Are Pronged Dog Collars Cruel?

pronged collarI once thought that pronged dog collars were cruel.

One day I overheard 2 trainers talking. One stated to the other “A pronged collar is simply the kindest thing you can do for some dogs”. The other trainer answered back “It is too bad people abuse their dogs with regular collars.”

What?! A pronged collar is “kind”? A regular collar is “abuse”? Was it backwards day? Are pronged collars safe?

And yes, a pronged collar is also known as a pinch collar, although they my dogs are never pinched. Read on…

Fina and the Pronged Collar

Fina was a wonderful German Shepherd Dog. We called her “mother hen”. Of course, she had a few issues- after all, she was a dog. One issue is that she would pull on her leash like there was no tomorrow. I’m 6’2″ and have fairly strong shoulders, but this dog would pull so hard I had to change arms over and over just to walk a mile. On our property, she was free to roam 6 acres with no fence and no collar. When hiking off leash, she’s stay about 20 yards in front of us, proudly leading the way. But out in public when you got that leash on her she just wanted to charge ahead. Walking her became practically impossible. I didn’t want her to crush her windpipe. She was about 6 or 7 years old when I purchased the pronged collar.

I put the pronged collar on Fina and walked outside. She tried to charge away from me and felt a tiny pinch on her neck. She yelped- not in pain but in surprise. “What the heck was that?!” She thought. Then, she did it a second time 3 seconds later. She then realized this was the collar, correcting her just like her mother had done out of love when she was a baby. Not all dogs react this way but Fina was magically cured! In under 7 seconds! It was miracle! I couldn’t believe my eyes. She literally stayed by my side and waited for me to walk. In disbelief, I drove to the local community college where they have a 1 mile track. We walked it together. Instead of choking herself and ripping my arms off, she walked right beside me, and she was HAPPY. The leash laid limp between Fina and I. We walked past other dogs who were gagging and choking and she was able to keep her head high and in control without becoming fixated on them. She was SO good, I remove the leash from the collar and she continued to walk beside me. She was comforted by this collar, and it was amazing. Not only could I walk her; now my wife and children could as well, which was completely out of the question before.

Fina had one more little issue – with fireworks. If we tried to set them off she would go insane and try to bite them. I could put her in our fenced in area and she would just bounce off the walls, barking and barking. Well, here she is with her pronged collar on, just chilling out. In fact, I asked her to face me and sit while fireworks went off 10′ behind her and she didn’t even bother turning around to look at them while they squealed and sparkled. She is calm.

GSD fireworks
Fina being calm as fireworks go off behind her.

Not all pronged collars are created equally

There is one collar out there that is simply better than all of the others. This collar is a Herm Sprenger. The edges are not sharp and the collars are under $20.

Pro tip: When buying your Herm Sprenger collar, get a size larger than you think you need. It is easy to remove links that you do not need. On the other hand, if you get one that is too small, you’ll end up needing to buy additional links.

Pronged collars are not meant to hurt the dog

You may have seen this image circulating around on the Internet:

pronged collar cruelty

Some sites say that pronged collars are cruel because the puncture the dog’s skin. Unfortunately, this is a flat out lie. The pronged collar that I purchased is chrome and has nice, smooth, rounded tips with a lifetime warranty. I put it on my leg and yanked it very hard and never understood the “pinch”. Maybe i’m not snapping it fast enough. It basically pulls on the prongs.

This image above is horrific, but, I am very confident the people that did that to the dog could not be trusted with a fork, a pencil, or even a shoe.

Aura and the pronged collar

Fina was in love with her collar and every time she heard it she came racing over to me. I decided to get a second one for my other GSD, Aura. Aura never once pulled on her collar and never went through the 7 second training process that Fina did. Aura is extremely strong. Occasionally on walks, if she saw a cat, she would try to lunge over to go sniff it. With the pronged collar, she doesn’t. She never did walk with it like Fina did but it is still a night and day difference. I can’t imagine anyone owning a large dog that is smaller than myself and getting by without one of these collars.

Are regular collars cruel?

No matter how much I sign the praises of a pronged collar, there will be someone out there that tells me I’m evil and that they are cruel. I am ok with that. You can tell me that jelly beans are really alien eggs too if you’d like; I don’t care. These same people are probably abusing their dog with a regular collar. Every time I go to take a walk, it seems that 6 out of 10 dogs are gasping for air and out of control. If they were using a pronged collar, the dog would be able to remain calm, confident, take a nice stroll and smell the air, and be observant of their surroundings, enjoy their time with their owner.

When a dog walks with their owner, it is a time to establish pack leadership. It should be calm, relaxing, and benefit all parties involved.

Proper usage of a pronged collar

Anything can be abused. A pronged collar is meant to be put on for training. This is not the type of collar you just put on the use as a regular collar that stays on 24 hours a day. Also, it must sit up on the neck near the ears. If you do get a pronged collar, DO read up on proper usage before using it.

Here is a video showing proper fitting of a pronged collar:

Which dogs can benefit from a pinch collar?

My experiences have only been with German Shepherd Dogs. I would think that any breed dog could possibly benefit from a properly used pronged collar. And, just because it is called a “pinch collar” does not mean it is a collar that pinches; my dogs never pull on their collar to pinch themselves. I have seen pronged collars properly used on several breeds including the Akita, Australian Shepherd, Great Dane, Dalmatian, Rottweiler, Husky, Pit Bull and more.

I have seen older people successfully using them, and seen them used on service dogs, police dogs, schuthund dogs, and other types of dogs in training as well.

Do you use a pronged collar?


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