Pinch Collar: A Training Tool

Updated: Feb 16

By Bailee Smalt

A Pinch Collar, also known as a Prong Collar is one of the best tools when it comes to training your dog… When Used Properly.

It Can Help Stop Unwanted Behaviors Such As Jumping, Pulling, Biting, Barking etc…

It‘s a Form of Correction That a Dog Naturally Understands.

Like a Mamma Dog correcting her pup. She uses her mouth and teeth to gently put enough pressure to correct her puppy. The Pinch Collar does the same. I understand that the pinch collar looks intimidating, and barbaric, but please don’t judge a book by its cover.

I’ve been working with, and been training my own dogs for roughly 17 years. But have been “Training People To Train Their Own Dogs” for over 3 years now. I have been working and learning under my mother Denise, who has been Training Dogs for 30 plus years. She has personally trained hundreds if not thousands of dogs with the Prong Collar for the past 25 years.

A direct quote from Denise, "I was introduced to Pinch Collars (by a top dog trainer and world competitor) 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 of been able to handle their dog and ultimately wouldn't of been able to keep them, or would of been accidentally injured by their dog pulling them. Pinch Collars are widely misunderstood, but once a person uses one, they are glad they exist!"

I‘ve Had Many Students That Couldn’t Safely Walk Their Own Dog Before Using A Pinch Collar.

Or their kids couldn’t walk the dog either. But after getting a collar fitted properly and shown how to give a proper correction, how to reward at the right time, they can now can enjoy taking their dog new places without the pulling.

One great example was a couple that had came to me for a Private Lesson. They had gotten a Bern-Doodle named Oscar when he was a puppy. But now has grown into a very large dog, and was about a year and a half at the time. Oscar is a sweetheart but pulled so bad on the leash the wife couldn’t even take Oscar for a walk. After a Private Lesson, and getting a pinch collar, Dana the wife, was finally able to take Oscar for a walk without him pulling her/risking getting hurt. They were then able to take Oscar to one of my Group Classes, and Graduate with full control of him.

A quote from Dana, “More than happy to be an example because it has definitely helped, just being able to take him for a walk is great and it helps curb his energy level too! Combining the collar with the classes was the best decision because he actually listens more in general, with and without the collar on because it’s help establish the ground rules/ the black and white so there’s no grey area. We still have a ways to go until he’s fully there but compared to just the beginning of the year and now is a major improvement!” Thank you Dana, Jason and Oscar for sharing your story!

It’s A Language That They Understand.

If you’ve ever seen a National Geographic show on Wolf Packs or even seen a mother dog with her puppies, the mamma dog doesn’t say, ”Now hunny you shouldn’t do that.” No, she gives the puppy a correction by grabbing ahold of the puppy, bites them, may even growl and gives them enough pressure for him/her to understand to stop a bad behavior. You even see this with other dogs playing. It’s a natural behavior dogs understand.

I sometimes get the “You would never put that on a kid, why would you put that on your dog!”

Well my answer to that is; my mother didn’t bite me when I did something bad as a child... But my dog’s mom did!

We Need to Stop Forcing Human Emotion into Training.

Yes we need to bring enthusiasm, love and praise when your dog is doing well, but we never use anger or use pinch collars as a punishment. (Dogs don’t understand past tense.)

We as responsible dog owners need to figure out the best way to communicate with our dogs and figure out how they learn best.

Yes, my dog Athena is like my kid, and dogs learn very similarly to kids. They Need Clear, Consistent Rules and Consequences. I understand that Athena is a dog, and not a tiny human in a fur suit.

The Pinch Collar Must Be Fitted Properly.

If the collar is too loose or too tight, or not placed high up on the neck it won’t be as effective and can cause irritation. Pinch Collars also come in many different sizes. Larger breeds do not need the excessively heavy and larger links. Those collars are extremely less effective.

Here Charlie, a Mini Golden-Doodle, is properly wearing his pinch collar.

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

Roxanne Turner, with Michigan State explains it best. "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."

When the leash is loose, or when the Pinch Collar isn’t hooked up it’s not doing anything. And when you do tighten up the leash it doesn’t pinch the way most people think it would. Instead it puts equalized pressure all around your dogs neck. Just enough for them to understand what it means. Again a language they understand. And remember dogs have a different pain tolerance than we do. Dogs can be comfortable laying on a slab of concrete.

The Pinch Collar distributes the pull all the way around your dogs neck instead of directly on their throat. Prongs are designed with a curved prong, so they will never stab the dog, only give a squeeze.

Inexperienced handlers or a dog that pulls excessively can cause long term damage to their neck and trachea with a flat buckle collar. With a dog that wears a flat buckle, you may even notice the dog coughs after pulling. That means you may be causing damage to your dogs throat without even realizing it.

People Always Ask About Harnesses: Yes harnesses looks kind, but harnesses can actually make your dog want to pull more! And the wrong harness can give your dog more power to pull you. Also, you can’t give a proper correction a dog may need with a harness. Yes, if your dog isn’t a jumper, puller, doesn’t excessively bark or puppy bite then a harness may work for you. But psychically even a medium or small sized dog can pull an owner down or cause them to fall and get injured.

Another Couple Shared Their Story With Their Weimaraner Puppy Maggie. “When you guys 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 trainers. 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” Thank you Molly and Adam, and Maggie for sharing your story!

Molly relaxing on the boat with her Pinch Collar on.

Corrections are as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary.

And is NEVER to be used to drag your dog. A correction should be a quick snap of the collar to communicate what you want from your dog. After a correction is given the leash should be loose immediately after. The pinch collar should be used as a training tool only, and must be taken off every night and when your dog is left alone!

Yes You Can Use A Pinch Collar On A Rescue, or Any Dog With A Severe Behavioral Issue. Even An Aggressive Dog.

We had a rescue that came to us for Private Lesson, named Ryder.

At our first private lesson, Ryder was extremely fearful. And showed fear aggressive behaviors. He didn’t want to get out of the car, planted himself and his owners had to physically lift him out. After getting him out of the car, fitting Ryder with a prong collar, and using positive reinforcement.. giving him clear black and white rules the owners were able to walk Ryder without him pulling them. He was then able to attend and Graduate one of our Basic Obedience Group Class.

Ryders mom commented, “Ryder has become a different dog since using the prong collar, he has learned to stop the constant barking, come when called and walk on a leash by our side. Bailee and her mom trained us how to deal with Ryder’s fears and insecurities, highly recommend Willow Creek Dog Training.”


But we MUST Pair A Correction With Showing Your Dog What To Do Instead, And Reward At The Right Time.

Most people forget to tell the dog when they’re being good and tend to only tell the dog no. The correction is only half of the training, you must use rewards and you must clearly communicate with your dog what to do instead of that bad behavior. Teaching the dog that they make the choice and in turn can avoid corrections and receive rewards and praise.

Yes Anything Can Be Abusive, Your Hand Can Be Abusive.

Like many tools, the prong collar is often misunderstood and misused.

Unfortunately there are many irresponsible dog owners out there that use the collar improperly, leave it on for months at a time and use it to drag their dog. Don’t let this deter you from learning how to use it properly and find out for yourself just how beneficial this Training Tool can be!

All Prong Collars Are Not Created Equal.

There are different qualities of pinch collars. There are cheaply made prong collars that do not have a well rounded tip, but more of a sharp edge. The cheaply made ones will also rust, bend and can fall off easily.

Collars with rounded tips are better for your dog. We find the collars we get from Germany (Herm Sprenger) are long lasting, have a smooth round tip, and overall a very high quality collar.

Over The Past 25 Years My Mother Has Been Using Pinch Collars. She Never Had Any Cause Damage or Harm When Used Properly.

I can have the prong collar around my bare arm or bare leg and give some hard corrections and it will not break or leave holes in my skin. If you learn how to use the Pinch Collar, have it fitted properly to your dogs neck, take it off every night and when your dog is left alone you won’t have any issues.

100 Dogs Were In A Study Done In Germany… 50 Had Pinch Collars, 50 Had Choke Chains.

The dogs were studied for their entire lives. As the dogs died autopsies were performed, of the 50 that had chokes, 48 had injuries to the neck, trachea or back, 2 of those were determined genetic. The other 46 were caused by Trauma.

Of the 50 which used Prongs, 2 had injuries in the neck area, 1 was determined genetic, 1 was caused by Trauma. (Most Likely improper use)

-Informational about this Study was used from Anne Marie Silverton Seminar.

For The Dogs Under 10Lbs: We recommend using the Miniature Prong Collars designed for x-small dogs.

We fitted Tulip who was a 6 month old Yorki-Poo,

approx. 5lbs at the time with a Mini Pinch at a Private Lesson. She was jumping and pulling excessively.

A Quote from her owner,

Tulip is doing great with her pinch collar, I have never heard of a pinch collar. Walks are so much more enjoyable for her and I, no bitting/mouthing since using the collar. We are a BIG fan.” Thank you Ellie and Tulip for sharing.

What To Say To People Who Question It (My Students): I went to a trainer who has been using them for over 25 years and I personally learned how to use them properly. The collar is fitted right and is actually preventing long term damage to my dogs throat and will never take air out of their trachea like a flat buckle collar would. It is not hurting my dog, it actually applies pressure all the way around my dogs neck when a correction is given. My dog is a puller and needs a firm correction to learn right from wrong. I am giving my dog their choice to either misbehave and get a correction which is equalized pressure or listen and get a reward and praise.

-My Puppy… I currently have a 10 month old Working Line German Shepherd, Athena with a very high drive. I wouldn’t of been able to physically stop her from jumping, pulling and puppy biting me without a Pinch Collar and Rewarding at the Right Time. She just passed the Canine Good Citizen Test, and is currently working on becoming Therapy Dog International Certified when she is old enough.

Please seek a professional dog trainer that will help you how to properly fit, and use a Pinch Collar.

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