You may have heard a lot of negative opinions about prong collars generally, or have seen one hanging on a hook at the pet store looking like a torture device. You may even use prong collars but think: “Not for my puppy, they’re too young!”. Well, let’s explore the subject in detail.
Can prong collars safely be used on puppies? Yes. The prong collar is purposefully designed not to cause damage, injury or pain, even for a puppy or young dog.
You can get the same benefits of using the prong collar as a communication device with full grown dogs and puppies alike. In fact, there are a few reasons why you might prefer a prong collar over other training tools when starting early with your puppy.
Prong Collars And Puppy Safety
When using a prong collar to train a puppy there are a few specific safety issues to be always keep in mind:
- Back up the collar: As when using a prong on a dog of any age, make sure you are backing up the prong collar with a different type of collar like a regular nylon one. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put a carabiner between the ring on the prong where you don’t clip your leash and a ring on the flat collar.
- Introduce the prong collar slowly: Don’t just put the prong on your puppy and start correcting their behavior. Make sure that you give them some time to acclimate to the feel of the prong and to pull a couple of times into the end of the leash to feel the correction. Start slow to avoid any negative reactions.
- Don’t correct too forcefully: This applies when using any training collar or leash, but something to still keep in mind. You can injure a puppy using any type of collar if you are jerking the leash forcefully. Let the prong collar do the work and only correct gently. When using a prong collar, you can use much less pressure to accomplish what you are trying to communicate.
- Remember the short attention span: A puppy can’t concentrate for very long, so make sure that your training sessions are short in length in the beginning. As your puppy grows and you notice they have more and more focus, you can begin to increase the length of your sessions.
- Take off the prong collar when playing: You don’t want your puppy to accidentally give themselves a correction or get one from another dog while playing. That’s how bad associations are formed. If your puppy is going to be involved in some rough and tumble play, just pop the collar off until you’re ready to train again.
If you keep these simple points in mind, there is absolutely no reason why a prong collar is unacceptable, unsafe or otherwise “bad” for a puppy.
A prong collar is just a communication and translation device, a tool for dog training. Proper use of any these tools will have the intended results in a safe and gentle manner, while improper use – just like any tool – will result in unintended injuries or worse.
Prong Collars Can Actually Be More Gentle
Despite their medieval appearance, a prong collar is designed to engage and squeeze equally all around the neck to avoid injury and pain. They are also made to mimic the scuffing technique from their mother’s – something that your puppy will be very familiar with.
When you pick up or adopt your puppy, they will have already had (usually) 8 weeks of time with their mother and litter mates, learning what that scuffing means from their mother. It’s not a bad idea to continue using that natural response to continue communicating with your puppy.
That scuffing motion is again engaged by the prong collar equally all around the neck.
That’s opposed to a plain flat collar, a martingale or a chain collar that will always have a pressure point, usually right over the trachea if your puppy is pulling straight ahead of you.
Puppies are a bit more fragile at their stage than an older dog would be, so if your puppy is pulling heavily on you, the last thing you want is extra pressure on the trachea.
In many cases with a puppy that pulls a lot or lunges and jumps at the end of the leash, the prong collar will provide a gentler option, as it is not able to create a pressure point on the neck or throat.
Prong Collars VS Other Puppy Training Collars
I have a whole article about choosing a training collar for your puppy here.
Some key points to keep in mind:
- This is the most vital stage of learning in your dog’s life. That makes it the perfect time to teach your puppy which behaviors are wanted and which are unacceptable. When choosing a collar, think about what
- If you are planning to do a basic obedience program right away you need a collar that will communicate to your puppy.
- A harness naturally teaches your dog to pull. The last thing anyone wants is to imprint on their puppy a behavior like pulling that will continue as they grow bigger.
Your Puppy Gets Used To Training Tools
Instead of simply letting your puppy pull and lunge into their leash and flat collar, you can get them used to using training tools like prong collars.
Even if you are not working on a basic obedience training program with your puppy (which I whole heartily recommend you consider), having them acclimated with the feel of the prong collar can make a ton of difference when you do start training.
Your Puppy Is Stubborn
If you have been follow a training program, course or book and are already having issues with your new puppy not responding to corrections with other training tools, a prong would be a gentler yet more effective solution.
A puppy can quickly become acclimated to pulling or otherwise ignoring the corrections from a slip lead, martingale or even a chain. A prong collar is going to provide a much clearer sensation even while you use a much gentler amount of correction.
What Size Prong Collar For My Puppy?
I have a whole article going into prong link sizes in detail here.
In almost every single case your puppy will need the smallest – 2.25mm – size of prong collar. They might grow out of that smallest size as they age, especially medium to large breeds, but you might also be able to get away with simply buying and adding more links.
If your puppy is a giant breed like a mastiff or Newfoundland, you might need to go up to the 3.00mm. That also depends on their age as well. I’ve seen some giant breeds that were already 35 or 40 pounds at 16 weeks.
Prongs Are Not “Bad”
Despite the reputation that many people hold of prong collars, they is absolutely no reason why they can not or should not be used as a tool for dog training, even for puppies.
There is no reason for any owner with a brand new puppy to feel ashamed or embarrassed of choosing to train their puppy using a prong collar. As I laid out in this article, provided that they use their tool properly, a prong collar is even gentler and more effective than many other types collars and training tools on the market.