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Something to keep in mind is there are no miracles in dog training.
A lot of people like "gentle" leaders because it's in the name. You can walk a dog wearing one using just your pinky. The reason why is the strap around the muzzle exerts pressure around the nose where the dogs have a ton of nerves. The dogs are more sensitive in that area than they are around their necks.
Retrievers are bred to have strong necks (because they are supposed to carry heavy birds). For this reason they are a lot to handle on leash if not trained to be soft/responsive to subtle leash corrections.
So prongs... have been a go to for a lot of trainers. Because they allow for control and responsiveness with some pretty strong dogs.
One of my teachers uses prongs with her flatcoats when walking them from one building to the other. She is not one of those trainers out there who consider prongs to be a mandatory obedience training tool and I've never heard her tell any students to put a prong on their dogs. But she uses them with her somewhat boisterous dogs.
All of that said - people are putting prongs on their dogs and not learning how or why they work.
The idea behind prongs is the tool replicates the jaw of an alpha dog pinning an offending dog. This is why back in the 90's, these tools were primarily used for very dominant and macho type breeds. It was supposed to give a trainer an upper hand on a lot of dog.
I'm not sure how that all translated to every trainer recommending people use prongs, but would gather it had something to do with people no longer using leash corrections and or trainers getting up in age and wanting to have really powerful dogs - but wanting control.
Either way, there's people who put prongs on their dogs and maintain lightness or softness on the leash. The idea is that the dog will not feel the prongs digging in unless being corrected. And a correction is a finger squeeze.
With everyone putting prongs on dogs and pushing the use of prongs, you've had people misunderstanding how the tool works, how it is put on, why it works, and how to train a dog with a prong collar.
This has led to injuries and or collar failure (dogs pulling so hard they break the collars). Same thing as choke chains which were the hot tool for everyone prior to prongs.
Choke chains got a bad reputation because people would put them on backwards and or put the dogs outside on a tieout wearing a choke chain.
People if taught well from the start - would put the choke chains on correctly and then keep them on the dead link unless actively training. This means that if the dog pulls while wearing the choke chain, it will not choke the dog.
Choke chains are supposed to be fitted (only so big as to permit the the owner to slide them on and off over the dog's head). And when actively training a dog with a choke chain, it should be placed high up under the jaw.
Note, I do put loose chains on my dogs for obedience, but I also do not require a correction for them beyond chain rattling. The chain never had to tighten around the neck - except conformation which is a different beast altogether.
Anyway. If the instructor is teaching you how to train your dog with a prong and the dog only wears the prong when working - that's fine. Just don't get too set on using prongs all the time when training. The reason why I say that is you can not have a prong on your dog on a trial site. So if you have that crutch, you are going to be very stressed when trying to walk your dog around a crowded show site, even if you do not intend to use in the ring.