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Discussion Starter #1
I am in the process of trying to find a new trainer that can show me how to use a prong collar correctly. A guy I talked to today said he dislikes using them and always uses choke chains. He said a prong if misused can actually kill a dog. What?! I thought they were supposed to be safe and you just can't leave them on unsupervised. I am really confused now because I thought training through leash pops with a choke chain was more painful to the dog than a prong. He claims it is not.

I am 99% sure I got it fit correctly after watching the Leerburg video. That's not an issue I don't think.

I hate that all of the obedience classes in my area are so black and white. It's basic OB. It's not that hard to figure out. So why are people so insistent that you MUST do this or that or use this or that collar, else you're going to abuse your dog?


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I disagree with your trainer, and there's a study that proves he's wrong...I just can't put my hands on it now. Obviously, you don't leave the prong on when you aren't training.

Somewhere online I found a link to a study that looked at the spines and necks of dogs who passed away of natural causes, and compared the rate in injury that had occurred over their lifetimes based on which ones had owners who used prongs, and which used choke chains. In other words, the dogs had lived with owners who used either one or the other (prong or choke chain). The choke chain group had a very high rate of neck and spinal injuries compared to the the prong group. I no longer have the link and can't find it now, but if you do some googling, you may find it.

The result actually makes a lot of sense to me. The correction with a prong is typically a very soft, using far less force. With many dogs, a little flick of the wrist or wiggle of the leash is all it takes with a properly sized prong -- super gentle form of communication. I've trained with both methods, and I would never, ever go back to choke chains as a primary form of correction--I actually think the choke chain is fairly dangerous, esp. in the hands of a novice with a heavy hand.

P.S. As for killing a dog: the ONLY time I've seen a dog "choked out" by a training tool was when an idiotic, self-aggrandizing troglodyte of a "volunteer" trainer lifted an out-of-control jack russell terrier up by his leash, wearing a CHOKE CHAIN until the dog passed out. This was many, many years ago an AKC-sponsored "choke chain only" obedience club class with idiot volunteers with big egos running it. That was the most dangerous, offensive, and infuriating thing I've ever seen in a class, and that dog's poor owner was in shock. It was done with a CHOKE CHAIN, not a prong. I'm very positive that dog, even though he appeared to recover quickly, ended up with damage to his neck and spine.
 

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I never used a prong collar (only choker) but was thinking I might need to eventually use one on Havoc once he's old enough. I was searching the internet also fearful of it but also found the prong collar is the way to go. So even if it's not really needed I'll go with it since it's supposed to be the better way to go....

About (horrible to me) choking a dog out. Years ago a friend of mine became a A.C K9 cop. In the process of becoming one his dog was a Rottweiler. Well his Rott wasn't responding. (I'll still call him a JackAss instructor and won't give his name) friends instructor ordered Greg to lift the dog up and hold him there until he passes out. At the same time he was being ordered to do it again the second the dog wakes from passing out.....
 

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I should hasten to add: my comments about prong safety have to do with using one correctly and the minimal correction necessary. I think because of the way the prong looks so scary, and the way dogs respond to it, novices tend to start out naturally with a very light hand -- and learn that's all you need. That's a good thing.

I also think, based on some things I've seen, that the choke chain tends to give some well-meaning novices the idea that they need a very hard pop to get the dog's attention--and that's where the danger is. I've also seen this kind of jerking encouraged by trainers who have no concern for the long-term health of the dog's neck and spine. A soft pop with a choke is one thing--a jerk is something quite different (and quite dangerous).

My feelings on choke chains have evolved as I've worked with prongs. I really like the choke chains less and less.
 

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Magwart, I know the study you're taking about but I can't put my finger on it either. I'll keep looking. Something about dogs trained on chokes having muscle damage on the right side (trained to walk on left, correct 'p' use of collar) significant enough to cause lasting harm to their function... Google help me, haha!
 

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Forgot to add. My last two GSD's were very easy to train. Kaos really trained himself. But my new guy is a little hard headed. Since I never had to use this either (gentle leader). I have seen where the prong is better then that?? Then to add in another variable. At the vet I go to. A tech I trust that trains dogs. She told me I could use a gentle leader if I wanted to on a 5 month old puppy. So who is right???
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thankfully he is not "my trainer" yet and I went to his class alone before signing up. I think we will pass.

I have noticed with the prong I barely have to do anything, and sometimes merely standing still gets a response. I don't think it is possible for me to hurt her since I am not yanking her around.

That's very interesting about the long-term tissue and spinal damage. I wonder if hardcore pullers walked on a flat collar had any problems? Very interesting.


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I'm going to put myself in line-of-fire here; I've used prongs and chokes and flat collars and nylon and leather slips and martingales (leather, nylon, and nylon and chain) and all that. I haven't used an e-collar myself, but I'd love to learn. I tried a headcollar once and have seen the Guide Dogs for Independence trainers at the Maxwell Airforce base use them on all their training dogs.

My goal in MY training (not that it has to be anyone elses!) is to train in such a way that I will reach a point where whatever aid I'm using no longer becomes necessary to get the behavior I want from the dog. With the halti/gentle leader, there appears to me at first glance to be a forced compliance with the device on once the dog is used to it and zero compliance once the device is off. That seemed to be true with the training dogs, but then again they were all in basic training and I have not had a dog tolerant enough to use one properly myself.
My experience with chokes is that compliance relies on the threat of application and the threat wanes quickly; IE corrections are required more frequently and may need to be stronger over time to achieve the same reaction. Once the choke is off I had some level of residual compliance with hard-headed dogs after training.
My experience with prongs is that once applied, threat of application remains for a significantly longer period of time. In my experience, all I had to do after a few corrections for pulling/lunging was to put the collar on and attach the leash. Complete compliance. Once the prong is off I have a longer period of residual compliance with dogs who are trained as well.

I think they all have a place. I use a choke in the conformation ring, and that's about it. I think in my view the worst training aid of them all is the FurSaver. It's beautiful and sure saves hair (and is useful in the ring!), but the CLUNK of each link makes me cringe. Corrections come slower (or not at all, if the link is in the wrong place) and I can't see how they don't get pinched to dickens in the process.

As with anything in the dog world, your mileage may vary.
 

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Frankly you could probably find a creative way to kill a dog with a clicker. I train using whatever tool makes sense. If I didn't use the right tool because it could kill a dog if used incorrectly, I probably would own dogs because I've known of dogs accidentally hung on a flat collar.

If you are not confident with a tool or have a reason to question the safety and/or effectiveness with your dog, by all means find something that you are comfortable using.
 

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Frankly you could probably find a creative way to kill a dog with a clicker. I train using whatever tool makes sense. If I didn't use the right tool because it could kill a dog if used incorrectly, I probably would own dogs because I've known of dogs accidentally hung on a flat collar.

If you are not confident with a tool or have a reason to question the safety and/or effectiveness with your dog, by all means find something that you are comfortable using.
Perfectly said.
Sheilah
 

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I am really confused now because I thought training through leash pops with a choke chain was more painful to the dog than a prong. He claims it is not.
Assuming that you are applying the same amount of force with a prong and a choke, the choke is not more painful. However, most people find that they have to exert considerably more force with a choke collar because the pressure is more distributed (vs. being applied to a smaller surface area via the prongs, which basically employ the high-heeled shoe effect: the force is concentrated into a very small surface area and thus the applied pressure is much greater). Therefore, in terms of avoiding actual physical damage to your dog, the prong is more effective because it concentrates pain more efficiently.

Additionally -- and this is separate but related -- many people who still use chokes as a primary method of training dogs are using very old-school methods, which can be quite harsh. This is not a direct effect of the tool itself, obviously, but there is, in my experience, certainly a substantial correlation between people who use it and old-school views/approaches. So that, too, can be a reason that a dog might be hurt by a choke.


re: hardcore pullers and long-term flat collar usage -- yes, they can (and do) damage their tracheas over time.

re: killing a dog with a clicker -- yes, they can swallow it and choke. I have known of one dog who did (it didn't die, but not hard to imagine that it could have!). You'll be shocked to know it was a Lab. :p
 

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The study mentioned was referenced in a Susanne Clothier article on prong collars and relates to a seminar she attended. The actual study is more urban myth than fact, it's never actualy been found in full or referenced anywhere else. It's debatable if there's any truth in it, I'd suspect not until it's seen in full and in context.
 
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