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Thread: Alternative to Prong Collar

  1. #1
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    Default Alternative to Prong Collar

    Hi folks, I have a question about alternatives to prong collars for training. I thought a bit of background info. would be helpful. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions.

    I recently moved to Adeliade from the U.S. Even more recently my husband and I welcomed two puppies into our home. My husband has mainly had smaller dogs (toys or terriers) and has done very little training and I've had larger working dogs (GSDs and Rotties) and have trained them for Shutzhund and done a bit of agility work (in fact back in the U.S. my Shutzhund trained rottie saved my life when an intruder broke into my house one night when I was home alone). My husband picked out a red heeler and I chose a great dane/mastiff/ridgeback cross. While we each do training with both dogs, he is the primary handler for Jethro (the red heeler) and I'm the primary handler for Abby (the great dane/mastiff/ridgeback cross).

    Back when we first got Abby I hired a trainer to come out to do some one on one training with us. My more recent experience is with higher level training, so I wanted a puppyhood refresher. The trainer confirmed that I had a good handle on things and that Abby was coming along nicely.

    Well Abby is 6 months old now and it's time for obedience class. We went to the local dog club and signed up last weekend. From the age of about 5 months I have been using a prong collar with Abby, just as I have always used with my other dogs. She is a very happy, well adjusted, playful, and polite pup (not to mention big!). The obedience club was shocked to see that I had a prong collar on it and they asked a lot of questions, which I was totally fine with. I know how to use one, I'm experienced with using one, and I understand people might have a knee jerk reaction at first. I also explained how prong collars are often safer and more humane that choker/check collars. I even took the collar off of Abby and showed the folks at the club how it works and encouraged them to give themselves a correction around their arm or leg to dispel any misgivings that they might have. The folks at the club were really open minded and decided to permit the prong collar and they had also heard of them before and know that in the U.S. we use them for training and even on service dogs.

    Today we got a phone call from the club saying that prong collars are illegal under an animal cruelty act here in South Australia. So of course I don't have an issue with the dog club, it's not their rule it's the state's law (which I still can't believe! It's nowhere even remotely close to being cruel). Can anyone direct me to a website where the state law banning prong collars in Australia is laid out? Also, the lady from the club told me that if I was to take Abby for a walk here in South Australia with a prong collar a ranger could actually take Abby from me for animal cruelty.

    Obviously I've got to find an alternative to using a prong collar. I would like to train at the local dog club and I certainly don't want to risk loosing Abby. However, I am really uncomfortable with the idea of using a choker/check collar. My vet back in the U.S. was very opposed to these as he saw so many dogs with damaged tracheas and other neck trauma. I'm contemplating just training Abby with a regular soft collar. I'm also not interested in using a harness or a halti/muzzle harness. I don't think that either is a proper training tool for a dog without issues that necessitate the use of those specific items and have seen them create problems when used needlessly.

    I would certainly appreciate any suggestions on training collars that are safe, effective, and legal. Thank you!

    ~Mollie

    P.S. I'm NOT interested in discussing the perceived cruelty of prong collars. I have used them on 3 dogs with fantastic results. None of the three dogs ever sustained bruising, bleeding, or even yelped. Plenty of people who have never used a prong collar have somehow managed to form rather strong opinions about them. Certainly everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I'm simply not interested in hearing negative or derogatory ones regarding this. Thank you for respecting this simple wish and responding appropriately.

  2. #2
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    Why prong collar? Why always? I completely understand obedience club denied the use of it. I mean, I can understand if you had to use it for a particular and dog for particular reason, but I don't understand using it always and on any dog. I never use them and normal flat collar proved to be fine so far, even with "problem" dogs that tend to pull.

    On one thing I do agree - prong collar IS better and less aversive/damaging than choke chain. And that's been proved by veterinarians/specialists. However, if it's forbidden by the law I don't think you can do much about it. Instead of using traditional choke chain perhaps they would allow using a martingale that prevents complete closure on the neck.

    More and more trainers around the world use plain flat collars for training and use more positive reinforcement and less corrections, so i don't see why is it necessary to use either choke or prong collars.
    Respect and you shall be respected. Animal is always right.

  3. #3

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    What's wrong with flat collar training?

  4. #4
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    South Australian Legislation

    It's called the Animal Welfare Act 1985 as amended to 2010

    harm means any form of damage, pain, suffering or distress (including
    unconsciousness), whether arising from injury, disease or any other condition;
    On page 7 it has a description of "ill treatment of animals" that is outlawed.

    Section 15 is specific about electrical devices,
    a collar designed to impart an electric shock - is outlawed, there is no discussion of the amount or duration of the shock.

    It's not very clear if an electric fence is allowed or not.

    Prong collars are not mentioned so if you can show it does no "harm" by their definition (and how would you do that?), then it's legal.

    As far as I know prong collars with flat pinch prongs not sharpened pointy ones, that don't bruise or damage the dog, are legal in SA.

    If the dog club says no - they say no. I can imagine it would be hard to explain the scary appearance every time someone new shows up or stop the self helpers from getting one and using it with no training or skill (bad). If you ask the RSPCA they'd say they were illegal but they'd be wrong.

    An alternative to the prong collar, which is nicer than the choke chain is a limited choke chain aka a martingale collar

    K9pro Martingale Collars (or Limited Slip or half check collars) are made of strong fabric and strong chain, no plastic buckles!

    or

    Callicoma.com.au Collars

    You could also try a halti or gentle leader. But I'm not sure I'd bother with one of those for a dog that has been trained with a prong collar. Strong dogs can snap the head halters.

    Or my fav for a dog that likes to pull is a properly fitted front attach harness. Not much good for the really deep chested dogs or tall dogs with short handlers though.
    Dog Harness, Dog Training Supplies | Sense-ible and Sense-ation Dog Harness
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 02-03-2011 at 02:04 PM.

  5. #5
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    The obedience club didn't deny they use of it, they were fine with it on Sunday. Since then they found out that it's illegal in SA. So a prong collar is obviously not an option now.

    I've used a prong collar for practicality. My dogs have very strong drives and they're truly working dogs. They love having a job and being asked to perform. When training for something like Shutzhund, dogs with strong drives and work ethics can get very excited and focused. So a prong collar clearly makes more sense there. I've also gotten great results with a prong collar. All of my dogs are very well adjusted, happy, and respectful. Even my GSD who came from a puppy mill and needed two hip surgeries before she was a year old did very well well with a prong collar when she was physically able to begin training.

    There is nothing wrong with a prong collar. It's farm more humane and safer than a choker collar, yet for some reason most people don't even raise an eyebrow at a choker collar. Asking why always a prong collar is like asking why someone uses a choker collar or a harness. It's a tool that can be used effectively. While I surely wouldn't use a prong collar on a very sensitive dog or a Chiwawa most larger breed dogs are fine with them. Prong collars are VERY common in the U.S. and the trainer that trained me was very keen on them (he works almost exclusively with Rotties, Dobermans, Pits, and GSDs).

    "More and more trainers around the world use plain flat collars for training and use more positive reinforcement and less corrections, so i don't see why is it necessary to use either choke or prong collars."
    LOL ... I have no clue if that's accurate, but I see more and more poorly behaved dogs these days. But yes, since prong collars are illegal here I'm leaning towards using a flat collar.

  6. #6
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    Hi Hyacinth,

    Thanks for the links to the legislation and for the suggestion of a martingale collars.

    I can certainly understand the dog club not wanting to be associated with the insane perceptions of the casual observer of "the evil prong collar." I also agree that a prong collar in untrained and inexperienced hands would be a very bad thing.

    When Fedra suggested a martingale, I assumed that she was referring to the same type of martingale used with horses (I used to compete and train horses), which is really more of a harness than a collar.

    Funnily enough, I purchased the prong collar from your website. I'll be purchasing a martingale collar and new leash momentarily.

    FWIW I originally chose to purchase from your website because of your sound articles regarding training and drive. I completely agree that a combination of positive and negative reinforcement gives the best result. I also sought out a dog from a"pigging line" because I wanted a dog with a high prey dog she also has a pretty high pack drive which is a great added bonus.

    Thanks again for your help!

  7. #7
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    I am not even going to go into a for and against argument of the prong, because it is illegal. But i might have an option.

    I do obedience with very fit newfies and they can also get exited with water training and just being happy.

    My older dog does not pull at all, but i have to admit that when i took her on ad a people and dog aggressive rescue at 14 months I used a check chain. But i never choked my dog down, I used it only as a pop and always from loose....She would not take treats and did not react to play in her initial first four month. But she is now on a flat collar.

    BUT......The item I would now ask you to give a try, if you are worried about pulling is a harness that has the ring at the front. My newfie pup of fifteen months has only had positive training and generally is a gem to work with, But when we first meet and greet at the Kennel Club, she can get a little exited. And having three dog on lead she sometimes pulled a little. I know you can teach not to pull, but it is hard with three.
    I used this harness only to go into the grounds and Katy just walks along the other two.
    It amazed me with only one use how she "got it" straight away, no pull at all.
    it is like a front end yield on a horse, when you push the shoulder with the left leg, to go right...So simple and so easy. I only use it as a training tool and I only use it when i have my hands full (with dogs) And they are not expensive. Just a suggestion
    Pets are forever

  8. #8
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    a combination of positive and negative reinforcement gives the best result.

    This is very true of the larger working dogs, all positive may be fine on pets only, but where instant obedience may be called for you do need to use both positive and negative

    However, once trained for basics and that should not take long, you ought to be able to use a bit of string! if you still need a prong after a few weeks training get better advise from a good trainer.
    I have prong collars and hardly ever use them, also use chokers but can control on a flat collar once a dog is trained, or indeed no collar at all 8>)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minibulls mum View Post
    a combination of positive and negative reinforcement gives the best result.

    This is very true of the larger working dogs, all positive may be fine on pets only, but where instant obedience may be called for you do need to use both positive and negative

    However, once trained for basics and that should not take long, you ought to be able to use a bit of string! if you still need a prong after a few weeks training get better advise from a good trainer.
    I have prong collars and hardly ever use them, also use chokers but can control on a flat collar once a dog is trained, or indeed no collar at all 8>)
    Yep i agree, you always word things so well
    Have you ever tried the harness that clips at the front? It will only be short term for us, but i do love it
    Pets are forever

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by newfsie View Post
    BUT......The item I would now ask you to give a try, if you are worried about pulling is a harness that has the ring at the front
    I've never seen that type of harness. Sounds like it's different from the traditional harness which actually encourages pulling. Abby doesn't pull though, so it's not an issue.

    I've just ordered the martingale collars from K9 Pro for both of our pups. Thanks for the suggestion though.

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