Monday, July 16, 2012

Dog Collars: The Good and The Bad

I abhor the use of prong collars on dogs...I find it the easy way out and a negative way of training a dog to not pull. Sorry for the dramatic entry line....but can you imagine having a sharp pronged collar around your neck and anytime you pulled a little, it digging into your skin? I understand that dogs have tougher and thicker skin than we do, but it it no way shape or form proves to work in the long term. I've seen some wonderful dog owners who use it and I still don't understand why when there are better methods out there!

What usually happens with these collars is that they learn to withstand the pain and will eventually continue to pull on the leash. Basically it is a short-term solution and only an experienced and expert trainer could possibly make it work, but even then I feel like there is no need for pain in dog training methods. Now I am no expert trainer but I have seen enough dogs come into the shelter with the prong collars embedded into their skin and I've done my research on other methods. Many of the dogs that come in with prong collars are relinquished because the owners say that the dog is stubborn and won't stop pulling, they are too much to handle, or are "untrainable". ARGH! No dog is untrainable with the proper positive training methods!

It's a very short term way of stopping a dog from pulling on the leash and there are better training methods out there. What it DOES do is create an aggressive and fearful dog...the complete opposite of what people think it will do! Imagine the dog walking on the prong collar through the park. Any normal dog will get excited whenever another dog comes around and will try and be friendly and go greet it, then BAM the collar is yanked and pain is inflicted upon the dog. Now the dog will associate pain whenever a dog comes near them and will bark and lunge out of fear of the anticipated pain. The "flight or flight" instinct kicks in to gear, and because the the dog cannot go into flight...they have no choice but to fight. Some become quiet and submissive and won't fight, giving the owner the illusion that the dog has learned not to pull when in fact they just created a scared dog. In other words...say NO to prong collars.

If you have never seen one before, this is what a prong collar looks like:

Choke collars are also negative because they still inflict some pain on the dog, which is counterintuitive to positive reinforcement training. They are definitely not as bad as prong collars, but I still wouldn't recommend it. I have read and heard that some people use it because of the noise it makes when they yank it quickly - the snapping noise is the cue the dog learns which means to stop pulling. The choke collar does create some pain every time it is snapped and pinches the skin on the neck. There is another method called Clicker Training (mentioned on the bottom) that use the same concept of sound without the need for pain.

Fun Fact: Stud Collars are not used for training but they were used to prevent another animal from biting the dog's neck. Stud collars usually have metal studs (sometimes dull) that stick out around the collar. Now they are generally used as a fashion accessory on dogs.


Head Halters such as the HaltiGentle Leader or Snoot Loop are great alternatives for training. The design is similar to the halters used for horses; it's fastened around the neck and over the muzzle. It's great because it is not like a normal muzzle that restricts the dog from opening his mouth to pant or drink and simultaneously allows the owner to control the direction the dog is going in without creating so much pressure on the dog's head. Use carefully and do your research before training!

Break-Away Collars > Traditional Buckle Collars. For safety reasons, I always recommend the Break-Away collars over the traditional buckle collars. If the dog is ever caught by the collar on something, if enough force is applied the collar is designed to break free and allow the dog to escape uninjured. Traditional buckle collars are usually made of leather or some other material and is fastened similar to a belt buckle. These aren't terrible but if the dog is ever caught by it's collar on something, there is no chance that it could break free. I'm sure you've all seen one before, but I thought I'd add a picture of the break-away collar for those who haven't.
Harnesses are better used for dogs that are already leash trained and do not pull incessantly (they encourage pulling). If you are still training your dog to not pull, a harness may not be the best option. They are great for older dogs and dogs that are prone to collapsed tracheas.

Clicker Training is one of the best methods out there to positively train your dog to do things you want (or don't want). Such as walking on the leash, following commands, and even learning new tricks.  

A dog that is trained based on a reward system and through positive methods will definitely be a happier dog than one trained with other methods. I also believe that going through training with your dog is a wonderful bonding experience (especially with puppies), so why make it a negative experience? It may take a little more time and patience but it will be worth it in the long run.

I recommend doing your research before deciding on what collar to use and/or training method to pursue. Asking a trainer for help is always a good idea; just make sure the trainer uses positive training methods and if needed, ask for references from previous clients. I added sources on the bottom for some more info on leash training (and where I got some of my information).

(2010, February 05). Retrieved from
 (2011, September 23). Retrieved from
Teaching dog not to pull on leash . (n.d.). Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. A dog that is qualified depending on a compensation program and through good techniques will definitely be a more happy dog than one qualified with other techniques.

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