Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prong Collars

Hiking with Riley has reminded me how wonderful a prong or pinch collar can be. Most people would never consider a prong collar to be an option for our thin skinned greyhounds. However, if you have been hurt because your dog has pulled you off your feet.... if you do not enjoy walking your dog (even small dogs) because of the constant pulling or unexpected lunges.... if other animals are at risk because you are out of control, then a prong collar may just be your new best friend.

A prong collar basically gives you some leverage so you do not have to struggle and wrestle with your dog. I liken it to whispering. I would much prefer my dog to respond to gentle leash guidance than to feel like I am tugging, yanking, and manhandling my dog with a flat collar. Most dogs will "yip" the first time they lunge hard. They aren't expecting to feel the the pinch and are surprised by it. In cruel, insensitive hands a prong collar could do damage, but in gentle hands I have yet to see a dog pull so hard to cause injuries.

In my opinion, prong collars are not a substitute for good training. With few exceptions, I do not train with a prong collar. I aim to always be consistant so when my dog wears a flat collar, I do not allow any pulling and will issue a distance penalty each time. A distance penalty is backing up in the opposite direction and making the dog change direction. It can be tedious, but it pays off after a few weeks. When I do not have time to insist on good manners, a prong collar gives me a time out so we can just walk. Its very easy for a dog to tell the difference between a prong and a flat collar so there is no confusion.

A fitted prong collar should sit above the regular ID collar. A prong collar should not look like a necklace draped around the dog's neck. The collar is made up of links that can be added or subtracted to custom fit it to your dog's neck. I prefer the small sized links for greyhounds.


KF-in-Georgia said...

I used a prong collar on Sam for a bit. What I discovered, though, was that he kept pulling against it, paying no attention to it, if he was reacting to the sight of another dog in the distance. I was able to hold him--that was never the issue--but his prey drive was just so high that he ignored the prongs until the other dog was out of sight. At that point, he'd turn around and give me an "Ow!" look.

Where it was successful was in his "I want to go this way" attitude during walks, when he tried to pull me in a different direction just because of some yummy smell or other attention getter. It was his mindless prey-reactions that made him ignore the prong collar.

After a while, Sam started paying attention to what was on the other end of his leash--me--and we stopped using the collar. And Jacey was never much problem, possibly because she'd spent seven weeks or so getting turned out at the kennel and had learned some manners there. (She hadn't learned not to change directions quickly when another dog was around; she clothes-lined Sam with her leash during our early walks.) Jacey's biggest leash-walking problem, though, was a lingering tendency to go into reverse when something unnerved her. These days, she's more likely to go straight up when she panics.

IHateToast said...

i think the prong collars get the bad rep because, like so many other things, a few people abuse it. i think i'd use one if i had a dog with a high prey drive and i wanted to hike. it's teh people who yank at it constantly that make me wonder. a little pinch on a grey is better than you falling, losing your grip, and losing the dog.

and how did i never notice the curl in that ear?!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I have had numerous high prey greyhounds in prong collars and have felt much safer. They still can pull quite hard, but I feel it is more managable for the most part..... Travis was an excellent example.

Riley is doing the same thing Katie did. Neither are going to pull me off my feet, but it is very tiring to manage the constant pulling while they are in hunt mode. I hate it when they start coughing & choking.

Ihatetoast, the first time I saw a face front picture, I thought Riley's ear tip had been torn off, but low and behold its just flipped back.


Addie said...

I had never considered a prong collar until now, and I'm thinking Hoover might be a good candidate for one. He loves his walks but he does pull (HARD) when he sees something interesting. I've had visions of him tearing my arm off and taking off in pursuit of a chipmunk, with the hand of my severed arm still clutching the loop of the leash, bouncing down the road on the pavement. Dramatic visual, isn't it? Thanks for posting this. A prong collar sure does warrant consideration, and I was under the impression that one should never be used on a greyhound. Another myth - busted!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Addie (do people call you that?), I can show you how to fit it at Greyfest.


Addie said...

Thanks a bunch! I'd love to see how to fit one, that'll be great. And you can definitely call me Addie...most of my friends do. :-)

Pam said...

Jen, I think I may have been one of the early ones to convince you about the prong collar. Do you remember the flashy "cover" I gave Travis for his prong collar? I haven't seen any of those lately.

I'm a long-time prong collar user. Like Jen, I prefer the small links for greyhounds. When I need a new one, I usually wind up buying two of the small ones and combining the links.

Back when I was doing competitive obedience training, I often used one of the "paper clip" prong collars made for toy dogs.. again, hooking two of them together to make it big enough for a greyhound. But, those itty-bitty collars should not be used outside a very controlled environment. They are easily exploded!

I've also come to like the Premier no-pull harness. I don't know it's official name. The ring where the leash attaches is in the middle of the chest. Like the prong collar, it can give you a break from the constant pulling.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Pam, I don't think I needed any convincing to use a prong collar with Travis :-). I think I was insprired after I saw Issaac in one. Yes I remember the cover you gave to me.


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Wow, she's got some funky ears!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Yeah, now I have 2 dogs with big, ugly ears :-). That's ok... the better to listen with, right?


Zan said...

Thanks for posting this - now I can let go of the guilt for using a prong collar on Rosie. I also used one of the premier no pull harnesses on her. It worked great until she figured out that even though she couldn't pull forward, she could duck around behind me and pull back and to the side. For awhile I walked her with a two ended leash with one end hooked to the harness and the other to the prong collar.

Rosie only weighs 38 lbs. I can't imagine trying to walk a greyhound with the same determination to pull. I've been fortunate - all my greys have been relatively polite on lead although Nick will try to stop and pee on every bush if I let him..:-)

NM Hounds said...

Finding other greyhound owners who use prong collars is such a relief! For years, I worried that I would be considered a 'bad owner' because of using one. However, I hunt my hounds out here in NM's wide open spaces and when walking one in a slip collar, for hours, while the dog is actively hunting is very, very exhausting. I modified a slip lead to have a prong collar on the end rather than the traditional 2" nylon band. What a relief!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I'm glad the prong collar post was helpful. I wasn't sure if it will be well received or not :-).


Chris Boileau said...

I am so happy to find this blog and comments. I have shown dogs in obedience and agility for many years but this is my first grey. I want to try a prong as a tool in training so that I don't need to manhandle him back into a sit or down when he breaks. He knows all of his basics and then some but if he doesn't want to, I can't just guide him with his collar, I have to physically manipulate him into it. From a training standpoint it seems a prong would be the easiest, and frankly gentlest, solution and I've used them on my toy breeds with great success. But like others I was concerned I'd be violating some greyhound taboo or something. Thanks for posting!