Age for Prong? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Age for Prong?

While I am not excited about the prospect (I've been trying to stick to positive training, but I do realize you need to "branch out!") - I am interested in the prong for walking Koch. Not as much for me, but more for my g/f. Now that Koch is 6months and 60#+ she isn't as easily manageable for her to walk.

I'd say about 80% of the time Koch is a dream to walk, 20% of the time she is a nightmare. (I do the long walks, the g/f does a short one for the #1's and #2's during lunch). We do the "if you start pulling, we stop dead in our tracks" method and she has been "getting it" - thus the 80% figure.

I think my biggest issue with Koch is walking on the sidewalk and cars approaching. about 33% of the time, she will see a car, get fixated on it, and try to lunge at it when it comes near. I can try to distract her with treats, tapping her nose (just tapping), waving my hand in front of her face, but once she sees a car and for whatever reason is fixated, short of picking her up and turning her around she will try to jump at it. We are working on this, but it takes time (desensitizing her to moving cars).

With this: 1: Is she old enough now at 6 months? 2: Is the Prong right for *MY* situation (I am open to any suggestions) 3: Is there any other approach you would take?

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 09:40 AM
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Re: Age for Prong?

While prongs have their place I would try everything else before I would use one on a puppy.

Here's what I would do. Bake up a chicken breast and cut it into little pieces. Put them in a bag and stuff in my pocket. Or you can use her favorite toy.

Leash Koch and head out - LOOKING for cars.

As SOON as you see the car approaching - not when Koch does but as soon as YOU see the car - that is when the training starts.

Ok, so you see the car approaching. You will now have to make YOURSELF more interesting than the car. Start with the Happy Voice. And I do mean HAPPY.

High, excited tones - doesn't matter what you say it's HOW you say it. Get her attention on you NOW. Dance, jump up and down, run back and forth ... whatever it takes.

And yeah, you end up looking very silly sometimes. But it works.

As soon as you get her attention on you it's a TOTAL PUPPY PARTY!! TONS of praise, treats, play with the toy - all the while the car is passing you.

If she doesn't focus on you and instead focuses on the car you did two things wrong:

1. You didn't start soon trying to get her attention soon enough
2. You were NOT more exciting than the car

After awhile you will be able to tone down the puppy party and soon you can just ask for her attention and verbally reward afterwards.

What you are doing is teaching the fog that cars approaching = FUN STUFF FROM YOU.

Hope this makes sense.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 09:47 AM
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Re: Age for Prong?

I have been using the prong collar since Dozer was 4 months old and he is 7 months old now. I actually do not really even need it anymore.

I would say it will be fine b/c the 80% of the walk she is good she will not even notice it is on her, the 20% of the time she is a nightmare she will end up correcting herself.

I never wanted to try a prong b/c of the way they look but they are not bad. I researched it and I tried it on myself. I now use one on both of my Cairn Terriers as well (which I NEVER would have done before). Now they do not pull like mini sled dogs.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 10:32 AM
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Re: Age for Prong?

Six months old is about the ealiest one should use a prong on a puppy - but I'm with Laurie, much better to teach and train Koch to ignore cars by giving her something ELSE to focus on, and rewarding, then by trying to correct and set up negative associations. You may want to start using a prong for safety - your g/f needs to be able to hold him and control him, but incorporate the training also. Think of the prong as an emergency brake only when absolutly neccessary.


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 11:56 AM
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Re: Age for Prong?

Originally Posted By: DozerI never wanted to try a prong b/c of the way they look but they are not bad. I researched it and I tried it on myself.
I have no problem with prong collars. I own two. They have their place - just as ANY piece of training equipment does - even electric collars.

But the prong is not the FIRST thing I reach for in my bag of training tricks when I'm dealing with a problem. Why? Because, for ME personally, I do not want to become dependent on a piece of equipment.

Although I use leashes because it's the law where I live my dogs could walk around town without them - and not leave my side. They are not dependent on the leash to stay by my side.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2009, 12:00 PM
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Re: Age for Prong?

I'm in full agreement with what Lucia including trying the options and steps that Laura suggested first.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2009, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Age for Prong?


Thanks for the advice. We have been working on the car thing. I am going to work more on the "patty miller" type thing of starting back 30 feet, then moving in to 25, then 20, ect. Just so frustrating at times!

I am more concerned with my g/f walking her and losing control and the dog running. Granted, our neighborhood if fenced in but stil she could lunge at a car unexpected and it would be a disaster.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2009, 08:16 PM
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Re: Age for Prong?

I wouldn't be afraid to use the prong on a six month old, but you need to know how to fit and use it correctly.

Without knowing the above, the prong is at best ineffectual and at worse hurtful.

See if you can find a trainer to show you.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2009, 08:19 PM
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Re: Age for Prong?

IO agree with bot comments; from Lauri and Dozer. The prong is not the first option, especially for a younger dog. As for the prong, while walking apply it high and tight, but at you pup's age never jerk the dog. Keep you tophand over the top of the lease, nut under, because then we tend to apply to much pressure. Let the dog apply the pressure, and the animal should learn to back off.

As for your GF, there is no reason why she cannot do the same thing.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-07-2009, 03:24 PM
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Re: Age for Prong?

As a girl who has faced walking a GSD much stronger than me, I would say the prong was one of my favorite things to learn to use. Don't get me wrong, I agree 100% that any dog needs to be trained to behave on a walk but in the process the dog was getting bigger and I was not getting any stronger. Now I use it with Bella as a maintenance, we call it her "good girl collar" and if we're going someplace she has to behave like a good girl (ex: public places with lots of people we use it, going to the dog park we do not) she wears it as 1) a reminder to be on her best behavior, and 2) a precautionary measure for my piece of mind.

Bella got her first prong collar when doing puppy training, probaby at about 5 months. She has a high drive and is very head strong, so training wasn't going well. The trainer was very experienced with GSDs and told me that a prong is not the right tool for every dog, but said she thought it would work for Bella and asked if she could try one on her. She fit the collar on Bella and *poof* suddenly she knew what heel meant! Unfortunately we could not use the collar during class, but I used it constantly when training at home.

I would say find someone knowledgeable on training dogs and ask them to see if this might work for your dog and teach you and your gf how to use it properly. As mentioned above--not used properly this could really be damaging for your dog. I still don't let DH hold the leash when Bella's good girl collar is on, because I'm still working on training him how to use it!

Oh, and in case you're worrying that it'll make your dog like walks a little less--it has had no such effect for Bella! I think she actually prefers seeing the prong at the end of her leash because it means she gets to be around lots of people instead of lots of dogs


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