What age to start prong collar?

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OjaiMama's picture
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I have been so against these for so long.  No, I've never had a dobie before...Shayna is my first...she stole my heart at first look in to those gorgeous brown eyes!  I have, however, had rotties and never felt the need to use anything but a normal collar on my 150 pound 2 year old rottie.  Having read so much on how the prong collars help with training (if used correctly) I'm thinking I may have to give in...although, I don't want to use it until she's old enough.  Shayna is 9 weeks old and so far doing well with the martingale collar she has and a bit of meat treat while we learn how to walk.  She's learned how to sit when instructed, within a day, and is doing a bit better everyday with walking a farther outside of our property line...this scardy cat phase is so funny and annoying at the same time!


Anyway, my question really is, at what age do you or would you suggest is the appropriate age to start using one?

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

My personal opinion is never. The primary reason they are used is the humans cannot figure out how to keep the dog from pulling or lunging ahead. This is a training failure, as anyone who has ever watched Victoria Stillwell's or Ceaser Millan's shows could understand. 

The proper technique when the dog lunges ahead or pulls, is to simply turn around. Suddenly the dog is not in the lead, but behind. When the dog again passes you, you again simply turn around. I may take awhile to travel any distance at first, but eventually they get the idea.

The pain of a prong coller is not needed. My late sister tried one, and while she couldn't keep Gretyl from pulling with a regular collar, she couldn't with a prong collar either. Eventually Gretyl settled down. In 28 years with Dobermans, I have never even had one in my home.

If you never needed or used one with a Rottie, you will never need one with a Dobie either. Anyone who can control a Rottie should be able to likewise control a Dobie. I think you will do fine without one.

Welcome to the Gentle Doberman forums.

jeshykai's picture
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Don't use it unless you think you need it.  I currently use a leather-slip leash for Steve and just use it to get his attention when I need it.  I don't know if I'll buy a prong, it depends on him.  I've both used and not used them on different dogs.  I don't think its a breed specific item, more a dog specific item. 

I agree with rgreen that there are definently other methods to use to work with your dog.  My friend's doberman, for instance, they tried all they could to get him to heel nicely on a walk.  They went gentleleader first, harness, etc, and Maynard would just slam his weight around and drag the wife down the street.  She tried circles, she tried sits, she tried it all.  He just knew he could muscle his way around her.  They got him a small prong collar and the minute that goes on, he knows its a focused walk.  I've walked him with it and never even had to tug him to do anything.  It just seemed to make him think it was work time.

You are doing your approach now and remember, she's young.  You shouldn't walk her until she's had her shots (in my opinion) but you can practice getting her used to walking on collar and leash without any other method in the backyard.  Like any training, it just takes practice.

Freyja's Dad's picture
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I was given a prong collar by a friend who had used one in training his GSD and I found it to be a great training tool.  In spite of it's menacing look it is very safe for a dog.  From a safety point of view I would much rather see a dog wearing a prong collar, which has a limited range of movement, than a traditional choke collar which does not.  A dog wearing a prong collar is also less likely to be injured than a dog constantly pulling on, and being pulled by, a leather or cloth collar attached around it's neck.

That said, never use either a choke collar or a prong collar on a dog under six months old.  Make sure you use it correctly and that it is fitted properly.  Always remove it immediately after training. 

Good luck with training Shayna. 

OjaiMama's picture
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Thank you all...Sounds like I may be okay with the training I'm doing with her now.  As I mentioned, I never liked these and have strongly been against them for ever.  I'll be trying everything else first and we will see...I'm praying I don't ever have to use one.

You all are wonderful for giving your experiences and knowledge!

Control_Freak's picture
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I have never used a prong collar...however we worked and worked and worked with Athena on loose leash walking to no avail.  We tried everything with a regular collar including every time she pulled turning and going in the other direction.  Nothing worked she would keep pulling.  Finally we got an easy walk harness and it has made a world of difference but it also rubber her raw under her front legs so I had to sew some padding for her.  Which I am assuming this has been more painful then a pinch collar or choke chain.

DJ's Dad's picture
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A prong collar or choke chain should never be used on a puppy under 6 months old, no matter what. Also, as mentioned above, dont take her outside your own house or yard on walks until after she has had ALL her puppy shots.  I think 10 - 12 weeks is the average age for DHLP shots.  (Rabies shots aren't usually given till a dog is 6 months old) 

To begin leash training on a 9 week old puppy, you should just let her drag a leash around attached to her collar for a few minutes at a time so she will get used to it. Let her have it attached while you call her to you to play, and things like that.  Then, if you want her to know that the leash is more than just something to drag around, pick it up, but dont force her to go in any direction yet....just let her know it's there.  You should try leash training with the least resistance first, only moving up to a more corrective training tool IF NECESSARY.  The goal of most dog owners is to have their dog walking close beside them on a very loose leash with only a flat buckle collar. 

I recently bought a prong collar for my 1-yr old dobie after trying flat collars, gentle leader head harness (she absolutely HATED that thing, even though she stopped pulling...I stopped using it only because she gave me a look like I was trying to break her spirit every time I put it on her).  I also used a body harness (not a no-pull corrective harness, just a regular webbed one) and also trained with a choke chain collar, but she got so used to it, she would still pull against it.  Keep in mind, Ziva is a very determined, hard-headed pup when it comes to leash walking.  It's definitely her weakest point. The prong doesnt hurt her, only gives her a pinch sensation, and is self-correcting...meaning, that if I hold the leash at about a 2 ft length, and she walks past that, it tightens enough to remind her to slow down and match my speed.  Actually, she is pretty adapt now at walking with anything I use, flat collar, harness, choke chain or prong, but I really get a nice loose leash with the prong more than anything else I use.  My goal is to get that same reaction with just a flat buckle collar.

jeshykai's picture
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Just to correct the info on the vaccinations: DHPP (DHLPP, there are other forms with other additions) or the 'distemper shot' is given from the age of 8 weeks until 16 weeks in a space of one shot a month to keep the immunities developing with the puppy.  Rabies is commonly given at 16 weeks.

Control_Freak - don't take offense to this question, but are you sure she's wearing it right?  The gentle leader easy-walk harness should be braced in front of the shoulders and then up behind.  Though I'm assuming she might just have sensitive skin.  I used this for my shepherd and I just kept it a little looser than they advertise.  The usefulness of this is it's supposed to "break" them by putting pressure on their shoulders when they are moving forward and you don't want them too, for those who aren't familiar with it.

VeronicaA's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-09

I would never use a prong collar. There are so many bad things that can happen from using one. My advice is to get a Gentle Leader. It takes a few walks for them to get use to it on their face but it is a lifesaver. I never walk mine without it.

 

**Whatever you decide to use stay away from the prong collars!

jeshykai's picture
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Bad things can happen with any training tool if its misused.  Gentle leaders can cause upper cervical damage if the owner wrenches on the leash repeatedly to get the dog to "look at them" (which is what it was designed to be used for).  And I've seen it in the hospital, so I can back up that statement.

So long as an owner is responsible with the option they choose, it will not cause issues.  Be it harness, prong, choke, or simple nylon collar.  It's a preference and most owners who make their choice do so because it is what makes the walk best for them and their dogs.