent dog owner who has left the collar on permanently on a dog. It’s likely that this dog was tied up 24/7 and putting constant pressure on the collar.
The identical thing could occur in a flat collar, harness, and even your individual socks when you didn’t take them off for weeks on end.
The prong collar is a training collar. It needs to be used during training and never left on on a regular basis.
We use Aversive Tools Every Day
The actual fact is, we use aversive tools each day. We also use dangerous tools each day. Some, in truth, are murder weapons.
Need some examples?
- Your alarm clock is an aversive tool that makes sure you get to work on time.
- Your automobile dings until you place your seatbelt on to make sure you’re secure in an accident.
- The knife you employ to chop your food each meal will also be used to kill someone.
- A hearth alarm saved my brother and sister-in-law’s lives when their house caught on fire.
- Driving our cars is the one most dangerous activity we do each day.
It’s easy to twist things out of proportion to make them look bad and sound factual. The truth is, when used appropriately, prong collars perform a job effectively and humanely.
Any tool–leash, prong collar, flat collar, harness, your individual hand, etc, when used incorrectly may cause harm.
The Science Argument Against Prong Collars
The identical extremists also argue that using aversive tools isn’t “science-based.”
Again, this isn’t true.
Prong collars are a tool that follows the foundations of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a technique of learning that uses reward and punishment to show behaviors. Humans learn through operant conditioning, and so do dogs.
Humans and dogs alike learn to make behavior decisions based on the results for that behavior.
Attributed to B.F. Skinner, the principles of operant conditioning state that behavior followed by reward is more prone to occur. Contrarily, behavior followed by unpleasant consequences is less prone to be repeated.
The 4 Quadrants of Operant Conditioning
Balanced dog training teaches a dog desired behaviors using each reward-based techniques and aversive corrections. Tools comparable to prong collars and e-collars utilize quadrants outside of positive reinforcement that help effectively communicate desired behaviors to the dog.
The technique incorporates actions taken from the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning that are outlined within the image above.
Listed below are just a few examples for each humans and dogs:
- Your dog sits, you say “yes” and provides them a treat. (Positive Reinforcement)
- Your dog jumps on you, you ignore them or turn your back. (Negative Punishment)
- You might be caught speeding and the police officer issues you a ticket. (Positive Punishment)
- You arrive home late from curfew, so your parents take away your phone (Negative Punishment)
- Your dog pulls on the prong collar, which releases as soon as they stop pulling (Negative Reinforcement)
Issuing Corrections with a Prong Collar
Once a dog has learned a command to fluency, the prong collar might be used to issue appropriate physical corrections. Corrections help redirect poor behavior and remind the dog of the duty.
A fast leash pop on the prong collar mimics the correction a mother dog will give her pup or a dog will give to a different dog in the event that they’re doing something they don’t like.
Corrections (or punishment, if we expect back to the 4 quadrants) teach the dog consistency in quite a lot of environments.
Again, fluency is essential. In case your dog isn’t calm inside your home, you possibly can’t just take them to the farmers’ market with you and expect perfect behavior.
You might have to be fair to your dog. This implies setting them up for fulfillment before you begin using the prong collar for corrections.
How Long Will My Dog Must Wear the Prong Collar?
It is a quite common query amongst recent users of the prong collar and there isn’t a cut and dry answer.
All of it is dependent upon your dog and the period of time you spend working along with your dog.
I still use prong collar with Sitka after we go for walks, and we began training in spring of 2020. He might be pushy and likes to be in front after we walk, so we proceed training that heel and wearing the prong collar.
He can also be leash reactive, so the prong collar helps me navigate certain situations that may trigger his reactivity.
I do know some friends which have switched to a slip lead, others use a flat collar. Some switch between different tools. It’s all about what works best for you and your dog.
The goal of using a prong collar shouldn’t be to stop using it as soon as possible, it needs to be to make use of it until your dog doesn’t need it anymore. Have in mind that that day might never come and that’s totally wonderful.
Have you ever used a prong collar with a dog? What was your experience?
Do you’ve a special understanding of the prong collar after reading this text?