To Pinch Or Not To Pinch Collar?

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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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?