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I'm mostly against them for three reasons:
  1. People often resort to them as a shortcut to training proper leash manners. The shortcuts in training the dog often go along with other shortcuts in fitting the collar and using the collar for appropriate corrections. It's not really fair for the dog to get pronged due to the handler taking shortcuts.
  2. There's a difference between pulling and leash reactivity. You can correct pulling without resorting to a prong collar, while leash reactivity may get worse. Pulling means the dog is routinely strolling along going at his speed, not yours, paying attention to the things that interest him and dragging you around to get a better sniff. He's just being rude. Leash reactivity is when the dog that has been paying attention to you gets amped up by something he encounters and loses his mind. You can, and should, train a rude dog to stop pulling without needing a prong collar. Reactive dogs are much harder to manage because their brain is out of gear. They have lost the capacity to reason, "I was comfortable until I started straining against my leash, now I have this thing jabbing me in the neck, maybe I'll feel better if I let up the pressure." Instead their logic is something like, " Squirrel. Ow! That hurts! Squirrel is getting away! WTF is biting my neck? I can't see it. Ow! Oh, there goes the squirrel. WHAT IS BITING ME? " The dog is learning nothing by getting poked and might actually start to panic.
  3. Some prong collars have poor joints and will come uncoupled when twisted at just the wrong angle. That leaves you with a loose dog, probably at the worst possible time.
 

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I have used prong collars, better name pinch collars for over 40 years. I prefer them over a flat collar. Flat collars actually do more damage as they choke the dog when they pull and damage the trachea. With a pinch collar the dog may pull one of two times and it corrects itself. You do NOT yank or snap it. Now that being said I also like a good fitting harness with a front clip. I think with a young puppy or for general walking I would just use a harness and allow them to jump and be curious. For training purpose I would use the pinch collar. I think there is a good balance one can do. Pinch collars should Not jab a dogs neck they should just tighten and let up when the dogs backs off. Also yes some poorly made cheap prong collars can come undone, and can have poorly made ends, they should be rounded tips. So you need to know how to properly purchase . All training tools, which a pinch collar is have their purpose, however you should be educated on the proper use of any of them. Now since having a poodle I don't really see all that much of a necessity to use a pinch collar on them. When I had rottweilers, they were very heavy, thick necked dogs, poodles necks are not. I do use one when I walk in my neighborhood, but I am older now and can't risk falling should my dog have a sudden loss of mind.
 

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I think prong collars can be a valid tool in certain circumstances, but like cowpony said I often see them used in place of training.
I think they should never be used on a dog younger than 6 months, and preferably over 9 months. The dog has to have already 'learned how to learn' iykwim. They need to be introduced correctly (I have seen this called "pressure training"). They need to be fitted properly and the handler needs to be trained on how to use it properly.
I don't think they are the correct tool for every dog. I would not use one of Raffi, he is a classic sensitive poodle. I actually had great success using a vibrate-only training collar (on a low setting) for him. Again this was only used for proofing and distance work, he already had a solid foundation using positive reinforcement.
 

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This is a valid point, The dog has to have already 'learned how to learn. You can't just slap them on and all your troubles are gone. The dog as well as his owner has to be able to use their brain. There is a lot to be said about positive training and having your dog want to work for you. It takes longer but is good for poodles. Every dog is different as we are so I don't think one can say they are good or bad. Your average JQP probably should not use a pinch collar you must know your dog.
 

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I have used prong collars, better name pinch collars for over 40 years. I prefer them over a flat collar. Flat collars actually do more damage as they choke the dog when they pull and damage the trachea. With a pinch collar the dog may pull one of two times and it corrects itself. You do NOT yank or snap it. Now that being said I also like a good fitting harness with a front clip. I think with a young puppy or for general walking I would just use a harness and allow them to jump and be curious. For training purpose I would use the pinch collar. I think there is a good balance one can do. Pinch collars should Not jab a dogs neck they should just tighten and let up when the dogs backs off. Also yes some poorly made cheap prong collars can come undone, and can have poorly made ends, they should be rounded tips. So you need to know how to properly purchase . All training tools, which a pinch collar is have their purpose, however you should be educated on the proper use of any of them. Now since having a poodle I don't really see all that much of a necessity to use a pinch collar on them. When I had rottweilers, they were very heavy, thick necked dogs, poodles necks are not. I do use one when I walk in my neighborhood, but I am older now and can't risk falling should my dog have a sudden loss of mind.
As I was writing my post, I was thinking that a well bred temperamentally stable Rottweiler is a dog where a prong collar might be an appropriate training tool. Rotties were bred to be pulling dogs.
Also, as you observe, there is a benefit to the martingale action of a prong collar. I often walk Pogo using a wide martingale, as it distributes the pulling pressure, and he can't slip his collar. Some of my earlier dogs were masters of ducking out of a standard flat collar.
 

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I use a prong collar for Annie, and also our last 185 lb St. Bernard.

I agree with the points above. I would not use one on a dog under 6 months, preferably 9 months, who does not already know good leash manners.

I use mine because Annie goes nuts for squirrels and I cant control her at that point. She finds head collars adversive to the point that she avoids me if she sees one in my hand, but doesnt mind the prong collar and comes running when she hears it jingle. Her leash manners are also poorer on a prong than a flat collar, except for when there are squirrels. This is training error on my part. A slight tug on a flat collar quickly become stoo much, so I redirect, a slight tug on a prong collar does not, so she sometimes just barely pulls because I don't correct her. Basically, the prong collar makes me lazy.

Annie is pretty sensitive - if I used a prong for anything lower value then a walk she would probably shut down on me. Or if I had used it when she was a puppy.

A few rules I follow include always switching from prong to flat collar to greet people or dogs to avoid an inadvertant correction, I dont have issues with her in busy/crowded areas so I dont use it there, never ever leaving it on her when not walking, dont use it for fear based reactivity (I use it for her prey drive based, excitement based reactivity) and no deliberate pulling. Never ever hold tension on it either, quick tiny pull (think one finger flex), immediate release. No leaving tension on the collar, that's when they pop off or the dog becomes accustomed, or they injure the dog.

If you choose to use one, I would suggest having someone show you how to use one properly and fit it and make sure they are quite gentle. Some prong collar users are vicious, and that's not what you want.
 

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I have used prong collars, better name pinch collars for over 40 years. I prefer them over a flat collar. Flat collars actually do more damage as they choke the dog when they pull and damage the trachea. With a pinch collar the dog may pull one of two times and it corrects itself. You do NOT yank or snap it. Now that being said I also like a good fitting harness with a front clip. I think with a young puppy or for general walking I would just use a harness and allow them to jump and be curious. For training purpose I would use the pinch collar. I think there is a good balance one can do. Pinch collars should Not jab a dogs neck they should just tighten and let up when the dogs backs off. Also yes some poorly made cheap prong collars can come undone, and can have poorly made ends, they should be rounded tips. So you need to know how to properly purchase . All training tools, which a pinch collar is have their purpose, however you should be educated on the proper use of any of them. Now since having a poodle I don't really see all that much of a necessity to use a pinch collar on them. When I had rottweilers, they were very heavy, thick necked dogs, poodles necks are not. I do use one when I walk in my neighborhood, but I am older now and can't risk falling should my dog have a sudden loss of mind.
Agree! I won’t repeat what you said and will add our experience. Bobby is our second dog that we have trained with a prong collar.
We really didn’t want to use a prong collar with Bobby but for safety reasons we starting using one. We started using it when he turned a year due to pulling and after me falling twice with him and losing my grip it became a safety issue for both of us. He walked fairly well as a young pup using a harness but then
adolescence hit.😉
Winters are snowy and icy where we live so pulling really is not an option for this older lady. Living in a high dog traffic, full of many distractions, loose leash dogs being the worst, kind of neighborhood, we had to figure out winter walking. We used a regular harness when he was younger then went to a no pull harness. I know a lot of people like them but we don’t like the gentle leader so that wasn’t an option for us. Anyway, the no pull harness helped, for sure, but I felt like basically, only minimally managed the pulling. I also felt I had a harder time communicating to my dog. I think I can communicate way better with a flat collar, martingale or prong. Just the slightest movement or the gentlest of what I would call a collar nudge is all I need. I’m not jerking or pulling him to tell him what I want. A flat buckle wasn’t an option during this time and the soft martingale didn’t work either during these heavy duty pulling months. So, reluctantly I got a good quality prong, and that, along with lots of treats and good, happy positive training really trained him quickly. It was a huge turnaround in his training and because he was walking so well I felt we could both relax and focus on other aspects of training rather than just managing the pulling and getting frustrated.
I do think the ideal is to wean off the prong collar or any training collar or harness if possible but for some dogs that may not be possible. We are transitioning to his flat buckle collar and making really good progress. I believe training is a process and sometimes a long process, and while ideally I didn’t want to use the prong, the ability to get from point A to point B in Bobby’s ability to walk well and heel safely, especially on treacherous icy roads and sidewalks needed to happen then and not months later. He responded beautifully to the prong and trained like a champ and we are getting to a point where don’t need it much and soon, hopefully not at all.
A prong isn’t for all dogs and can certainly backfire if misused so education in using it properly, fitting it properly and not ever using it in frustration or anger is critical but for some dogs, it’s an absolute positive game changer. Also, I always use a backup collar no matter what kind of collar or harness I use because Bobby has escaped. This is especially important with a prong. I use a thin martingale paired with whatever collar I am using with a separate clip for each collar. That’s just our thing. 😉
 

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The class me and teddy r in requires them. Trainer let owners pick what kind. So I purchased one with the black rubber ends to..well cause it looked more gentle. Teddy did not do well with the collar on. Trainer assured me he will get better and I need to practice with teddy while using it. Teddy shut down at the class and refused treats. I felt awful. Last thing I wanna b is mean. I’m more of a lover and not a fighter. But even with my kids I love them but they know boundaries and Teddy needs to learn as well. I struggled big time with the collar. 😞
 

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My understanding is the ones with rubber aren’t the best, especially with longer haired dogs and even more so curly dogs. The rubber actually pulls on the hair. A well made prong has nice smooth, rounded tips that easily move and don’t get caught in the hair. Was this Teddy’s first class? Like anything new, it needs to be introduced gradually and given a positive introduction and at home would be best. How old is Teddy? I think I remember from a previous post, correct me if I’m wrong, that he is young and just starting classes. Did they tell you why? It doesn’t seem that a prong should be required. If he is young a good harness would be way better. I think there could be some possible, very real negative consequences in this situation. I would definitely talk to the trainer on this one.
 

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The class me and teddy r in requires them. Trainer let owners pick what kind. So I purchased one with the black rubber ends to..well cause it looked more gentle. Teddy did not do well with the collar on. Trainer assured me he will get better and I need to practice with teddy while using it. Teddy shut down at the class and refused treats. I felt awful. Last thing I wanna b is mean. I’m more of a lover and not a fighter. But even with my kids I love them but they know boundaries and Teddy needs to learn as well. I struggled big time with the collar. 😞
I would definitely never bring a poodle to class that requires a prong collar. To me, that's the sign of an old fashioned trainer who doesnt know how to convince a dog rather than force it. I know Annie would have shut right down in that situation in a beginner class with a prong.

At the recommendation of one of the users here, I use a fine prong collar with small links that spread the correction out better.

Personally- I consider long term relaiance on a prong the sign of a poor trainer. I use one, but I am not a professional!

What are they even doing with a prong in a beginner class?!
 

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The class me and teddy r in requires them. Trainer let owners pick what kind. So I purchased one with the black rubber ends to..well cause it looked more gentle. Teddy did not do well with the collar on. Trainer assured me he will get better and I need to practice with teddy while using it. Teddy shut down at the class and refused treats. I felt awful. Last thing I wanna b is mean. I’m more of a lover and not a fighter. But even with my kids I love them but they know boundaries and Teddy needs to learn as well. I struggled big time with the collar. 😞
With this and the out of control dogs in class... I would find a different trainer. He‘s going to break your dog. This ’trainer’ has no idea what he’s doing, and should not require prong collars for simple obedience training unless the dog is out of control otherwise, and he is working closely with the owner. What methods does he cite using? I’m guessing he has similar opinions to Cesar Millán? I’m sorry if I sound stern, or quick to judge... I’ve had to deal with this style of training my whole life, and have seen more dogs messed up by it than actually trained.
 

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I quite agree with the last two posts. I’m new on this forum and was a little hesitant that I would come across harsh. While I explained earlier in this thread what I feel about prong collars the situation with Teddy and his class is a whole different deal. My internal alarm bells went off when I read your post remembering your concerns in a previous post. I would not bring Teddy to this class.
 

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I guess Iwill also add... animaltraining is highly unregulated. There are lots of shitty, dangerous trainers out there with outdated ideas, a one size fits all approach, who cant handle a poodle, but have great reviews from poorly informed owners who believe in the dominate your dog approach.

How do I know? One of my relatives is relatively highly regarded, very expensive, referral only dog trainer who uses a dominance based, aggressive/jerk and pull approach and well behaved but dead eyed dogs of her own, who you couldn't pay ME to let touch my dog again. A few minutes with with that trainer, practicing recall came close to ruining my relationship with my dog.

I guess what I should say is - anyone can learn to force a dog into obedience. What I want when I pay for classes is a trainer who is creative and can teach me to communicate better with my dog, so that out relationship improves and my dog learns to WANt to work with me, instead of works with me due to fear or coercion. I want a trainer that teaches me to train.

It tool me quite a while to find a good trainer that I trusted- the opinions of the members here were really helpful and I was glad I waited
 

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The class me and teddy r in requires them. Trainer let owners pick what kind. So I purchased one with the black rubber ends to..well cause it looked more gentle. Teddy did not do well with the collar on. Trainer assured me he will get better and I need to practice with teddy while using it. Teddy shut down at the class and refused treats. I felt awful. Last thing I wanna b is mean. I’m more of a lover and not a fighter. But even with my kids I love them but they know boundaries and Teddy needs to learn as well. I struggled big time with the collar. 😞
Eek.
No.
Danger, Will Robinson, Danger.

Teddy shutting down to the point where he won't accept treats pretty much tells you what you need to know. This is not the right learning environment for him. When I take my guys to training they happily hop out of the car and practically drag me into the building. The facility allows flat collars, harnesses, and martingales. It does not allow prong collars or choke chains.
 

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Class was/is almost $200 no refunds 🤦🏻‍♀️
That stinks. :( But think how much you could spend after that class, trying to undo the damage.

That's a big part of our trainer's business, helping people repair the damage done by aversive methods. And Teddy's showing you clearly that he is not comfortable....as is your gut.
 

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Teddys mom have you discussed Teddy's reactions in class with the trainer? I once has a GSD that was the most difficult boy to train. We did class 1 two times before moving on. He was bored, yep it was all too simple for him and he had no interest in doing it. The trainer worked with us and mixed it up more to keep him on his toes. We didn't stay in the class for the entire class, we went outside, to another room back into the group. Eventually it all went well. The dog ended up as my best trained dog ever. I back then could walk into a crowded vet office put him in a down, say to him nose down and he would flatten his snout to the ground. People, dogs could all walk past him, over him, whatever. So don't give up, try a find what is turning him off. Not seeing the situation I can't say I feel your dog is being damaged because of the training, or a particular tool you are using to train with,
you need to find the root of the problem and get him to be a happy boy who wants to train. Hopefully his trainer will have a sit down with you and discuss options. Now if the trainer isn't willing to work with you then yes, I would say they weren't a good trainer and I would just take him out of the class.
 

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The class me and teddy r in requires them. Trainer let owners pick what kind. So I purchased one with the black rubber ends to..well cause it looked more gentle. Teddy did not do well with the collar on. Trainer assured me he will get better and I need to practice with teddy while using it. Teddy shut down at the class and refused treats. I felt awful. Last thing I wanna b is mean. I’m more of a lover and not a fighter. But even with my kids I love them but they know boundaries and Teddy needs to learn as well. I struggled big time with the collar. 😞
If I see a dog on a prong collar I immediately go to the other side of the road. It is obvious the handler has not trained the dog well.

If I were you I would not go to another class with that teacher. I hope you can find a good positive trainer.

One of the first trainers I went to ( highly recommended) used aversive techniques ( but not nearly as bad as a prong collar). It really upset me. I found the best positive trainer in a 300 mile area. After one session with her I quit the other trainer, even though I forfeited expensive group and private lessons.

I am so grateful I did. My dog is now a service dog, awesome. He would have turned out an entirely different dog if I had stayed with that trainer.

I am so sorry I did not see your post when you first posted it to be able to say something sooner.

May you and your prescious poodle find a truly awesome trainer. Forget the money! It was a truly bad investment. We all make mistakes somewhere along the way. If we are intelligent we can admit it and move on. Blessings.
 
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