Victoria Stilwell and Prong Collars

As a follower of Victoria Stilwell’s official Facebook page, I was appalled by her post on May 10, 2012. She linked these pictures and said they showed the damage that can be done by the use of prong collars. I’m sorry but those pictures are pictures of animal abuse and cruelty by the hand of ignorance. Those awful injuries were intentionally caused by the owners, NOT by the prong collars. Pain and injury does not occur when using a prong collar correctly.

I am highly supportive of positive reinforcement training, as that is the only way I train my dogs. However, I agree with a comment made by another follower of Victoria Stilwell in regards to the pictures linked on her Faceook: “Any trainer that absolutely won’t ever use a certain piece of equipment is not a good trainer.”

The only reason a prong collar would ever be painful to a dog is if the collar is used improperly. Many people are too lazy to train their dogs the right way, using positive reinforcement, therefore they turn to prong collars as a quick fix - except they don’t know how to use the tool correctly and end up choking, hanging, and jerking their dogs for the purpose of inflicting pain on the dogs. People like this don’t deserve to have a dog as a companion.

Prong collars do not have to be used negatively. Even some trainers use prong collars too strongly in my opinion, and teach their clients to choke and drag their dogs around on prong collars. This is cruel and entirely unnecessary! I feel like my use of the prong collar is very positive with my dogs. I primarily use it with Sammy, as she has always had an issue walking loosely on a leash.

Despite her stubbornness, I always practice loose leash walking with her when she is on a leash. I feel like many people don’t consistently work with their pets, which is how they fall out of their good habits (you know all those things they learned in obedience class?) and start developing bad habits. Training isn’t just something you do in a 7-week class. Training is a lifetime commitment to your dogs! It shouldn’t stop!

When I have a prong collar on Sam, I keep the leash loose as if there is no leash at all. She doesn’t even feel the prongs of the collar until she begins to pull against it, and because of the even constriction around the neck, she simply will not pull against it. Therefore, I never have to pop the leash and correct her as you would normally do with a prong collar.

And if you’re wondering, the constriction of a prong collar is limited depending on the number of links you’ve added or removed from the collar. Too many links = little or no constriction around the neck. Fewer links = the prong collar may be too tight and can become painful (this should never be the case in my opinion). It should fit comfortably like a normal flat collar.

With some dogs, prong collars are necessary, but don’t have to be a permanent training tool if the owner practices and enforces loose leash walking regularly as any dog owner should. Any tool, from no-pull harnesses to head collars, can cause severe injuries if used incorrectly. Another thing to think about is not only should you know how to use a prong collar (or any training tool), but you should also know when NOT to.