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Pinch Collar: A Training Tool

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Dog Training is like building a house if you spend the time building a strong foundation… the stronger, and more reliable your training will be. Just like a builder would reach into his tool box to use a specific tool to efficiently and reliably build a house... Dog Trainers and handlers reach into their own "tool boxes" to efficiently communicate with a dog.

I have been using Training Tools such as Pinch Collars and Electronic Collars for most of my life now. I Use these Training Tools with my personal dogs as well as highly recommending them to all of my students. Not because they are "bad dogs" but because it creates an effective way of communication when training.

What Is A Pinch Collar?

A Pinch Collar, also known as a prong collar is a training tool used by many Professional Dog Trainers, as a behavior modification tool and way of communicating when the dog is showing unwanted or dangerous behavior. The Collar's appearance is deceiving, as well as improper usage has led to many misconceptions. However when used properly, it is an extremely effective training tool for teaching a dog to understand what behaviors are acceptable, and what behaviors are not.

Like a Mamma Dog Correcting Her Puppies When They Misbehave.

She uses her mouth and teeth to gently put enough pressure around the puppy's neck to correct him/her. The Pinch Collar mimics the same action. Dogs understand this sensation which makes it much easier for the handler to communicate when an unwanted or dangerous behavior occurs.

At Willow Creek Dog Training We Teach Dogs To Make Their Own Good Behaviors Such As;

-A sit, rather than jumping

- Walk with, rather than pull the owner down the street

- Leave it, rather than eat the dead frog on the side of the road

Dogs Need Fair Rules/Boundaries

Dogs don't understand that they can jump on their owner...but not when the owner has a nice dress on. Or sometimes they can be on the furniture, but not when they are dirty. Yes dog's are very intelligent, but they don't understand the "Grey Area” of sometimes and maybe. My personal dogs are allowed on the furniture, but only when invited. They have been taught to offer good behaviors such as a sit if they want to get up on the couch. Similar to teaching a kid how to say "Please." If you don’t reinforce these rules, it wouldn’t be fair to yell or correct your dog when they jump on the couch covered in mud.

The Correction Is Only A Part Of The Training

Many people forget to reward their dogs when they’re being good, and tend only to use the word "No". You must clearly communicate with your dog what to do instead of that bad behavior.

This method helps encourages good behaviors to be repeated in the future.

No, It's Not Hurting Your Dog, It's Actually Preventing Trachea Damage!

Roxanne Turner, with Michigan State explains, "When used properly, the prong collar can actually protect the dog from Trachea Damage caused by an inexperienced handler, or the dog itself when it pulls on the collar excessively due to excitement or bad behavior."

Pinch Collars don't "Pinch" The Way Most People Think It Would. Instead it evenly distributes pressure around a dog's neck. Prongs are designed with a curved prong, so they will never stab the dog, only give a squeeze. The collar gets the name Pinch originally from having to "pinch" the links together to put the collar on and off the dog.

Prong Collars Must Fit Properly

If the collar is too loose, and not placed high up on the neck it won’t be as effective. If the collar is too tight it may cause irritation to your dog's skin if they are sensitive. Pinch Collars also come in many different sizes and brands. Cheap Pinch Collars will rust and bend easily. Larger breeds do not always need the excessively heavy / extra large links. Those collars can be less effective.

Pinch Collars are a Training Tool. They must ALWAYS be taken off at night, when your dog is left alone, and when your dog is playing with other dogs. You should never leave your dog unattended while wearing a pinch collar.

A Student Shared Her Personal Experience with the Prong Collar

"When you first introduced the prong collar, I hated it. I thought it seemed cruel and I was embarrassed when random strangers would approach us about it. I’d always want to put her bandanna on to cover it so others didn’t think she was a “bad dog”. After learning from you about how to use it safely, reading the articles that you provided about how they actually prevent laryngeal damage compared to flat collars, and seeing how much Maggie’s behavior improved with it on, my partner and I were sold. Now, I feel empowered when rude strangers approach me about it. I’m proud to tell them the benefits and indicate that it was recommended by our trainer. When we first got Maggie, I had trouble connecting with her because she was difficult to manage. I wondered if maybe I wasn’t a “dog person”. Getting Maggie’s behavior under control allowed me to form a lifelong bond with her. Truth is, dogs who are well trained are universally the most adored. We get so many compliments about Maggie’s temperament and I would never train another dog without a prong collar." -Molly A.

How Did I Learn About Pinch Collars?

I was lucky enough to learn from an amazing trainer that I just happen to call "Mom." Denise Smalt, founder of Willow Creek Dog Training has been successfully using Prong Collars for over 28 Years now. I asked my mother to share a brief statement about her experiences with Pinch Collars.

"I was introduced to Pinch Collars by a top dog trainer and world competitor in the sport of Schutzhund over 28 years ago. She taught me the proper way to use the collar, and how beneficial they are when they are used correctly. Over the years I have passed this on to all of my students. Helping many who if they did not use the pinch collar, either wouldn't have been able to handle their dog and ultimately wouldn't have been able to keep them, or would have been accidentally injured by their dog pulling them. Pinch Collars are widely misunderstood, but once a person uses one, they are glad they exist!" -Denise Smalt

For Many Years Willow Creek Dog Training Worked With The Kramer Foundation.

Which is dedicated to fostering, rehabilitating and re-homing dogs that would historically be euthanized in shelters for behavior and/or health issues. I asked Julie to share a few words about the Collar as well.

"The prong (pinch) collar is such a controversial tool, but just like any piece of equipment used correctly, it can bring amazing results. It needs to be the proper size for the neck, the correct size link, and most importantly it needs to be seen as a teaching tool and not a crutch. It should never be on the dog unless you are connected to the leash. Just like you wouldn't build a house with only a hammer, but rather have a full toolbox to complete a job, the prong collar is simply a tool in your training box that can help you build a successful dog. The dogs learn to turn the pressure on and off themselves which takes you pretty much out of the picture, and the more they figure out on their own without us yanking to them and pulling them around, the more it sticks with them. Best part about the prong collar is......a good momma dog sets the foundation long before we put a collar on. We just need to tap into that. Every dog I train gets introduced to the prong collar, from my working dogs to my therapy dogs.”

-Julie Lathrop, Kramer Foundation.

In Conclusion, Pinch Collars can be an effective way to communicate and train your dog when used properly. Please never use a pinch collar without learning how to use them properly. At Willow Creek Dog Training I personally take the extra time to show owners how to properly fit and use a Pinch Collar. These collars are never required, but highly recommended.

-Bailee S.

Owner of Willow Creek Dog Training

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