All collars are simply tools designed for specific purposes of training a dog. And all training equipment can be detrimental if not used or fitted properly.
Slang names such as “pinch”, “choke”, spike”, and “shock” certainly tend to foster the belief that these collars operate by means of pain. These offensive names discourage many people from using them.
Similarly, the name “gentle leader” encourages people to believe this tool is a tender way to walk a dog. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for the amateur to control a dog without jerking his head in the opposite direction from which his body is traveling. It is also extremely difficult to pull hard enough to stop a dog’s bad behavior without cutting the skin under his ears, or worse damaging the skull structures that protect the middle and inner ear and brain stem.
By knowing what collar to use and how to use it will aid a dog’s ability to learn.
A buckle collar is not considered a training tool. It is appropriate for carrying the identification for a well-mannered dog.
The head halter does not train a dog, rather it is used to guide or lead. Therefore, it is not a training tool.
The harness is a specially designed piece of equipment which is meant for pulling, similar to a harness track for horses. Harnesses are useful for dogs who assist the disabled or haul carts and sleds but are not considered training tools.
The difference between a training collar and the slang term, choke collar, is the person using it. Used correctly, the slip collar provides an effective correction to communicate with a dog to stop what it is doing.
An appropriate correction is a quick “pop” and quick “release”. Less pressure is felt by the dog since it is distributed around the entire circumference of the dog’s neck. When used inappropriately, it can tighten around the neck which has a choking effect on the dog. Used incorrectly, it may also rub the hair off the neck.
In order to give an effective correction, you must make sure your training collar is on correctly. The collar fits on differently based on whether your dog heels on your left or your right.
If your dog heels on your left, the training collar should look like the letter “P” when you are facing your dog.
If your dog heels on your right, the training collar should look like the number “9” when you are facing your dog.
You will want the collar to slip easily both on and off without squeezing the dog’s ears. The slip collar should tighten around the dog’s neck, leaving approximately 2-inches of “extra” chain. Anything more or less indicates the collar is not the right size for the dog.
A prong collar is designed to provide the right amount of pressure around the neck which requires a lighter correction. It has a menacing look, but a quality collar should have rounded edges. The sensation is similar to how the dog’s Mother corrected it as a young puppy. The Mother briefly grabbed the whelp by the neck with her teeth. A correction with this tool psychologically has meaning to the dog.
The prong collar fits your dog differently than the standard slip collar. To give an effective correction you will want at least 6 links in the collar. Links can be added or removed in order to re-size the collar. If you cannot get your fingers between the dog’s neck and the “finger” on the links, then the collar may be too tight. Pinch the links together to unlatch the collar. Never try to slip the collar over your dog’s head.
The prong collar consists of two main parts. The links (A) and the chain (B). The chain has two rings, a circular ring (C), and a “D” ring (D). Your leash will connect to the “D” ring
When using a prong collar, it is recommended that you also use a slip collar. Your leash should be connected to both of these. If your prong collar comes unlatched, you will still have control of your dog via the slip collar.
The proper placement of the prong collar should be as follows: The links should be on the back of the neck, just below the ears. The chain should be on the throat. You may have to re-adjust the collar as you work with your dog. Never correct your dog if the links have slipped around to the throat area.
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when a friend or family member questions the training tools you use. It may seem worse when a complete stranger looks your way or catches you off guard with a comment about the collar on your dog. It is unfortunate that facts about training tools, such as the slip or prong collar, are obscured by slanted views.
Remember it is your decision how to handle the situation. You may choose to ignore and walk away or teach and inform. Hopefully, this article has helped you with your choice.
About the author
Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Professional Blogger. Laura Pakis is an experienced Certified Professional Trainer and owner/founder of Acme Canine. Having trained over 5,000 dogs and run a boarding and daycare facility for the past 13 years, Laura focuses her blog, Spike’s Dog Blog by Acme Canine, on training knowledge and the care and understanding of dogs.
A member of the Dog Writer’s Association, Blog Paws, Women in the Pet Industry and the IACP, Laura shares her experience through a variety of social media and national and local magazines. She is an industry expert to the media and assists dog trainers worldwide with improving their training techniques, people skills, and business knowledge.