Prong Collars are not all bad for German Shepherds; in fact, if used appropriately, they can be the most effective and humane way of correcting the “land sharks” during their obedience, protection and other training and walking exercises. GSDs have a strong mind of their own and a 100% positive reinforcement or bribing with treats at all times doesn’t help ubiquitously. Being the mom to two GSD puppies, I know how it breaks your heart when you’ve to give a hard pull on the prong, but it’s necessary at times. I’ve come across many pet owners and several self proclaimed dog whisperers who would freak out at the hint of using a prong collar and would make you feel like either a worthless or a cruel pet parent. It should be remembered just like any other training tool, prong collars if used correctly, and conscientiously can be an excellent training device, just as normal collars in wrong hands or emptying your bag of treats to a pointless extent can end up being a useless or even an abusive exercise.
Why Use Prong Collars:
- They enable a one-time hard correction instead of multiple nagging attempts to correct by pulling on an ordinary collar or even a choke collar.
- If your GSD is too mouthy or has excessive nibbling or biting habits and no other deterring trick is working, a pull on the prong can work.
- If he’s often distracted during obedience training sessions ( like our Enzo), you’ll need prong collars to get him focus his attention on you during training sessions.
- While out on his daily walks, if he gets too distracted by another human or a canine and refuses to “heel” or “fuss” you, a single pull on the prongs can work wonders.
- The prongs would remind the pup of the teeth of the momma dog that she uses to correct unacceptable puppy behavior.
- The prongs offer an option of self-correction for the pup: if he behaves right, he feels nothing; if he behaves wrong the momma is there to correct him. He would know pulling at the leash is never acceptable and his relationship with his owner needs to be mutually respectful. It’s super critical to properly train a pup with the particular set of tools needed in his particular case before branding him off as “aggressive” after a series of needless “positive reinforcement” attempts and then just giving him away claiming he has behavioral issues and is unsuitable to stay with your family.
How to use Prong Collars ?
- Whatever forbidding command you use to correct your GSD, for example, “NO”, “OFF”, “LEAVE IT”, or “Aus“, the command has to immediately accompany the pull so that he can register the correlation in his memory.
- Don’t give multiple mild pulls on the prong as that may send out the message that this is yet another nagging parent thing that can be taken for granted. Give ONE single but hard pull immediately accompanied by a command.
- Make sure you make adjustments in the collar length depending on your GSD’s neck size and hair density around the neck area. The main purpose is to correct him when he disobeys you. That’s it ! It’s not supposed to cause pain to your baby.
- As soon as training and/or walking sessions are over, take the collar off. Otherwise your GSD may get immune to wearing the prong all day and may get so used to it, that future corrections may not have any impact on him.
- A collar worn too tight or over a prolonged period of time may hinder your GSD’s hair growth around the neck area, especially if we’re talking of a growing puppy.
- Enzo is an unneutered, very high drive, working line German Shepherd from a stellar lineage with parents and both sets of grandparents holding impeccable IPO and Schutzhund records. Please be careful in extrapolating training techniques that work for him to other dog breeds or even for that matter neutered and low drive GSD pups who may not need the prong at all.
- I’ve come across people who tighten the prongs tight enough on their dog’s neck (many of them would point out I make Enzo wear the prong in a rather loose and “wrong” fashion) so as to choke him, then pull at the prong, and then when the pup yelps, hurriedly conclude that prongs cause pain. This is somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy. Don’t use the tool wrong before concluding that the tool itself is wrong and serves the wrong purpose.
- Every dog is unique and every owner is different. It’s the owner’s responsibility to learn the right techniques from a professional trainer (I mean a true professional, not enthusiasts disseminating their “valuable” experience free of cost across the internet and those who have never met your dog nor have the slightest idea about his nature) and then customize it according to your GSD’s unique needs and temperament.
- Keeping an open mind is very important. While prongs may be great for one dog, they may not work at all for another, depending on the temperament. Know your dog well, bond with him well, and try forging a mutually respectful relationship with him.
- I’m a pet parent; not a professional breeder nor trainer. I train my pups as a part of my hobby. My pups, however, are under the constant supervision of reputed professional trainers. The articles I write are strictly from the viewpoint of a pet parent and chronicle the day to day puppy raising experience of a serious GSD owner. As often while raising a kid, opinions of parents and teachers may vary, so can my opinions vary with other parents and trainers with a different school of thought. I guess that’s perfectly normal.
We started using prong collars on our both GSDs when they were pretty young and can’t imagine how we could have trained them ever without a prong collar. Just a word of caution: please use this tool conscientiously as its indiscriminate use can turn out to be abusive for your pet.