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 Alt, 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 aggressive toward dogs on our walks (she still struggles with this some). 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.

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Since the day she was born, Michelle has lived in a home full of dogs and dog lovers. Her home is no exception with two adorable rescue pups of her own, Bella and Lily. Their unconditional love and never ending tail wags make every day brighter.

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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!
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.
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

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.”


Wanda Woodworth MA, CPDT-KA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer

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.
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.