During a recent Facebook discussion, it was pointed out that I had never worn a prong collar. As such, I would have no idea whether a prong (a.k.a. pinch collar) causes pain. My knuckles firmly rapped, it seemed the only solution would be for me to open my mind and wear a prong collar.
For those unfamiliar with the product, these come in a variety of styles. Some look scary with spikes and “prongs” of metal. Newer models hide the “teeth” of the prong collar under a strip of leather, plastic or fabric. I use the word “teeth” very deliberately, because proponents of these products claim that the spikes of a prong replicate a mother dog’s teeth as she corrects a misbehaving pup.
I do know how to fit a prong collar, and I know how to use one. I am a crossover trainer, meaning that I have used physical corrections and discipline in the past. However, never have a put a prong collar around my neck I have not been able to claim to know how it feels. It is about time.
While not scientific, I wanted to challenge my pre-conceived notions. How does a prong feel? Does it cause pain? When products “work”, they work for a reason. What is that reason?
I began by placing the collar on my forearm. Surprisingly, it did not cause pain. There was pressure. At this point, I felt that I would be eating a good healthy dose of crow. This gave me the confidence to move forward – to fit the prong to my neck.
Carefully, I adjusted the number of links so the collar sat high up on my neck, snug but not tight. Gently I pulled on the ring where the leash attached. Again, I was legitimately surprised that spikes did not dig into my neck, and there was very little pain.
My husband entered the room, rolled his eyes at yet another “experiment”. Jokingly, he grasped the chain. Using his fingers only he tugged. “You’re coming with me!”
That is when the prong collar “bit” me. As the metal of the prong pressed against the bone of my spine, it created sharp, intense pain. I screamed – yes screamed – for him to stop. My husband blubbered, “I didn’t pull hard. It wasn’t hard at all. I just used my fingers.”
One of my friends pointed out that dogs have muscular necks and walk on all fours. I can respect that my husband’s tug on the collar does not replicate a dog walking at an owner’s side. Head down (literally, I got down on all fours) we attached the leash to the collar. My son “walked” me around the house. He was applying FINGERTIP pressure.
It was here that the collar “bit” me for the second time. It was not painful. I think it was worse than that. The pressure from the evenly spaced links didn’t distribute evenly, the way it had on my arm. Walking on my hands and knees, the collar did not pinch. It pulled up against the front of my throat, an area that has very little muscle to afford any protection. Checking the front of my dog’s neck, it becomes quickly apparent that his muscular neck and shoulders do not offer protection to the front of his neck either.
As I crawled along the ground, and the prong dug up into my windpipe, I felt a primal urge to recoil and relieve pressure. While not quite a choking feeling, it was a gagging, gurgling, inability to swallow. My stomach seized and I felt panic. In an instinctive need for self-preservation I gasped, “Drop the leash!” Grasping at the links, my hands shaking, I immediately struggled to remove the prong collar from my neck. Having felt both the pain of prong on bone, and the pressure of a prong on my windpipe, the pressure on my windpipe was, at least to me, far worse.
I went into this process with an open mind. Some of my most profound life lessons have come when others have challenged my position. I respect it when people speak up and push me. I want to know why a product “works.”
This little experiment may have begun as a prong question; it has led me to wonder how we perceive a dog’s neck. We see the muscle and power. Under their chin is the soft underside, cartilage, glands, bones.
Prong collars are not the only collars placed high upon a dog’s neck. Owners are often told to ensure collars stay up as high as possible. Why? They are told this is to maximize control – and the effectiveness of the collar. Some collars are designed so they intentionally do not slide down the dog’s neck – to the muscular part. I can see how that “works.” It hurts like hell when a collar presses on delicate tissue. Research shows that pressure on a dog’s neck presses on the optic nerve, potentially causing eye problems. This isn’t just a moral “tree hugging” concern. Veterinary organization recommend harnesses for this reason.
I can’t ask my dog how any collar feels for them. However, I can, for a minute, put myself in their position – look at the anatomy of their neck and look at the fit of a variety of collars and ask how it would make me feel.
No dogs were harmed, corrected or pulled using a training collar. In other words, the photos for this blog post were staged.
Update: May 6th, 2013. There have been an overwhelming amount of comments. This one stood out. Jennifer Montgomery Kay wrote the following:
I tried this experiment myself on Saturday. There really is nothing like the horrible feeling of it merely resting on my windpipe. The moment I caused it to apply actual pressure? I thought I was near death.
I am going to have to disagree with this article as well. The prong collar is a great tool for my dogs. While not all of them need or use one, I do use it on the higher drive dogs (dutch shepherds, mals and a few very high drive labs). When used properly it doesnt hurt or harm them. Riley is my best example of the prong. It has probably saved her life. When she is in full excitement, fear or drive mode 1. A flat buckle collar can and will break. 2. No amount of food and love is going to snap her out of that screaming intense mindset 3. A simple pop with the prong will allow me to get her focus on me so then we can turn what ever is causing the melt down into a positive experiance with food and verbal cues. It’s all about balance and proper use. Now I can walk her on a martingale if we know there will be little distractions however I almost always have the prong on for those ” what if” situations. and just because it is on it doesnt mean that I am constantly correcting her or pulling on. SHe is walking by my side, focusing on me and I dont need to use it.
Now let’s talk about using a harness. It is proven a harness encourages pulling, and give you zero control over the dog. The no pull harness are also proven to damage the shoulders from the un-natural pressure they put across the dogs chest and altering the gate.
( a little back ground on Riley. We adopted her 2 years ago from the Humane Society of Utah. She is a Dutch Shepherd, bred by a horrible “breeder” in OK. They did not believe in touching the puppies until they were at least 9weeks old. So no socialization or handling then sold to a family moved to Utah and dumped by 10 months old. No human besides my husband and I could approach her with out snarling, snapping and barking. She is now the most human social dog I have ever met. She competes in dock jumping, lure coursing and agility now. All of this is because I used the correct tools to help train her. Had I not used proper tools and training then she would surely not be alive today and more than likely would have been PTS for a bite had we used purely positive reinforcement and a harness with her)
1 – Cite your proof that all no-pull harnesses cause harm. If you said the statement, you must have a research link for that? I’m not even saying I like all of those products. But I am a stickler for “You said PROVED.” So prove it. With actual research. No blogs and rhetoric.
2 – I’ve worked with feral rescue for nearly 20 years. Dogs that were not handled sometimes until adults. I don’t need that tool and frankly the fallout is so severe for many that it sends them right back to rescue and it can put their lives at risk. Are you saying that I have “magic” abilities to be able to deal with such things without?
3 – No. No amount of food is going to snap your dog out of a screaming mindset. If that is your impression of good positive reinforcement/classical conditioning, I’m not surprised it failed. You were taught incorrectly.
1. Here you go. Don’t worry I work with some of the top Canine fitness professionals in the world, they know their stuff but here go…
2. I want to know what breeds you work with because I do not train a feral min pin the way I train a feral Dutch Shepherd or Malinois( my preferred breeds to rescue) I have also worked with 100’s of rescues and no I’m no going to throw a prong on an 8lb dog. And your right used INCORRECTLY a prong can cause more harm then good, but hey so can throwing a harness on a dog and hoping for the best just because a read a blog that said they were good.
3. Nothing will snap her out of the mindset, however with proper training I’m able to redirect her and keep her eyes on me. No I wasn’t taught wrong I just work with some of the best trainers in the dog sport world. I’m very lucky to have a wide variety of very reputable trainers to work with.
Next I’d love to see videos of your training and the dogs you train. All I could find were pictures on your blog….
The whole dog journal isn’t a scientific journal. I work with all sorts of dogs. My main “specialty” is feral rescue. Not always, but typically big, powerful, under socialized survivors.
Yes, you were taught wrong when it comes to the straight food use. You were taught operant conditioning tactics. You weren’t taught classical conditioning. Which is why you have to re-direct and why you can’t pull the dog out with the food.
There are videos. You just have to look. I probably should do more. But I spend most of my week coaching. It really stuns me how much time some trainers have to dog weekend sports and post online and do events. All that time is not spent with clients. I wonder do they have many clients at all? That’s my primary focus. Do I post clients on video. No. I have always maintained that dog trainers, being the coach and “expert” should focus on ethics rules as set out in similar industries. See Burch and Bailey’s book on ethics.
However, I have in the past responded to the “taunt” to post more videos by posting videos. You know what. It’s never enough. I didn’t show the dog reacting at its worse. It doesn’t count. The dog is the wrong breed, too big, too small. Not a guarding breed. It NEVER ends. I’m not here to cater the whims of people who will hate no matter what. That is called a time suck and a misdirect. I’ve been around too long to fall for that.
First I’m sure the vet in the WDJ article was clueless as well? Why don’t you put on something that restricts your leg movement then go walk 20 minutes a day and let me know how that works out for you sense you’re all about trying training tools on your self .
Next I personally would never go to a trainer that didn’t compete their dogs I mean titling their dogs is how I know, they know what their doing, plus they’re usually competing right along with their students. But you’re right I’m sure Leerburg or Michael Ellis don’t have any mane clients at all. Maybe these trainers that compete should sit around write blogs( that you yourself said aren’t factual ) and argue with people over training tools that again
used correctly can save a dogs life….
the comments about your training never end because blogs like this are total BS..,
I am wondering, why in your correction you cannot use a different type of collar, there are many options between the prong (horrible things) and a flat buckle collar. You completley ignore the options of martigale collars and slip collars (choke chains) these also provide the “pop” you are talking about but do not cause pain.
Do you even read the comments? Or just pick what you want to make your argument? I specifically mentioned walking in a martingale. Also a choke chain is 1000 times worse then a prong. Use that on your self and give the same corrections with it. I promise it won’t feel good and it will probably leave a mark. I would never use a choke chain in one of my dogs. I do in addition to prongs, use HALTI’s , slip leads and martingales on my dogs. It’s called balanced training
It might be beneficial – instead of focusing on debates between collars to stick to “what science principle is in effect when this tool is used in this or that way and has this or that effect.”
I personally would never leash correction on any collar. Those who try to plug a tool into a quadrant are missing the way in which that tool was used.
Some tools are designed so their function is driven by aversives. There are some that can go either way.
I would suggest that yanking on anyone is probably not comfortable regardless of collar type. The level of force is irrelevant. I’m sure my spouse would get really pissed if I pulled him by the shirt collar when I wanted dishes done. Once, twice, and then I’d get “Knock it off.”
How do you know it doesn’t hurt or harm them? Of course you disagree with this article because you’re a closed minded business person in it for the $ so you tell yourself whatever you need to. It is possible to use harnesses for training purposes on ALL breeds, maybe you’re just a bad trainer!
I didn’t read past “I do use it on the higher drive dogs (dutch shepherds, mals and a few very high drive labs). When used properly it doesnt hurt or harm them. ” This seems to be the canned response used by everyone who does not understand (or is incapable of learning) how to train dogs without punishing them.
You guys are aware that a flat buckle collar is an aversive training tool as well, right? If it is not allowing the dog to accomplish what it desires, it is aversive. Different dogs react differently to different training methods, and one method that could be over the top for one dog could be the preferred method of another. My Pyrenees mix can’t STAND a harness, she will thrash and pout and cry. However, that same dog will BRING ME her prong collar and walks perfectly on it. I do not use it often as she is very well trained, but she has absolutely no issue when I do.
Right now, even the people who use prong collars are reading your comment and wishing you would stay off their side.
Please read the definition of aversive. A buckle collar isn’t intentionally designed to cause pain. When dogs pull on a buckle collar or a harness, it’s because they want to go forward and they have generally been reinforced by being successful in pulling, And it doesn’t work to stop the pulling. A prong collar works BECAUSE the dog wants to AVOID (aversive) the pain of the prong.
Reinforcement drives behavior
prot44 has the science right. We make the call on whether something is aversive based on effect. Some tools can have components of both. And tools can be modified.
If a dog backs off the prongs, the feeling of the prongs IS aversive. That’s the effect that we use to measure the impact on behaviour.
If a dog is pulling into a flat collar (even if we, with our human brains cringe at it and hate it) it is NOT aversive to the dog. The dog is not avoiding the pressure.
If a dog is thrashing about with a harness of, trying to get out of it, then yes, the harness is aversive to THAT dog in some way. It does not make harnesses aversive. It begs the question of “Has someone taught you how to get a dog to like wearing one? It’s really easy.” Dogs that find the strange feeling of wearing one or having one put on can very quickly learn to like that. Most dogs do not find a normal harness to be aversive. (Hence, why most will pull in them unless taught not to.)
Shout be taken off the market
I used it on my Norwegian Elkhound. She not only has a large amount of muscle but her coat is also very thick. Prior to using this, she just pulled everything & everyone! She didn’t feel Amy correction from her lead and she is so strong she just goes on her merry way. The Instructor decided to use the prong collar on her. 2 fingers under the prongs & she walked around the circle with the instructor. I walked with her at home & used the collar when we first started out & she was fine . Once she learned the collar was hardly ever used! It was always checked to make sure the prongs were ok . She and I went from dreading walking to enjoying each other and our walks.
For training I use all the tools available. From steak treats to prong collars, I know how to use every piece of equipment or motivational tool that I have. Prong collars are an absolute necessity in certain situations and when a trainer decides not to use an effective piece of equipment they sometimes, as was the case with this particular trainer, get bit by dogs that do require certain types of equipment. Not liking and not using an effective training tool is dangerous. It puts humans and dogs at risk.
I don’t know who “this particular trainer” means. Certainly not me.
I am assuming that you can in a short paragraph explain to me the interactions between the various quadrants, the impact they have on discrimination, latency and such? It isn’t enough to say “this is another new tool” like you’re buying kitchen gadgets. In dog training, they interact. More like a chemistry experiment where it’s not “what does THIS do.” It’s “how do they mix with one another?”
But I’ll be interested in reading your 4-5 sentence breakdown on that. I’m assuming that anyone making the claim for more tools and quadrants should be able to knock out that information in their sleep.
A prong collar is only a necessity for a trainer who is inept at other methods.
I have met and worked with a full range of dogs, from the terrified to the outright dangerous and every level in between. Not once have I used a prong collar and not once have I been bitten.
The danger is in people who thinks causing a dog pain and discomfort is an effective way to make the dog display positive behaviors.
Excellent. I shared this the other day in a FB group and hope it made a few people reconsider their use of prong collars.
I have honestly used every training tool on myself before even considering the use on my dog. This includes chokers, e-collars, and prong collars and can say that I wasn’t bothered by any of them.
For the prong collar, I used a Hermsprenger 2.25mm prong fitted snug to my neck. While slightly uncomfortable when pressure was applied, it was nowhere near unbearable. However, we also have to remember that humans are NOT dogs and do not feel things the same way.
For example, with my e-collar, it has 7 settings and then a low, medium, and high option. If I hold it against my neck, it generally takes between a 3-4 to have any effect(a mild muscle twitch caused by the tenz pressure) whereas Riya doesn’t show any effect until a 6. Just a thought.
Yes, negative reinforcement is applied at lower settings. It is one of the features of the quadrant.
It fits in with other strategies that are similar. Nagging is one. Does it hurt? No. Does it annoy? To most. Is it destructive? Ask a divorce lawyer.
Low level of aversive does not mean it’s okay, nice or non-destructive.
Something to think on.
Well Joanne, you aren’t really being very honest at all. You may have tried all of your tools on yourself, but you haven’t ever tried them in the same context as they are tried on dogs. When you try them on yourself, you know what you are doing. You know you are in control. You know everything about your experiment. Where a dog or other animal does not.
I would also like for you to explain to us all, how dogs feel things , please ?
Dog’s and other animals don’t express themselves and/or their pain, in the same ways we do This much should be obvious. But again, if you were being honest, you would admit that you have know idea how dogs or any other species actually “feels”.
You might find pain studies interesting….
First of all, I HAVE tried them in the same context. I have had another handler hold the leash and provide a very strong correction. Second, dogs have more muscle in their necks than a human as well, so while it would be pinching loose skin on a person’s neck, a dog would have muscle to cusion that.
As far as explaining how dogs feel things differently, please see my first reply, it was pretty clearly stated.
Are you really this dense? I guess you are.
Why is having “more muscle” important at all? Do you think that there aren’t any nerve endings in muscle? Their skin is also much more thin.
“I have had another handler hold the leash and provide a very strong correction”
You see, you were the one giving the directions. You were in control. You spoke the same language as the person who you were directing. You were safe. You trusted the other handler. It’s far from being in the same context as how a dog experiences it all. They aren’t in control. You can’t explain to the dog that you are going to give a “very strong correction”. It just happens. The dog doesn’t ask you to do it.
You obviously have no level of real empathy at all.
Some people just enjoy hurting others, whether it be dogs or people. They get a kick out of it. Even when they know there are other ways to get around it all, they still opt to cause pain.
No empathy, controlling, taking enjoyment in the suffering of others, are all characteristics of psychopathy. And there is no treatment for psychopathy.
First of all, we’re here to have an intelligent debate. Throwing around insults is unnecessary and makes you look childish.
Also, muscle has EVERYTHING to do with how it’s felt. Yes, they still have nerve endings however, pinch the skin under your armpit and then the skin on your biceps. You know why it hurts more under your armpits? MUSCLE. There is no layer of muscle covering the nerve endings and protecting them, so the feeling is more intense.
Also, speaking the same language as the person holding the leash has nothing to do with anything as no words are necessary. If you own a dog, you should at least have a basic understanding of body language, same as with a person. The dog understands rather quickly that any time it pulls, it gets a quick correction. Unless you are assuming dogs are dumb creatures and can’t understand simple logic in which case I’d question why you chose one of the most intelligent breeds as your name.
As far as psychopathy, no. I do not enjoy harming others however, I do agree with teaching to PREVENT harm. If a child pulls out of your hands and runs toward the street and all you do is pull it back, I can guarantee that child is going to try to make a break for it again. Just because a mother smacks her child’s hand to get him to stop running toward the street, does not mean she “enjoys the suffering of others” and is a psychopath.
The majority of people who own dogs have no clue about the most basic of dog body language. They absolutely “should”, but they don’t. That’s just one more problem with these “tools”. Anyone can buy them , having no idea about dogs or much of anything else.
I wonder if you would be as willing to hand the leash to me. I would imagine not.
I’m also not the least bit surprised that you advocate for “smacking” children too.
I would ABSOLUTELY be willing to hand the leash to you. The man who held the leash the first time was another trainer that I had met only 4 days prior, back when I was still skeptical of anything that wasn’t “positive reinforcement.”
As for “smacking children,” really? I said a smack on the hand. It’s not like I’m advocating for parents that whip their children with belts….
Assault is assault. Hitting is hitting. If you smacked an adult , on the hand or anywhere else on their body, you would be charged with assault. But for some reason, hitting a child, who is totally dependent and helpless, is perfectly acceptable.
Again, I’m not surprised at all.
I’ll take that leash whenever you are ready. 😉 But I make the rules of the game.
Muscle does not everything to do with pain sensitivity. For example, I know someone who is a big hulking body builder who screams at leave 2 TENs. I am a tiny size 2/3 woman (fit, but not bulky) who ranges at 11 – 28. I know my full range and notice the variation. 11 – 28. The DAY matters on pain sensitivity. The practitioner’s ability to habituate me to 11 matters. I couldn’t do 11 if they just started there. I’d be at 2 or 3 to start. Day to day variation matters.
Second factor. Is the pain increasing or decreasing? Is it more painful to start with low pain and increase or high pain and decrease? Which is worse?
What about slow pain versus fast pain. The proverbial “yank off the bandage” vs “pull it slowly.”
Add to all that internal stress level. Heightened pain sensitivity happens in animals (including us) if we are in situations where we feel things are not controllable – both positive and negative. Other factors decrease pain sensitivity. It’s the body’s ability to block pain in a bad situation so you can keep moving. It doesn’t mean you are not hurt. It means you don’t feel it (for now). It lets you get out of harm’s way and then you realize “Oh my god that hurts.”
So many different factors and it’s not just the build of the animal.
How do you know if the dog minds the feel of a collar or not? Not the SIGHT of the collar. The FEEL of the collar.
Does the dog pull into the prong collar? Then they probably don’t mind the feel.
Does the dog work to avoid the feel? Then they probably don’t like it and you are using the aversive or noxious element to get a behaviour change.
What you’re debating, and might I add, going in circles around is that collars are like shoes. Running shoes *usually* are pretty comfortable. Not all running shoes are comfortable on all people. Generally, they’re pretty good but keep an eye for a bad fit or bad make or bad usage. If you wear running shoes and run a marathon that blister is going to probably hurt really badly.
If you wear platform heels, they are *usually* uncomfortable. While a very few people might put them on and want to wear them, the majority do not because…they hurt.
ALL shoes that fit badly are nasty. Nasty fitting shoes or failing to get used to new running shoes does not make running shoes bad.
Just because some people like super high platforms or stilettos, it does not mean they are good.
Just because some dogs pull into prong collars is does not mean they are usually pleasant. We know because few dogs pull into them. Only the ones that learn to get used to it until they don’t care anymore (and then they don’t work.)
Just because some dogs were rushed into getting used to a flat or head halter does not make all flat collars or head halters bad. We know they don’t mind because they pull and pull and pull into it.
Which we shouldn’t probably allow because we, with our big human brains can see it might not be good long-term. It does not make it aversive. Just stupid.
I have no idea what you are talking about or why you seem to believe I am pro prong. I’m not. Far from it.
“There is no layer of muscle covering the nerve endings and protecting them” — BWAH! Are you serious?? 😀 “Layers of muscle” don’t “cover nerve endings” — nerve endings are located in the dermis (the second layer, under the very thin outer layer [epidermis]). You’d hit the nerve endings long before you got to this miraculous muscle layer that you insist is “protecting” the dog from feeling pain 😀
I NEVER tortured my dog with one of these and he has been walking with me just fine for 10 years. All it took was some time, some good verbal commands, and rewards for good behavior. Only when he’s in public around others is he even on a leash. He learned young that a stern “no” would not get him treats so that was all the punishment he ever needed.
The biggest thing that scares me about prong collars?
You are one step from death (or at least a *severe* injury)
So, you are convinced you fitted it ‘right’, dog ‘Loves it’ and you are using it ‘correctly’ blah blah blah?
You are walking in the park and another dog attacks yours, Fido jerks a side step away from attacking dog in 0.04 seconds, far quicker than you can drop the lead – the prong collar rips his neck open
Say you *do* drop the lead in time and he runs? Well meaning person grabs you fleeing, panicking dog’s lead? Horrific collar injury
A different walk… This time you fall, instinctively grip the lead… Guess what? Horrific collar injury
Yeah, other collars *can* cause injuries… But don’t have the same potential for instantly catastrophic as a prong
It also hurts like hell when a loose dog on a prong charges you – and you grab for the collar to keep it back/under control. Those prongs go into your hands. Been there. Done that.
The potential for harm goes to the people too.
You have no idea what your babbling about. A crossing guard showed my Newfoundland a cookie(Dumb but people can be dumb) . My 130 lb Newfoundland which wouldn’t hurt a fly dragged my wife 50 ft on her stomach took her right off her feet. Dog wants the cookie. The dog was walking fine slack leash then bam. Within seconds no one is safe. Dog, walker, children no one. Next day dog went on prong collar everyone is happy and safe. Always owned big powerful dogs and I show them the prong and thet jump around happy happy happy. Lets go for a walk. I owned a Doberman and while on a walk he was on a prong. Two large huskies coming towards us wearing Gentle Leaders. Dropped to the ground squirmed out of the gentle leaders so came charging at my totally in control Dobe and attacked him leaving some damage to my dbes skin. The stupid people said we are sorry they just got away. My reply was if I had a knife they would be dead for attacking me and my in control dog wearing his prong and quite happy until he was traumatized and not able to defend hmself. Owners need to take responsibility and everyone will be happy and safe. I know you don’t like want i’ve said but I speak from real experience. You are going after the wrong end of the leash . Sorry making more regulations is a politicians way of fixing thing trying to convince people they are doing something about the problem but to fix the problem they need to enforce the laws we have but that would take more work money and commitment. It’s jut that I have seen prong and chain collars work magic with difficult pulling very strong dogs. Could also make the difference between a dog being but down instead of going to a family that could walk it in confident and has a new balance loved member added to their family. I’ve made my judgment on experience. What have you based yours on. I see people looking at photoshopped pictures. Holes in a dogs neck. Come on I’ve used prong collars for 20 years and never put so much as a tiny mark on ant of my dogs’ necks
Actually, I know personally of two dogs that died on them. If it makes you feel better saying “photoshop”, then go ahead. I don’t share those pictures because I don’t use fear mongering. You will note that I stuck with exploring what a force trainer told me to do, because if I did not, I could not comment on the matter.
This fear mongering goes both ways. Are there dogs on badly fitted head halters? Yes. Are there dogs on badly fitted flat collars? Yes. Are there dogs on badly fitted harnesses? Yes. Are there dogs….well, you get the picture. We don’t judge if any tool on “badly fitted.” Put properly fitted next to properly fitted and then do the risk assessment.
As for not knowing what I’m babbling about, I would point you to the video cautions by those such as Leerburg where they say that a prong collar is not secure. That is a prong collar trainer.
If a dog has so little self control that it drags someone to a cookie, then the prong isn’t a safe option either. But that’s not MY opinion. That’s the advice that comes from the big name trainers who use them. As someone who used to use various corrections collars I can give a long – long list of problems I’ve seen with them. It’s irrelevant to the crux of the problem.
The waving cookie distraction is not solved with a collar. It’s solved with training. Here’s why. Because if a dog lacks so much self control that it drags you to a cookie, it means that this behaviour also happens when not walking about on leash. It’s a dog that when in the yard rushes at things or won’t come when called when there is a distraction. It’s the dog that given the chance will “when distracted by food” steal it from you, your guests etc.
Training addresses impulse control.
May I ask how to get the dog trained to resist food? One of my dogs (lab-6yr) will sneak a bite at any opportunity. Thanks.
Great question. What we do in classes is this.
We teach the dog an automatic leave it for situations where the dog needs to always leave something along.
So…food on the table = automatic leave it and I don’t ask for it.
The command (cue) is “food on the table” means “you should leave it alone, back away and stay away” for an indefinite period of time even if I turn my back and even if I walk away. We do similar things with “food on plates in people’s laps.” Or “food on the kitchen counter” and “garbage can” and “dishwasher.”
These are things the dog should have on an automatic leave it.
Many people have seen the simple intro leave it where the handler holds food in the hand, closed in their fist. You wait for the dog to quit fussing. Then you reward the dog.
Little details that get missed are:
The command for auto leave situations should be the situation. Not your words.
You need to add time to the mix. We are not teaching touch my food so I say leave it. We are teaching, “see food, back away and stay away.” You need to add duration or time into your training.
Then you also have to add in the element of turning your back and walking off.
It’s slick because the command is “food on the table.” So the command is always there, in front of the dog, telling them to walk away.
Maybe if you had control over your own dog, it would not have ran after a cookie and dragged your wife. It is called training your dog. Prong collars are a cop out for being too lazy to train your own dog
I used one when my German shepherd was 7 months old in a training class. Couldn’t walk him as I could not control him. After ONE class with it I never used it again, no need. Also, the trainer did NOT instruct me to set it high on his neck. With ALL things there can over use but I find this a tad bit dramatic. I felt more confident with my 115 pound dog and my ability to control him in situations.
You truly are an idiot. I question any claim that you make as a trainer, or quite literaly, a rational, sentinent human. Do everyone a favor, write about something you may actually know about. Or, conversely, quit writing altoghether. SMH.
Thank you for feeling that this was a safe place to express yourself. If anyone is tempted to defend themselves or myself as a rational human – I’m going to suggest that they do not. Most on to more positive things please.
This is so absurd. People like you with the lack of knowledge are the reason why pinch collars have such a bad name. This might be the most DRAMATIC blog post I’ve ever read. Sounds like some spoiled trophy wife white 50 year old woman with no job claiming to be a dog trainer.
This one made me laugh out loud so hard. Hahahaha. Trophy wife.
Yeah…not. I’ve been working since I was legally old enough to, starting in a factory signing over my pay to support my dad and my funds were used for HIS benefit and his ability to give money to the cult like church. Getting out meant choosing to live a life where you decided if the change in your pocket would go to Ramen noodles so you could eat, or a bus ticket to get to work – the alternative walking for hours.
While my life has improved, I work my ASS off. Trophy wife. Hahaha hahahaha Thanks for posting that. It really did make me laugh.
Cult like church? Daddy issues? Troubled childhood- it all makes sense now! Thanks for revealing your emotional roots of wanting to “rescue”all the helpless dogs in the world. 😉
I revealed them a long time ago in a blog. It’s no secret. You do know that I train dogs. I’m not out doing rescue? It really would be really offensive to many people in rescue to read that they must be motivated by daddy issues. It’s probably not an appropriate thing to say about people doing rescue.
Oh but it is- childhood issues is what makes you people crazy.
“You people.” Who are “you people”? Rescuers? People who can write full sentences when insulting someone without a grammar error? If you are going to insult me, at least use good grammar. Otherwise it takes the impact out of what you’re trying to do and undermines the authority you’re trying to project.
Just putting that out there for next time.
So touchy tonight. Insulting my grammar is the best you can do to deal with your troubled past. Seek help, it’s clearly affecting you mentally and physically.
I wasn’t insulting you. I was offering you constructive help so that when you insult me, it might read better. I did that because how you phrase an insult does matter if you want it to sting. Yours didn’t sting.
See, there isn’t anything for me to respond to. I’m grateful you keep posting and responding. I’m grateful you keep clicking and replying. In fact, I know that one of my assets is staying calm under pressure. If that means I am damaged, I can sleep like a baby.
I’m not the one that is flying off the handle. If being “healthy” means calling people names, then I want no part of it. I would suggest that there are better ways of communicating disagreement that are productive and healthy.
At the very least, I know that the more people who post and comment, the more hits this blog gets, the more people read it, the more the information will spread. If you want to keep throwing insults, please do so. Just don’t think for one minute that they are hitting their mark. Not one insult has hurt me in the least. Please…keep trying if you like.
I’m sure it did. It stings so much that you keep responding. Seek therapy if you haven’t. Your emotions are controlling you.
Nah. I keep responding because when you keep insulting me, the people lurking see what people who use force really think of people.
I respond because I happen to disagree with your premise that people who had rough starts in life cannot overcome. I keep responding to point out to any lurker who may be in a dark place that there are people in this world who will say things, use their past to insult them and take them down for their own interests. Some of those people might be hurting and not yet at the point where I am.
So my posts are there for the lurkers – not you. I want them to know that when people use their pain for something as ridiculous as “I wanna use a prong collar” or to try to hurt someone on a blog – it’s not about them. It’s actually about the person hurling the insults.
It really doesn’t hurt that you keep replying. My stats are rocking’.
I sent my dog to school one on one for training to walk as that is the one thing I have trouble with. To my dismay, she came home with a prong collar. I could have done that for a lot less then the $600. I paid for traditional training. The collar kept slipping down and the day I saw red dots on her neck was the last day she wore that horribble collar. As she gets older, she gets better and there are safer collars out there that don’t hurt her.
A pinch collar is my preferred tool when I need one, because I like the alternatives even less.
As far as training and management tools go, people who want to avoid aversion, or positive punishment, promote head collars and no-pull harnesses as humane alternatives. Do your research. The problem is that while these tools may not appear to cause immediate discomfort, they are associated with potentially nasty, long-term consequences that teach the dog nothing.
Talk to a vet or two that specializes in injury rehabilitation (I have) about the humaneness of head collars, no-pull harnesses and pinch collars. Do a Google search on “dog injury caused by head collar”. Causing long-term pain through injury that teaches the dog nothing because it is not associated by the animal with the behaviour is neither humane nor good training. It has been found that no-pull harnesses alter the dog’s weight distribution and gait. Again, this is associated with injury in the form of damage to the muscle structure. That results in long-term pain. Do a Google search on “injury caused by wearing high heels” if you want to put that in human terms. Again, this teaches the dog nothing and is neither humane nor good training.
To those who say, “I just train the dog,” well, good for you. Maybe you really are a great trainer who can train any dog quickly and easily. Maybe you aren’t such a great trainer but lucked out and got an easy dog that makes you feel like one. Not everybody is a good trainer or is is so lucky in their dog. I’ve had elderly clients with large, bouncy young dogs that could easily pull them over. Maybe they’ve got the wrong dog but that’s what I have to work with. A broken hip can be a death sentence for an elderly person and in my book, people come first. Many of the reward-based techniques don’t work for them – they have issues with balance and mobility; many of them can’t get the timing or don’t have the coordination required. Using a pinch collar can mean that in half an hour, they can control their dogs using a tool that puts the dog in charge of the correction. Their dogs are also able to move in a way that does not restrict their gait or alter their weight distribution.
In an ideal world, none of these tools would be needed. It’s not an ideal world. When deciding on a management or training tool, I believe that it is necessary to look at both ends of the leash and evaluate the long- and short-term risks. Sometimes the need to control the head outweighs the risk of injury to the dog. Sometimes the human is a chronic leash-popper and the pinch collar is the wrong tool for them. Sometimes the desire to avoid creating immediate discomfort to the dog is outweighed by the need to prevent injury to the human.
Google: Vaccine cause autism. Or Kombucha kills. Or….
There’s a lot of BS on google. I am deeply concerned if anyone thinks that googling is a reliable means of assessing risk.
As for seniors, I’d be seriously concerned if the prong is the only hope. Because a dog should not be left on a prong at all times. What is that senior to do when the dog is in the yard running about and charging them? No prong to use then. Issue not addressed. What about when the dog is jumping at them in the house? No prong and leash on then and it’s not about pulling? Serious broken hip concern. What about when the dog is trying to steal food or grabbing things? No prong. It’s not a walk.
And it’s unsafe to leave a dog running about with one on.
I care deeply about people. The argument that it’s necessary to keep people with disabilities and seniors safe is ridiculous. If you need a prong to keep them safe and nothing else works, you are putting them in danger at all other times of the day. That is just a whole level of wrong.
By the way – wordpress thought your post was spam. Computer algorithm. My page rules are in a separate post. Please feel free to go there to read my criteria for post removal. I’m very pro freedom of speech.
Thank you for the explanation regarding my post.
I am fully aware of Google’s deficiencies. I am also utterly baffled as to how you have leapt to the conclusion that I proposed using it to assess risk. Quite the leap in logic.
The reason I suggested Google to find some basic information was because most academic studies are behind a pay wall, though it is true that you can see the abstracts if you go to a university library’s page and enter your search terms – or type the title of a paper into Google. If you and your readers have access to the databases, go for it. You can go to PlosOne for open-access publications.
I am fortunate enough to have access to academic databases, and I use them. Just FYI, there’s also a lot of BS in academic, peer-reviewed journals. It’s also easy to suppress unpopular research and make sure it never sees the light of day. The politics of academia, funding and publication make the politics of dog training look like a scuffle between half-hearted schoolchildren who are just playing at it.
As to your scenarios of disaster, do you seriously think that I can’t think a problem through and apply more than one strategy? You are trying to imply that anyone who uses a pinch collar has only that tool. Given that I have told you I use positive reinforcement too, and most of the time, this is a faulty leap in logic. To say “The argument that it’s necessary to keep people with disabilities and seniors safe is ridiculous. If you need a prong to keep them safe and nothing else works, you are putting them in danger at all other times of the day…” is as faulty as it gets in terms of logic. You’re smart. Read what you said again.
I find your strategies of avoiding acknowledging that the “humane” tools you and other force-free trainers promote may be problematic fascinating. I also know that you’ll never take my word for it and I’m not going to engage further. Either check out what I’ve told you that experts who should know have to say or check out “cognitive dissonance”.
Apologies, but I’ve realized that you may interpret my last sentence as a “dig’ or “punishment” again. It isn’t and I want to make why it isn’t clear. If you claim (by implication) to abide by the standards required of academic enquiry, yet fail to do so because it might upset your beliefs, it is fair comment.
I really am gone now.
Then why did you say to google injuries?
Firstly when I have the study info I will post as cannot find it at the moment but there are studies showing that claiming pinch collars cause these injuries suggested are untrue. But all tools can be abused. In could hang a dog from a tree in a harness and I can sure you it would die from the pressure caused.
As a former police dog handler I would like you not to talk as you do so often about what you have achieved but to show what youbhabe achieved.
Many trainers now who use what is referee to as balanced training put up many videos of dogs before and after training of very difficult dogs with serious issues and don’t tell people over the phone to kill there dogs because you couldn’t fix a very simple issue.
Let’s see video evidence of these service dogs trained formally with pinch collars and now where the handlers are reformed and no longer have a need for them
Without documented evidence I can claim anything as you have now and have in the past when you lied to gain your job as an onscreen dog trainer she. You were only an actress.
So please evidence your statements or please stay away from things you don’t fully grasp.
Many years ago, when I was very young, in the days of choke collars and “obedience” training and before halters, harness aids, positive reinforcement and praise, I had a young Siberian Husky I was trying to train. He was totally oblivious to my attempts at getting him to “heel”, always pulling at the lead and ahead of me. Our instuctor finally pulled me aside and asked if I’d consider a prong collar. I was willing to try so I was introduced to the collar by wearing it myself first, then having someone else use it on my dog to properly show me how to use it. Then I had to use it on him while the instructor looked on to be sure I was using it correctly. My dog never yelped, shied away, or acted as if it were painful, or even gave a sign that he felt it. DID my dog feel it? He must have felt something, because I only ever used that collar 3 or 4 times at class. He felt it enough to divert his attention to me, to realize what I was asking him to do, to realize that I was pleased when he responded so well to me. After that, I didn’t need it, so I didn’t use it. He never had a negative reaction to it. For me, and him, it was a valuable aid at that time. Would I use it again? I don’t know. I think it’s kind of like the flexi lead. At the hands of someone who doesn’t understand how they work, they are a disaster to both dog and handler. The Siberian Husky I trained with it went on to earn several titles and is responsible for my lifelong career in dogs. Had I become frustrated and given up I never would have continued classes, entered dog shows, joined dog clubs, or been afforded the opportunity to work in the animal field. First as a groomer (or as we now call them – pet stylists), and then in the Veterinary field. So, I’m thankful for the experience I had with one. They’re a training aid, not a collar. You have to have the right instance, trainer, handler, and dog to use one. Otherwise it’s a disaster. Like the flexi lead. In my observations with the flexi- 80% of its users don’t understand it actually has a lock on it, nor the reasons why the lock should actually be used. Couple this with an out of control Labradoodle in a veterinary office with other people and dogs and you might see why I dislike the flexi. It’s the human factor- not the collar or lead….or even breed. In the right hands, they’re all good.
Remember that risk is not measured by “did all people have a side effect.” It’s more like a prescription warning. The side effects can happen, sometimes there are many. It really sucks if it happens to you. It does not mean that because it didn’t happen to you, it doesn’t happen.
Think of it like the pain pills that caused strokes. Many people took the medication. The effects ranged. For some, it was very damaging. To say “if you use it right” isn’t accurate. The problem is “transparency on risk.” To imply if you use it right, the risk does not exist, is not true.
That is the issue here. Saying, “I didn’t have a problem so it’s just how you use it” implies that there is no problem to be concerned about. Are you prepared to own it if someone goes and uses one and happens to be the one that runs into trouble?
I agree with another poster, the regular collar causes her to choke because she pulls so hard. I also tried a harness and it dug into her under her leg and caused her to bleed. Used correctly the prong collar does not harm the dog.
Too many people think harm means pain, bruising and bleeding. Do remember that learning theory clearly tells us there are other affects, such as negative associations that can happen when stepping into the realm of aversives.
Just because you cannot see the blood, does not mean that someone like me isn’t cleaning up the issues.
I have a Sprenger prong collar and I only use it to walk my dog, never as punishment. Used correctly they do not harm the dog. My dog is very strong and pulls non stop with a regular leash. With this collar as soon as she starts to pull she stops. She never yelped out in pain nor does it leave any marks. She respects the collar and actually gets it when I say walk.
Harm is not only defined by pain and blood.
Thank you for this. When we walk, my Lab pulls hard, nose to the ground, and she’s dog aggressive. We tried a nose-leader (recommended by the trainer at “puppy class” at petsmart), but she pulls so hard I can hear her having trouble breathing (it doesn’t happen when I take it off and put her in a harness). I’d wondered about these, but could never bring myself to try them, so I appreciate your experiment. It’s about what I thought.
If you ever do consider a head halter again, please feel free to reach out. It sounds to me like the job of conditioning it and getting the loose leash walking wasn’t necessarily taught to you completely.
I hope you’ve managed to get some traction. I appreciate that you’re out there trying to train. For owners, trying is half the task. 🙂
It’s my understanding that the rings go under the neck , therefor there are no prongs at the trachea area. They teeth are all on the back of the neck. Your demo dogs are wearing the collar incorrectly and even a pro pro trainer would tell you any collar used incorrectly can cause harm and Damage. All corrections are given down or to the side , Never up.
*discliamer I an old school dog owner who has seen the light of clicker training , but was taught the proper way to use a prong years ago
When the prong trainer users agree with what’s right maybe I’ll look into this. I’ve also been told “good” prong collar trainers NEVER correct. It’s a self correcting tool. Others say clasp to the side/back because otherwise the leash is interfering with the dog’s head. But heck, if the force trainers can’t agree on what’s right….it makes it so easy to say, “Your dog was injured/hurt, you’re doing it wrong.”
My issue is not that my dog is too big to control. It’s that he is out of control when he is on leash and sees another dog. He is neither food (high-value or not) or toy motivated to behave. Nothing has been effective in controlling is all-out aggression. We hired a trainer who suggested a plastic pinch collar. She states that the collar is really just getting his attention when properly used. I told her it was the very last thing I wanted to do. And now we are to that point. What would you suggest to train a dog to stop the wild leash behavior (it’s so bad accidentally nipped my husband and I if we get in the way of his temporary insanity). I hate the idea of hurting my dog!!! Makes me sick.
I’d sure appreciate your insight. Thanks!
PS: My other dog will do absolutely anything for a treat. She’s been a dream as far as training is concerned.
If your dog is trying to drive others away, then no wonder you’re having issues. The sentence “He is neither food or toy motivated to behave,” is your issue.
When working with dogs that have fear, anxiety “make them go away” issues, we don’t reward good behaviour. We use classical conditioning. What you’re saying about not being able to get good behaviour with a treat or toy is what most say until they get a coach who helps them switch.
You need a better coach. By the way, classical conditioning makes positive associations. Your dog will get mixed messages on a prong. “Dogs = good things” sometimes. Other times “I feel discomfort on my neck when I see dogs.”
It creates unpredictability which is the recipe for massive horrible issues and a whole list of side effects.
We are all hardwired to assume, in our brain, to look into the environment when we feel physical discomfort. When you have foot pain, you look to see what you stepped on. You don’t think “what did I have for lunch.” Although, food can trigger foot pain (see people with gout for that.)
Get a hell of a good trainer well versed in classical conditioning. You shouldn’t be using reinforcement at all.
You don’t have fur. I use the plastic prongs from Premier. I have done the same experiment, with completely different results. No discomfort, no pain. Many people do not realise the length of the prongs are supposed to correlate with the length of the dogs’ fur, not the weight of the dog.
I don’t think pinch collars are ideal, but they can be a tool used without abusing the dog. Regular collars can be abusively used as well.
I’ve put a pinch collar around my neck too. It’s uncomfortable for sure, but I didn’t have your extreme reaction. Unless the human pulls on the collar constantly (uncomfortable for the dog with ANY collar), the dog is in control of the pressure – pull and pressure, don’t pull no pressure.
I am working with my 85 lb, extremely strong and reactive dog to teach her not to pull. Until we make progress on that, this collar is a tool I use to protect both of us. She could literally dislocate my shoulder if she got into a reactive state She could pull the lead from my hand and run in front of a car and be killed.
She shows no signs of fear or aversion when she sees the collar, does not resist in the least when I put it on her. She has never cried out when she pulls and pressure is applied. A human neck, without the protection of fur (and she has a very thick coat) is not comparing apples to apples. I know when my dog is afraid and showing aversion to something. All I have to do is get out the nail clippers.
Making such a sweeping condemnation, accusing dog owners using pinch collars if being abusers, is unfair and unhelpful.
Where did I call them abusers?
Seriously? This is ridiculous. How can you compare a human neck to a dog neck (and yes, hair makes a difference). But really the nature of the neck is neither here nor there. The main point is that dogs, with all their associated natural dog behaviors – particularly those associated with prey drive, must “fit” into the a society designed by humans for humans and human behaviors. If they do not, they are a risk of loosing their lives. Aversives or euthanasia – which should it be? Frankly, it is this kind of drama that is going to put many dogs at risk!
I didn’t make the connection. I was told I needed to and that would show I was wrong. As for prongs saving dogs, it is my experience that the behavioural fallout is so consistent and harmful with so many, that they actually send more people to death’s door then they ever might save.
I feel as though we are missing the point of dog training. seriously. Although we must always try and find the kindest, most effective way to train dogs ( because we are dog trainers and interested in canine behaviour and wellbeing) our real JOB of dog training is finding a way that works for the human. It is the human that will give up the dog. So why are we not coming up with more “scientific studies” that focus on that? Why are we not posting and blogging about better teaching techniques for PEOPLE? When people bring their dogs back to training and say “it didn’t work!” “The dog still isn’t getting it” “my dog is still pulling on the leash and I hate walking him” What is the first thing dog trainers say?
” The owners didn’t do their homework!”
Which is true. They didn’t. Because they don’t have the time, they don’t have the patience, they don’t care anymore, many different reasons,…. why? Because most of the time the owners are frustrated and shut down. They may see their dog do what they are suppose to do in class and they get a glimmer of hope, they go home and the dog goes back to being an ass and they give up. They try a tool, it gets better but then they see blog post like this that is shaming them for tools or choices they have made get more frustrated. They will give up. Its part of our HUMAN NATURE. We need to focus more what works for people. To inspire them to want to keep working on what is best for the dog. It starts with the people. Our blog post should be inspiring and helpful and encourage people to want to learn more. I truly believe key to helping more dogs is to be kinder to the people that are struggling. Post more solutions, so people have hope.
I truly do not believe that people do not care. I think if you approach people with that attitude, that’s what you’ll get. That is where the bar was set. The majority of my clients care. They are amazing, awesome, dedicated. They care.
Why not study this? Because it’s been done. See the research where teachers were told some students were ready to “intellectually bloom” and the other kids were meh – average – not that promising. All kids were average. Yet, the kids in the “intellectually blooming” category’s performance soared. Why? Because if you think someone is capable, you assume “I need to explain this another way.” You try harder. When you assume they don’t, when they struggle you assume they can’t. You quit and don’t really put much effort in.
Why not study lab to the real world? It has been. (See Domjan textbook for a nice full writeup on it.) And those tools, punishment, is the one that fails people in the real world.
“they see blog post like this that is shaming them for tools or choices they have made ” — I wouldn’t shame someone for trying aversive tools out of desperation. But what makes my blood pressure rise is hearing that such tools “don’t hurt” or that the dog “loves his shock/prong/choke collar.”
I have yet to hear any defender of aversives explain exactly how these “tools” DO work, if they don’t cause pain/discomfort. Are they magical? Does the dog just somehow DECIDE to behave differently because he’s wearing this super-special collar?
I will state very clearly, there is nothing in the column where I feel I shamed people for using them. Shaming would imply that I called them names, that I was on a moral soapbox of sorts.
The “shaming” dig doesn’t work on me because *I USED TO USE FORCE.* Which means that I understand that using such tools and aversive techniques usually comes from a place of caring. It comes from wanting to help people. It comes from wanting to feel more in control on a walk.
I am the last person who would shame someone. I will however point out why I stopped using such things. It’s because in the desire to help we have options that may get us results. I’m going to choose the option that gets the best results with the fewest side effects. Causing harm through the desire to help, even if it’s only to some, is not okay in my books if there is another option.
The problem is, until someone learns to get those results, it can be difficult to see that it is in fact an option. When someone says, “I don’t have that problem” they might actually be serious about it. Perhaps the better option, instead of getting defensive is to say, “I want to know how.”
My point is that it would be better to inspire people to take action, rather than inaction . To give a solution, not just identify a problem. If I am a struggling dog owner looking for answers to my problem, would this article “help”? I don’t think so.
I do find all these anti aversive tools articles shaming.
I believe you have a story to tell because you have been on an incredible journey and you have learned a better way. But don’t shame people who are not at the same point of the journey as you. Share your own story as inspiration to all. Show us the solutions you found. I honestly wish we would all stop talking about what we don’t want people to do and instead fill the space and time with great stories of what we do and the people we have helped 🙂
I mean no disrespect. Truly.
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
Mother Teresa 🙂
Hmmm…maybe on this one? The suffragettes? Marching for the right to vote and equal rights? I have mad respect for the freedoms and liberties that those before gave us. The “right to be heard and peaceful protest.”
Which is rather ironic given that Mother Teresa is such a controversial figure with much criticism of how she treated the poor but also how she turned a blind eye to dictators and I believe, if I remember correctly was funded by some.
Be careful that the desire to be positive and not have a clear line doesn’t enable. That is not positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is reinforcing what you like. But it is also, “And do not allow what you don’t like to be reinforced.” That is why we use management, extinction and if need be remove reinforcement during training.
I’m not sure I “shamed” someone. As in to humiliate someone, to insult them. It certainly wasn’t my intent rather than to explore the idea that was presented to me. That was, “You, the person who refuses to use these and claims they are aversive, have never worn one.” So I did it.
It is more of an exploration of a valid point made to me because the rhetoric often can be, “Those metal spike are digging into the dog’s neck, impaling the animal.”
The reply is that “no they do not.”
I decided to ask, “Which is it?” It is neither.
However… 🙂 I do find that the past few years – and it has been years since I wrote this – I do tend to focus more on teaching this or that thing and far less focus on “don’t do this.” If I do ever step across the line that some cross, calling people names or attacking their motivations, then please “correct” me. I don’t think I generally do that. At least not over the years as I mature. There is a valid point here. I won’t deny that. I won’t deny that part of me felt a wee bit sad that this was the article that got so much traction this week. Like, “This? This is what gets the most shares and comments?”
Because when I do write about the more complicated how-to, it certainly does not get that same traction. It’s a more limited audience. But if anyone wants to see that side, right now, most of it is focused on my business page where I’m doing a training challenge (this darn it is taking away from it!), there are webinars that I do, and I tend to post science stuff frequently on my personal page. I do hope that more focus is there. But alas, the attention clearly keeps going here.
You have a very good point Tracy. The only times I have ever had positive reinforcement focused training fail on a dog it was really the people who either didn’t understand or didn’t put the time in to doing their homework. The dog would behave beautifully for me and then with the same technique the owners would fail. I have put a lot of effort into developing my people training skills to address this and would love to see more human psychology in the dog training world.
Yes! I have been focusing more on effective communication , evaluating to motivate clients. I’m just honestly tired of the fighting. I believe we are all on the same side. ( or we should be ) we all have been on different journeys and experienced different things worth sharing. I want to see more of that.
I appreciate that you felt comfortable enough to express how you were feeling. I won’t say that looking back, few years back, I was more vocal on what I was against. I hear you and say “point there is a good one.”
I’m no saying that I won’t say “I won’t do this/that because.” However, I absolutely agree we need to move more toward, “Look at this – this is solid mechanically – it works – it gets results – watch what you can do. You can do it too.”
Totally agree with that. Again – nod to the fact that you felt able to post your thoughts here and did it with class. 🙂
The humane alternative for dogs with a strong prey drive is a gentle leader collar. Check it out. Prong collars are abuse, plain and simple.
Definataly not true, because there are other, better methods !
If you are implying that the use of aversives will prevent euthanasia of dogs with high prey drive, I have to disagree. My experience working in a shelter for many years proves the opposite. Many dogs that came into the shelter for abhorrent behaviors that warranted euthanasia, were in fact, trained with aversive tools like prongs and shock collars. One case comes to mind, only because we were able to help this dog avoid euthanasia. She was a 17 pound Boston Terrier. She came in a on a shock and a prong and had been trained with them for FOUR years. We could not get near her at first. Once the collars came off and stayed off we had the opportunity to C/C her. Her bite history L2 & L3 on the Dunbar scale was extensive so the shelter could not adopter out. We did find a Boston rescue in another state that was willing to look at her. They took her and the adoption coordinator adopted her.
Joanna Magee, I’d hate to be a dog and have you as an owner with such a narrow minded way of thinking. Dogs do not have to be punished or intentionally hurt to “fit” in to human society; they can be trained, easily in most cases, using non-aversive methods without causing any ill-will to the precious humans around them. That is, if you’re not too lazy, unwilling or unable to make the effort.
My dogs are happy, socialized, well trained, welcome in most social settings. This includes not only my fosters/rescues from crummy backgrounds, but my own preferred breed (Chessies) known for being stubborn, willful, strong and not always the most dog social breed going. I can walk 5 of them at once through a crowd, safely and with no concerns. No one wears a choke, prong or any aversive training collar. There are certainly ways to train your dog to be a welcome, happy member of society while respecting their bodies and personal comfort level. If you must resort to painful training tactics, that dog should not now or possibly ever be in a public setting. Certainly not while adding pain to stress and expecting a positive end result.
Really, that is your take on this article? Cause pain or cause death??? I wornfor a shelter and can tell you that over and over again we see that using this type of “training” causes more issues than it solves. Using pain to “train” leads to dogs who have relationships based on intimidation and fearful dogs who bite to defend themselves – THAT is why many are euthanized. I have a high drive border collie who I used to work on a prong. Why did I stop? Because she stopped working for me and became so reactive we had to retrain her in all aspects of what we did. I am now a crossover trainer and also happen to have a high drive Rottweiler -he weighs as much as I do yet I have NEVER needed to use pain to train him.
Kym…Exactly. One of the main red flags on dogs being returned is force training. It’s so predictable. When they come back – so messed up.
Seriously?! What is ridiculous (not to mention concerning) is your comment. The “nature of the neck is neither here nor there.” Are you simple-minded, or simply sadistic? Of COURSE it’s relevant. But then, someone who respects and cares for their animals would know that, and they’d also have taken the time to train their dogs properly, rather than taking the easy (for them, not their dogs) ‘aversives’ way out.
These prongs are for people too lazy to spend take their time to teach their dogs not to pull. I have had staffordshire bull terriors, alsations and a Pyranean mountain dog. What owners need is the confidence and knowledge to train a dog, if they dont have that then they shouldnt be buying powerful breeds. I know a breeder of Rotweilers that will not sell a puppy unless the potential owner has been on dog training course. I think all people buying powerful breeds should be obliged by law to do this.
Its not the dogs that are mis-behaving or being bad mannered, its the owners inability to train their dogs. And these prong collars are for these kind of owners. .
A prong collar is a management tool. It works relying on both positive punishment and negative reinforcement and that is because it is painful. As a professional trainer, I am continually disheartened by the fact that people don’t really want to actually work on training their dogs. They want quick and immediate fixes because they lack willingness to invest the time and patience to actually train their dogs without resorting to aversives techniques. And, I have come across far too few people who even consider their dogs’ emotional responses to the environment. As for aversives or euthanasia, you do have another choice. How about training?
you need to get real!!!! there are dogs who are scared of these – not to mention let’s try one on you and see how you like it and drama – b.s. – the animal does feel pain and you are ignorant to think it doesn’t – how about let’s try the electric shock collar on you!!! did you ever hear of training a dog with work, positive reinforcement – dam – you get respect not fear – so I am sorry to say you need to smarten up!!!!
Reblogged this on Gentle Touch Dog Training on Wester Ave. and commented:
Tonight I was at a class where the instructor indicated that the use of the prong collar produced feel good hormones … and that it didn’t cause pain… my thought was – you must be kidding! With that reasoning the dogs would want it to be tightened again and again … and well then it wouldn’t work would it. As far as dog neck anatomy, the back of their neck has thicker skin, looser skin and more fat pad than a human, but the front of it is very similar and that’s mostly where the prongs work. And no, I won’t be using one on Siggy … no way.
The journal link is broken.
I’ve thought of that too, and have been guilty of it myself… Not seeing how a dog is (physiologically, psychologically) but deciding how it is… based on what I’d hear and been taught.
I was initially taught some crappy old school aversive dog training (with choker) with my first dog, and adhered to those principles for years, although they never worked very well. I just thought I didn’t apply them consistently enough, or didn’t do it right. I used choker chain on my first and second dog (although the second dog was a super-soft lab x), none of whom ever learned to walk well on a leash, and initially on my third (current) dog, which did. I now walk my third dog on a harness, and my forth other on a martingale (to be replaced with harness when we get to purchase one). They both walk well on leash generally, but can be dog aggressive to stranger dogs, and the martingale is to ensure that the dog can not wriggle out of her collar if she gets agitated, so for the protection of other dogs. The third dog also wears a martingale for the same reason when she doesn’t wear the harness – for example, when I run with her (because the harness is a bit too heavy/complicated for the dog to run in). It isn’t to correct her but to ensure she stays on leash in the case of dog aggression, for the protection of other dogs.- she has a smallish head, and has demonstrated that she can wriggle out of a flat collar if she gets highly agitated for some reason.
In any case, I’ve seen a positive effect with the harness. She walks well (well, she mostly did before too), seems more calm and relaxed, and if she gets agitated or I get tired of waiting for her then I can physically turn her the way I want by grabbing the harness’ backstrap and lift/turn her in the desired direction, a bit like if she was a suitcase (she weights about 38 kgs but it works:-). That usually redirects her attention and does not cause any sort of pain since the harness sits well and is soft, strong and comfortable.
Reblogged this on gooddingo and commented:
Great blog on “Pinch Collars”. They do a lot more than just “pinch”!
You say you did this experiment on yourself, that’s fine but what you are forgetting is you did it on yourself and didn’t have anyone force you into wearing it for 45 mins or so a time three times a day over long periods of time (say a year).
So in my opinion this ‘experiment’ of yours is neither here nor there and is inconclusive.
Reblogged this on Barking Up the Right Tree and commented:
I always try to steer people away from prong and choke collars. Heck, I don’t even like to see martingales, or standard collars high up on the neck.
My Vet chiro says more injury to neck caused by collar, prong, choke, etc.
I use body harnesses.
it doesnt hurt them it teaches them that every time they pull it will dig into them but there is no pain with it it was the best thing i brought for my malamute and staffy and i can walk my staffy with out him pulling me over
Perhaps a better solution is to not have such big dogs….rather than abuse your dog.
it’s not abuse. they learn to not pull. i did the same experiment and it did not hurt a bit. do you know that it injures a dog more when pulling on a flat collar or lunging with a flat collar? my 1-1/2 y.o. setter loves to have his collar put on knowing he’s going for a good walk, not just the backyard. i think it’s terrible to tell someone they shouldn’t have such big dogs.
Did I say dogs should be allowed to gag themselves on a flat? Don’t recall that.
A dog can like the collar because it represents the walk without liking the feeling of the pressure. Be careful in assuming that the dog likes the pressure because they like the walk. You could only say the dog liked the pressure if the dog intentionally pulled into the prong to go for a walk. (Then why use it?)
“Be careful in assuming that the dog likes the pressure because they like the walk. You could only say the dog liked the pressure if the dog intentionally pulled into the prong to go for a walk.” — Possibly the most brilliant response ever to the ridiculous “But he LOVES his prong/shock/choke collar!” 🙂 That’s it EXACTLY: If the dog loves the feeling of being stabbed/shocked/choked, he’d be doing everythign in his power to create that feeling — not avoiding it.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing the opinion that people shouldn’t have dogs that are more than they can handle — of course they shouldn’t! I wouldn’t advise my 80-lb., 83-year-old mother to get a 110-lb. GSD, not even if she could “control” the dog with a shock or prong collar. That’s just ridiculous. It’s important to match the dog to the person, and vice versa.
you are spreading propaganda to suit your own agendas. my 55 lb. dog walks perfectly fine without the prong but if a bunny were to jump out (as happened recently) he would lunge after it and drag me. i’ve had the experience with a 100 lb. g.s. to know the difference between walking with a prong collar as opposed to a flat. that could happen with any well-trained dog, big or small. worse case scenario, they get hit by a car. why shame people for the type of tool that works for their dog? i have lots of stories of shelter dogs due for euthanasia because of behaviour issues that have been saved by balanced training with the appropriate tool for that individual dog.
You don’t have much control of your dog, then. My guy would not drag me, and he’s a large dog. Just because you failed to train your dog in impulse control doesn’t give you the right to use aversive methods on them.
My dog is 60lbs and does not need any kind of painful corrective collar. He weighs MORE than your dog and has never dragged me. I’m also a 125lb girl, keep in mind. Your excuse is stupid. You’re basically saying that because you suck as a guardian of your dog, it gives you the right to physically punish them. If you take the prong off, the dog does not walk well, meaning you’re lazy and just don’t want to train a proper walk. You want to abuse your dog to force them to comply. If you don’t know how to control or train a dog without abusing them, don’t have one.
“A dog can like the collar because it represents the walk without liking the feeling of the pressure. Be careful in assuming that the dog likes the pressure because they like the walk. You could only say the dog liked the pressure if the dog intentionally pulled into the prong to go for a walk. (Then why use it?)”
For the word “collar” above, referring to pinch collars, substitute in the words “head collar” or “no-pull harness.” These tools are open to the same criticism. They apply pressure, require conditioning (which means there is aversion involved) and there are plenty of dogs that continue to pull when these tools are used on them. They also risk long-term injury to the dog, head collars potentially causing injury to the neck through jerking the head and no-pull harnesses causing injury to the muscle structure through shifting the dog’s weight and altering its gait.
Unless one is an ideologue looking for black and white answers, the decision regarding what tool to use isn’t simply about whether to cause immediate pain or not; it’s a lot more complicated than that. The decision could be whether to use short-term discomfort to teach for long-term gain, or whether to risk long-term pain that teaches the dog nothing, or whether the risk of injury to the dog is outweighed by the necessity of getting the behaviour under control fast.
As to expressing that people shouldn’t have dogs they can’t handle, sure – every dog trainer feels the same way. Then there’s the real world, which includes people who have “too much dog” for whatever reason. As trainers, we have to deal with these people, who love these dogs dearly – that’s why they come to us. If a pinch collar is what will make the difference between the dog losing its home or not, or an elderly person with fragile bones being protected from a fall which could result in a broken hip – often a death sentence – then as far as I’m concerned, that tool should be on the table. Or perhaps you would prefer that the dog be surrendered – often a death sentence for the dog. Death before discomfort?
Let’s show some compassion for both ends of the leash, as well as trainers who have to make some decisions involving the least bad option.
That’s actually an inaccurate statement. At least not all. Let’s stick with “head halter.”
Require conditioning. Yes
Means there is aversion. No. Conditioning can go from neutral to positive. And even if the collar is already negative, you can stage the conditioning so you stay under any level of aversiveness. While I’ve never seen it in a package insert, when I (rarely) recommend one, I make sure that people take the time to condition the dog to all elements. Especially the feeling of the strap on the bridge of the nose which is the area that typically gets that negative reaction that novice trainers seem to trigger. That would be conditioning done poorly. It does not mean conditioning is aversive. I also make sure that after conditioning the dog is put on a DR schedule to overcome any fussing. Another step that I can’t say I’ve often seen in inserts or instructions. But that’s not my fault. I do it. It doesn’t make the claim that all things that require conditioning are aversive.
As for injury, I’ve just worked with a veterinarian for a dog with spinal issues and the head collar was recommended because it did not strain the many orthopaedic issues the dog had. A broad based “it could cause harm” fails to recognize that anything can cause harm if used badly. You can die from drinking too much water. That does not make water bad.
I’m assuming you’re saying that I would rather see dogs die that drop my ethical stance? That’s quite an assertion.
No. I would rather teach people how to train well. I would rather avoid the side effects that land the dog in the shelter. That is either in the first place or upon return. It’s just that I’m not going to throw a dig saying that people who choose these collars don’t care if dogs die when returned to shelters. I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say to anyone regardless of what you’re debating. I don’t believe that people do want dogs to die. I would please ask that you not go there and try to make it sound like someone would rather be a dog killer. That is just not cool here on my page.
I never said that conditioning is aversive. I said that if a tool requires conditioning, it (the tool) is aversive and I stand by that. If it is neutral or positive, no conditioning is necessary – optional or desirable, maybe, but not necessary. How well or poorly the conditioning is done is relevant to how the dog ultimately sees the tool, but is irrelevant to the cause of the need to do it.
As to vets, I’m not a vet and am not going to second guess why one vet recommended a certain tool in a specific case. My comment regarding the potential for injury that results in chronic, lifelong pain is a result of talking to multiple vets, including vets who specialize in injury rehabilitation, about various tools, how they work and what the effects and risks are. The specialist vets in particular were very interesting and united in their condemnation of head halters and restrictive harnesses for the reasons I stated in my original comment. One actually shuddered. They also, unprompted, said the most effective and humane training tool is a correctly used pinch collar. Perhaps others who have taken the time and trouble to talk to multiple vets and specialists have had different responses that inform their decisions.
“I’m assuming you’re saying that I would rather see dogs die than drop my ethical stance? That’s quite an assertion.” I asserted no such thing. First, my question (not assertion) was directed at Eileen Kerrigan, not you, but by the time my comment was posted, several comments had appeared between her comment and my response, so I can see how the confusion arose. Eileen, and others like her here in the comments, assert that people shouldn’t take on dogs they can’t handle. I agree but life isn’t that perfect. I posed the question because in the real world, people do acquire dogs they can’t handle and I’d like to know what Eileen et al think is going to happen to these dogs if they lose their homes. I’m not trying to insult anyone and I am not implying that anyone wants dead dogs. It’s easy to criticize and leave it at that, but I’m asking about logical ends and unintended consequences. I agree, though: they are not always comfortable places to go, which is precisely why it is so important and necessary to go there in order to find the best path. Where do force-free trainers go when their methods fail to achieve success? I think it is a fair question.
I too prefer to see dogs being trained well using reward-based techniques and do not recommend throwing any management tool or aversive technique at a dog for no good reason. The reality is that for many people, reward-based techniques are not easy and sometimes not possible, making a tool necessary. I’ll repeat my example from the previous comment I sent, which you seem to have chosen not to publish – fair enough; it’s your blog. I’ve had elderly clients with mobility and balance problems. Timing and coordination is difficult for them. This means that many of the reward-based techniques used to teach dogs not to pull on the leash do not work for them. They are on limited incomes and can’t afford to pay a trainer to do the work for them. They need a tool that is the best guarantee for their safety because a fall can mean a broken hip, which is often a death sentence.
Perhaps I make a different decision from force-free trainers regarding the tools I recommend or not, but my position comes from education and thoughtfulness, not emotion, ignorance or laziness. None of these tools is benign and the choice is not between harmful and harmless. With a pinch collar, vulnerable people can safely control their dog very quickly and easily, with nothing really horrible happening to the dog, because the dog is in charge of the correction.
If you want to see how to do that, search YouTube for “Tyler Muto How to use a prong collar”.
I would suggest Sarah that perhaps you fact check some of your assertions. First, a very large body of research shows that punishment (the technical term) is next to impossible to execute in the real world. If you find timing and such difficult in positive reinforcement, then there should be grave concerns that punishment is being done wrong. It is much, much harder to get right.
Case in point. WordPress has an algorithm where it checks if I’ve approved you previously. Then it might start letting you post without my having to approve your comment. Until it approves you, it might be in the massive pile of comments I have yet to screen.
I haven’t deleted or blocked even ONE comment.
But, you assumed. And you just had to make a snippy comment on it. You just had to try to punish me.
Except I didn’t do anything. It’s a computer formula combined with my speed to work through the comments of people that need approving.
Why do I screen? Because it lets me deny spam and make sure legit comments aren’t tagged as spam.
Punishment in the real world. Usually an epic fail.
“I would suggest Sarah that perhaps you fact check some of your assertions.”
I have. I don’t make assertions without checking the facts and I know how to distinguish reliable vs unreliable sources.
You may be interested in this study.
If you want the primary source, the abstract is here:
This one also has some interesting implications:
Click to access AER03-AHV.pdf
This one is also interesting – again, just the abstract:
“If you find timing and such difficult in positive reinforcement, then there should be grave concerns that punishment is being done wrong. It is much, much harder to get right.”
Actually, it isn’t. Both positive reinforcement and positive punishment (I do know the technical terms – I just resist jargon) rely equally on good timing. Hence the difficulty people have, yes, with positive reinforcement, when they are not naturally gifted trainers or have not had a lot of practice. As I’ve said, a correctly used pinch collar puts the dog in charge of the timing, and force, of the correction and takes that away from the human end of the leash. And the articles I gave the link to above explain why pinch collars are so effective with minimal force required.
And I never said I had difficulty with timing and such. I said some of my clients did.
“But, you assumed. And you just had to make a snippy comment on it. You just had to try to punish me.”
Oh, for Heaven’s sake. Your entire personal attack, disguised as an argument, rests on an incorrect assumption. Believe it or not, I don’t spend a lot of time commenting on blogs; this topic just happens to be something I feel strongly about. I too am a busy woman (again believe it or not, you have my sympathy there). I don’t have a blog myself and have no idea how these things work technically. I too believe passionately in freedom of speech but I also know and agree that bloggers have right to control what is published on their sites. My only assumption – forgive me – was that you had exercised that right and I was telling you that I was OK with it. A faulty assumption, agreed. But not a personal attack or twisted form of “punishment”.
Carrot stick articles. That is response cost. Negative punishment. Not relating to a prong. Unrelated. Your first 3 links do not apply to prong collars and walking because you mixed up your quadrants.
The last link applies to category learning. Which has nothing to do with prongs.
You can’t just “google” titles and hope they apply because the title uses the terms positive and negative.
All these links support what people have been writing that you DO NOT NEED positive punishment and negative reinforcement for effective learning.
Thanks for posting them.
You’re still wrong on the aversive tool point.
Example: If I have a dog that needs brushing and that dog has not experienced brushing like the feral dogs I often work with. Due to the lack of socialization I condition the brush and handling assuming that this is novel and a big unknown to the dog.
If I do my job right, and if I use the right tool, once the dog gets to the point of experiencing the brushing and feel of the brush, the dog suddenly gets “Oh that feels so good.”
Or a massager. Or a hair dryer. Or … or….or….
What is aversive is up to the dog. The blanket statement that if the tool needs conditioning the tool is aversive is absolutely not true.
No I’m not wrong. You’ve made my point for me. You needed to condition the brushing because you assumed the dog would perceive it as negative, or aversive, if you didn’t. If you weren’t worried about that, i.e. if you thought the dog would perceive it as neutral or positive, you may or may not have done the desirable but not necessary conditioning.
No. You said “the TOOL” is aversive. You keep changing your mind and adjusting what you are saying.
Which makes my point that a TOOL such as the pressure of a prong can be aversive AND the dog can be conditioned to like the sight of it as it predicts a walk. Or a tool can be appetitive and another element can be aversive.
It is not I who determines how a dog perceives things. It is the dog.
Yeah, it’s more terrible to use a prong collar. Try a gentle leader collar. They work and they don’t hurt your dog. Please quit making excuses.
What makes you think I haven’t tried a Gentle Leader? I did with my own dogs. It’s actually the tool I started out with many years ago because I wanted to be “kind”. It didn’t work and it did hurt the dog. I also with hindsight blame it for behavioural fallout in the form of leash reactivity. It is actually the most aversive tool I’ve used according to the reactions of my dogs.
No excuses. If the Gentle Leader works for you and your dog, I’m happy for you.
I’ll remind people that how conditioning is done matters. Generally in social media the knee jerk reaction is to this is: “I know how to condition a head halter.” or “A trainer showed me how to do it.”
The reality is, behind closed doors, trainers generally are stumped by this and in private (without social pressure online) often ask me to show them how to do this because for years they have struggled with it.
I would ask that the back and forth of “I know how to do it” and “no you don’t” is generally unproductive. So let’s no go there.
If anyone reading in wants help, please ask for it.
How do you know your dog does not feel pain? Can you feel what he feels? Have you ever had one placed high up on your neck and walked like a dog and had pressure applied like you would for a pulling dog?
I have and I can tell you it is not a nice feeling, it’s terrifying that people would do such a thing to an animal.
I have a very strong willed entire male newfoundland and with correct positive training I can walk him without any problems I’ve earned his trust and respect NOT forced him to respect me, we work together as a team NOT me forcing him to work FOR me!
The perhaps you should learn to train dogs before taking on so strong dogs.
HOW does it teach them? It teaches them to avoid pulling against the collar because it is, at the very least, unpleasant.
The other question is that IF it teaches them, why do you still need it to walk them? Shouldn’t they have learned to walk on regular collars by now?
What happens when they come apart? And they do, by the way. Will you still have control?
And this is the problem with the arguments you give, which are the same as everyone else who believes these are good tools – as I did at one point in my training career.
You don’t understand how learning works. Prong collars are aversive tools. An aversive is something the dog finds unpleasant or painful enough to avoid. Aversive training has many drawbacks, but if you’re not even training, if you are simply using the tool to control the dog without training, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Maybe not this week. Maybe not next month. But at some point, you’re going to realize that you are dependent on a collar and don’t have any real control without it. That is not teaching a dog anything.
I know. I’ve been there. Fifteen years ago, I thought prong collars were awesome at controlling my 90# dog-aggressive dog…until one day it popped open and I had no control.
So, your experience may have been good so far. But when a professional trainers with decades of experience try to tell you how it works and why it matters, you should LISTEN. Don’t simply defend a tool simply because it is convenient.
If digging in = no pain, WHY on earth would it work ?!?! At least have the honesty to admit it does hurt.
Yeah, well I can walk my 170 Great Pyrenees with no trouble at all and I’m 110. Never used any kind of choke collar or those horrible things on her. Proper training is all you need.
I used one on my Standard Poodle, briefly. He didn’t care. Pulled as hard as ever. Maybe I did it wrong. What works is not even a body harness but wrapping the leash around his chest, looping it through itself – like a harness but it works.
“my 55 lb. dog walks perfectly fine without the prong but if a bunny were to jump out (as happened recently) he would lunge after it and drag me” — … which means your 55-lb. dog does NOT “walk perfectly fine without the prong.” In fact, he’ll lunge and pull drag you if he sees something exciting.
That’s not the definition of a dog who “walks perfectly fine.” That’s a dog who hasn’t been taught to ignore distractions.
“it doesnt hurt them it teaches them that every time they pull it will dig into them but there is no pain with it ” — It doesn’t hurt? There’s no pain? 😀 Please, then, do explain exactly how it works. If it doesn’t hurt, why do they change their behavior to avoid being stabbed by the prongs?
i had 1 of these both for my malamute and staffy and it was the best collor for them i brought as they dont pull no more when taken them out oh and it is known that polise use these to train there dogs!!
Google “Police dog attacks innocent.”
What’s that have to do with it? Many police dogs shouldn’t even be on the street due to bad breeding or poor handling, the tool itself is not the issue. And these “innocent” attacks are rarely as innocent as they are made out to be.
Because the point is repeatedly made that working dogs – dogs that are required to be reliable are trained with aversives. Which would be a valid statement if they didn’t bite and attack innocent bystanders. To assume if you have been bitten you’re not really that innocent is victim blaming.
Sleep where the dog sleeps and eat the dog’s food.
Go to the toilet and get exercise in the same manner too.
Yep, it’s not a very ‘scientific’ way to get evidence!
(I mostly don’t use a lead when walking my dog – I’ve trained him to walk to heal appropriately without.)
My dogs sleep on the bed with me. They eat home cooked food. So ironically, I do sleep where the dog’s sleep. I do eat pretty much the same food they eat (with modifications.) 😉
Nope, not scientific at all. Not claiming it is.
What the experiment does, science or not, is allow you to experience what the dog does or at least approximate that as much as possible. I do think a dog’s neck is stronger, tougher than a human one. My dog have always willingly done things to their necks I could never tolerate. I was taught to use a choke collar by a very effective trainer (long ago.)
None of it is justification. Why hurt the dog at all if you don’t absolutely need to? And most people will inevitably do it wrong – prong or choke. The trainer who did it well was a pro, spent way more time practicing and doing than I or most other amateurs ever will. Even most trainers will never be as good at it as the trainers who are expert. No justification.
Hah! Not checking dates. 🙂
@ seegus: Trying on the prong collar is a relevant experiment in order to see whether it causes pain, even of course it isn’t the same as BEING the dog… no amount of scientific experimentation can currently bring such an insight… but it is relevant. What you’re saying here is just pulling a strawman… bringing something up that isn’t relevant to the point, in order to invalidate the point.
This is so stupid just train your dog propley
Being the owner of a Belgian Shepherd, I would not advocate using prong collar on one as one post above suggests (re BSD x Doberman). I know it would make these intensely sensitive breeds likely to be more reactive.
To clarify I do not agree with their use full stop. Training dogs is not about strength, it’s about understanding how they learn, how they make assocations and how one can encourage a much happier emotional reaction.
This. Is. Stupid.
A dogs neck is no way similar to ours,
The fact you actually attempted to simulate it on yourself shows how much you know about dogs.
I’m interested to see the prong collar you used as it sounds as if they were pointed up to cause you pain other then a pinch, distributed evenly around your neck.
The reason ALL COLLARS should be high on the neck just behind the ears is to avoid windpipe and nerve damage, look at an anatomy picture book dear,at be a colour in one so you don’t loose focus.
A prong collar, applies pressure around the neck, unlike a flat collar which places pressure directly on the windpipe which is VERY dangerous.
Collars even when used properly;
Flat: Higher rate of windpipe damage
Choker: no limit to choking
Pinch: tight pinch around circumference of neck
I’m not suggesting to use one, it is a last resort as you need to be trained to use them (should be) have you ever tried to hold back 2 30kg very scared and anxious belgian shepherd X dobermans? Or does “please sit for this treat” work when they’re mind is set on attacking a distraction, or each other or yourself if you get in their way?
Work with some difficult dogs and you will smarten the hell up pretty quick.
230 kg dog? That’s 507 pounds. That’s more than twice as big as the world’s tallest dog ever.
So no, I have not ever tried to hold back a 230 kg dog.
I do work with difficult dogs, I just don’t have the need to exaggerate their size or strength.
Dog collars are worn behind the ear because it’s more sensitive in that area. I used to use correction collars. We made no effort to hide that dogs were more sensitive in this area and you got greater effect. The prong would hurt more. As stated in the article, prong on bone hurts like heck. You’ll notice that a dog’s skill extends past its ears, especially on the top of its head.
Collars are worn here because they hurt more. I’m not sure why in the last decade trainers are hiding this. We never used to.
I’m certainly not trying to defend Chris’s statement (I disagree with them).
However, I am fairly certain that they meant “two 30kg dogs” and not “230kg dogs.”
Would make more sense – although training wise less sense. If it’s two dogs, then divide and train them individually. Asking a lot to get exacting timing of feedback – some auditory no doubt – which means that both dogs get feedback not even meant for them.
i think u are just trying to justify using them. i have a neary 30kg gsd and a 21kg cross breed and i walk them on kind, gentle front leading harnesses and yes the gsd is reactive on lead and yes i have no trouble holding them on these harnesses and yes distracting with a tasty treat does help, try it u might be surprised 🙂
If you can’t hold back 2 x 30kg dogs then you shouldn’t own 2 x 30kg dogs. If you can’t control a type of dog don’t buy it, simple. I own a very dog reactive dog who weighs 20+ kg so I know all about dogs throwing themselves at other dogs, I have used positive training & I can now VERY easily distract her when the ‘red mist’ descends. But I have also trained 2 x 30+ kg dogs who were also very dog reactive & I can walk both of them on loose leads with one hand when other dogs are around. You don’t have to over power a dog to control it or distract it.
Are you a veterinarian? If the answer is no, perhaps you shouldn’t make assumptions about the anatomy of a canine.
Thank you for some REAL facts! This blog is so ridiculous and bias.
??? I wouldn’t have done it if so many force trainers didn’t keep saying, “You can’t have an opinion – you never wore one so you don’t know.”
Don’t wear one – wrong and uninformed. Wear one, biased POV. I suspect, it doesn’t matter what I say, the response will be “biased.” Do remember that ALL humans are biased. Me, the neighbour, the kid next door….and yes..you.
The most ridiculous article I’ve ever read. Veterinarians recommend harnesses? You compare your pain tolerances and nerve endings to a dogs?? No not all cases are ideal for a prong but it is a very effective tool in the hands of an “intelligent and experienced” person.
Yay someone with brains!
Of course, “intelligent and experienced” dog handlers don’t need to use prong collars …
Vets recommend harnesses for dog breeds that can have neck issues like daschunds, other than that I have not heard vets recommend specific collars
Obviously, you haven’t read the AVMA position on these things. Perhaps you should before you scoff. Intelligent and experienced people do their research without spewing silly comments.
It doesn’t take intelligence or experience to put on any collar and a leash. However, to actually train and teach, does take experience, timing, creativity , patience and at least being as intelligent as your subject. It’s way to difficult for some people. That’s why they opt for these tools. They just can’t handle the challenge of actually teaching and training.
I walk a chocolate lab owned by an older gentleman. When I first began walking him he had one of these collars on. We came back from a walk early so I kicked a ball to the back of the yard for him, he ran for it, stumbled and hit the ground with his neck and shoulders, then ran back with said ball in his mouth. I couldn’t see his neck behind the ball as he ran back towards me. He is a young dog and clumsy. As I realized he was running straight for me I turned so that if he ran into me he’d hit my butt instead of my knees. He ran past me at the last second, raking the inverted pronged collar through the side of my leg. It tore a chunk out just below and beside tendons, etc. I required 13 stitches to sew it back up and months of healing. I know people are told not to leave these collars on when they’re not ‘training’ the dog, but that is what I see altogether too often and when I do see it, I try to educate people about how dangerous they are. I will no longer walk a dog with one of those collars on, I keep a supply of different sized ‘ordinary’ collars to change to, if need be.
This is the stupidest comment I’ve ever seen. First of all, NO prong should EVER be worn during play. Second, if it was loose enough to become inverted, you’re using the collar completely incorrectly in a dangerous way. Third, I don’t believe for a second that this happened. Physics do not allow this to happen, in terms of velocity, pressure, and force. I have no idea why you’d make this up. Its legitimately hilarious if you think for a second that this happened.
Reblogged this on mishie1 and commented:
I’ve long thought of doing this, but I am not as familiar with how to fit one of these collars as this person is. I did the exact same thing on my forearm, and thought the exact same thing, but I never made the leap to figure out how to get one of these around my head to my neck. Poor, poor dogs. Please, please…never prong or choke collar your dog.
Wow – all these wonderfully trained dogs which never pull on their misc. equipment; which if that is the case how is all this “pressure” damage occurring? Its very simple folks; no pressure no damage! Trachea damage, optical nerve damage, muscle damage, spine and neck damage- Oh, and my favorite, the man who had tennis elbow and torn knee ligaments just from walking his “trained” dog. Dogs that are trained correctly, never put pressure on the collar and if they do, know how to release it when asked. I could walk my Dobie (who also heels off leash) in a prong collar, choke chain or razor blades and no damage would ever occur because she does not place any pressure on her collar. She responds to a feather light touch which is how you release pressure and avoid damage in the first place, not by arguing about equipment choices. I prefer to use a martingale collar because as a puppy mill dog she spooks and could slip a flat collar if she panics over a loud sound.
im not supporting or not supporting anything concerning how to train a dog to stay with its handler as i train my dogs to stay with me without the use of leashes, tethers or collars so I really have really no opinion here in my comment to share here on any of the training discussion. my reason for adding a comment to this post is only that the testing in this situation does not, in my opinion, produce an accurate assessment of the results of this product when it is used on a dog.
when considering the results of this testing one should take into consideration the fact that the human neck and canine neck are not equal as far as nerve response. human adults would never consider carrying a human baby around by the skin on their neck, but in canines this is common. depending on the breed of dog, the neck nerve sensitivity changes dramatically with the skin texture of each individual breed. I would think the sensitivity in a dogs neck would be much closer to that of a human palm.
again, i am in no way contributing to the discussion of if this products good or bad qualities or what training devises are safe vs not safe. Im only commenting about the parameters of the “test” and feel comparing the sensitivity of a human neck the sensitivity of a canine neck would not be an equal measurement. if one would like to get an accurate measurement of this product on themselves to see how their dog “feels” this product, finding a body surface on a human that is equal in sensitivity to the neck of the dog would seem the most logical way to assess the product.
again, I train my dogs to stay with me without collars or leashes so i have no opinion here about the product being “tested”, just the testing itself.
Did you also take into consideration the shape of the human “muzzle” vs. the muzzle shape of the dog, which would make it much more difficult for humans to carry their offspring in the way that dogs do? And the fact that the epidermis of a dog is thinner than that of a human?
I would imagine that a mother with the inclination to put her mouth on her new born infant, could pick the infant up with her mouth, if she put her mind to it and needed to.
The testing is flawed however. As a human doing the test, she knew why the collar was on and what was happening and why. She was able to use verbal communication effectively with her spouse, asking him to stop putting pressure on the leash. Unlike dogs, who have no idea what is happening, why, and cannot verbally express their discomfort and also lacking hands and arms to be able to remove the collar whenever desired.
Thank you for publishing this article! I am an Anatomy & Physiology teacher. I volunteer training and socializing shelter dogs. I don’t use the choke chain nor the pinch collar because of my knowledge of A & P. I tried to explain this to people. Some people understand while some refuse to.
Some data are mentioned in the article. However, I’ll be more than happy to further explain. Note that I am not telling anyone how to train their animals. I just believe that people should be educated and make informed decisions that work for them. So, here goes….
Dogs, cats, and humans are mammals. There are enough similarity that we use dogs and cats as learning models. Since most university (graduate schools not included) cannot afford to have human cadavers for dissection, cats are used in the labs. Dogs are too large.
Now, let’s look at the anatomy or structure of cats and dogs. There are two major factors of why Momma dogs and cats can carry their youngs by the scruff of the neck. One, the skin here is especially thick padded underneath with subcutaneous fat. In addition, there is “excess” skin. Two, the youngs are light weight. The older and heavier they become the less safe and pain free it is to be carried by the scruff of the neck.
As for muscles of the neck: The neck muscles on the back of the neck and the sides are more developed in animals that walk on all fours than in humans. The muscles help “cushion” the area too. However, the front of the neck where the windpipe is located have less muscular protection. In fact, the soft tissue is so thin here that you can feel the cartilage ridges of the windpipe or trachea by running the pad of your fingertip up and down the middle of the anterior neck. In addition, the skin is not as thick here (except in some breeds like shar-pei). If you have a cat or a dog, go feel for yourself.
With the anatomy in mind, choke chains can injure the trachea. Some people can argue that the choke chain is meant to be placed high up in the neck and just below the jaw. I have not encounter a situation where the choke chain stays up there by itself. As for the pinch collar, the prongs are located in the front and side of the neck when worn. Where is there less soft tissue protection?….in the front. Just because these devices are sold everywhere online and in any pet store do not make them safe. These tools require proper training to be use safely and effectively.
Some people may say, “Well, the pinch collar works because when my dog has it on he doesn’t pull.” However, ask yourself why? Animals are “programmed” to survive. They are conditioned to avoid pain and seek comfort e.g. food, warmth etc. Now, go back to the question. Which category do the choke chain and pinch collar fall into?
As I stated before, I’m not telling people how to train their animals. For me, I feel satisfaction when I can accomplish the same feat using treats and affection as someone who uses punitive methods. I know that when I train a dog I want to see a wiggly body, goofy grin, and softness in its eyes. I don’t want to hear the yelp that accompanies a snap of the choke chain or pinch collar. When the shelter dogs see me, they come running to give me kisses. Yet, I play the role of their “discipliner” (if that’s a word). I’ve seen dogs pancake when approached by a harsh trainer. Instilling fear is not something I want for myself.
Okay. I don’t want to ramble on and make this too long. Thanks for reading.
Thank you for this article. It is enlightening. I have never used a prong, choke or shock collar because of the exact reasons you demonstrated. I love my dog. He is my best friend and part of my family. Why would I want to intentionally want to hurt my family and friends? I want my dog to listen to me because he loves me not because he is afraid of me. I belong to several bully breed pack walks and a majority of owners feel that they need to use prong collars to get their dog to walk nicely. I am trying very hard to educate and hopefully have them convert to the freedom harness. So far I have converted 3 over by explaining that the prong collar damages the ocular nerve and could cause glaucoma. I personally use the freedom harness with the double leash connection on my lab/pit mix and I have gotten great results in a short amount of time. We are even starting to graduate off the harness, but I still rely on it for situations when i feel my dog will become too excitable. Prior to using the harness i just used a martingale. While on a martingale without a harness my dog knocked me over and torr my ACL and had given me tendonitis in my elbow. The freedom harness has been a game changer for me. I can walk with confidence and control. Occasionally the dog will still pull, but I can confidentially control my dog and do it in a manner that does not cause discomfort to the dog. If anyone is interested I sell the harness on my site. I also DO NOT sell any shock, choke or prong collars. Nor do I purchase my places that manufacture these devices. My site is http://www.HappyTailPetSupply.com
Especially with bully breeds I never recommend a front clip harness as there is NO control of the dogs head. With the breeds genetic predisposition towards dog aggression it’s asking for trouble especially around other dogs. Unless you start as a puppy or have a very bidable dog and work very, very hard having excellent timing, creating clarity ,ALWAYS maintaining criteria, & also have everyone else in the house do the same, all the time then all positive training will fail to prove reliable under real world distractions. I practice LIMA
Just because LIMA exists, it does not mean that it’s really a good litmus test in the dog community because of the lack of education that is allowed to exist.
As a trainer, if positive reinforcement fails for me and my client, “levelling up” is still something I decide. I need to decide “do I need to level up?” If there is a gap in my knowledge, I am levelling up when I should not be.
Also, remember that LIMA advocates for things like management first, antecedent control etc. So if I have a dog that has an issue and I know that a differential schedule using positive reinforcement is the way to go, I have to waste the client’s time and money on “lesser stuff”?
Finally, LIMA doesn’t even list classical conditioning. So I kind of put it in the “sounds nice on paper, stupid in this industry.” Although it does have merits in other industries that have strong academic oversight.
Hello! I love your article and I couldn’t agree more with your stance on this. I have found, when asking some people about it, that a good amount of people who do use these collars actually intend to cause their dogs pain. They usually have the mindset that “he is inflicting this on himself, it’s not my fault that he keeps pulling. If it hurts so bad, then it would make him stop.” I have even seen people buying them at stores with a clearly angered look on their face and have seen people go out and buy them because their dog chased a squirrel across the street and dragged them down with them. Personally, I think the WORST reason to buy one of these collars if out of anger. This almost guarantees improper training and lots of pain for the dog.
I am not saying that all people who use these have that mentality, but some do. Some people also say, along with the muscular neck argument, that dogs have fur on their neck that people don’t and say that this protects them from any intense pain. I am skeptical about how much protection this would actually provide but I’d be interested to see what an experiment including some kind of fur would feel like.
I really despise these tools and firmly believe there should be at least some sort of certificate to be able to purchase them as a training tool. I have just seen way too much misuse of things like choke, prong, and shock collars. (Not to say that I feel there is any “proper” use of these. I much prefer +R training and time to pain and quick fixes.)
I can’t imagine using a prong collar personally. It looks like a medeival torture device! The other day I saw a young couple bringing their (what appears to be) adolescent dog to the dog park with prong collar on. I was leaving with my dog and a lady in the parking lot who clearly is a professional stopped them and started talking to them about it – that they weren’t using it correctly. She showed them how it is supposed to sit high on the neck and then she started talking about loose leash training as an alternative and I thought wow good for her! The couple were interested in what she was saying and clearly wanted some direction but must have either overlooked +R training techniques / class, gone to somebody who recommended the prong collar or found this prong collar in the store and thought it must be ok. In my personal opinion these collars need to be banned from being sold in pet stores.
I have blogged on this subject myself. I too am a crossover trainer; I do not and will not use a prong either. Many people support the use by saying they don’t hurt and my question is then, “how do they work then?” This is a wonderful post and I will share it on my FB Page Just dogs with Sherri.
If I’ve already posted this, sorry – only have my iPhone for internet at the moment and it’s a lot slower:
I want to cry. Warning the above video may upset some people. I recognize that voice. Well known trainer.
the original use for a prong collar was to have it PRONGS OUT for the farm dogs as protection against wolves that go for the throat to kill……..some jackass thought it would work “prongs in” for control…….personally I would take that prong collar and place it on the “trainer” and I use that title VERY loosely and I would yank him all over the place with it. I would also take the other collar and attach it inside his shorts and neuter him with it the hard way and then let’s see him use those collars on an animal that only wants to please you this male should NEVER bet LET NEAR ANOTHER DOG AS LONG AS HE LIVES!!!!!!
Let me get this right.
You object to physical punishment in training, yet rather than try and positively change the handlers method you go straight for brutality and physical punishment?
When you can be sensible and not a complete hypocrite maybe your argument will be more convincing. Just a thought…..
Sorry, when did I hit anyone? When did I pinch anyone? When did I spank a child? Show me where I ever put my hands on someone to intentionally inflict pain?
I have zero objection to people verbally standing up for what they believe in, or taking action against. It is what my grandfather did when he smuggled the allies into Nazi occupied territory and hid them. It’s when he spoke out about it. It’s what he died for.
Nope – no problem at all with speaking up ever. I think everyone should speak up.
If I were to ever hit you for using a prong collar, please feel free to call me out on physical abuse. I’d deserve it.
If you’re referencing posts that are above, then no one should be physically hurting anyone. But I understand the need for people to verbally rant when they see an animal in pain.
Oh wait ! Is that really Victoria Stillwell calling someone else a hypocrite?
That’s rich ! “Positively Victoria”, selling out to the police. The most punitive group of people on the planet. Anything for a buck and place in the spotlight !
For what it is worth, not that I agree with the use of prong collars, but the article has the collar on backwards. The teeth should be on the back of the neck to avoid the trachea and the clip to the leash is supposed to be under the chin. Use of the prong collar in corrections is a down and forward motion which is opposite from what people usually use with choke collars. In other words most people are using it wrong. Not that using it “right” is a good thing.
Interesting, because on a discussion of this article, I was told that I must have had the product wrong on myself because the teeth shouldn’t hit the back of my neck/spine when I wore it. That was a discussion that involved trainers that use prong collars. Just goes to show, people who use the collar can’t even agree the “right” way to use it. So average pet owner is going to have a really hard time getting it right. If they are “right” they’ll ask another person and then they’ll be wrong. Not even any standard instructions or use.
I just did a survey of about 20 +/- Youtube video tutorial on how to use prong collars and every single one of them (all from dog schools/trainers) show the attachment point being behind the neck, not under the chin.
… as did the lady in the vet’s waiting room with the Rottie, who was allowed to charge up to every dog and person in the place, towing her owner behind, because, y’know, “she’s so FRIENDLY!”
Also, didn’t look like the prong collar was discouraging the pulling much So much for the “I have to use it because he pulls!” argument.
Dr. Dodds Says:
“… the thyroid and salivary glands are superficially located just under the skin in the upper part of the neck. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ just in front of the larynx and trachea, and the mandibular salivary glands are found on the side of the face just below the ears. Thus, they can be easily injured by trauma and sudden pressure forces (like could occur from the slip ring and chain of metal collar, and a metal prong or hard braided leather collar). A harness or “gentle leader” type collar is preferred these days, especially for strong dogs that like to pull and lunge out when on a standard collar and leash. Best wishes, W. Jean Dodds, DVM
W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Oh yes. Harnesses promote pulling. Don’t we ALL know this?
TRAINING promotes pulling. Or not, whatever you train….
Reblogged this on The Sand County and commented:
Yvette Van Veen is an excellent trainer who helped my wife and I learn to better understand work with our dogs (with excellent results). She has written an essay which speaks to deeply held concerns my wife and I share about training dogs and the matter of animal welfare generally.
Thank you for writing this and for making these points. We (Michelle & I) despise methods and tools designed to cause pain and inflict suffering. I do not know what precisely people believe the word “control” is supposed to mean when training animals, but I have a hard time accepting that we should resort to violent methods to gain what we want.
Besides, if there is one thing which your excellent dog training classes reinforced for me is that dogs want to engage with you -they want to be challenged and to think, act, respond and enjoy being rewarded (and why not?). All of those seem like ample reasons to use positive reinforcement.
Reblogged this on the balanced pack and commented:
I’ve never used a prong collar and never intend to. If I did I would do this experiment first. As far as I’m concerned a good slip lead is the way to go. Prevents escape, easier on the neck and makes you focus on your issues as a dog walker! It’s your calm, assertive leadership that should be creating a great walking buddy, not pain. I advocate halti’s, slip leads and harnesses based on breed. (Ex: a harness would not be a wise choice for walking your husky, as they naturally have the drive and power to pull against it.) Always check yourself and your energy before upping your training tool and ALWAYS consult a Pet Professional before experimenting with choke chains, e collars or any specialty walking/training tool. After all, there’s something you’re seriously considering a problem and your best bet is to always double check with a trusted pet care professional and maybe you’ll get some great advice or reference!
I have used harnesses on all my dogs. Northern breeds can learn to walk nice on it too. Avoids pressure on a dog’s neck. Pressure on a dog’s neck has been tied to eye problems. Research link to the abstract of the study is linked in the blog.
Use a front clip harness and you avoid all that pulling. They are so gentle and kind to use.
Here is what happened to one poor dog whose owner thought since he was a big shepherd and strong and powerful it would be OK to keep him chained up with a prong collar on. And for any pro-prongers out there who say “well OBVIOUSLY you should never use a prong for that” I say to you – why would you ever want to use ANYTHING that has the potential to do that to your dog under any circumstance?!
When I bought the prong I used for this, the sales clerk told me nothing about warnings. Didn’t ask how I planned to use it. Didn’t suggest I bring the dog in for a proper fitting. Didn’t suggest an alternate. Didn’t suggest training classes, videos or books.
I suspect that most owners who buy these products go into a store and just buy and try. There are no warnings on the product. There are no instructions on the product.
I don’t think you can argue that these types of injuries happen from misuse if manufacturers don’t put instructions/warnings. Or if pro-prong proponents are fighting for “balanced training” rules. The organizations I’ve looked into, that usually means, “Anything legal goes – you don’t protest anything – you are against banning of any tool.”
Actually, I just had a chat with a person whose dog was wearing a choke collar. Wrong size. Not used properly. It’s kind of sad that I….a “tree hugger” who uses R+ is the one to know, “You’re not using that right.”
Actually, when I did my shock collar test, I checked with two vets. Both said, that physiologically, the only real difference between a dog’s neck and a human’s neck is the amount of hair and that dogs skin doesn’t sweat. In terms of other things like bones, muscles, nerves and the like, they are the same. The skin and tisues under the skin are neither more nor less sensitive than with humans.
Thanks for sharing that Leonard.
Prong collar on yourself?? Not a vaild test for your skin is a lot more sensitive than that of a dog..One can make clothing from dog skin..ours is too thin and therefore more sensitive.
There are no bad training tools..But there is misuse or misapplication of training tools by fools.
I thought someone might say that. My dog is the one in the picture in the blog. He’d never worn a prong. I set him up for the picture. No corrections. Just used the leash to hold the collar up in position. He would have felt the pressure, but far less pressure than what I experienced. I wondered what his reaction would be if I tried to put it on him again. So I took video. I also took video of his normal reaction to having a flat collar put on.
He has dog skin. Obviously, not scientific. But his reaction is interesting.
Actually, dogs have thinner skin than humans. They have fewer layers than we do.
Hi Yvette, this was a wonderful read. I’m about to write a post on my blog http://www.thedogmomblog.wordpress.com on how I decided to use the freedom no pull harness instead of something that would hurt like a prong collar. Would it be OK if I linked your post as part of how I feel about using things that hurt for training?
Thanks for asking and absolutely you may.
Thank you for your post and for your bravery! I will show to anyone, who will tell me that these collars “don’t hurt”. Or better make them wear one.
if you people are sooo smart why dont you call your local police departments and the military about it….you must know more than they do
I’m sorry, are you trying to say that military and police departments use prong collars – and as such they are by far the most superior experts on the subject?
Or are you saying that we should look to research on military dog performance and effectiveness and ask why some police departments don’t read or use the information in those studies?
Or are you commenting on the multiple wrongful bites and lawsuits that come up on a regular basis in the news from police service dogs?
Or are you asking about work by people like Bob Bailey who believes in only using force when there is an imminent risk to safety to the animal or person?
Not only that, but since when do the police or military dedicate their lives and education to canine behavior? They wouldn’t be so behind the times in their methods if they did listen to experts – like Steve White, who is a force-free police dog trainer.
Of course K9 and MWD trainers devote their lives to dog training, to a far greater extent than do hobbyists and part-time “professionals”. What a silly argument.
They are locked into a particular TYPE of training, with a particular focus, using the same methods they’ve always used, handed down generation to generation by aversive trainers. I doubt very much that any military or police dog trainers spend much time studying actual behavior and learning theory, let alone integrating that knowledge into their daily routines.
The personal feedback I’ve received from police officers is that they are taught by trainers who are selected by the particular police unit. The officers I’ve spoken to have complained of dogs biting officers, injuring them to the point where they are on leave.
In other words, the officers I’ve spoken to hate the behaviour of their own dogs/the dogs in their own precincts. They are sick of being wrongfully bitten.
Wonder how the innocent bystander in Toronto is doing, the one that was sitting on a bench and attacked by a Toronto Police Services dog?
also – police dogs are rarely part of a family environment as most generally dog owning people want their dogs….they may well go home to the family but dont do what the average family dog does
Actually, every police K9 I’ve ever known absolutely DID live with the handler’s family.
I have been challenging trainers to do this for years. It is frustrating when you keep telling someone something and no one believes you. There are still so many trainers that insist that a prong collar is MORE HUMANE than using a flat buckle collar or harness or even a martingale style collar like I prefer to use for training. I’m taking a CGC class right now with my newest dog and this is my second class at this particular place. I have had THREE separate instructors ask if I’ve thought about using a prong collar on my boy. The ONLY time he tries to pull is when he wants to play with another dog or is looking for treats on the floor. He has never been out of control or even particularly rambunctious. He’s a fairly laid back Rottweiler and behaves like a typical one-year-old with a teenager brain. Finally, I just told the last lady “I prefer not to use those”. Her response… “Well, then you’re going to have to make your corrections a lot STRONGER.” It’s okay though, I will continue to train with positive methods and hopefully when my pup passes his CGC I will have proved that I didn’t NEED a prong collar to train my dog. We also plan to compete in obedience and I’m looking forward to being able to say that I trained my dog without a choke chain, pinch collar or shock collar.
My Kaya got his CGN (Like the CGC) AND his Therapy dog papers without ever wearing a prong, choke, shock collar or even head halter.
You absolutely can do this.
My Kiki also got her CGN and NABR CDX. She started with corrections. But we didn’t get a dent in her social skills etc until after we got rid of the corrections.
I stopped competing when we had our son. But will get back to it.
You can do this!
“He’s a fairly laid back Rottweiler and behaves like a typical one-year-old with a teenager brain.”
That’s not a valid excuse if he happens to lunge forward in play or while looking for a cookie and knock someone over, or injure smaller dog. Even for a young dog both of those issues are STILL things that can be easily, and positvely, trained, instead of waiting for them to ‘grow out of it’ or excusing it away. Diving for cookies should be a no no from day one, especially if you plan on competing with your dog. If you’ve had three different instructors ask about it then evidently it must be a big enough issue to warrant some attention. And though I adore Rotties, it’s important to teach them early on, while they are small(ish) that that behaviour is not acceptable.
I didn’t think the Rotti owner thought it was acceptable, I took it as “second class in and the trainers are jumping at prong use,” combined with, “No worries, we’re working on it and will get there.”
Or that’s how I read it.
Actually, I’ve been working with dogs for almost 20 years. I have owned Rotts before. I do not allow my dog to “lunge forward in play or while looking for a cookie and knock someone over”. He is on a short lead (especially in class). He doesn’t pull hard (trust me, he’s over 100lbs, if he wanted to pull me over he could). I recognize that problems aren’t fixed instantly. We are working on the issues that he has. I also recognize that dogs are dogs and they sometimes behave like dogs. That doesn’t mean that I don’t redirect him when he does those things. My point was that his issues are relatively minor and their solution was to apply harsh aversive corrections to fix relatively minor issues. There are four other dogs in that class wearing prong collars and mine is better behaved than all of them.
Just one more thing on a head halter – it should be seen ass “training wheels” to start the dog and owner on their way to building a relationship where voice can be replaced as influencing behavior. It is rare to need to use a head harness for long. And “useage” as in meaning NO PULLING, no tightness, and for gently asking dog – direcctionals, right or left. The harness is used for teaching let’s go and stay loose, walk with me and stop.
I am so glad that you did this. I have personally decided to no longer use pinch/prong collars. I have just a regular choke collar and a regular collar on her. If I foresee a problem I will change the choke collar but I very rarely use it. We do a lot of hiking in parks and we ironically very rarely are around other dogs. Even though we have a leash law here in New York there are still those who let their dogs roam free and that’s the only problem I ever run into.
Thank again for your research. As a responsible owner I like to learn as much as I can about better training tips and helping my dog become happier.
Actually, a prong collar is probably better to use than a choke chain. The choke chain does damage to the dog’s trachea, while the prong collar just really hurts. You should buy your dog a harness, preferably a front clip harness, it won’t hurt your dog at all. 🙂
I help teach my local dog club’s obedience classes (I stick to puppy class). I cringe when I see instructors fitting the supposedly “uncontrollable” young dogs in beginner class with prong collars. These are usually dogs still less than a year old – they’re STILL PUPPIES!! And this is often in the first days of class! The owners often don’t know any better – they’re as untrained as the dogs, looking to the instructors as all-knowing, providing them the expert advice that will give them a well-behaved, well-trained dog who passes the testt and graduates at the end of class. I view their recommendations to use the prong collar as a panacea to hide their training shortcomings. Rather than teaching the owners the correct way to train their dogs, they’re giving them a crutch. Once that crutch is removed, the owners will generally find dogs that aren’t really trained. I should know – I was once one of those untrained owners who was told a prong collar was the only way to get my rambunctious young dog to settle down and learn. Fortunately, my dog forgot and forgave. (And she never did really learn to walk that well on a leash – she walks better off leash than on.) And I’ve resented that advice ever since. (Sadly, I’m considered too inexperienced to be able to voice my concerns on the over-use of the prong collar – no one would take my comments seriously.)
I have had a remote collar on my neck and have been shaped to do a behavior with it on. I did not find it painful, frightening, but rather very informative. Layered with positive feedback for the right response it was awesome, better than I felt doing the “clicker shaping game” that many do. I do not reach for a metal prong first, second, or even third, I may use it to help a dog and work to fade it quickly. What about a technical break down on the front clip harness and head collar? Think would be interesting to breakdown the torques that it places on the shoulders/elbows and head/neck, respectively. Perhaps another experiment is in order….
Emily, there is a HUGE difference between a human wearing a shock collar (let’s call it what it is) and a dog wearing one.
The human is fully aware of what’s happening, why it’s happening, AND has the power to stop it at any time. The dog has NO idea why or how it’s receiving the electric shock, and has no choice in the matter. This is how electric shock can be used to produce psychosis in lab animals.
Also, the level of shock used on dogs is often far greater than what would be used on a human. I’m sure that if the “shocker” had decided to “go to 11,” you’d have a very different take on the experiment.
Not true, that humans are aware of what’s happening and why. When you start training with +P, and -R using shock, the humans do NOT understand why the shock is coming. I did an experiment with human subjects being trained in a language they didn’t understand and I used +R (praise), +P (to stop unwanted behavior or “wrong” behavior) and -R (to decrease latency and increase speed of peformance). I filmed these trials and also the interviews with the subjects later and this was not only obvious in the films but the people also answered so in the interview.
As to the levels used, we have no way of knowing what trainers use. We have to ask them, for each dog will react differently to shock. Some are stoic and others not. Some will also be able to tolerate more than others. This is why the user instructions are so dangerous – if you get a stoic dog or one who shuts down right away as opposed to a vocal or demonstrative dog, you could very well end up shocking that dog horribly.
If I could figure out how to get a head halter on my face, or body harness on…I would! It’s a fair request.
Same with the shock collar. I’d do that.
I am on a TENS machine at least once a week. I have been told they have a similar feel. I’ve grilled the chiro on how they cause pain. What’s interesting is that a high level for one person can be comfortable. Low level for another is through the roof painful.
Another thing to remember is habituation. These products, the level is gradually brought up to the “right pain level.” If you take a break, the body is no longer habituated and what used to feel pretty good can put you through the roof.
That’s why new models of TENS machines have an automatic safety feature where it re-zeros after every use.
Valid questions. Another day. Another blog.
I’m going to post something I posted on facebook a couple days ah O” Well I actually had a similar debate with someone Youtube recently about what an e-collar would feel like. He had gotten into a car crash and as part of his physical therapy they used a Tens unit as part of his physical therapy and when I was in physical therapy they used an e-stim machine thing on me. Let me explain the difference “T.E.N.S. stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. The key here is the NERVE part. TENS is a “pain blocker.” The buzzing sensation is thought to block the pain signal from the nerve to where it is perceived in the brain as pain. T.E.N.S. units are also thought to aid in the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain fighting mechanism.” “E-Stim or Muscle Stim stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation muscle stim targets muscle to prevent retardation of muscular disuse atrophy, relaxation of muscle spasm, muscle reeducation, increasing range of motion, increasing local blood circulation, and as an immediate post surgical stimulation to prevent venous thrombosis. In addition to having a different waveform, it also has what is called “Timing Options” including Ramp ON/OFF times, “ON/OFF” times and sometimes a “Delay.”
(Response continued) e collar are basically equivalent to e-stim. He loved his tens unit which was to block pain in nerve ending. I used e-stim and I almost cried when it was on a very very low level. I was not crying only for my sheer will so that I didn’t cry in the physical therapy gym. E-collar like e-stim affect muscles and even when used effectively it can hurt like hell. It’s not made to block pain, it is meant to affect the muscles. It effected MINE and even when they tried to get me to use in the future I REFUSED BECAUSE IT HURT LIKE A &*%#$. AND that was just on my BACK. Some people LOVE IT. I HATE IT,” I also siad they they shouldn’t “foolishly assume it doesn’t bother your dog. The TENS unit doesn’t have a timer, that in itself should tell you something. The timer is there so it can work your muscles but not overdo it. A TENS unit doesn’t need a timer since it should never cause pain it is supposed to GET RID OF PAIN. . . . “I didn’t mean the suggest the TENS unit is in no way an aversive. My basic point was people perceive things differently, dogs perceive things in ways we can’t ever understand unless we ourselves become dogs. The basic principle on the TENS unit is to block pain BUT it can still obviously be painful. E-stim is basically exactly an e-collar but not a collar. People even call the shocks stims. both are methods of electrical stimulation, I am saying it is wrong for people to assume they know what their dog feels or find aversive. I understood that the e-stim machine would be sending electric stimulation through me, that in no way lessened how much it pained me. It just stopped me from crying since I didn’t want to look pathetic. Imagine being a dog, as a dog they will never understand e-collars to the full extent that a human will, it it may very well be an entirely different felling based on that matter alone.” ** I AM SORRY MY COMMENT IS SO LONG*
Good comment. If the shock collars didn’t hurt at all and merely blocked feeling and released endorphins, what exactly makes them work? And what causes the stressed body language in the dogs wearing them? The shock collars are MADE to set off nociceptors. They work as a consequence, or else you’d be rewarding disobedience and they’d have the opposite effect.
I apologize if I made no sense if you want me to better explain then please do tell me 🙂
Daniela: Perfect explanation. I’m probably not calling the machines correctly. There are two machines that I use on a regular basis. One has electrical pads, and I’m calling that TENS, but perhaps it’s the other machine you referenced.
My chiro says he’s treated a big, muscular guy that can’t go up past level 2 without screaming (I’m usually at 11). Have no idea what it goes to, but suspect at least 50. If the pads sit right on a nerve OMG it hurts.
So yeah – you can’t assume pain level. It can vary even different locations on the same person.
As far as I know they both have pads? That being the case it may very well bu a TENS unit (sorry if my response isn’t posted after yours I’m not really sure how to use this comment system)
I did this myself, not with a prong collar but with a choke chain, during my early crossover. I had been told so many times that choke chains didn’t hurt the dog, blah blah. So I was using a choke chain on my GSD (who was my first dog). We had a positive reinforcement trainer come to our home when our dog was having aggression issues and she immediately threw the choke chain out. After she left, I retrieved it. When she came back because we said we weren’t seeing any progress with our dog’s dog-dog aggression on the leash, she noticed the choke chain still hanging on the hook by the door with his leash and asked us if we had still been using it. When I said, well yes, of course, she kinda rolled her eyes and told me that it does hurt. After she left, I did this exact experiment, putting his chain around my neck, getting down on all fours and allowing my fiance to “walk” me exactly how he would walk Smokey. I took maybe 4 crawls forward before I started to cry. I threw the chain out and never looked back. It’s one thing when it’s around your neck and you get to control the pressure, it’s another thing when the leash is in someone else’s hand and you can’t. The other interesting thing with that experiment is that I was so afraid, I felt so panicked, similar to what you described, I wonder if I could have “learned” anything in that state. At seminars, for example, a lot of trainer will try to get you to “shape” something, one of you being the learner, one the teacher. I wonder what the same experiment would be like only with a choke chain or shock collar around your neck. How far into it would you get before completely shutting down? It’s scary to think about, actually. It’s amazing what our dogs will do and how they can still function in certain situations…
Good for you. Yes, that fear was what struck me. Well said. And that it’s different when not under your control.
I did the same thing with a prong. I put it on and had my partner give me a ‘proper’ correction. I didn’t get down on all fours, though. I wish I had, after reading this. But even so, I felt panicked. It didn’t hurt in the least, but I felt like my air was going to be cut off at any second. It was a terrifying experience… And I only had it on for maybe two seconds before I had to take it off.
But, I am a very touch-sensitive person. Taps on the shoulder are highly aversive to me. I have lashed out violently at someone who came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. When my partner ‘teases’ me by poking me, I get extremely angry, to the point where I have to leave or else I’ll react with violence. (He doesn’t do this anymore; he still pokes my nose, but that’s acceptable because I can see it and I know he’s going to do it, and I know it’s out of affection. It isn’t ‘rewarding’ to me, but it’s something I can deal with.)
Anyways, I wish I still had my prong so I could test it. I might go to a pet store and try it in the store and video tape it, though. I’ve been thinking about it.
Awesome article. I also hear people tell me that the prong mimics a dam “correcting” a puppy, I have a couple of problems with that view. Dams rarely correct a puppy with their teeth, they actually do air snaps as warnings, but they don’t bite their puppies, and even more important if they were to bite the puppies it would not be AROUND the entire neck thus not doing what a prong collar does. I have raised 20 plus litters of puppies, and helped friends raising untold 100’s of puppies and I have never seen a bitch bite a puppy as a discipline.
If a female was correcting their pups to the degree some humans correct their dogs…I’d be flagging the dam as aggressive and an unstable mother. Not to be bred.
also…in the scenario of the dam correcting the puppy, the bite is released – with a prong the “bite” is always on!
I enrolled my long-haired dachsund in an obedience course a number of years ago and we were required to use a “prong” collar. Anyone that has ever owned a dachsund knows how stubborn they can be. Doc was a very stubborn little guy and once he had felt the bite of the prong collar he would NOT move. We completed one class and he had little “bite” marks all around his neck and we never went back. I have NEVER used a prong collar since that time and will NEVER use one. They should be outlawed.
Good lord why are we still talking about prong collars? Do you know how easy it is to train loose leash walking or use positive interrupters to redirect a reactive dog and simultaneously classically condition him to accept and in some cases enjoy what has been pushing him over threshold. Let’s share information and videos on what is current, reliable, ethical and so simple.
I think we (trainers) are talking about them because our *clients* are talking about them. Sad, but true. Education is the key. Knowing better leads to doing better.
Absolutely correct! A lot of people are looking for a quick fix and do not want to put in the time that they need to work with their dog. The prong gives them the immediate response they are looking for, despite the fact that it is actually causing more damage (in many ways) than it is helping. I agree with Laurie Luck, it is some clients and that education is key. However, we can’t force anyone to see it our way, it doesn’t work that way. We need to be examples of the more beneficial and humane way.
There’s even a Facebook page called (I think) “Pro-Prong” As long as there are trainers/owners insisting that “It works great, and it doesn’t hurt!” … then we need to be talking about it.
This piece originated from a FB post I shared. A trainer in Toronto started a petition to ban prong collars in dog parks. And think, even trainers that use prong collars tend to agree with that.
When I shared the petition, some people stated that they felt the prong was a good tool. That’s where the “Have you ever worn one” came from. So….I wore it.
And, I’m finding increased marketing campaigns by trainers seem to be making it a took that at least to me seems to be making a comeback. Just what I’ve noticed.
Prongs are not allowed on CKC show grounds. Just a factoid for your files.
Why do I see dogs actually pulling while wearing prongs? It’s true they are not high on the neck usually, they are low but have they built up calluses or are they just dogs with incredibly muscular necks?
I’ve never used one and only used a chain for a short while then ditched it. Not a dog trainer, as you know.
Selma: I think there are a lot of ideas on why. From when I wore it, I can say that if the prong sat on muscle it really didn’t have much effect. So I’m not sure what use they’d be in that circumstance.
I do know that you can train a dog to cause themselves pain intentionally. Like old school (badly done) training where a dog got a leash correction and then a cookie for returning. The dog runs – yanks and comes back for a treat. You can absolutely condition a dog to that. I think it would be rather … cruel to do that…why would you? Bad form at the very least.
Some people think it’s that the dog becomes used to the pain and needs greater and great levels. So, maybe a bad example, but I used to think jalapenos were hot. Now I eat habaneros. You build a tolerance. That can happen with pain too. You can habituation to some forms of pain very quickly. But your body can also return to former levels after a period with no pain.
I suspect some dogs feel the reward of getting to where they want to go overrides the pain of the prong. “I want that squirrel more.”
Loads of reasons and very plausible explanations. The act of pulling doesn’t always mean there is no pain.
Isn’t it best to train your dog to not pull on the leash? I have a 130lbs Rottweiler and if she were not trained to walk calmly beside me I would surely be pulled into traffic by her.
We no longer use any sort of training collars but in the past we used pronged/choke collar. I’m not disagreeing with you but could you also explain an alternative? It’s no fun having you’re arm pulled all day by an unleash trained dog either.
There are many anti-pull harnesses on the market that work to give you the “power steering” you need for a big, powerful dog who is in training without causing pain or discomfort. If none of those work well enough, or you need additional control, a head harness is the next alternative. Though it doesn’t cause pain, it is uncomfortable for most dogs to have something fitted around their faces, so must be conditioned first – therefore the head harness is a last resort for me. The point is to use the least aversive management tool possible while the dog is in training, and eventually phase out all management tools.
The prong collar is designed specifically to cause pain and discomfort, so it is not a recommended alternative in any case.
Very true Leah. A while ago, many didn’t have these choices and may have had to use punitive collars to get some kind of control of their large/powerful dogs for safety’s sake but now we’re lucky not to have any use for them. There are many of these harnesses and head halters to choose from.
I recommend Gentle Leader: http://www.premier.com/View.aspx?page=dogs/products/behavior/gentleleader/description
Those head halters are even worse! Most people don’t know how to use them(even the photo on the box shows it wrong!)and most dogs hate them. They can cause serious damage on neck and eyes and it masks the problem instead of training the dog. All the dogs I saw with a head halter looked sad and often had red eyes.
Blart wrote: “Those head halters … can cause serious damage on neck and eyes and it masks the problem instead of training the dog. All the dogs I saw with a head halter looked sad and often had red eyes.”
If you’ve seen a head halter cause damage to a dog’s eyes — or even red eyes — then it was definitely being used improperly; used correctly, a head halter isn’t anywhere near a dog’s eyes!
I have seen concerns raised about the potential for neck injuries when using head halters, and it’s true that (with most dogs) you can’t just slap ’em on and go — they have to gradually introduced, in short sessions, using lots of rewards. But I can’t say I’ve ever seen a dog look “sad” when wearing one.
Personally, I’m a fan of the (relatively) new Freedom harness: http://wiggleswagswhiskers.com/ I used to recommend the Easy-Walk front-clip harness, back when it was pretty much the only game in town, but now that the Premier company is selling shock collars, they won’t be getting any more referrals from me
Head halters most definitely can be used wrong and should NEVER be used on one-point of contact. Two-points of contact with no head harness is really successful – and if using a head harness (it is NEVER pulled) – it is f or guiding the head with proper methodology. I like Halti because it is loose and lies midnose. And proper CC&DS should be done so the dog doesn’t stress out with it on. Lots to consider. Most dogs don’t need it, very rare, and I never use it with puppies. The commercial packaging and instructions is what is problematic to the average consumer who attaches it, uses one-point and jerks it – and has a big, clunky clasp on it. It should be used with a “cat clasp”, very light weight – and two-points (one point on the harness, the other on the head harness). There is a learning curve. It is when people read the erroneous instructionals that harm can be imminent.
The thing with training with really good technique, is that you set the dog up to succeed. I find, as I work through more and more dogs…I tend to get another one that kicks me in the ego. They decide to show me a technical flaw, which makes me stronger. (Kipper the ex-crotch ripper is my current dog that did that … again.)
I personally walk my dogs on plain body harnesses. I know, people say the dog will pull like a sled dog. It’s not true IF the training is done correctly.
The problem is that dogs need to get out for a walk in the meantime. If I feel that a dog is at risk of pulling someone over, I might suggest a no pull harness or head halter. But, I also tell people to bring the head halter in to me for fitting and conditioning. I HATE it when people go into a store and the thing gets slapped on the dog’s head with one or two cookies. That’s bad form.
If it’s done right, the dog learns to walk nicely with training. Gradually, you get rid of the no-pulling aide. Have done the same thing for dogs on prong collars. The owner is scared to get rid of it. So we do homework on a harness and as the dog gets better, we get rid of the crutch.
It does help to work with a really good trainer that can pick apart your technique. Even trainers go to other trainers to get feedback. So hard to “see” yourself.
But I do have training videos on my youtube page. Feel free to use it as a starting point. My Kiki was a very nasty puller. We worked through it. Kip (in the video) would jump up in a rage and bite and rip at my clothes.
By the way, Leonard mentioned the Leerburg videos. A lot of prong people recommend putting on a second collar because they show video of the prong breaking off. So I’m not convinced they are a great option by themselves in high traffic areas either.
My mother had problems with the head halter and her dogs eyes, so she just switched to a different brand. Then no more problem. However I would say that if a dog really lunges a no-pull harness can pinch it painfully too; my dog became very frightened of his no-pull harness (so I stopped using it.
Using these devices in the way a human would use it with a dog is how to test it and that is what you have done. I saw a client (one session we’d had) with a prong on her puppy – a Rhodesian Ridgeback – downtown. She said she felt safe with the prong. I asked her who was going to keep the pup safe from her. At that moment there was a person with a dog coming – I saw it – the lady turned her eyes away from me and I inserted my whole hand into the prong up to my wrist – she was involved in “feeling safe” and as the owner and dog passed by (although the dog was only looking at – she gave that prong a heft pull. I yelped – it hurt – and that was only my wrist with a real life jerk on the lead – the only reason to use these is to “inflict pain” and manipulate – to punish what the dog is supposedly doing wrong. All very, very unncecessary. Nice article!! Sharing it.
Great article! Thank you for undertaking the experiment and sharing the results. One aspect of the “I tried it myself and it doesn’t hurt” argument that bothers me is that it’s a contrived trial. You know what’s happening, why it’s happening, and that it will stop. I’ve seen many folks use shock, prong, and choke collars as first-line training tools, so the dog has no idea why s/he’s suddenly experiencing something unpleasant or painful. Even when used “properly” as proofing tools after behavior has been taught, there is still the possibility that a dog has legitimate reasons for not performing a behavior and correction is misguided at best, cruel at worst.
When you do these experiments, it might be good to also have a collar with the smaller, not so scary looking links. I’m told that those hurt even more. I have to say that I have done this experiment, although I was not fortunate enough to have a second human handy to tug the leash at the time. But, I will tell you that I had to stop tugging against my own neck because it did hurt. These devices work on a single principle, which is that when the collar tightens, the dog feels pain and stops pulling against it. The problem is that so many people think it’s OK to cause a little pain to get an obedient dog. I’ll never understand how, when shown a better way involving no pain, they continue to clutch the old method as if it were a life jacket on the Titanic.
I actually have a client today that is convinced the only way to train her lovely little terrier to stop pulling is to use a choke chain……..and cannot recognise the mixed signals she is giving the dog with the use of the extendalead!
Thanks for the tip. While I’ve done similar tests with shock collars using human volunteers as subjects, I’m planning a lecture at the University and was planning on bringing my shock collar, pronger (Herm Sprenger Quick Release) and choke collar and asking for volunteers. Good idea to have them do it out of the dog’s perspective.
Excellent article and I also share your skeptical point of view. If I’m wrong, SHOW me why and how – which is also helped me crossover to progressive reinforcement training from so-called “balanced” training.
Yes, have seen your shock collar experiments. Found the expressions on people’s faces to be particularly interesting.
Be careful with the prong. I found that it was easy to be lulled into a sense of “it’s not that bad.” Then it hits a certain way and….not so good. I found it to be rather unpredictable.
I have a huge one, the biggest I could find and will of course first show it on my leg. But then will ask for volunteers – I don’t anticipate getting any. I do anticipate a response, that it wouldn’t take much force to convince a dog not to pull against it. Then I will show the Leerburg video of them saying one should always have a second collar on, like their “Dominant Dog” collar or a choke collar, because if the dog is “distracted”, it could come right off. THEN they show Frawley give the dog such a “leash correction” that the collar explodes off the dog. Of course he did a round-house jerk that turned his body 180 degrees around. THEN one can imagine what forces were being exerted on the prong under that and similar circumstance when the dog DOES actually climb into the collar/leash to get to another dog.