Secret Powers Prong Collars

Something that was mentioned on SHIBA-L recently was this Secret Powers prong collar by Lola Limited. Its advantages are that it looks prettier than a regular prong and also it is less likely to draw the ire of those opposed to the use of such things.  This brought up a few thoughts on the whole prong collar debate for me.

One of my tools is an ordinary prong collar, as Tierce has neck like bull and every so often requires a reminder that, hello, no, you’re not in the fucking Iditarod, thank you very much and I would like my shoulder back.

I don’t mind prancing Tierce out high, wide and handsome with his collar gleaming around his neck.  I’ve been accosted by do-gooders who haven’t been able to answer the question of how do you control a Shiba who pulls on his leash during walks as if he was Buck moving the thousand-pound sled for John Thornton so that you can have a reasonably pleasant walk uninterrupted by yelling, strained tendons or yanking the dog around.

Tierce is actually pretty good and the prong collar comes out only on special occasions now that he is almost 3.  However, when you’re dealing with an adolescent Shiba, I think there isn’t anything that beats a prong collar for quick control.

There are people who think the prong collar is cruel. I don’t entirely disagree.

Cruel” refers to “willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others”.  When you’re physically interfering with a dog so as to cause it discomfort, one can argue that you are willfully causing it distress.  (Let’s ignore the fact that Tierce considers us not sharing the toppings of pizza to be “distress” here)

The prong collar controls by causing the dog discomfort if he puts pressure against it.  I’ve put a prong collar around my arm and given it a tug and, damn, it doesn’t tickle.  Dogs’ necks are a lot tougher than human skin, but I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t feel that great to Tierce.

Yeah you're damn right she's cruel. Put this collar on me and didn't even take me for a walk!

Here’s the part that people who will condemn me for using a ‘torture device’ will copy and paste:  I don’t mind causing discomfort and even mild amounts of pain to Tierce if I think it’s the fastest way to stop problem behaviour.  If Tierce is lunging all over the place and the normal collar correction doesn’t work, it’s on with the prong collar and miraculously, a lot of the pulling and yanking and the fuck-you-I’m-going-over-here-except-I-weigh-25-pounds-and-you-weigh-mores stop.

Worse, I don’t even feel BAD about it.  Apparently if you get to the point where you use a prong collar, you’re supposed to wallow in excessive amounts of guilt and bewail the necessity of it all.  I don’t.

If Tierce walks nicely and doesn’t hurl himself against the collar in an attempt to get one… inch… closer!  to that maple leaf frisking in the middle of the road, he doesn’t get pinched.  It’s kind of like dog collar Aikido: the amount of energy the dog puts into pulling against the lead is the amount of discomfort the dog endures.  Tierce, being a sensible creature, does not endure a lot of discomfort gladly.  So he walks nicely.

I take into account MY feelings and tolerances and I’ve found that I’m a lot more patient with Tierce when I have something I know will get his attention and control him.  There’s few things more frustrating for me than a dog who just doesn’t give a shit because he knows he can handle the amount of discomfort he gets from jerking against his buckle collar.  Now that I’ve taken that away from him, he’s willing to listen to me and I can get my point across without reefing on whatever collar he’s wearing and constant warnings.

Now I’m sure that someone will bring up the head halters/choke chains/special harnesses that I could use.  Well, I’ve tried a lot of them.  Head halters would have me jerking Tierce’s head up on an angle to correct him and I just… no.  Choke chains choke.  They put pressure on the trachea, even when used properly.  Harnesses just reinforce Tierce’s image of himself as a sled dog in the Yukon Quest.

Prong collars work for me and I won’t apologize for using them.

However, there are people who have found that these collars don’t work for them (read this if only for an awesome overview of Cesar Millan’s training techniques and how Mei Chuah of the Shiba Shake blog found they worked on her dogs Sephy and Shania).  Not all dogs are created equal.  What works for Tierce, who thrives on serious Schutzhund training techniques, does NOT necessarily work on another dog or even on another Shiba.  There are some Shibas, especially some abused/neglected Shibas, who will respond to this training tool with shrieks and panic.

You can’t depend on anything to miraculously “fix” your dog’s behaviour issues.  Prong collars are a tool; they are not a cure-all for a dog’s bad habits.  So it’s up to you to determine whether the prong collar is a good fit for your dog.  It is entirely possible that after shopping, fitting and buying, a prong collar will end up not being the most effective tool for your dog.  So what you do is put the prong away and find a tool/technique that the dog does respond to.

As for the Secret Power collar above, I’ve got nothing against it, mainly because the collars are pretty and anything that makes my dog look more aesthetically pleasing is good in my book.  And, hey, if it makes people feel better about using prong collars and therefore having better control over their dog, then fine.  I’m just not ashamed of using one and letting people know that I use it.  For me and for Tierce, it works.

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The Misanthropic Shiba

18 Comments

  1. I do not understand how some people could think choke collars are more “humane”. I’ve started using an e-collar at a low setting with my APBT. I think it is actually more pleasant for both of us than other forms of correction.

  2. I would like to thank you for the job u have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same top work from u later on too.

  3. I just adopted a 1 year old neutered mail shiba and just picked up a prong collar at petco. I bought it so my gf will have better control of him when training him. The background of the story is that I work from home and MungMungYi (our dog) became very attached to me and became overprotective. He would bark at any strangers and has even bitten my gf 6 times of which 4 drew blood!

    I tried using the collar today and was amazed at how much control I gained using it. He was pretty good with just a harness, but the prong collar was precise. Although the first few couple he did scream in pain and never thought to disagree to any commands.

    My thought is to leave it on him for a while so he knows his place (currently thinks he is higher than my gf). But to my amazement he no longer shows any signs of separation anxiety either. But I wonder if the collar has made him very depressed and now he no longer cares if I leave since I put it on him and used it.

    I intend to leave it on and see how it goes tomorrow. Hopefully he will learn to accept it until he no longer shows any aggression toward my gf.

  4. I love your website. Two comments on prong collars/collars. First, I read a german study that shows that choke collars have an extremely high incidence of broken larnyx as a percentage (I vaguely remember the number in the 90th percentile). Prong collars cause no damage, only discomfort. I have used the prong collar on an akita I had who NEVER ever pulled on it, even though he had a 21″ plus neck (I had to buy two large and take one apart for extra links). My dear ol’ Da’ taught me to keep hook the collar on the leash and then make a loop that was used as the primary collar. This loop was very loose but kept constantly under tension under the dogs chin tight to the jaw line. I have used this on boerbulls, american bulldogs, bullmastiffs, pit bulls, and my own version of hell’s hounds, two Australian shepherds (smart and great at everything, but OMG they HATED the leash.

  5. I considered using a prong with a previous foster dog. I couldn’t control her at all! Nothing would grab her attention and it became an issue of safety for me and her…

    But before I went that route, I tried an easy walk harness (which she learned to pull sideways in) and finally I just gave up and let her pull in her harness. I bought a prong collar with rubber tips, and never had the balls to put it on her. Then I bought a halti, and you know.. that worked for her for the most part.

    I believe her new family uses the prong (they asked for it, and I gave it to them when they hired a trainer to help them use it correctly) and I can’t fault them for it. She was a tough cookie.. some sort of doberman/terrier mix.

    I’m not about judging people who use it wisely, with a purpose other than to look tough or purposely harm their dog, who size it correctly and make sure no harm befalls the dog (mentally or physically). I just find it wouldn’t work with my shibas because I can’t use it and I think their mental capacity for it would be limited. For them – a martingale and leash training went a long way.. which is lovely for me and my shoulders!

  6. I have to say I don’t personally use a prong collar, and even stopped using the choke chain. I went the halter route. However, I went with a front ring halter. The bonus to it is that if he goes running off, when he hits the end of the leash, his momentum flips him around. Which he doesn’t much like.

    Since I have started using it, walking him is MUCH more pleasant than it was with the other collars. I have been very happy with it. The only downfall to it, that I can see, is it can be a little akward. And when we kennel him (which we do when out of town only when we can’t take him with us for some reason) the people there can never EVER get it on him right 🙂 But that is a very small price to pay.

    • I have heard that halters can be dangerous to the dog’s neck the dog bolts and gets snapped back by it.

  7. I have to say Ive never seen a prong collar till i saw in on here, I use the Gentle leader on Tonka and after a 1 of fighting he tolerates it now. With him Im to the point where i only put it in him when we go to the pet store or walking down town where there is alot of people. He wants to go to everyone and get some pettin. Like they say hes a lover not a fighter.

    Back to the reason i wrote this is When we were at the Dog park on Saturday I saw at least 3 people carrying prong collars, No reason just noticed them……

  8. I’ve used one on my Jindo (Korean breed, larger than a shiba but just as intelligent, willful, and bitchy) and it worked like a charm unless she saw something she really, really, really wanted. Cooper, my tiny drama queen of a shiba, will scream and go limp if I put it on him. I don’t feel bad for using one either, like you said, it is a useful tool.

  9. I’ve used a prong collar on an adorable pitbull that didn’t know his own strength. It work marvelously coupled with daily walks. For the sheebs, I used to use the easy harness (hooks from the front) and pong is a great walker on that. She has been upgraded to a regular harness and walks fine most of the time unless she has to poop…. then she’s like a dog looking for crack.

  10. I am surprised that a prong collar could get through the neck fur of a shiba coat in full winter expression? Cortez’s neck is so thick I have to change his martingale collar size seasonally because of the fur.

  11. My dog used to pull like a water buffalo. I just clipped her leash to my belt instead of holding it in my hand, so she had no effect on me. She gave up on pulling after a while.

  12. Love it!! As someone who competes with Shibas in obedience I'm right there with you about prong collars, and I also agree some dogs are too "soft" but my Mashi understands and respects his prong. We wouldn't be training for Open without it. Thanks for sharin

  13. Love it!! As someone who competes with Shibas in obedience I'm right there with you about prong collars, and I also agree some dogs are too "soft" but my Mashi understands and respects his prong. We wouldn't be training for Open without it. Thanks for sharing!!!

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