Prong Collars – Whose side do I listen to?

Am I a bad FurMomma?

I can’t help but keep equating having a dog to having a child. Yes, I understand that one is infinitely more expensive and complicated and taxing than the other. But it still stands that many of the arguments, worries, and stressors are similar, if not similarly leveled.

Aside from the blatant discrimination against pitbulls, I’ve also played victim to major judgments in my “parenting style.” The most prevalent of which being the prong collar.

Petco Training Chain Prong Collar for Dogs

Prong collar for sale from Petco – in case you didn’t know what one looks like

Before adopting the dog, FH and I agreed not to use one of these, despite never having researched the issue or training methods.  Simply put, they make scary looking dogs look scarier, and we knew we’d probably be getting a scary looking dog.

Our entire thought process changed when we adopted Reba.  She was wearing a prong collar when we met her at the adoption event and her foster mom said she walks great on a leash.  And she does…until the prong collar comes off.  I almost ended up on my face and Reba ended up choking and out of breath because she pulls so hard without it.  Needless to say, we stopped at PetSmart on the way home and bought one.

Both foster parents we spoke with who work for the rescue organization and have fostered a wide variety of dogs swore by them.  A lot of trainers also swear by them (example 1).

It wasn’t until someone I work with said in a very judgmental tone, “I was very surprised to see that collar on her in the picture you shared.”

My defensive response was FUCK YOU.  I have to walk my dog in on busy city sidewalks past a bunch of other dogs, many of whom she’s afraid of.  I also have to walk her by chipmunks and acorns she wants to chase.  I am keeping her within my control and therefore, safe, by using this collar.

My secondary response was to do more research.  Turns out, most dog trainers today are against them (example 2).  After doing a ton of reading, I tried to walk her both on her harness and on her leash.  Frankly, I’m not strong enough and she’s not trained enough for us to that safely at this time.  For now, I have to go with the prong collar to feel confident in my ability to keep her out of dangerous situations.

Hopefully, obedience classes and lots of walks and treats and training on our part will get her to a place where she can walk with a regular collar.  It’s just not happening any time soon and I’m doing the best I can right now for me and her.

It doesn’t stop me from being guilty every time I walk her though.  When anyone mentions it or how they don’t like it, I’ve learned to follow up quickly with, “We’re training, now, and plan to transition out of it shortly.”  Actually, I did that in this post with the previous paragraph.  But, really, I shouldn’t have to justify it.  There are many dog trainers and owners who swear by them, and that’s what works for us right now.  I may not know everything and my dog is still new to me, but I do know what’s best for the both of us.  The end.

P.S. In relation to my corollary to being a parent, I feel like a mom who chose not to breastfeed.  Can’t imagine the intensity of that backlash!


3 thoughts on “Prong Collars – Whose side do I listen to?

  1. Sounds like you are a good dog parent. I have rescued many big dogs throughout the years and it just takes one moment when they see that squirrel before you do and you are both in trouble. I once lost my balance and was pulled flat onto my face, no fun. I always use prong collars to keep my big guys safe and me too.

      • In Native American folktales, squirrels are most noted for their noisy and aggressive behavior. Squirrel characters frequently spread gossip, instigate trouble between other animals, or annoy others with their rudeness and bossiness. These squirrels are spreading trouble between humans and dogs. I sure yelled at my dog when he pulled me down just cuz I was so annoyed, it wasn’t my dog’s fault…..

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