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I've been doing a lot of reading about dog-dog aggression these days as we're trying to help our rescued GSD, Heidi, become less dog reactive. We took her to her fourth dog socialization session and she did really well after some initial growling and posturing in the beginning. We noticed she did a LOT better when we weren't there (which is good because we'd like to get her into daycare to help the socialization along and have a nice place for her to stay when we go on vacation).

My question is about prong collars. Heidi is really a puller. We've tried the Gentle Leader and choke chain, and neither one inhibits her pulling. The obedience class we recently started going to recommended the prong collar and that did seem to slow her down and make her more manageable.

However, I've been reading on some web sites that the prong collar can make your dog more dog reactive. I certainly don't want that to happen. Does anyone have any thoughts and/or experience on this?


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I have a prong collar and find it works great for some dogs but not well at all for others. The more sensitive/fearful dogs, in my experience, have not done well with the prong.

Have you tried this collar:

My Basu was fear aggressive and a huge puller and I tried a prong and a gentle leader with him and neither worked. The Sense-ation did the trick for him. My friend has a dog reactive dog and also uses the Sense-ation.

Have you checked out any of these books?

"Click to Calm" by Emma Parsons.
"Scaredy Dog! Understanding and Rehabilitating Your Reactive Dog,"
"Bringing Light To Shadow: A Dog Trainer's Diary,"
"Aggression in Dogs: Practical Management, Prevention & Behaviour Modification." The last one is very comprehensive, technical and expensive.

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I would be hesitant to try unless all other options are exhausted. Remember, the collar is not responsible for training the dog.

I once had a prong on a dog who was very calm and well trained, besides some residual pulling issues. This dog never really had issues with other dogs (would either ignore them or sniff and go past). Well this one time I was starting with the prong and went to a place where we didn't anticipate any other dogs, but another dog DID come along. The dog I was handling stepped forward in the direction of the other dog out of curiosity and of course the prong collar self-corrected this, but the dog growled and lunged! I immediately switched back to the flat collar and just dealt with the pulling another way.

I'm not totally against prongs, but I would only use them on "happy" dogs and never in a situation where it might make the dog reactive. What happens is if the dog is already over-excited or fearful of another dog and is either pulling to get to the dog or pulling to get away, they get pinched and they don't associated the pinch with pulling, they associate it with greeting other dogs. They might think the other dog caused the pinch and lunge at the dog.

Read the very beginning of Click to Calm. She describes ONE training session with a prong collar that damaged her dog very much and it took years to resocialize him.

My dog Coke LOVES other dogs (sometimes too much) and he has a German Shepherd buddy in his training class, but often if they try to play while Coke is wearing his Easy Walk, he starts to get very growly and reactive. He understands the concept of no pulling on walks, but when his harness is correcting him for engaging in normal play behavior, it is frustrating to him and he takes that out on the other dog. If we take the harness off, they play just fine!

Again, the tool is not the one training the dog. I would deal with the dog reactive issue and the pulling issues separately for now. If you want to try a prong for pulling, do it in a yard or a park where there are no other dogs. Then you can reward the dog for the correct walk and quickly phase out the prong collar. Work on the dog reactive issue at other times and if the dog pulls, don't correct him while other dogs are close by. That is how I would do it based on my experiences with the prong and other harnesses.

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I think it would depend on what type of reaction the dog is giving, if it is fear aggressive the prong could be counter productive, if it the wwweeeeee let's go play over excitement then the prong could be helpful.

Liesje, I am curious, you stated
Quote:The dog I was handling stepped forward in the direction of the other dog out of curiosity and of course the prong collar self-corrected this, but the dog growled and lunged!
How could the dog just by stepping forward get that much of a correction from the prong, the dog either had to pull forward or lunge and in either case IMHO it should have gotten a correction. If the dog reacted that much from what should have been a minor correction, then the dog was already stimulated, had a nerve problem or was just one of those drama queen dogs, but I wasn't there to watch the meeting.

I try to train my dogs that we can go meet and greet when I say so, not when they feel like it. I am the one in charge not them, if I am going to ok a meet and greet, it is my responsibility to see that they do not receive a correction for doing something I am allowing them to do, ie giving more leash or staying with the dog.

I believe that one of the best tools with a reactive dog is that the dog should have a very solid understanding of the "Leave It" command. If my dogs want to go play or meet and greet and I don't want to I tell them "Leave It", if the dog dosen't listen he/she gets corrected for not listening to the leave it command. I have trained all of my dogs this way including some that were dog reactive, dog aggressive or weak nerved dogs and haven't had any problems. BUT the key is to have that Solid understanding of the "Leave It" command.

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