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USING A PINCH OR PRONG COLLAR

  • Monday, March 14 2022 @ 12:53 pm EDT
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USING A PRONG OR PINCH COLLAR CORRECTLY What is a pinch collar and how is it used correctly?

A pinch or prong collar is a training tool to help communicate with your dog, and allow the dog to learn in a way that is neither harsh nor dangerous, but yet strong enough as a communication tool, to facilitate rapid effective learning.
German Shepherds, who are untrained, learn quickly that there is so much to see and smell when being walked, so as to be all over the place except by your side where they should be. Exploring their world is natural and yet having you chase them down the street like a kite flying behind a truck isn’t exactly for everyone. Before you do a faceplant behind your dog, consider the options for getting Fluffy under control.
Dogs learn by repetitive actions and appropriate and reasonable corrections to unwanted actions. Just as their mom did in the whelping pen, by picking the puppy up by his or her scruff and moving her where she wanted them, so too does the pinch collar replicate that message to the pup (or dog) to do as I am asking. Dogs understand pressure and release. Dogs can also be schooled by E-Collars which is a step up from the prong, but there too, the dog understands that when the collar is released the pressure gores away. The dog can understand when an E-collar is engaged, moving toward the trainer stops the buzz. Once that understanding is established, effective training can begin.

A prong collar is placed under the chin of the dog and winds up just a few inches behind the dogs ears so that when holding the lead, the correction is done straight vertically. The correction brings the prongs up towards the head and is done is a ½ second snap up. This generates a signal to these sensitive nerves in that area of the dogs scruff, and the dog will respond by trying to relieve the pressure by coming back toward the handler. When he does come back toward the handler the pressure releases and the prongs separate. The collar is designed such that it cannot hurt the dog like a ‘choke collar’ which can be constricting the throat when pulled. You never pull on a prong as a correction, just a quick snap up and release. The prong simply has a stop point where the prongs touch the dogs neck, but do not have the ability to penetrate skin. The association with pressure by the touch of the prongs to the dogs neck facilitates the signal being received and the dogs becoming compliant with the command or instruction. The collar has a stop point which is obvious when applying it for the first time. If the collar is too loose or applied in the wrong area it is far less effective.
Some prong collars have an under the chin strap clip assembly, some have an over the neck chain and crimp assembly and some require squeezing the prongs together to release them to put the collar on. The latter is not the preferable method, as assembly becomes cumbersome and difficult if your hands are not strong enough to do the ‘pinch’ of the prong.
Once the dog has been fitted with the collar, a period of desensitization is always recommended. What this entails is to gently walk the pup in such a manner as to introduce him to the pressure aspect of the device. By a gentle tugging on the collar the dog will feel the prongs touching him. Most GSD’s scream like the babies they are when the collar is first introduced; if they are a bit older and have not had this on when they are pups. Ignore the drama and proceed with the introduction, but be gentle and demonstrate the pressure and release numerous times before actually doing a formal correction. A formal correction is a quick ½ second vertical snap of the collar and release. NEVER pull and always release immediately so the signal is received.
The ability to communicate comes when the animal understands what you are asking him to do. That not only involved the correction physically but a reward marker of the word “yes’ or “good boy” or some indicator of the success of the communication is the best way to help him understand. The best trainers use single word commands like heal, come, sit and stay, as a means to associate the correction or command with a positive reinforcing marker that allows the dog to understand his success and the correction or command being understood and repeatable. When dog hears and feels the process he will be best able to comply and learn the required response.
Prong collars are training tools and should be worn when training and NOT when they are crated or in an activity where the prong can hurt them or constrict them if they get it caught in something. Prongs are a means to an end and once the dogs learns the task they can be replaced with a Martingale type collar which replicates the correction but has only cloth ad a chain and not the prongs. These collars are far more effective than flat collars as they provide a correction yet will not slip over the dogs head.
If you have question on the use of a prong collar, ask your trainer to fit it and demonstrate it before moving ahead with it.