Social media, such as Facebook gives us the ability to share images at the speed of sound. A quick click of a mouse and we can share a picture, news story, video, or an article like this one. Undoubtedly, if you’re a dog lover, you’ve seen horrific images of dogs that have been abused by prong collars, particularly one image of a dog with huge gaping holes in the circumference of the neck has been floating around popular social media sites for a while now.
For those of us who passionately love and respect dogs, those are the images that nightmares are made of. However, it is also important to remember that there are just as many or perhaps even more pictures and inhumane stories of dogs that have standard collars, ropes, chain, rubber bands, and a myriad of other items embedded in their necks-some almost to the point of decapitation. The bottom line is, as heartbreaking as it is, nearly any tool or device can be used to torture a defenseless animal when placed in the wrong hands.
Which brings us back to our topic-are prong collars a training tool or torture device?
Prong collars were created as a training tool to be used on dogs that need it. Advocates of prong collars and those that use them as training devices claim prong collar use is more humane than choke chains or other collars that can cause trachea and neck injuries. Prong collars are not the same as choke chains, which allow dogs unlimited pulling capacity which can cut off their oxygen supply, cause neck and throat injuries, or, in the wrong hands, cause death.
A prong collar distributes even pressure and a quick pinch, that’s it. Again, this is a correction, not a punishment. The dog will respond with a rapid and positive behavior change. We’ve all seen an untrained dog straining against their leash while gagging, coughing, and retching while they attempt to drag their owners along. Those dogs are at risk of neck and trachea injuries and need urgent training intervention to protect both dog and owner from injury or accident yet somehow to some, that scene is more acceptable than a quick correction on a dog that is in need of one.
Prong collars on the other hand are not designed to stab into a dog’s neck or inflict pain. Rather, they are self- limiting meaning that if the dog pulls, rather than strangling themselves on another type of collar, the prong self-tightens and pinches the skin on the neck, similar to one dog correcting another with a quick bite that does not cause injury; thus, quickly eliminating unwanted pulling.
In addition, if a dog becomes unruly, a simple pop of the leash will also quickly tighten (and just as quickly release) to get the dog’s attention. While prong collars are not right for every dog or every person, especially those who misuse training tools to punish or inflict pain on dogs, on the right dog, in the right situation, they are one of the best – albeit misunderstood - training tools available. One thing is certain in regard to prong collars, a quick Google search of prong collar injuries will reveal many horrible wounds on the necks of dogs, which perpetuate the violent images of abuse.
However, there are a few things to consider when viewing the images:
- Prong collars are not intended to be worn in lieu of a collar. As such, there is no chance of them getting embedded into the neck, except in the hands of abusive owners.
- Prong collars should only be worn high up, behind a dog’s head and ears not lower on the neck where many of these injuries are shown.
- Prong collars, choke collars, head halters, martingales, harnesses, etc. should never be worn outside of training or on walks due to the risk of injury and dogs should never be tied out, left unattended - period.
For dogs that don’t respond to positive training techniques, need socialization, are at risk of biting, have been adopted and are having a late start on training, are not doing well in obedience class, and all the other reasons a person can think of for a grown dog to need training intervention, a prong collar could save the dog’s life and is much more humane than putting the dog to sleep.
So yes, a prong collar can be used as a torture device by an abuser, just as any other collar or tool, but when fitted properly and used for training purposes only by a person with the dog’s best interest at heart, they make a remarkably effective tool to control dogs that need it. For more detailed information about fitting a prong collar, please contact a professional trainer or visit Leerburg.