BARKS from the Guild January/February 2015

Page 26


The Argument against Prong Collars


Diane Garrod compares aversive training devices, their physics and psychological effects with the more enlightened approach of positive reinforcement

Photo by Dreameyce Studio

n the 21st centhe neck. Plastic tips tury, when there are occasionally are plenty of huplaced on the ends. mane and resultsSome dogs can free oriented options themselves from for dog training, prong collars with why would anyone large wire looped resort to a tool sides by shaking that has the potentheir head so that tial to do incredible the links pop out, damage to a dog's so some trainers neck and break the have come to use a bond of trust besecond collar (usutween the dog and ally an oversize his owner? Prong check chain) in adcollars are used as dition to the prong punishment to decollar so the dog crease behavior. does not run loose They involve a swift when this happens. The difference in the jerk and tightening For and demeanor of these two of the collar on the dogs is clear Against neck - causing a pinch - when the How do prong coldog does something wrong. They cause pain. Otherwise why lars stack up against force free training, which involves rewarding would they be used? the behavior we want, in this case, loose leash walking? Those The prong collar originated in ancient Greece, where reverse who use and like a prong collar say: prongs were used as protection or a preventative. Dogs were • The collar itself is designed to have the prongs often guardians of livestock. To protect their necks against predaclose, grabbing skin and pinching‚ not poking into the tors, dogs were fitted with leather collars spiked with nails pointdog's neck. The entire mechanism is designed for the ing outwardly. loose skin of a dog. In the Middle Ages, dogs had different jobs and wore collars • They can work well if used reasonably and on the right dog. reflecting those jobs. Hunting dogs wore simple leather collars • There are plenty of people who do know how to use while shepherd dogs wore spiked collars, especially in the sport prongs correctly and do not cause pain or fear in the of wolf hunting. These resembled prong collars with the prongs dogs. facing outwardly. The dogs were used as bait and sent to hunt Those who do not use a prong collar say: wolves. The sharp prongs were meant to protect them while • “Prong collars are subject to all of the same criticisms hunting, although many dogs were sacrificed in this cruel sport.4 In Europe, huntsmen fashioned the collar in reverse with nails as are chokers. Furthermore, they can do incredible embedded pointing inwardly from the leather strap. It was used damage to the dog's neck since they can become emas a standard training tool for gun dogs by J. A. Sanchez during bedded in the skin if the dog learns to override them. the early part of the 20th century.1 Most dogs learn to override these collars and people Aversive collars use discomfort or pain to cause a dog to who use them often voluntarily comment that they stop doing unwanted behaviors. Their use is controversial, with need to use some degree of pain to control their animals under some circumstances. many humane and veterinary organizations recommending “These collars, if sharpened - as is often the case - are against them.2 Like the choke chain, the prong collar is placed high on the intended to employ pain to encourage the dog to atdog's neck, just behind the ears, at the most sensitive point of tend to the person. If left unsharpened, these collars are 26

BARKS from the Guild/January 2015

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