Zen and the Art of Dog

How to Use a Prong Collar – Using The Most Practical Dog Training Tool You Can Buy

Prong collars can completely change your relationship with your dog. They give you leverage, especially over big and strong dogs, that no other dog training tool can provide.

They aren’t that hard to use, either. Most dogs will respond to the collars presence on their neck immediately. Harder and more driven dogs will need a little bit of training.

Once you begin using these collars you can expect walks to be much more pleasant. Your dog will begin to notice your presence and not simply try and drag you wherever they wish to go.

And, once your dog is accustomed to being walked on a prong, you can begin training a “heel” command- so that your dog doesn’t need to be walked on a prong at all!

(For more information about prongs check out my truth about prong collars post here).

So, how do you use a prong collar?

First we need to ensure proper fit of the prong on the dog’s neck. There are many schools of thought regarding fit and they all have merit.

I generally size the collar by removing links so that the prong collar sits comfortably without falling down around the middle part of my dog’s neck. If it is too tight there will be no space for the collar to tighten (and it will be uncomfortable for my dog). Too loose and my dog will have too much leeway.

There are several prong collars on the market, but the best by far for any purpose is the Herm Sprenger collar. They are available for small, medium, large and extra large dogs.

The Herm Sprenger has two rings, a “D” ring and an “O” ring. I attach the leash only to the D ring (it is shaped like a D).

Let your dog sniff around for a few minutes after the prong and the leash are on her/him. This will get your dog used to the feel of the collar without it tightening.

Then, start gently guiding your dog with the leash.

On walks and with training I will use two different methods with the leash and prong. Guiding your dog with the leash will help teach it the commands you want it to learn. For example, during walks we want our dogs in the “heel” position, so at our sides with their noses no further ahead than our feet.

Using the leash to guide your dog into heel position and pairing this guidance with the command “heel” will teach your dog how to heel.

After a few days of guiding your dog into the heel position, your dog will know what “heel” means. Now you can start correcting your dog with a “leash pop” if they leave heel position during the heeling command. A leash pop is just a sudden tightening and release of the leash. You can think of it as a “snap” like a whip.

The intention is not to hurt your dog but more to surprise them. Couple this action with a correction word like “no” or “enough” and after a few weeks you won’t even need to pop the leash.

This training method can be used for more than just a heel command- you can use it to train pretty much any command you can think of. Place, recall, crate can all be trained this way (I’ll write more about these commands in the future!)

Prongs can really change the relationship you have with your dog. I highly recommend them, especially if you have a strong, willful dog or anxious dog. Training in this way teaches them respect and gives you much needed leverage.

If you have a highly stressed and anxious dog, this training can really help get your dog out of its head.

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