Prong collars and some information about their use.

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Preamble:

I'd like to thank the many people who have written to me about this page.
I give special thanks (again) to those who have written to me privately, asking if they can use the material which follows in their training newsletters.
And of course, many thanks and best wishes for continued success, to those who have written about their triumphs in rehabilitating and saving once difficult training cases through correct use and understanding of available tools.

Page last updated: 22 Dec 2005
http://www.cobankopegi.com/prong.html
The best Trainers are those who never stop learning.
  • They are the ones who have learned not to base their opinions about the usefulness of a training method, on the inability of someone (or a population of people) to understand and learn to use a method correctly.
  • They are the ones best equipped to work with the sometimes unconventional (but so true-to-life) combinations of individual idiosyncrasies, personal strengths, and weaknesses which present with each student-dog/handler team.

. . .even when it means they must revise previously held concepts and challenge old ideas.

- Janice Frasche

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  1. Pictures of Prong Collars

  2. A Study on Prong Collars
    NEW - Comments from Bonnie Dalzell, MA

  3. Who can benefit from using Prong Collars

  4. Is this the right collar?

  5. Personal Notes

  6. Other Links

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[Two Prong Collars] Prong Collars

Two types. One on the right has a swivel so the chain doesn't get twisted at the point where the leash is snapped to the collar.
To put this collar on one's dog, one must take one of the prong links and disconnect it from another link that is just like it. Like a string of paper clips. You unfasten one and take the opened collar and place it fasten it around the dog's neck so it is high on the neck. It should fit so the links are not pressing against the dog's neck with any pressure if the dog is not doing anything. For adjustments, You may need to remove or add links in order to get the perfect fit. Rethread the opened link back into it's mate.


[Detail of Snap on Prong Collar]

A close-up of a collar with a clasp or snap on the chain end.

Another variation of the prong collar, which I prefer, is the one with a snap or special link opener that is on the chain part of the collar. This makes it easier to slip the collar off and on.

Not all collars with a snap on the chain part have the same kind of snap and you might find a variety of snap or chain-type closure that you prefer. Some are better made than others - remember that any collar is only as strong as it's weakest point.

backup-prongAs a safety measure -- Some prong collar users will put an additional slip or buckle collar on the dog and thread their leash snap through the rings of both prong and the second collar -- so if the prong collar comes loose for any reason, they still have control of the dog.

Left: An Anatolian with a slip collar (as a safety) and prong collar worn together. (It should be fitted higher on the neck).

photo courtesy of Kirsi Maki with Dessu her rescue Anatolian

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A Study on Prong Collars was done in Germany:

The numbers seem to speak for themselves.
(Information about above study taken from an Anne Marie Silverton Seminar)

April 2003: Bonnie Dalzell sent me the following compelling commentary on training collar safety, which I include here with her kind permission.
You can visit her websites
http://www.netpetmagazine.com/ and http://www.borzois.com/

Thank you, Bonnie!

Some Comments on Safety and Effectiveness of collars and other forms of control with dogs

(c) 2003 by Bonnie Dalzell, MA
e mail is bdalzell at Q I S dot net
used with permission.

I was a teaching assistant and laboratory instructor in veterinary anatomy at the Veterinary College of the University of Pennsylvania for over 13 years and I have been raising a large, and often enthusiastic breed of long haired dog, Borzois since the late 1970's. I also do some training -especially with people with difficult dogs.

Your section on the prong collar is quite clear and makes a good case for the prong collar, perhaps a better case than you realize. The section on the nylon snap choke does not discuss some of the failings of this device as compared to either a prong collar or a chain choke.

The limitations of the nylon snap choke are, in my opinion:

(1) In long haired dogs with thick neck hair, nylon chokes generally do not release at the end of the correction, so even if the dog responds well to the correction, the collar may continue to nag and punish the dog. It only takes a little wear on a fabric choke for this problem to start to develop because the thick undercoat of a long haired dog easily fouls the choke.

(2) More seriously, the "control" region of the neck, the area high up just under the back of the jaws, works because this is where the voice box or larynx is on the dog. The voice box is made of many small fine bones which can easily be broken by a sudden compression, as when a dog on a high set choke collar suddenly lunges against the collar. For this reason a prong collar is much to be preferred to a high set choke as the worse damage a prong collar can do if there is a powerful lunge is to puncture the skin, especially if the prong collar is designed so that the prongs do not lie over the trachea.

As an anatomist and a serious breeder I obtained thorough postmortem reports on many of my Borzois after they passed on and I was surprised to find that a number of them had healed fractures of the lateral bones of the larynx. This sort of injury narrows the opening into the trachea and, in extreme cases, could also produce respiratory insufficiency at heavy exercise.

A lateral radiograph read by some one who knows what they are looking at can reveal these injuries in a living dog.

Haltis and Easy Leaders have the potential to severely injure a dog's neck in the case of an out of control dog who bucks on the Halti. Dogs do not have the massive neck ligamentation of horses and, while their necks are stronger than ours, they still can be injured, especially if suddenly pulled up and back. Haltis do have their place in control of a powerful dog, I regularly use one on one of my best lure coursing Borzoi who has injured his trachea from his enthusiastic attempts to get at the lure while we are waiting for him to have his turn to run. However one needs to be careful that the dog does not get up speed and run to the end of a long leash while in a Halti, because the leverage on the neck that can be exerted by a high speed Halti stop could be very damaging. I would not use one on a dog working on the high obstacles of an agility course because if the dog fell from the A-frame or the elevated walk and was jerked by the Halti it could be severely injured.

In addition I have observed that since Haltis do not deliver much correction, they are good for control but not training.

I have found that a useful tool for leash breaking long necked sighthound pups without neck injury is to start them out on a harness until they learn not to panic and buck from the restriction of the leash and then to work them on a harness and a collar and then a collar alone. I prefer a chain choke collar to a buckle collar or a fabric choke. I would not have the choke collar riding really high on the neck and compressing the larynx because of problems discussed above unless I was handling a dangerous dog.

If I am working a dog in agility that is unreliable enough that it needs a leash to keep it from running off after it has completed an obstacle, I would use a harness rather than a collar for the same reasons discussed under the Halti.

The "no pull" harnesses with the thin cords that run in the arm pits of the dog work because they do cause a lot of discomfort in that region. (This is why back pack straps are padded for human use). However I have seen dogs become chronic pullers on these devices also and I worry that chronic pulling on these may result in damage to the nerves going to the forelegs. For control it is best to have the leash attachment of a harness be at the front end of the harness, that is at the base of the neck, not behind the shoulders. The front end attachment puts the control in front of the dog's center of gravity and discourages pulling. The typical attachment point for a leash on a harness places the control behind the center of gravity, enabling the dog to pull much more effectively.

When comparing the prong collar and the nylon snap collar, I Feel the prong collar is a better choice for really powerful control.

Remember, if you have a really dangerous dog, use a properly fitted (secure but not so tight as to inhibit breathing and panting) muzzle.

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A short list of people/dog teams that have benefited from the use of prong collars.

Certainly not an all inclusive list.

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NOTE: USE the MILDEST collar that gives the results you need.

NOT every person/dog team is right for a prong collar, or a slip collar for that matter. Halti, Gentle Leader and other trademarked collars might do the best job for you and your dog in different situations. Some dogs with damaged tracheas have to stay in a harness (there are a few varieties that discourage pulling).

You should be able to get the type of work you want from a dog if you are using the right tools. You should be able to control and work with your dog without constantly 'reminding' him what to do... (nag nag nag nag, jerk jerk jerk pull) Nagging a dog on a slip(choke) chain looks bad. Continuous jerking, whether it be in a buckle or slip collar just hints that another type of collar, training method, or tool should be put to good use.

Nagging is not the same as training because the dog is IGNORING your corrections! You are effectively training the dog to ignore you. (this goes hand-in-hand with nagging 'sit-sit-sit-sit-SIT!') We all remember what nagging does to us. It makes me shut down (block it out) or fight back. Our dogs are quite similar in their behavior.

Anyway, every collar has a correct fit. Be sure to learn what that 'fit' is and as your pup grows, get new collars to maintain that fit.

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Personal Notes

[Nylon Training Collar]
Nylon collar with 2 rings and 1 snap

For most regular leashwork, I like the type of slip collar made of strong, but light-weight nylon that has a snap on one end, a floating ring, and a dead ring. You then have two possible training tools. The snap fastened to the dead ring makes the collar a thin equivalent to a buckle collar without the weight; on the live (sliding) ring, you have a slip collar.

Leads to Follow (site appears defunct) offers this type of collar as "Snap-choke" under their product line. I have also seen a smilar collar offered at Handcraft Collars

Great for big headed dogs because regular slip collars have to be a few inches oversized in order to slide over those big heads... then unfortunately settle down because of the weight of the chain, to a place on the neck where the collar is fairly ineffective. The nylon collar above doesn't tend to settle low like that because of it's light weight, and can be fit precisely to the size of the control area of the neck. The control area for training collars is at the highest point of the neck, right under the dog's head. Please take note of Bonnie Dalzell's comments above regarding their use and long coated dogs.


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LINKS

More Perspective on Training Tools - Suzanne Clothier's articles

Another Prong Collar Link- Instructions on Usage

Terrific Dog Training Information - Mr. Plonsky's Dog Training links! -

Clicker Training! - Positive training method and an enjoyable form of operant conditioning!

The Gentle Leader - A different type of training collar

[ Turkish Spike Collar ]Turkish spike collars
- And Now for something totally different!

smallsizecol.jpg (25362 bytes)Andrea's Taking My Time |
- Unique collars
Assorted Turkish Dog Collars
inset with Turkish Kilim
and other varieties

Turkish Dogs - particularly Anatolian Shepherd Dogs

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Except where otherwise stated, all text on this page by Janice Frasche
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