The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" not only is directed at people, and dogs, but it can be directed at a training tool known as "the prong collar". We know, we know... use the word "prong" and most people cringe, makes disgust noises, talking under their breath or immediately start judging in some way. (You can't tell us you didn't do at least one of those things.) - Mmm hmm...
Before we go on, we would like you to try and stay as open minded as possible while reading this. Hey, if your on a "pit bull" dog advocate and outreach site you must be opened minded...Yes?... Ok, great... ;)
The title of this blog post is "A Positive Outlook With A Positive Approach". Two very hard things to do when dealing with something you may not have had a good experience with, heard negative things about or have not observed the subject in positive light. Kind of like the "pit bull" dog topic and the outlandish sites on the internet and fabricated media coverage. Or maybe you have witnessed something at one time that turned you away.
Most people know that IF a dog is managed through responsibility, it can be a wonderful family companion. They also know that IF a dog is managed through negligence, issues may, and most often do arise. Well, the same goes for a prong collar. IF the prong collar is used and applied correctly it can be a very useful training tool to both the dog and the handler.
Now this is where it gets tricky. This is where your mind needs to be W I D E open...
Remember above where we said "don't judge a book by it's cover"?
Next time you are out n about (weather your surfing the net or actually outside of your home), and you come across a person with their dog whom which has a prong collar on, take notice to the entire picture at hand. How is the owner/handler interacting with their dog? How is the dog interacting with the owner? Is the collar fitted properly? Is the dog staying at the owners side or pulling them half way down the street? Is the dog calm and focused? Does the owner/handler look like they have their dog under control?
If a prong collar is not to someones liking, that's fine. For some people, prong collars make a world of a difference when it comes to keeping their dogs under control, at their side and out of trouble. <-- Always keep that in mind - "under control".
When seeing someone using one of these training tools on their dog, try to have a "positive outlook" on the situation. Notice that this owner is taking steps towards managing their dog. You may not know that person, that dog or what she/he can handle. If the owner and dog are working well together, despite the collar choice, look at the entire picture as a well managed outing. Prong collars are not meant for "popping". When used correctly they are used for redirecting and applying equal amounts of pressure to the dogs neck, giving the handler more control. Even diminishing the stress to the throat area of dogs that are known pullers. If you see the person struggling, the dog pulling, the collar two sizes two big, then politely offer some "friendly" assistance.
Ask the person if you can show them a few helpful tips. If the person accepts your offer, adjust the collar so it fits properly on the dogs neck. (Check out this video on: Fitting a Prong Collar by BADRAP). Politely explain why the adjustment is better for them, their dog and how their current technique can cause future issues if not adjusted. Show them how to hold the leash, talk to the dog and position themselves to better communicate with their dog. With just a few adjustments it is amazing how much the handler and the dog can improve. A positive, productive approach will get everyone much further that an judgmental, snappy reaction.
If you happen to have cards on hand of our favorite dog trainer you have worked with, offer that to the person as well. They may not know of other training methods or who to turn to for assistance. Take steps to guide someone and not push them away.
A person should never be ashamed of taking steps to manage their dog, weather it is with clicker training or the "proper" use of a prong collar. Just as a person should never be ashamed to own a specific type dog.
Every dog is an individual with their own needs and their own limits, just as their people are . Some people benefit off of a different type of training tool/method then others. Instead of taking action in a negative way that could turn people the other direction, take steps to view the positive. Offer help where needed, look at the entire picture don't just focus on "the collar" and be thankful there are owners willing to work with their dogs.
Just because you see a prong on a dog, does not mean that person is misusing it, abusing their dog or "a bad owner". They are looking for ways to keep their dog under control. Which is what we want all dog owners to do, right?
Looking for a trainer?
When looking for a trainer to help you progress with your dog, you may not want settle with the first trainer you come across, unless you are comfortable. You should want to find a trainer that will help you understand the method they are using and help develop a program that is fit for you and your dog. Look for trainers that can and will help you develop healthy ways to build a relationship between you and your k9 buddy.
Need a local trainer? click here
Need a local behaviorist? click here or here
You can also find listings of trainers in your area through your vet, word of mouth or on line.
Doing your own research:
There are many sites, books and dvds out there that will help you move in the right direction with managing your dog. As a owner/handler you should be 100% committed to motivational, humane skills which in turn will be progressive for you and your dog - Prong collar or not.
Here are a few that we recommend:
Click to Calm by Emma Parsons
Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor
How to Behave so your dog Behaves by Sophia Yin
|photo from a bing search off the net|
This collar is two sizes to big for this dog.
The size of the prongs and the fitting (too many links) is a no no.
This is an improper use of a prong.
A collar this size is not needed for a dog of medium -large build (if at all) or dogs with short coats.
This collar is fitted properly.
Positioned high on the dogs neck and the links you can fit 2-3 finger from the collar to the dog itself.
Great communication with from the handler and eye contact from the dog.