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How to Properly Put a Prong Collar on Your Dog

Dean Eby

By Dean Eby

close up dog wearing prong collar

Prong collars are effective training tools, but they’re a rather controversial and polarizing piece of canine training equipment. Many people think they’re a cruel method of training, but that’s because they don’t truly understand how a prong collar works. When used properly, it’s a very effective and safe way to leash train your dog.

Granted, not all dogs will need to use a prong collar for their leash training. Some dogs, however, are large, stubborn, and extremely pain tolerant. For these dogs, the prong collar isn’t a painful device, but a negative reinforcement tool used to teach them the proper way to walk on a leash. To use it correctly, a prong collar must be properly sized for the dog. If done wrong, it could be a painful experience for your dog, which is why we’re going to walk you through the steps you must take to properly put a prong collar on your dog.

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What is a Prong Collar?

Prong collars are special training collars for dogs that have prongs pointing into the dog’s neck. These prongs aren’t very sharp, but they will let the dog know that a particular action is undesirable when they tighten. They’re only designed for short-term use. You should never be using a prong collar as a primary collar. Instead, they’re to be used as tools for training sessions to help teach your dog how to walk on the leash properly without pulling.

Herm Sprenger Ultra-Plus Training Dog Prong Collar with Latch

How to Use a Prong Collar

Using a prong collar is a simple process. You must start by properly fitting the collar to your dog, which we’ll discuss in the next section. Once fitted, you leash walk the dog using the collar.

When the dog pulls or commits a behavior you want to discourage, you simply give a short tug on the leash. This will tighten the prong collar, causing the prongs to create pressure against your dog’s neck, imitating a nip from another dog. You don’t want to leave constant tension on the collar though. Rather, you must only tug in short bursts to discourage particular behaviors.

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The 3 Steps to Put a Prong Collar on Your Dog:

1. Pick a Prong Collar

Before you can think about putting a prong collar on your dog, you’ll need to pick the appropriate collar. There are many available, and they come in different designs and sizes. Luckily, most of them feature removable links that will allow you to alter the size to fit your dog as needed.

You’ll notice that some collars have different sizes and types of prongs, so you’ll have to decide what’s best for your dog. There are also collars that buckle closed and some that you manually clasp. Either is a great choice, and the way your collar is attached won’t affect its use. There is one thing to avoid though, which is collars with rubber-tipped prongs. Many people mistakenly believe these will cause less harm to the dog, but the rubber can actually cause more pain than metal prongs.

dog wearing Herm SPRENGER Ultra-Plus Prong Dog Training Collar

2. Proper Placement

The first step to properly fitting your dog’s collar is to ensure it’s in the right place. For a proper fit, the collar should be placed just behind your dog’s ears. This will allow the collar to distribute pressure evenly all the way around the dog’s neck. If not placed correctly, the pressure will apply unevenly, which can be dangerous and is likely to cause pain when the collar is tightened.

Take note that the placement of a prong collar is very different from the placement of a regular collar. A regular collar sits around the base of your dog’s neck. If you put a prong collar in this area, it could damage your dog’s trachea or larynx.

Belgian shepherd wearing prong collar
Image Credit: Three Dogs photography, Shutterstock

3. Correct Fit

Next, you need to ensure that the prong collar is set to the right size for your dog’s neck and head. The collar should not be able to fit over your dog’s head. If it can, then it’s too loose to be used effectively. Instead, the collar should fit snugly around your dog’s neck, staying in place just behind the ears. It shouldn’t be tight though; just snug. The prong collar shouldn’t move around when your dog does.

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When properly fitted, prong collars are safe and effective training tools that can help any dog learn how to walk on the leash without pulling or other negative behaviors. However, they should never be used on puppies. Many dogs won’t ever need a prong collar. It’s a tool meant as a last resort to be used with dogs that keep pulling on the leash, despite your best efforts to get the behavior to cease.

Prong collars are not meant for long-term use. They’re meant to teach your dog how to use the leash properly before switching to another form of collar for walking. One final rule: never leave the prong collar on your dog when they’re unsupervised! If they become ensnared, it could be detrimental for your dog.

Featured Image Credit: PhotoRK, Shutterstock

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