Also known as “pinch collars”, prong collars are a professional dog training
tool most commonly used with medium, large, and giant breed dogs.
The use of prong collars can be a divisive topic among dog owners, and at first
glance, it's easy to see why. Prong collars look like something out of a
medieval torture chamber — but as with any tool, their appearance serves an
What is a Prong Collar?
A prong collar is a training collar made of removable links which form a series
of blunt metal contact points against your dogs skin. The prongs, (or “links”),
have a pinch-action when pulled, thus the nickname “pinch” collar. They are designed
to help evenly distribute pressure around your dogs neck when the leash is pulled.
Prong collars apply a physical correction to your dogs neck. Meaning they can
hurt your dog if used incorrectly, or if they're left on for extended periods
of time. Unlike flat collars, a prong collar should not be worn everyday, and
should never be worn for more than a few hours straight.
Prong collars come in both wide and narrow links. Although thinner collars may seem gentler,
the rule among training collars is the thinner the collar (the closer the points of contact)
the harsher the correction. The larger the links, the more evenly distributed
the pressure, the milder the overall effect. This is because when the links are thin and close together,
the pinch-action of the collar can happen with much less force, so even a very slight correction from
the leash could be very intense for your dog.
Prong collars should only be used on adult dogs.
How Should You Place a Prong Collar On a Dog?
Prong collars should be worn snugly under your dogs jaw.
Many people make the mistake of fitting their prong collar incorrectly —
unknowingly creating a very dangerous situation for their dog. Professional
dog trainers always size a prong collar before putting it on a dog, because
unlike martingale or fur saver
collars, which can be several sizes too big and still be fairly effective,
prong collars must fit correctly to be safe.
1. First, remove extra links
If you didn't know the links were removable in the first place — you're not alone!
Many dog owners are confused when they go to the pet store and can't find the
right collar for their dog, because they all seem way too big! Most collars come
with extra links. To remove (or add) links, simply pinch the narrower part of
the link with your fingers and pull.
If you intend to use a prong collar regularly, you should invest in a quality
collar that is easy to take on and off. Some collars come with quick release
straps, different materials, and different designs, all which produce different
Remove enough links so that the collar fits snugly on your dogs neck. You should
be able to fit 2 fingers between the collar and your dogs skin, but the collar
shouldn't move around much on your dogs neck.
2. Place the collar on your dog
In some dog breeds, like Doberman Pinscher's, Greyhounds, and Great Danes, it
can be difficult to keep a prong collar in place. This is also true of
overweight dogs, or dogs without a lot of muscle tone around their neck. It's
OK if your collar moves around a little, but it should never be so loose that
it can hang down your dogs neck.
Taking the collar off your dog is done the same way is putting it on. Simply
pinch one of the links and pull. It's a good idea to teach your dog to sit still
when you're adjusting his collar.
If you feel that you dog is better off wearing a prong collar loose to lessen its effects, you should consider a fur saver collar - or, clip your leash through both rings on your collar to stop the pinch-action.
Connecting the Leash
Most pinch collars come with 2 rings.
Using only 1 ring on the collar is the normal way to use the collar, and means
the collar is "live." In other words: when you pull the leash, the collar will
tighten. This is important to understand, because it means anytime you put
pressure on the leash, even a little, you are correcting your dog.
By contrast, if you attach the leash to both rings at the same time, you stop
the collar from constricting. Although the prongs will still be facing your dogs
skin, therefor never truly stopping the correction, clipping the leash to both
rings can make the effect much milder.
Using A Prong Collar
Whether or not you use a prong collar with your dog is up to you, but there is
no substitute for exercising, training, and practicing with your dog. Like us,
dogs are creatures of habit, and they do better when they're taught better. People
usually use prong collars (in conjunction with positive training, voice commands
and regular practice) to stop or diminish problem behaviors, such as:
- Leash pulling
- Jumping on company
- Lunging at people/dogs/cyclists/horses on a walk
- Refining an already-trained dog's obedience
- Redirecting a distracted dogs attention
There are no magic cures in dog training. Everything takes practice and time.
While prong collars can be a helpful tool in diminishing your dogs desire to do
certain behaviors, you must also reinforce his good behavior and repeat the
exercises frequently for them to "sink in."