Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pronging Wrong

Gruesome image of injury caused by prong collar abuse.

You've probably seen that horrific picture on Facebook. It is cringe-worthy and shameful. Whoever did that to their "pet" should be suitably punished. But the fault is not with the tool; it is with the owner. We use a prong collar with Kane -- and have done for about two months -- and there is absolutely no way that picture represents normal, humane use of a prong collar.

Before we switched to a prong collar, we had tried just about everything (except a choke collar), including a "Halti" collar, which looks like this, and is considered an extremely effective, gentle collar.

Image of dog wearing a Halti harness-style collar.

It didn't work. With the Halti collar, our trainer still evicted us to the hallway while the other dogs stayed in the classroom. Kane was also wearing that collar when he spun me like a whirling Dervish. And I had been using treats for positive reinforcement; they made no difference.

With the prong collar, he behaved himself almost immediately.

I'll be honest. He doesn't like putting it on. It fits snugly up behind his ears and below his jaw, and sometimes he flexes to enlarge his neck, making it harder to put on. But once it's on, he completely relaxes and thoroughly enjoys his walk.

Dog smiling into the wind: Wynn Anne's Meanderings
Not a great photo - the focus is in the wrong spot - but it shows his joy while out on today's walk.
The collar is strictly for training. He does not wear it in the house. He doesn't wear it if he's on his long leash in the back yard.

The prong collar has been a key part of helping Kane integrate into this family, his forever home. Without it, he would get many fewer walks (I was about to give up on walking him myself -- it was too scary!) and be a much less happy dog than he is. And he is a very happy, very much loved dog. (Even when he was terrible on his walks, he was much loved.)

The dog in the inflammatory image had been abused. He'd likely been wearing the prong collar non-stop and probably on a tether outdoors. It was not being used as a training tool. It is not reasonable to draw broad conclusions from that misuse of prong collars.

My point is this: we should be cautious about signing a petition or spreading a viral message based on a single picture. Banning a product is not the solution; appropriate use and by-laws are.

Not every dog needs them, but for those that do, they can be a godsend. Speaking from experience.


  1. aw, that is so sad - poor dog.
    And yes, get all the information before making a judgement. the bottom line is, as much as people want to believe that animals are people - they are not. Which doesn't mean they cannot be a family member -- but to do so, they have to be enjoyable to have around. which means, proper training. And like our children, each pet has different needs and might require different discipline methods. As long as they are not being abused and get lots of love too; you use what works for that animal.



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