To Pinch Or Not To Pinch Collar?

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Pinch CollarThe pinch collar, also known as a prong collar, is a metal collar that is comprised of various links which can be expanded or shortened by removing or adding links. Each of the links in the collar has a set of metal prongs which rest against a dog’s skin.

It is a controversial training apparatus in that it may cause the dog to feel pain if misused, especially on small dogs. However, if used properly, many claim to have found much success with it, especially with large, strong dogs.

As a dog owner myself, I am not a fan of this product as I would be worried about the possibility of inflicting pain on my fur babies. However, I understand that some dog trainers recommend them and some owners also find them very helpful.

Article Overview

How Does It Work?

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Coastal Pet Easy-On Dog Prong Training CollarCoastal Pet Easy-On Dog Prong Training Collar

When putting a pinch collar on your dog the links simply fit into one another much like they do on a piece of jewelry, the prongs of one piece of the collar fit directly into the loops of another piece. The pinch collar also has a small silver ring to which a dog’s leash can be attached and this ring should sit on the back of the dog’s neck.

As a dog is walked on a pinch collar, the prongs simply rest against the dog’s skin; however, as the dog starts to pull the tension in the leash tugs at the pinch collar and pulls it tighter. As the links pull tight, the prongs on the back side of the collar pinch (hence the name) the dog’s neck and cause an unpleasant sensation that forces them to fall back into step as you walk.

Most trainers recommend using this only if you have your dog walk next to you on your walks and not in front of you like most people who walk their dog. Many dogs will continue to pull to a degree if you allow them to walk ahead of you. By having your dog walk next to you, you can give slight tugs to help your dog stay in line with you as you walk.

Is It Safe?

The pinch collar can be used for a wide variety of reasons including teaching your dog to heel, not to pull, not to heed distractions while you are walking and not to pick up “dirty” items from the ground. Pinch collars are also used to control dog-aggressive canines while walking in an area where you may encounter others.

Pinch collars are most helpful on “bull-necked” breeds (breeds with thick necks or exceedingly “fatty” necks) and larger dogs with hard-headed temperaments; they should not be used on small or fragile necked breeds.

Just Say No To Pinch Collars For Small Dogs

There are varying opinions on this, but we feel this is not a good idea. Since a pinch collar should fit close to a dog’s skin but should never be too tight or too small for the dog in question, we advise against using a pinch collar on toy dog breeds that have more fragile bodies. The collar can apply a great deal of force to a small dog’s neck – you should seriously consider whether you feel this is a safe option for your dog or not.

There is a microprong collar that was designed to keep trachea from collapsing, the primary concern for tiny dogs. Fitted properly, this product claims to be safe for little dogs.

Criticism Of The Pinch Collar

There are many critics of the pinch collar, namely because when it pinches the dog’s skin, it can cause the dog pain (if misused). Advocates claim that if it is fitted and used correctly to train, the dog may experience only slight discomfort. In this case, there should be no significant degree of pain associated with its use.

The Risks

Much of the criticism of the pinch collar is associated with individuals who use the collar improperly and snap on the leash to suddenly tighten the collar and therefore cause increased pain and potential tissue damage to the dog. This seems risky to me.

There is also the potential of choking the dog if the collar is not fitted correctly. A pinch collar should be fit by your vet or a pet store specialist if you are unsure of how to fit it correctly. When used correctly the pinch collar is designed to work as a preventative measure to help your dog remember their manners in public.

Firsthand Experience Training A Dog With A Pinch Collar

One of our writers, Kimberly, took her dog to a trainer and was told Sally could benefit from using a pinch collar. Below is her experience using one.

When the trainer put the pinch collar on Sally, my heart sunk immediately. The collar has a very harsh look to it, and I felt like it was some type of torture device. My trainer explained to me thoroughly how to properly use a pinch collar on Sally. She stressed to me that I should never have continuous pressure on the collar, aka the leash should never be tight and should always have slack.

The trainer passed the leash to me, and as I worked on commands with Sally, I noticed how much more responsive Sally was. I know when my dog is in pain, and the soft tugs I was giving Sally to help direct her were not causing any pain at all.

My dog trainer also mentioned that the best way to use it is to give soft tugs when the dog is doing something wrong. So if Sally is walking too far ahead, I can give a soft tug to help her fall back in line with me.

Another thing Sally struggled with was being protective of me on our walks (she still struggles with this some). She would bark and lunge at other dogs in a protective manner. Using the pinch collar to correct this has been extremely beneficial because we look for early warning signs and give soft corrections to the leash to direct her attention elsewhere.

Would I Recommend A Pinch Collar To You?

I have had a great experience using a pinch collar on Sally. Her training excelled once we implemented the pinch collar and I also feel that she is more likely to listen to me now whether I use the pinch or not.

That being said, I would not recommend using a pinch collar unless you have a professional showing you how to properly use it. These collars can be dangerous if not used properly. It’s important to have the proper fit on your dog and for you to be well versed in how to use it in conjunction with the leash.

More On Dog Training Collars

Read our article on the dog training collar for more information on the different types of dog training collars available on the market.

Would you use a pinch collar on your dog?

The information contained in this article and website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional safety advice; it is provided for educational purposes only.

About The Author:

Michelle holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and has worked in marketing at Bank of America, Mattel and Hanes. She is the proud co-founder of Canine Journal and a dog lover through and through. Since the day she was born, she has lived in a home full of dogs. Her adult home is no exception where she and her husband live with Bella and Lily, their two adorable rescue pups. In addition to her love for snuggling with dogs, she also has enjoyed working professionally in the canine field since 1999 when she started her first dog-related job at a dog bakery.

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Kstar
A lot of passion on this topic, which I appreciate. I wish all people were this thoughtful and concerned about responsible animal ownership. I also think it looks cringeworthy but have found a prong collar transformative and beneficial. Note: Our dog is about 60 pounds, was not motivated by food or pleasing us, and I have had dogs throughout my life and not all have needed prong collars. Having developed a foundation for success with his prong collar has had ripple effects in other aspects of his training when he is not using a prong collar. It is definitely, unequivocally unrelated to being afraid. He simply has building blocks for success and needed the collar to see what success is so he could build upon it. Three thoughts from our experience:

(1) Our dog gets very excited to see his prong collar, prancing and licking and sniffing it because he associates it with going out, not with pain. He has no negative association whatsoever and believe me, he is clear when he doesn’t like something.

(2) My husband and I have each worn the collar and tugged it as hard as we do on the dog. [Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! 😉 ] If you haven’t already I encourage you to do the same. It simply does not pinch. When tugged it does provide pressure that we did not like but didn’t find to be painful. We would not subject him to pain.

(3) This debate reminds me of the debate we experienced when deciding to medically treat our son’s ADHD. Many people are passionate about misuse or overuse of medication of children, feel that this a convenient shortcut for us to get the behavior we want while not giving him real skills for the long term, etcetera. When he finally did get meds and we asked him how they felt, he said “proud.” We cried because we realized we had been so focused on how meds might hurt him that we hadn’t thought about how much it hurt him to be out of control and how much he wanted the relief of being able to calm down. The meds gave him the opportunity to know what it feels like to be successful so that he can start building on those successes. Similarly when we started using the pinch collar- and were trained to use it properly, which is essential- we saw the clear relief our dog had and he has built on those successes, even when off collar. We all enjoy each other so much more and connect so much better.

Coo Brie
The collar does NOT pinch the dogs neck. It’s called a “pinch collar” because one has to pinch one of the prongs to put it on and take it off the dog. It applies equally distributed pressure thereby avoiding direct and concentrated pressure on the dogs trachea. The pointed prongs are polished smooth (unless one uses a cheap knock-off) so that there is no injury to the dogs skin. When the dog attempts to pull away, he/she recieves immediate feedback from the pressure of the collar. This article offers zero examples of prong collars causeing injury.

If more people would get proper training on the use of the prong collar, fewer teenage dogs would end up in shelters. Prong collars save lives.

KELLY Jean NASON
Bravo!!! Well said
Chris
I believe you didn’t reqd the article without your chip on your shoulder. The author pointed out multiple times that the collar does not pinch or damage the dog if used properly. It was also explained that the collar applies pressure evenely around the dogs neck. No prong collars do not save lives.They simply make training certain dogs easier especially those not willing to please or dogs that aren’t food driven. I could intimidate my dog and claim this technique saves lives. That’s BS. There are many tools to train with and a skilled trainer will know which one to use in the right situations. That’s it. There is no heroic purpose to using a prong collar.
Winniewen
I believe “SAVE LIVES” was being referred to as dogs ending g up in kill shelters because of bad behaviors. Hence using the prong collar to correct the dog could help save it! Very true.
Wanda L Lawrence
I agree with Christina K.. This cannot possibly do anything except instigate aggression at a later date. These can be very damaging to a potential relationship with your dog. From EVERYTHING i have read at least and been told by actual certified trainers. My GSD is the offspring of Police k9s and I would NEVER subject him to this… He can be very aggressive sometimes. I believe it is due to the fact that he was taken away from his siblings so early. Pups pulled away from their family or litter so quickly do not get the advantage of feeling the bite pressure they can inflict or how it affects others (ie: the pain it inflicts.) I have been working with my GSD trying to get him to realize that human skin is fragile (even if it isn’t) i even yelp if he bites my clothes/ or watch so that he knows whatever he does with his mouth play is painful to everyone except other dogs… I’m not sure this is the right thing to do, but for me it is…
Carrol Lemon
No! I would never use a pinch, prong, or choke collar on any dog. It’s too easy to injure their neck in a surprise moment, and trust me I’ve had many surprise/unexpected moment’s in my pet sitting/walking business.
In a controlled environment for training purposes with a professional trainer only…possibly. I believe in positive reinforcement training only for all breeds big & small for training.
Jimmy
Puppies playing together will correct each other. They will snap their teeth as a warning to a bigger dog to back off. At least, my pup does. Correction goes along with reward. Otherwise, you are raising a delinquent. Wishing you all success with your dog.
Christina K.
Umm…you should never NEVER use these on an aggressive dog or one who’s even potentially aggressive, it will make it worse. Total irresponsible to put that out there.
Sherry
My Maisie pulls very hard and after trying many different methods and devices my trainer recommended a pinch collar. Maisie had hurt me several times with her pulling and against the gut feeling of wrongness I got from the pinch collar I allowed it to be fitted on my dog. As previously said, the difference was amazing. Two years later I still use the pinch collar on occasion when Maisie gets excited about new surroundings or we are traveling and I have to walk her where there’s a lot of traffic. Most of the time the pulling is no longer an issue and I never thought she was in pain. I still cringe when I look at it though!
Retired K9
The ‘pinch’ comes from the application of ‘pinching’ the links together to apply or remove links. This type of collar is actually an improvement over the ‘choker’ or leather collar as it applies an even pressure around the entire neck rather than putting all the pressure on the front of the dog’s neck ie, the windpipe. Most dogs that I have worked will pull with a choker collar because of the pressure on it’s neck. It wants to ‘get away’ from the pressure on it’s neck. As with any collar, correct application is necessary. I’ve trained with this collar on large dogs only and have no experience with small dogs regarding this type of collar. From my experience I can give commands and make corrections by using just my fingers on the lead (normally my pinky and ring finger) while on heal. The pinch collar does not pinch the dog and it’s prongs do not stab or penetrate the dog’s skin. Most importantly make training your dog a game that the dog wants to play. Give plenty of rewards either through play, food or other reward for doing goods things and be firm and in command for corrections.
gfynmore
I find it interesting when ppl make the claim that pinch collars harm the dog. The next time you visit your vet ask them how many dogs they have treated for pinch collar related injury. Also ask them where you can find reputable studies that conclusively demonstrate that pinch collars are harmful. There is no proof to support their claims its their perception that a pinch collar is harming the dog.
Dogs are put down for the reason that they pull on the lead. If a training tool gives the owner the ability to walk and control their dog safely and humanely it is a good outcome for the person walking it. So, it stands to reason that if the collar gives the walker control over the dog it is a good outcome for the dog surely.
Christina Kocos
If it’s put on wrong it can kill the dog. It will also make some dogs aggressive. Experts will tell you that. Also who “puts a dog down” for pulling on a leash?? Are you a psychopath? I really hope you don’t have pets.
Kodiak04
If the dog is pulling you as you walk it can cause you to be anxious and therefore the dog senses this. When this is happening and you’re trying to train a protective (yet very cuddly❤️) dog, there is a good chance that you will encounter “close calls” when approaching anything that is not familiar to the animal. I almost had to re-home my baby and the chances of uneducated people making the call about whether or not he was “adoptable” weren’t looking very good…it probably saved his life and mine! If you’ve done your research, you would know that they should only be used in training (no more than an hour) or when necessary for the safety of the dog and others. I didn’t like the idea, at first, but it definitely works and I wasn’t forced into giving up my pup. I’m grateful!
Ken
You have been misinformed. Ask any vet or a real trainer. Safe and effective. My 6 year pools grandson can walk any of my Dobermans or Labradors (which pull a lot without it and then be dangerous)
Carrol Lemon
I’ve never known a responsible, loving pet owner to put a dog down due to pulling on a leash! That’s ridiculous
Ann Schurman
Thank you!
Anonymous
I swore I would never use a prong collar until my adopted 6-1/2 year, male un-neutered Rottie dragged me 50 feet trying to get to another dog. A cop had foisted him off on me. Petie was the prize in a fight between a rescuer and a drunk who wanted to sell him for dog fighting. I don’t recall having any problems once I put him on it. I could not chance any misbehavior in New York City in a building with a no dog policy. (“All dogs must be brought in through the rear door.” I am purchasing a prong collar for our third Rottie. She arrived as a 15 month old horse – totally untrained. You could not walk her on a leash nor was she housebroken. She’s much better, but grew up thinking she is Empress of All She Surveys. She has also put me in the emergency room by tripping me as she shied at a bus. She’s also sprained my 6’6″ husband’s knee. I had forgotten many lessons I had learned with Petie: You are dealing with a horse with none of the benefits of riding. 1) control the environment as much as possible until you have some degree of trust the animal will behave, 2) map out all the possible problem areas, 3) request performance but they gotta do what you ask, 4) be aware of the chain of behaviors you need to get prom point a to point b; 5) correct or praise each step of the way. I am not a professional, but in working with Rotties I feel I need to acquire the skills and mind-set of one!
JoAnne
I have a Rottie also, my boy went to obedience school for 5 yrs, we fell in love with our trainer and it kept him sharp. Our trainer suggested that we use a pinch collar on both our dogs, a year after we acquired a female Doberman, she showed us which brand to buy and how to use it. The quality ones do not have sharp points so they don’t cut into skin. I would never hurt any of my furbabies, Mouse, my Rottie, will be 10yrs old in May and I’ve had him since he was 8wks old he has never been hurt. Our trainer used to call them “Power Stearing” and I agree, both dogs are a pleasure to walk and I can even walk both at the same time. It is beautiful to watch. Other dogs are going crazy and mine are sitting calmly watching the chaos. I’m glad our trainer showed us how to use them
Christina Kocos
Maybe get a dog you can actually handle instead. Problem solved. Rottweilers should never have those used on them btw it has the potential to cause aggression.
Joni B
First of all it not a pinch collar,it applies pressure and if fitted and used correctly does 0 damage to the dog. The dog actually has the control over the pressure. If someone’s teaching to pop the collar they are not a good or educated trainer.
Dana Babb
You need to check your facts… the original pinch collar was designed for the tiniest of dogs…not the bigger, stronger dogs. It is designed to keep traches from collapsing – a major problem for the tiny dogs. Fitted properly, it is a very safe collar for the little dogs. Ed Clark designed the first mocropimch collar
It is still available.
Darrell E Sherwood
Ok I am a dog trainer and I have a deaf dog that I use one on why because it is an easy way to communicate with him and it works great. I have also used it on other dogs of my own and I have suggested some of the owners/trainers in my classes. It does not work on all dogs but in some cases when used properly it is a great tool. I also show them that if it is a quality tool there is no sharp edges and it will not puncture my skin when I use it on my arm. People do more damage with a flat buckle collar on a dog as their dog walk them / drag them down the road from
all the pressure on the neck. Any collar when not used properly can do damage.
Andrea Just
There is never a good reason to train with aversive tools. Proper training with positive reinforcement gets the desired results without leash pops and tools like a pinch collar.
Evan
Understanding the nuances of canine psychology and pack mentality, using a prong collar properly has made a huge different in the temperament, attitude and overall demeanor of our Old English Sheepdog. In a pack, dogs rely on the Alpha to take charge and lead. In a human household where a dog does not feel their owners are leaders, they will become stressed trying to constantly watch for threats, direct other “pack members” and more. In a pack, the dogs play dominance games by playfully mouthing each other. THIS is what a prong collar mimics. When used properly, it does not cause pain and helps establish the owner as the Alpha and leader. Once the dog becomes confident in the Alpha’s leadership, they become extremely laid back relaxed, non-aggressive, and stress free. Our dog used to bark and chase squirrels, refusing to come inside when called, bounding up on the couch or rushing to the door to “protect” the pack from threats. Now, she lols about, relaxed, happy, and calm. We have NEVER hurt her using this training method. She is also being trained as my wife’s service dog and the confidence she has in my wife as her leader has been phenomenal. It all started with proper use of a prong collar to establish dominance using a method that mimics what dogs do with each other. When you gain a greater understanding of how and why dogs think and act, you can see how a prong collar is not a “aversive” tool, but rather, a way to communicate with your dog in a natural way it understands instinctively.
Maddy
Living with an extremely lovely but stubborn Amstaff in downtown Manhattan this has been, and still is a life saver. Think about that next time you look at an owner with an evil eye. It’s probably for the dogs safety.
I love my boy more than anything, and I will do what it takes to keep him safe! ( he’s a rescue so puppy socialization and training was something he was never exposed to)
Even after 2 years together he will sometimes decide to go after skateboards or pick fights with other large dogs that give him a “look”
Terrier at heart!
Also I feel that it’s people with “easy dogs” that have the most negative comments and opinions. If you have ever had a bully breed, mastiff or terrier etc you know how sturdy and muscular they are. They can easily overpower a human and are strong willed too! ( I’m a petite girl myself)
I obviously know what hurts on my boy, but a prong collar is definitely not. unfortunately they look rough and give out the wrong impression. Specially when walking a pitbull. ( though I mostly get compliments surprisingly)
I recommend people to try them on their thigh and give yourself a “correction” all my friends were very surprised!

Have a great day and always choose rescues
/ The Swede and her terrier

wandawoof
Hi – I respectfully disagree with your whole premise of pinch collars. The medical (injured neck and trachea, damage to the eyes from pressure of “popping the leash”*) and behavioral issues (increased aggression by associating pain with things the dog is viewing/expeiencing) are not worth it. *NOTE – prong collar users are taught to jerk the leash (pop it) to correct their dogs.

Stated quite simply, prong collars are an aversive device that will cause pain to your dog. Sure, they can be a quick fix, but:
– Your dog is only walking nicely to avoid punishment.
– Your dog is not being taught WHAT to do, in that the old behavior will return when the prong collar is removed.
– Anything present in the environment when your dog experiences pain can take on a negative association, including other dogs, children and strangers.
– In no way does a prong collar emulate the correction of a mothers teeth to a puppy. This is a myth, plain and simple, and is unproven in any scientific study.

To quote Steve White – noted behaviorist & trainer:
“Dog training that uses pain is like a nuclear bomb – You might not see an immediate impact but there is definitely fallout at some point.”

Sincerely,

Wanda Woodworth MA, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer

Gsdsrule
Mine can walk without their prong and not pull. One of my dogs can even walk with no leash. Never trained him to do it.
Mindy
I have used pinch collars before. The first time I used one was on a 3 year old black lab. He had never been leash trained by his previous owner. I tried all other methods of leash training before using the pinch collar. I was unable to walk him even in the yard due to him pulling so much. He had even pulled me down a set of steps (almost 5 feet down) leading off my back porch. Once I started using the pinch collar the training started going a lot better. Within 3 weeks of using it I could walk him with very minimal pulling. After about another two weeks with the pinch collar, he wasn’t pulling at all on walks, to the point that my 2 1/2 year old son could walk him on the leash. I left the pinch collar on him for just a couple of more weeks after that point, so a total of about 2 months, and then took it off and only used his regular collar. I never had any problem with the pulling coming back. He was finally able to be taken into public for festivals and such without worrying about him pulling, jumping, or getting away. After the initial 2 months that he had it on, I never had to put it back on him. So your thoughts that the behavior will return once it is taken off is not always true. When used in conjunction with positive reinforcement training and not popping the leash, only letting the dog apply the pressure when pulling, it works great and causes no adverse consequences.
Angel
This is very helpful. I have a 1yr old lab/pit mix it’s so embarrassing all the pulling and jumping she does. Finally after an embarrassing scene at the vet I was done. I told my husband he had to train her, get her trained, or get her a new family. She is way too strong for me. He got a pinch collar that day. She was a completely different dog instantly. I am glad that this may be fixed in a little as two months.
G smith
No they’re not taught to pop it. They should be taught to leave slack and actually let the dogs misbehavior correct itself from the pressure of the collar. Also shorter legths on leads allow the to remain at their side or slightly in front or behind, whichever the owner likes. Popping the collar is discouraged, or should be.
Wanda L Lawrence
exactly, but there are too many untrained people trying to train dogs they are not capable of handling. this is where this collar is a bad choice. especially for yankers! i have seen some horrible photos of what “this type of collar” does to dogs.