Yesterday, while driving to meet up with some friends for dinner, I noticed a woman walking a black dog who was probably about 50 pounds with a prong collar on. Now, I will say flat out that I am not against prong collars. When used by someone who knows what they are doing and doesn’t use too much force, prong collars are an excellent training tool, especially when working with a large dog and a little person. However, this woman was definitely NOT using the prong collar correct. How do I know just by the split second I saw them? The woman was also using a flexi-leash.
Photo credit: Mark Hobbs-Photographer / Foter /CC BY-NC
Now, if you are a dog person, you probably already know why this is wronger than wrong and can likely skip to the ranting part below, but for the rest of you, please let me explain. A prong collar works by imitating the teeth of a dog for corrections. Dogs bite each other lightly to correct each other’s behavior. In order to use a prong collar correctly, you must have a lot of control over the tightness of the prongs. This means that the prongs should lightly rest against the dogs neck until a correction is needed and then a little twitch on a leash should create the correction nicely. With a flexi leash, you have no control over the tension in the leash because it expands and contracts as the dog gets different distances away from you. This means that there is constant light pressure on the dog’s neck unless he is at the farthest distance you will let the leash out. Then, it is similar to when a dog is pulling on any leash. The pressure on the front of the neck becomes a lot greater and often chokes dogs. When you add prongs to the front of that collar, those prongs will dig into the dogs neck when the pressure gets too great, creating major injury. In addition, constant pressure makes the tool not work so the instinct for people is to pull the collar harder, also creating injury.
Now, I understand that you think you need to keep your dog under control, but if you are using tools that you know nothing about, are you being a responsible dog owner? NO. Definitely not! Putting your dog in danger is NOT something a responsible owner would do. EVER!!! Arccos can’t handle being off leash at the family farm, so I put him on a long leash, but I don’t just let him wander. That’s how he ends up on the county highway in front of the farm. Is that logical as a responsible dog owner? Yes. Clearly, I don’t let my dog go wandering around on the road. So should you use a tool incorrectly that can create serious lacerations to your dog? No. Using a prong collar incorrectly is like tying knives around your dog’s throat. Does that seem right to you?!?
Furthermore, they make small prong collars, but if you need a prong collar to keep your chihuahua in line, you should be getting help from a certified professional. The likelihood that you will use too much force and injure your small dog is too great. I don’t think that they are safe for dogs under 30 pounds in general, especially because they are not needed. Use a martingale collar instead! It has the same concept but is less likely to cause injury to your small dog. I feel like all this about prong collars should be dog ownership 101!
In short, if you use a prong collar, make sure you know how to use it! Don’t use it with a damn flexi-leash and don’t use it on a small dog. It is seriously that simple. If you don’t know the tools to control your dog, get some help with it. There is no reason to put your dog in danger due to your own incompetence.