To Pinch Or Not To Pinch Collar? Pros, Cons & How To Use


Last Updated: May 2, 2023 | 7 min read | 42 Comments

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Is your pup a nightmare to walk on a leash? From excessive pulling to lunging at other dogs, some dogs need extra training to make walks go smoothly. A pinch collar can help train strong or aggressive dogs, but some criticize their use. Find out why they’re controversial and how to use one correctly.

Pitbull sitting on pier in blue jacket with pinch collar and leash (Caption: Pinch Collars For Dogs)

Figuring out the best way to train your pup can be challenging. However, some methods are more controversial than others. A pinch collar for dogs, also known as a prong collar, is one method for leash training that elicits a lot of opinions. No matter what you think about pinch collars, people commonly use them to help their pups overcome leash pulling and other issues.

What Is A Pinch Collar?

A pinch collar is a metal collar comprised of various links that you can expand or shorten by removing or adding links. Each of the links in the collar has a set of metal prongs that rest against a dog’s skin.

It’s a controversial training apparatus because it may cause the dog to feel pain if misused, especially on small dogs. However, many people claim to have found much success when used correctly, especially with large, strong dogs.

You can use a pinch collar for many reasons, including teaching your dog to heel, not to pull, not to heed distractions while walking, and not to pick up “dirty” items from the ground. They also help 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; you should not use them on small or fragile-necked breeds.

Pinch Collar vs Prong Collar

While some may think pinch and prong collars are different, they refer to the same type of collar. The term pinch refers to the way you have to pinch the prongs to open and close the collar, while prong relates to the prongs that protrude toward the neck and are the mechanism for training.

How Does A Pinch Collar 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 as they do on a piece of jewelry. The prongs of one part of the collar fit directly into the loops of another component. The pinch collar also has a small silver ring that attaches to your dog’s leash. This ring should sit on the back of your dog’s neck.

As you walk your dog on a pinch collar, the prongs simply rest against your dog’s skin; however, as your dog starts to pull, the tension in the leash tugs at the collar and pulls it tighter. As the links pull tight, the prongs on the backside 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?

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While not everyone agrees, when used properly, prong collars are meant to be very safe. Safety is a concern when the dog owner does not know precisely how to use the collar. The key to safety is placing the collar higher on the neck closer to the ears than a normal collar. The collar should also have a snug fit, only able to slide two fingers underneath it when it’s on. It’s also essential to take the pinch collar off when not being used for training walks.

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’s a microprong collar that’s designed to keep the trachea from collapsing, the primary concern for tiny dogs. When fitted correctly, 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’s 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 is associated with individuals who misuse the collar and snap on the leash to suddenly tighten the collar and, therefore, cause increased pain and potential tissue damage to the dog.

There’s also the potential of choking the dog if the collar doesn’t fit correctly. A vet or pet store specialist should fit your pinch collar if you’re unsure how to fit it correctly yourself. When used correctly, the collar works as a preventative measure to help your dog remember his manners in public.

Back Up Your Pinch Collar

Gentle Creatures Collar Companion

Having a backup for your dog’s pinch collar is a valuable safety decision. If the collar slips off unexpectedly, you want to make sure you still have control of your pup. You can use a backup to connect the pinch collar to the regular collar, and there are a couple of options you can try.

The Gentle Creatures Collar Companion has a double backup clip that attaches on one end to the prong collar and the other end to the regular collar. You can also use a locking carabiner to connect the regular collar to the pinch collar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions we think our readers will want to learn more about.

What Is Pinch Collar Training?

The idea with this type of training is that as long as the dog is walking calmly, the collar fits comfortably. If your pup pulls the leash, the prongs will dig slightly into his neck, causing behavior correction. This training can create a calm, leash-trained dog who behaves well on a leash with continued use.

Is A Prong Collar Training Different?

Prong collar training is the same as pinch collar training.

How Should You Place A Prong Collar On A Dog?

The key is not to try to slide the collar over your dog’s head. You’ll need to open the collar between two links, and then you can reconnect it once it is around the neck. See the video below for an example of how to place and remove the collar.

What Is The Best Prong Collar?

Herm Sprenger Prong Dog Training Collar

Our pick for the best prong collar is the Herm Sprenger Prong Dog Training Collar. This collar is a typical recommendation of trainers who use this type of training and is available in a few sizes. In addition to the classic chrome collar, you can also get this collar in black.

What Is The Best Pinch Collar?

Again prong, and pinch collars are the same, but if you’re looking for another option, some people like a quick-release collar like the Wiotar Dog Prong Collar. This collar provides the same training concept but is easier to get on and off quickly.

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.

Sally the dog sitting in the grass

When the trainer put the pinch collar on Sally, my heart sunk immediately, the collar had a very harsh look, 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 that I should never have continuous pressure on the collar, i.e., 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 your 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 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 use it properly. These collars can be dangerous if not used properly. It’s essential 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.

How To Use A Pinch Collar

Not sure how to use a prong collar? This five-minute video from Koco Garcia shows you how to use the Herm Sprenger Prong Dog Training Collar, which is popular with some trainers.

More Than One Way To Collar Train

Pinch collars aren’t the only way to collar train your pup. There are a variety of dog training collars that might suit your needs. From helping to reduce barking to obedience training, you’ll find a collar that might be helpful.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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