To Pinch Or Not To Pinch Collar?

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Pinch CollarThe pinch collar, also known as the prong collar, is a metal collar that is comprised of various links which can be expanded or shortened by removing or adding an additional link. 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 used incorrectly or 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 It Works

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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 in the pinch collar pull tighter the prongs on the back side of the collar pinch (hence the name) the dog’s neck and cause the dog an unpleasant sensation which 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 while you are walking together. Pinch collars are also used to control dog aggressive dogs while walking in an area when you may encounter other dogs.

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

A pinch collar should fit close to the dog’s skin but should never be too tight or too small for the dog in question. A pinch collar should not be used on smaller dog breeds with more fragile bodies. They apply too much force to a small dog’s neck to be considered a safe option.

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 used incorrectly). Advocates claim that if it is fitted and used correctly to train a dog, the dog may experience only a 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, Sally, 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.

Leave a Reply

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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.