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Discussion Starter #1
So I took our almost -eight month old Tucker to the beginning of round two of puppy classes this weekend, using his easy walk harness as I always use it with him. The instructors took one look at the way he was jumping and insisted I try a prong collar on him for more control. Well, I said I'd try it if I could use it for free for the first week and let them know how I felt.

Well, honestly, I don't see a difference in my control between the prong and the gentle leader. And I am very concerned about the fact that the prong is generating discomfort at every correction -if kids or other dogs are nearby, what's to keep him from associating THOSE things with the discomfort (we have three young kids in the house under 7)???? What are your thoughts? I'm at this point leaning toward sticking with the harness for training - it may take longer for me to accomplish solving some of his issues, but I just don't know about the prong. Pulling at the leash has never been a huge issue for us - he's a very good walker. Our main issue is jumping up when greeting or excited, and I'm not sure a prong is the appropriate tool for this! Please - thoughts anyone? Thanks for reading!
 

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Kate
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I have no opinion of the gentle leader (the only kind I've seen is the nose collar, and I don't like those).

Prong collars are for training. Just like choke chains, if you put them on a pulling dog for walks with the expectation that the dog will stop pulling because it hurts, that's probably going to backfire on you. They get neck strong. I once saw a dog pulling so hard on a choke chain that she BROKE it. And it was a huge chain.

If you are training your dog at class or other places - where you are literally working with your dog... that's when I'd use the prong.

With walks - where the dog is wearing the collar for 1/2 hour+ and if you are going for some stretches where you are not reinforcing position or looseness of lead, that's not where you should use the prong.

For jumping on people - the best cure doesn't necessarily depend on the collar you have on your dog. It depends on you being a step ahead and reinforcing polite greetings.

With Jacks when he went through the same stage, I simply grabbed his collar and trained him to keep his feet on the ground when meeting people, dogs, children. If I was unable to follow through and keep him under control, he didn't get to meet anyone.
 

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If the issue is only jumping when greeting I would not use a prong collar.

I would get some friends to help you with working on greeting. I would start out by walking toward the friend and as soon as he acts like he wants to jump tell hm to "sit" if he doesnt listen turn away and walk back to where you had control make him sit. As soon as he seems calm start walking toward the person again. When you are abuot 1/2 there have him sit and focus on you. Reward him for paying attention to you. Start walking toward the person again. Once you get to them have him sit. I would not let the person pet him the first cuple of times I would stand there for a minute or two then turn ad walk away. Let him know that it isnt all about him.

This is what we did in all of my cgc/therapy classes to teach the dogs to sit nice before having some one pet them.
 

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and now Mollie's mom too
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I personally do not like the prong collar but have never been taught how to use one either. I am told by obedience people that they are fine if used correctly.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much for the feedback - I am going to ONLY use the prong in training classes and use the harness while walking, as he does so great with it. We walk FAR together - and I just had a feeling the prong was the wrong thing to be using on those walks, not knowing what we'd encounter along the way, for fear of him getting that feedback at the WRONG time, like with lunging excitedly at kids or dogs. Again, thanks! :wave:
 

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Have you done any training just using a flat collar? Even though we have a harness that I use occasionally, I do all training with a regular flat collar. My ultimate goal is to have a well behaved dog regardless of what she may be wearing. :)
 

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To BriGuy - I would LOVE to use just a regular collar, and I'm hoping that after this second round of training class and some more working with him, I'll be able to. I think I'm close. My BIGGEST, and really, ONLY concern, is that I usually have company on my walks - my two year old in her stroller. The harness gives me the control I need should he lunge at something, which he occasionally does, without fear of him tipping the stroller, as he is so incredibly strong. I am so with you, though - my goal is to have him walking like a prince with a flatcollar. :)
 

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Kate
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Have you done any training just using a flat collar? Even though we have a harness that I use occasionally, I do all training with a regular flat collar. My ultimate goal is to have a well behaved dog regardless of what she may be wearing. :)
^ Where I trained my guy, my instructors recommended using only regular buckle collars. This was even if people (like me) were aiming for competition obedience classes.

My guy did not wear his first prong or choke collar until he was 8 or 9 months. And then it was only to get faster/cleaner responses for competition level training.

My instructor trained me how to use the prong and put it on correctly. And since I didn't like it too much, I used my old choke chain (from my previous golden) with him and it worked just as well to get those cleaner responses.

I did not like using the prong with him, because he was constantly aware of it when it was around his neck. I preferred the choke chain because there is no correction or "presence" unless it is necessary.

A properly fitted prong collar is clipped securely high on the dog's neck. There is a constant presence, and if you have a soft dog (like my guy was), you will have that dog going overboard trying to please you, but obviously looking nervous and wild-eyed.

The choke chain is absolutely not something I would put on a pulling dog. This because when you are not giving a correction to the dog, it should hang loose around the neck. With a choke chain, my guy is not aware he has a chain on his neck unless I correct him. Which by the time I put a choke chain on him, he needed very few corrections.

So in a way, I do not necessarily believe you need to use a training collar on most goldens if you have the foundation training in place.

If you have a dog who needs a training collar to really work with him on paying attention and minor issues - even minor pulling - on the flat collar, I'd probably tell you to go ahead and use the prong. But make sure that the teacher shows you how to use it and how to put it on. And I would limit the use to those times when you are actually training.
 

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I agree that the prong probably won't do much for jumping but it is the best thing for a pulling dog IMO
Don't worry about the dog associating the correction with things in his environment. Nice idea but it really just doesn't happen.
Hopefully your instructors will help you use it correctly in class.
 

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To BriGuy - I would LOVE to use just a regular collar, and I'm hoping that after this second round of training class and some more working with him, I'll be able to. I think I'm close. My BIGGEST, and really, ONLY concern, is that I usually have company on my walks - my two year old in her stroller. The harness gives me the control I need should he lunge at something, which he occasionally does, without fear of him tipping the stroller, as he is so incredibly strong. I am so with you, though - my goal is to have him walking like a prince with a flatcollar. :)
Yeah, I understand 100%. My 10 year old daughter likes to take Cookie for short walks, and when she does that, I bring out the harness. It is a work in progress here too. :)
 

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Kate
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Very interesting and thoughtful article...

One thing I was thinking while I read it was the "old consideration" of prong collars not being for every dog, or rather every trainer. My old instructor would reserve the prong collar for those dogs who were persistent pullers and "neckstrong" when it came to other collars, even the choke chain. But even there, you had to stay after class and be trained how to give corrections with the prong. There are people out there who she considered too hard handed to use the prong.
 

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I recently bought a prong collar for my Tucker and have been using it successfully. After reading up on it and finding out how to fit and use it correctly, I can see why many owners of large dogs like to use them. In my case, I wouldn't be able to walk Tucker without it because my balance isn't good (among other health issues). My goal is to get T-man trained to be a superior loose-leash walker with a regular flat collar, but right now he's too much of a lively puppy.

I do believe that the prong collars LOOK much worse than they are and that many people react to the look of them. When I put it on Tucker the first time, I just fitted it on him and snugged it up so he knew what it was. He's never given me a hard time about it; he respects the collar.

I see a great many people using prong collars that are not fitted properly so it's important to research that and adjust the collar to your dog's size. IT SHOULD NOT BE LOOSE ENOUGH TO FIT OVER THE DOG'S FACE. It's supposed to fit snugly (not tightly), up high on the dog's neck. It should be opened when removed and fastened when put on. They make easy release versions which are easier on the fingers. I didn't buy one of those, so I got a two sided fastener and inserted it into the collar.

I used to worry about prong collars too--I thought they looked mean and the owners were mean, etc., but I've changed my mind. People need to do what they need to do to be able to walk their dogs without anybody getting hurt.
 

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If you don't want to use it and you're not getting more control-- go back to the gentle leader. I do want to say that mayve the instructors need to be of more help to actually show you how to use the prong.

I just bought a new harness, it is called the Freedom No Pull Harness. It is like the Easy Walk in the front but also constricts at the shoulders for more control. That might be something to look in to in addition to lots of practice and reinforcement of each step that isn't a pull.
 

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I went to a training class once and witnessed a trainer lift a small dog up to his waist with the leash attached to the dog's prong collar that was required to take the class. The dog screamed and the little girl, maybe 10, screamed for her father, who was watching along the side. Had her father not been there I probably would have assaulted the trainer myself. I often wondered if that dog suffered a larynx injury from that abuse. I reported the trainer to our local Humane Society cruelty division and he is no longer associated with that group. We chose not to continue with those classes. Obviously the trainer didn't know the proper use of a prong collar either.
 

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In a way a prong collar is safer than a choke because it more evenly distributes the pressure on the neck. I trained my second golden, Laney, with a micro prong for the attention training. Since, Laney, it has always been a buckle collar for obedience..and a head collar for those of mine who pull. I, personally, do not like harnesses as then you have no head control. And I really do not like the gentle leader harnesses as they really seem to inhibit shoulder movement. On 01 VeterinaryPartner Home Page - VeterinaryPartner.com - a VIN company!, there is a good article on teaching loose leash walking.
 

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If you take the prong collar and tighten it around your arm you will notice that the pressure is evenly distributed and it doesn't hurt.

With four of my dogs (GSDs and Great Pyrs ) I was taught in class to use the prong collar. I used the very small prongs, and bought extras to make the collar big enough. I would keep the leash clipped to both the prong collar and the regular buckle collar while going for walks for safety reasons, and to decrease the tension on the dog. As the dogs learned how to not pull, I would keep use the prong collar, but keep it inside out - the prongs facing outside.

A vet had once told me that some of those harnesses can injure a dog's nerves under the two front legs. I think it really depends on the dog and if the owner has been trained to use them correctly.
 
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