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I asked this question Can check (choke) chains still be used to successfully train dogs? and wanted to address specifically the use of a prong collar.

prong collar

(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Is it harmful to use a prong collar and if so, why?

  • edited, there are answers for this and it needs to be addressed, as it will, inevitably be asked. There are articles to cite when answering. This is not opinion based – Nobody Oct 18 '13 at 23:19
  • see this, similar and valid pets.stackexchange.com/questions/749/… – Nobody Oct 19 '13 at 0:00
  • Some research shows a variety of published answers to this question. Answers would do well to to choose solid supporting references – James Jenkins Oct 19 '13 at 1:33
  • @JamesJenkins totally agree, we need good answers for all the posts – Nobody Oct 19 '13 at 2:21
  • This will be particularly difficult as there are two distinct and non-compatible points of view. – James Jenkins Oct 19 '13 at 9:45
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First we could say that yes, this is clearly harmful, and that's the whole point of it !

Then we should ask ourselves "do I want to harm my dog" ? This depends on your own point of view.

But then, more importantly: do we need to harm a dog to train it ?

Many methods that were used in the past, and that are still used in many places are based on outdated concepts and training methods: strongly jerking the leash, using choke collars, etc.

Nowadays most successful trainers use so-called "positive reinforcement methods": from dolphins, chickens, horses, humans (google "tag teaching"), to dogs. These methods are based on real and up-to-date scientific results (applied psychology meeting ethology) and are constantly evolving and being refined. As an introduction to this I suggest to read this.

Answering the question "do we need to use chain collars to be successful" also avoids the endless debate "yes it hurts - no, it's not too bad, etc.". People arguing to use these tools are constantly getting closer to abusing their pets.

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