Prong Collars: All the things you might want to know (2023)

As topics go, Prong collars are fairly divisive within the canine world. 

When the dad and mom of a giant canine (notably, although small breeds usually are not exempt) increase the query of unfastened leash strolling or stopping their canine from pulling on their leash, the topic will get heated quick. “Prong collar is the one method”, “Headcollar” “coaching” “harness with a entrance level” “Stability harness” and many others and many others. After which comes the talk of aversive vs optimistic. Inevitably inaccuracies get thrown round and total? There’s plenty of myths and a lack of knowledge as a result of all of it comes from a passionate place.

I imply, afterall, in case you’ve been utilizing a instrument for 30 years along with your canine (and even 3 months) you don’t need to discover out that you just’ve been doing a nasty factor, or that in case you’ve been sucking it up and utilizing a harness, you don’t need to discover there’s probably a neater possibility. 

So, I need to talk about a type of choices for you now, so that you just, my pricey pet mum or dad, perceive what you’re taking a look at when assessing these choices for you and your little pup. Since you deserve data that’s clear, truthful and backed by science or the data of the producer. 


Discovering the most effective methodology for each you and your canine is admittedly vital, so I need to talk about it. 

I’m going to debate what they’re, how they work, why they work. Focus on with you when they need to be used and once they shouldn’t. What they’re made to do, and what they’re not made to do. 

Caveat Inbound

I’m stating it like this so it’s tremendous apparent for any coach coming into this piece to know my stance, this caveat is just not essentially for you, my pricey new pet mum or dad, however I’ve a dedication to my coaching methodology and have to overtly state this.
For causes defined under, I’m not a fan of prong collars, nonetheless, in an effort to give a view into why, this piece is required. I’ll write as unbiasedly as I can, and be informative and factual, permitting you to make your individual choices.

All the pictures on this submit include canine who’re carrying prong collars incorrectly.
That is deliberate! As you undergo the article, see in case you can inform why they’re unsuitable.


weimeraner in a prong collar
Weimeraner in a prong collar… see that tag?

What Is A Prong Collar

A prong collar (additionally known as a pinch collar) is an instance of a canine coaching collar, and normally replaces a flat collar. It’s an adaptation of choke chains, the hyperlinks change into bigger and there are “enamel” on every hyperlink that encircle the neck. The collar is designed to create even strain across the neck and distribute the ‘correction’ so it may be thought-about ‘kinder’ than a choke collar, choke chains, or slip leash different.

Nevertheless, it’s good to notice that the prong collar works by giving a ‘leash pop’ or ‘correction’ by the leash, a fast jerk on the leash leads to a sudden constriction of the neck. 

Now, a lot of trainers will let you know that this doesn’t harm the canine, that it merely tells them no in a language they perceive. 

While which may be true, it’s not one thing now we have information for, and taking into consideration {that a} canine neck is 3x extra delicate than ours, and so they positively prohibit airflow for a short while, it’s controversial that this gadget goes towards animal welfare rights and are subsequently banned in sure international locations like Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland and the Canadian Province of Quebec. 

After all this may be argued as human error, however generally it’s simply simpler to manage the state of affairs than treatment the fallout… 

dog tethered to a railing by a prong collar
canine tethered to a railing by a prong collar, would we deem that secure?

How Does A Prong Collar Work?

This one is admittedly vital, earlier than you employ any instrument along with your canine that you just perceive how they work and why your canine will reply to it – particularly once they can’t talk their wants or emotions clearly.

The prong collar (much like a choke chain or slip lead) works on constriction. It’s structured like a martingale collar, the place the majority of the collar is tightened by a cinching chain which attaches to your leash. What’s totally different a few prong collar is that because the martingale tightens it brings in “enamel” or prongs. These are then used while you need to apply a “Correction” (additionally known as a leash pop) that press into the pores and skin round your canine’s neck to use discomfort or ache in an effort to talk that your canine has carried out one thing incorrectly.


Then, once they do one thing proper, or are questioning themselves, the actual fact you don’t pop the leash implies that they get a rush of aid.

Nevertheless, it’s actually vital that all through the method of coaching a canine with a prong collar that we’re conscious, that we admit that it causes ache or discomfort in an effort to have an impact. This provides respect for the instrument, and implies that you’re much less possible to misuse it. And in case your coach tells you that that is not the case, then they’re not a coach try to be working with.

These are the "quadrants of operant conditioning" that exist within dog training, with Positive reinforcement, negative punishment, positive punishment and negative reinforcement
This can be a nice perception into how canine coaching boils down. These are the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning – which is what motivates any learner (be they human or canine or in any other case) is motivated by. Using a prong collar falls firmly on that backside row, it’s optimistic punishment and unfavourable reinforcement.

When To Begin Utilizing A Prong Collar

So, the time to start out utilizing it’s everytime you’ve genuinely exhausted your choices while you’ve tried the kinder methodology, you’ve tried knowledgeable optimistic coach, and also you’ve gotten to a degree the place your canine can’t progress regardless of your dedication, endurance and addressing all the facets of your canine’s life which may be inhibiting their studying.

In keeping with Herm Sprenger: 

“They [Prong Collars] usually are not advisable until different coaching strategies have been exhausted.” 

Herm Sprenger

You ought to be exhausting different means earlier than resorting to a prong collar. And I do know that generally it may really feel like you might have carried out so, however usually? That’s not the case.

A prong collar is a tool that has good and unhealthy factors to it, however as we’ll go into later, it’s ripe for misuse. While I might hope you’d use it proper (although, I don’t assume I might belief myself to make use of it proper constantly over lengthy durations of time), it additionally doesn’t surpass the truth that you may most likely obtain your unfastened leash strolling targets method simpler than banishing your pup or canine to this gadget. 

Can I Use A Prong Collar On A Pet?

No, they don’t seem to be appropriate to be used on a pet. While Herm Sprenger advise that 5-6 months is the minimal? I might argue a yr to 18 months is the minimal try to be contemplating this instrument. 

Why? As a result of puppies study actually simply. Like… actually simply. I don’t care what breed you might have, how robust they’re, or how small you’re. You possibly can have a canine who listens effectively, learns effectively and as a pet? They’re primed for that. That’s what they had been constructed for, is to study.  (Should you’re struggling to show a unfastened leash, that is for you.)

All you need to do to unlock that? Is to determine easy methods to talk with them. Should you can determine that out? You don’t want a prong collar. You possibly can stroll your canine round with no collar, harness, leash (please don’t do it in public, there are legal guidelines in place) and they’ll take heed to you each step of the way in which. 

Oh! And in case you comply with my steering with pupdates? You received’t ever get to this stage, since you’ll be practising a unfastened leash lengthy earlier than they’re massive and unruly!

large dog in a prong collar getting out of a pool on a leash
massive canine in a prong collar getting out of a pool on a leash…

Are Prong Collars Dangerous To My Canine Or Pet?

They actually could be if misused. 

Misuse covers :
❌ poor or incorrect placement on the canine.
❌ poorly fitted collars or incorrectly sized.
❌ incorrect timing of ‘corrections’
❌ permitting canine to self right.
❌ used within the automotive (particularly to safe within the automotive)
❌ worn in a crate
❌ Making an attempt to resolve incorrect issues with a prong
❌ lengthy durations carrying a prong
❌ when used on the underaged
❌ when used on shy canine
❌ when used on scared canine
❌ when used on aggressive canine
❌ when used while not outlined coaching classes
❌ when used while unattended
❌ when used with something aside from a brief leash

With this quantity of no-no’s it’s so freaking simple to get unsuitable that may trigger injury to your canine bodily, mentally, or simply to the bond between you and your canine. To not point out that the window of alternative to be used turns into so slim that these canine are literally most likely very easy to coach anyway.

That is the place plenty of pro-prong folks will say “However my canine loves their prong” – which is nice, however in the identical method you’ve conditioned them to like that prong? You would have taught a unfastened leash with no prong. Or I might truly train them to like a jellyfish on their head…

So sure, Prong Collars can have the flexibility to be very dangerous, very simply.

How To Place A Prong Collar

The right positioning for a prong collar is true on the prime of the neck, the place the cranium meets the neck muscle as that is essentially the most ‘weak’ a part of your canine, the place the prong collar will yield most impact for coaching and consequently the specified outcome. Nevertheless, the instrument will work irrespective of the place it’s been positioned.

It’s good to notice {that a} canine’s neck is 3x extra delicate than a human neck, so we actually don’t want to make use of a lot strain.

Can You Go away A Prong Collar On A Canine


Prong collars are designed to be in your canine in the course of coaching solely. ID tags shouldn’t be placed on a prong collar, and your canine ought to not be left in a single for lengthy durations of time. Doing so exposes your canine to an inordinate quantity of hazard, injury and dangers that simply usually are not value speaking about.

two dogs with their heads out of windows, prong collar on spaniel
two canine with their heads out of home windows, prong collar on spaniel, what do you assume on the scale and timing of it’s utilization?

How To Prepare Your Canine Off Of A Prong Collar

This can be a actually easy. Resolve which tools you prefer to your canine to stroll on, and seize a double ended leash, like a halti coaching leash, and clip the prong to 1 finish of the leash, and the harness or collar to the opposite. 

As your want for corrections reduce, permit the steadiness of the leash to lean in the direction of the harness, and away from the prong. 

Slowly, you’ll switch all of the leash to the harness or collar, and go away the prong collar on, however unattached (nonetheless for brief durations please, and underneath fixed supervision!) and finally? Take away the prong collar completely.

After all, in case you see regression, then guarantee that the earlier coaching methodology is reverted to. 

Is A Prong Collar Dangerous? 

They actually have the potential to be.

This can be a actually subjective query. My private stance? Sure they’re unhealthy, as a result of they’ve far too massive a capability to be misused. While I do know that the potential for misuse is just not a motive to name one thing unhealthy, it’s primarily a way of coaching that I see no motive for. 

In my years of canine coaching (at this level, I’ve been concerned in coaching over 1300 canine and received awards), I’ve by no means discovered a motive for a prong collar that can’t be resolved with optimistic coaching.

Sure, optimistic coaching will take longer and will probably be tougher work, however is that any excuse to resort to one thing that may make your canine life uncomfortable? I don’t assume so. Additionally, the results of optimistic coaching isn’t depending on the presence of the gadget… which is unquestionably a great factor. 

The opposite motive I might advise towards prong collar utilization is due to the time through which you need to apply the ‘correction’. 

little bully breed wearing a prong collar
little bully breed carrying a prong collar – How do you’re feeling concerning the sizing right here?

You’ve gotten 2 seconds to seize a behaviour, proper or unsuitable, reward or correction. 

With optimistic reinforcement, you should utilize a marker phrase, and reward to provide you a bit of longer for the deal with/play reward. However for corrections? It’s a must to interpret the motion, and inform your arm to maneuver at a sure velocity/tempo/no matter else and ship it shortly, or else your canine is not going to perceive what you’re correcting. 

If that window is that small and also you make a mistake, would you like to be delivering complicated rewards, or complicated punishment? 

Are Prong Collars Appropriate For A Reactive Canine? 

No. That is supported by Herm Sprenger, the highest producer of prong collars on the earth. 

Something ache primarily based is just not appropriate for a reactive canine. 

Canine change into reactive (largely) by concern or pleasure. Adverse experiences that they’ve realized to drawback remedy with trying mighty scary, scare the opposite canine away, after which security is restored. It’s one other self-rewarding cycle.

Including in a prong collar and ‘correcting’ their concern (aka. A jerk on the leash to all of a sudden, shortly prohibit airflow because the enamel of the prong squeeze the neck, typically misappropriated as a ‘mommy chunk’ – I’ll talk about that each other time…)  truly simply reinforces the concept they had been proper to be scared of the oncoming menace. 

Over time? This forces the canine right into a state of realized helplessness. This kind of state is just not a state the place studying can happen, it’s a state the place all their choices have been eliminated. 

The analogy utilized by lots of people is think about your worst concern, after which somebody sitting there and forcing you to face it. 

Prong collars usually are not appropriate for something fear-based, which is the place reactivity falls. 

a rather sad looking rottweiler wearing a prong collar
a somewhat unhappy trying Rottweiler carrying a prong collar, actually shut right here… however what’s the problem?

My Opinion On Prong Collars

No matter my coaching preferences. Prongs are extensively, extensively misunderstood and consequently extensively misused. 

The truth that a reward or a correction can solely be given inside 2 seconds of the motion for both to be of impact implies that your reactions have very slim home windows to realize their objective. Consequently, it’s my recommendation to not use ‘corrections’ as a result of they’re too simple to overlook. Should you’re going to overlook one thing, would you somewhat that your canine misunderstood a reward, or a punishment? The previous associates you as a great factor, the latter associates you with unhealthy issues. 

With using a prong collar, you instantly change into your canine supply of punishment.

Using these instruments in any ‘physique’ of labor (equivalent to on police k9’s) is not an excuse so that you can use them on a pet canine. It doesn’t lend them any credibility. It in reality dates the police academy’s coaching strategies again to the 1990’s, together with their laptop techniques and their method to the regulation… is that one thing you actually want to stand with

The “My canine loves his prong, and get’s all excited when he sees it” is straightforward classical conditioning, such that your canine recognises meaning coaching or walkies, that doesn’t imply that they really feel optimistic concerning the expertise when the prong tightens round their neck. 

I imply, I can prepare your canine to see a lemon and assume it’s the most effective factor on the earth – it doesn’t imply they’ll just like the style of lemon. 

It’s a instrument that I imagine, like headcollars, folks use as a shortcut of their coaching. They take the simple route, versus educating correct, strong cues and instructions.

Oftentimes, breed is an excuse “Oh, he’s a German Shepherd, he wants a prong or he’ll be uncontrolled” effectively… no… that’s not likely true is it? It implies that you’re not in management. That implies that you have failed in coaching your canine and have taken a shortcut as a substitute of studying to grasp and work along with your canine. 

I imply… zookeepers prepare tigers. A bloody Tiger!!! With optimistic reinforcement. That creature is method stronger and far more harmful than a german shepherd… so why maintain perpetuating the identical garbage? 

Coaching remains to be required.

Even with a prong? You continue to want to coach your canine. And Herm Sprenger agrees.

“No collar will completely repair a canine’s unhealthy conduct. This must be carried out with good coaching. A prong collar gives you a little bit of “energy steering” with a bigger canine that pulls laborious, nevertheless it’s no substitute for coaching.”

Herm Sprenger

So… in case you’re coaching? Simply prepare the correct method… the primary time and don’t search shortcuts. 

If You Do Resolve To Use A Prong Collar

✅ Exhaust different choices
✅ Match it correctly
✅ Use an skilled coach (who admits what it’s and the way it works)
✅ Use as designed
✅ Choose a top quality one (no rubber suggestions!)
✅ Don’t neglect to coach them off of it.
✅ Familiarise your self with canine physique language, notably stress indicators.

While I don’t agree with them, that doesn’t imply you need to. Should you resolve that is your proper path, simply just remember to’re going into this as ready as you may, since you owe it to your canine to take action.

belgian malinois wearing a prong collar, an ecollar, a regular collar and harness.
belgian malinois carrying a prong collar, an ecollar, an everyday collar and harness. Greater than a bit of overkill… huh? However aside from that, what’s unsuitable?

A Notice About Herm Sprenger

While the product is clearly high quality, and I really like that they really provide you with most of this data – the data is somewhat buried. It needs to be one thing a bit of louder and prouder on their website. It’s a big a part of what drove me to jot down this weblog submit was as a result of persons are utilizing these instruments and usually are not truly trying on the entire web page, studying all the data and are consequently making poorly knowledgeable choices. 

Or, they’re making their resolution primarily based on the phrase of a coach who’s practising with outdated strategies – which is a very easy mistake to make. 

My hope? Is that this data will get shared, heaps. That it seems on google when folks search “Prong collar for my canine” and so they have the chance to study. The data is available, nevertheless it is a bit more buried than I want to see.

So please Herm Sprenger! Stand behind your product and inform folks overtly the reality!

Problem Accepted.

Oftentimes Prong collars are brandished round because the holy grail of proudly owning a canine. However they’re not. 

Merely put? They’re a shortcut. 

A shortcut that compromises an excessive amount of for me to really feel snug utilizing one or recommending one when there are tried and examined strategies that don’t require one.

There’s hardly ever a time the place a prong is genuinely wanted in a great relationship along with your canine. And in case you genuinely really feel like that’s the case? Positive, however I promise you (problem me if you’d like! Positively, constructively and with an open thoughts) there’s a optimistic answer you may take to realize the identical objective. Regardless of how prey pushed, irrespective of how robust. Regardless of how ‘cussed’. You are able to do it with endurance and steering. 

Actually, I do know, I’ve taught an amazing, dependable unfastened leash (even with out the leash) quite a bit with all kinds of canine, all kinds of breeds. It’s about endurance and consistency. That’s all. You’ve gotten that. All of us have that. We simply have to use it.

If you’d like the bones of easy methods to prepare your canine to stroll on a unfastened leash with no prong collar? Do this submit, and in case you want extra assist? Have a learn of easy methods to prepare your canine to stroll unfastened leash.

Creator, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Optimistic Pet Professional, canine coach and is the founding father of Rebarkable. She is obsessed with serving to pet dad and mom get issues proper, proper from the beginning. To assist create a pet able to being a assured and adaptable member of the family and maintain puppies out of shelters.

Ali has received a number of awards for her canine coaching, and has had her weblog (this weblog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ greatest pet weblog!

P.s. Pssssst – Each single picture I might discover on my inventory picture supplier was a prong collar being misused. Are you able to inform me why they’re being misused? I’ll let you understand in case you’re proper!

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