A prong or pinch collar is a collar often used in dog training methods, especially to work with dogs that tend to pull on their leashes or lunge when they are walked. It is somewhat similar to a slip collar, which can be made of metal or nylon, because the collar can be tightened by a light snap of the leash to help keep the dog pacing appropriately. Yet unlike the slip collar, the amount to which you can restrict the leash on a pinch collar is limited. This way it is not likely to choke the dog, but to serve as a possibly briefly painful correction.
The basic pinch collar is made of metal and lined on the inside with blunt metal prongs. When the leash is snapped, or the dog begins to pull forward, the prongs can poke the dog’s skin, usually not to the point of injury. If you are concerned regarding injury with this type of collar, you can buy prong collars with plastic tips on each prong, but these may prove less effective with long or bushy-haired dogs because they may not prove as much of a correction as you would like.
Once the pinch collar is snapped, it automatically loosens as the dog is brought to heel, allowing the dog to have more comfort. Placement of the pinch collar is very important: it should be placed just below the ears to avoid damage to the larynx. Even though the pinch collar may look somewhat torturous to some dog owners, it is actually less likely to injure a dog’s neck or throat than a choke chain, as long as the collar is placed and fits properly. Due to the limit of the pull, you won’t choke the dog, which can cause damage to the bones in the neck or the trachea. Instead, the pinch itself is the correction.
This does not mean that a pinch collar can’t injure a dog. Owners who choose to use one should be trained in fitting their dog properly, and in learning how to lightly pop the leash so the only correction is a slight pinch. Some feel that this form of correction is still unkind to the dog, since it uses pain to teach a behavior. Yet for others, the method works well, and very quickly the dog is able to walk on leash without pulling or lunging. It may be particularly helpful for large dogs that are able to “walk their owner” rather than the other way around.
If you’re opposed to using a pinch collar, there are a few other collars that can correct leash-pulling behavior. These include the haltie, which fits over the snout. When the dog begins to pull, it finds itself turned backward because its head will naturally turn as it reaches the end of its leash. Halters that attach to the leash at the front of the chest may also prove corrective, since again the dog will either feel pulled upward as it pulls, or will turn when it gets to the end of its leash. Some trainers feel these won’t train the dog to walk with a simple nylon collar in place, and some dog owners do find these collar forms difficult to put on their dogs.