Let me first start off by saying that I am not anti-prong collar by any means, and I have quite a bit of experience with them.

So in this blog I’m not going to be saying never use them… I’ll just be explaining why I believe they should not be used in aggression or reactivity training.

Before I knew anything about dog training, I used one with Gibson because the trainer I hired told me to. It helped a bit with stopping him from pulling, but it didn’t stop it by any means.

It also didn’t do anything to help his leash reactivity, which at the time was absolutely horrible. In fact, it made it worse.

But on the other hand, my brother’s Belgian Malinois, Cash, is a completely different dog with a prong collar.

Before my brother started using one with him, walks were a complete nightmare, no matter what we tried. He pulled as hard as any dog I’ve ever seen.

Food didn’t work, turnabouts didn’t work, all the other (several) techniques we tried didn’t even help the pulling a little.

So we tried a prong collar, and I swear to you, one mild pop and he instantly straightened up and walked right at my side like he’d been doing it his whole life.

And since he wasn’t reactive at that point (he was before, but it was easily fixed), structured walks with him became incredibly easy for my brother.

I tell that story just to demonstrate that there are times where the prong collar is really helpful and makes life better for both the owner and the dog.

But that is not the case with aggressive or reactive dogs.

If you go on YouTube and look up videos of people fixing leash reactivity and in 95% of them, the absolute FIRST thing they do is put a prong collar on the dog.

That’s addressing the symptom (reactivity), not the cause (fear, improper leadership, etc).

Sometimes that’s okay if the cause is just over excitement like in Cash’s case. But in the case of a fear-reactive dog, it’s not okay. It’ll make the problem worse.

This is the best way I can describe why using prong collars on a reactive dog won’t stop the reactivity, like people think it will.

Let’s assume 0 means the dog is neutral. They’re not happy, they’re not mad, they’re just neutral.

+10 means they’re really excited, -10 means they’re really fearful/angry/anxious/whatever.

If you’re on a walk with your human-reactive dog, and they see a person across the street, they go instantly from a 0 to a -10, right? They’re mad, they’re scared, they’re upset.

If you whack that dog, who’s at a -10, with a prong collar… do you think that’s going to bring them back to 0? No!

It’s going to send them to -20.

That’s why so many owners get bit by their own dogs in situations like that. The dog is already super frustrated and likely already an unstable dog to begin with… and then you’re inflicting pain on them while they’re in that amped-up state.

They have so much negative energy built up, they release it on the owner, bite them hard, and then the dog gets put down.

Obviously that’s a worst case scenario, but my point remains.

Prong collars don’t calm a dog down, and that’s what a reactive dog needs, they need to learn to be calm in those situations.

And there’s no training “tool” that will be able to do that for you.

There’s no hidden secret or training method that will fix it instantly, which is what people want (including me at the time), and that’s why the prong collar is so popular.

But for aggression and reactivity training, you don’t want to use them.

Because in those situations, they don’t calm, they frustrate, and that’s the opposite of what we want.

© Trail & Bone Co. | All Rights Reserved. | Chicago, IL 60655 | [email protected]