Training With Choke Chains & Prong Collars: Are They Ethical?

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Collars & Harnesses By Meg Marrs 20 min read September 7, 2021 21 Comments

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dog with prong collar

Of all the behavioral modification tools at a modern dog owner’s disposal, perhaps none are more controversial than choke chains, pinch collars, and similar scary-looking products.

Viewing these items are cruel or dangerous, many owners and dogs shy away. But are these tools truly cruel? Or are they effective training tools that can help your dog?

We’ll explore the issue in detail here and help you decide whether prong and pinch collars are good options for you.


Please note that this article has been updated to match with K9 of Mine’s revised philosophy regarding prong and chain collars. We do not endorse or encourage the use of these tools.

Are Choke Collars Safe? Should I Use Aversives in Training?

Choke and prong collars are controversial because they are classified as aversive tools.

An aversive tool is one that uses pain to diminish a behavior. Aversives are based on the positive punishment quadrant of learning, in which the trainer adds an unpleasant stimulus to punish (aka reduce) an unwanted behavior.

learning quadrants

The issue is, many modern dog trainers no longer support the use of aversives and positive punishment in dog training. There are a few reasons why this trend is growing.

How our empathy for animals reflects acquired empathy for children

For one, as our society’s empathy for animals grows, we feel less comfortable inflicting pain on our companion animals.

Dogs share our homes and many times our beds. They are considered part of the family. We value their feelings and experience, and want them to have a positive relationship with us.

Our society’s evolution of feeling in relationship to animals mirrors our progress of understanding children as well.

It wasn’t so long ago that the concept of “childhood” didn’t even exist, and children were expected to work and earn their keep like any adult. The concept of child psychology, the individual experience of children, and the idea that as a society we should protect children is fairly novel, with pediatric psychology only becoming popularized in the mid-1900s.

It was once commonplace to spank children or “whip out the belt” when a child misbehaved. Most parents no longer consider this a suitable child-rearing strategy because they realize that using these fear-based intimidation strategies can damage their relationship with their offspring.

The same applies to dogs!

The dangers of using fear and intimidation to control behavior

Using punishment can have an outward desired effect on a dog’s behavior, just as beating a child for sneaking out at night may prevent the behavior from repeating.

But does that make it a good option?

Morality aside, resorting to fear and intimidation to manage anyone’s behavior – whether in relation to a pet, child, or partner – generally does not bode well. Any relationship based on fear is a stunted and broken one. It results in a relationship grown from seeds of distrust and hurt.

That being said, pain and intimidation can deliver outward results. And for owners who simply want a robot-like dog who does A, B, and C when commanded, aversives can deliver.

This is why the debate around aversives is so confusing and messy between trainers – ultimately, it comes down to a different expectation of success.

Prong collars offer a shallow facade of training success

If you categorize success as a trusting, bonded relationship with your dog who you help navigate the human world confidently, then aversives like prong collars and choke collars should not be part of your training.

However, if your dog’s relationship and feelings towards you is irrelevant to you, and all you care about are outward demonstrations of control, aversives can work quite well.

And indeed, trainers who utilize tools like e-collars, choke collars, and prong collars can change a dog’s outward behavior in minutes. To many stressed owners with dogs exhibiting problem behaviors, these tools can feel like a miracle.

These results can feel too good to be true – and in fact, they are. At least in some sense.

Trainers who use aversive tools like choke and prong collars are not doing any kind of real behavior modification, and instead are suppressing behavior.

What is behavior suppression?

Behavior suppression is a term used when a dog shuts down emotionally. Fear of punishment and pain can make a dog subdued – a bit like when a human disassociates from a particularly upsetting experience.

Behavior suppression does stop the problem behavior from occuring, but it does not teach the dog what to do instead. The dog chokes down their fear and anxiety, never learning how to cope with the issue at hand. A dog can continue like this for some time, but eventually, fallout occurs.

This fallout can be subtle and even unperceived by humans, such as a dog simply not taking joy in your presence and avoiding you. Or it can be more substantial, like a dog snapping seemingly “out of nowhere” when they simply can’t handle the stress any longer.

Do you value your relationship with your dog?

In today’s culture, we tend to value communication, empathy, and relationships more than previous generations. Outward symbols of success ring hollow to many, as more people recognize connections to others as more fulfilling than token achievements.

This is why many of us would rather develop a positive relationship with our dogs and using positive reinforcement to train rather than aversives.

Most of us care how our dogs feel about us. But not everyone will.

I don’t support aversives, but I understand why some people use them

Using aversives like prong and choke collars in dog training is risky. These pieces of equipment can have some serious repercussions and damage your dog’s bond with you.

However, I also know how excruciating it can be to have a dog with serious behavior problems.

As an owner of a rescue dog who once had some troubling aggressive behaviors that took a dramatic toll on my emotional wellbeing, I understand the stress, frustration, and fear that can happen when dealing with a problem dog.

I myself was probably a month away from resorting to aversives with Remy until I finally started to see some progress with our force-free centered training.

While I would always recommend that owners utilize force-free methods and positive, reward-based training, some owners may already be at their breaking point and about to give up.

When you’re dealing with dog behavior that is putting you or your family in danger and have already attempted several strategies without success, sometimes it can feel like resorting to an aversive tool to suppress behavior is the only option on the table.

When you’re at that point where you need to see change fast or you’ll need to surrender or euthanize your dog, I can understand resorting to aversives.

If at all possible, I’d suggest seeking out a force-free, positive-based trainer (or, if you’re dealing with aggression issues, you really need a certified animal behavior consultant or a veterinary behaviorist).

However, I know some people will require the quick and easy path, even if it has dangerous repercussions. If you are going to use these tools, we’ll discuss how to use them appropriately and safely below.

What Is a Dog Choke Chain and How Does it Work?

A choke chain (also known as a choke collar or chain collar) is a very simple device consisting of a length of chain and two big rings attached to either end.

dog choke chain

After setting it up properly (we’ll discuss this in a minute), you can slip it over your dog’s head and attach it to your favorite dog leash.

Chain collars are generally used for:

  1. Keeping your dog’s head up and attention on you while walking at your side
  2. Delivering a sharp correction when your dog exhibits an undesirable behavior (such as lunging and barking at another dog)
  3. Correcting your dog for breaking away from the “heel” position.

They are also often implemented to stop dogs from dragging their owners all over the neighborhood. However, there are better ways to teach a dog to loose leash walk than through corrections.

How Do Chain Collars Work?

When used as intended, chain collars should not be strangling or choking your dog. A chain collar might be better labeled as a “correction collar” since its design is purposefully intended to make it easy to deliver a squeezing sensation on the neck as a physical correction.

This works through leverage and body mechanics – when used properly, the collar sits right up at the base of the dog’s skull, which naturally draws their attention to you when you apply slight pressure. The quick jerk employed in a correction tightens the chain for a split second, before returning it to a loose state.

Correction-Based Training Has Drawbacks

As detailed above, using aversive tools and issuing positive punishment via physical corrections in training can have some serious negative consequences. Some owners consider the use of corrections worth the potential drawback, but others do not. Weigh for yourself if incorporating corrections into your training is worth the risk.

What Are Prong Collars and How Do They Differ from Choke Collars?

Prong or pinch collars are pretty insane-looking devices that resemble something you’d expect to see in a horror movie.

They are essentially chain-based collars that feature a number of inward-pointing prongs.

When not under tension, the prongs simply rest around your dog’s fur; when a correction is made, the collar tightens, causing the prongs to press into the dog’s neck.

prong collar

Advocates for prong collars claim that this device is actually safer than a standard flat collar, since the prongs help ensure that the force of the correction is applied across a number of different locations at the same time. However, this equalized pressure theory is up for debate.

The prongs of most collars are blunt or rounded to help avoid injuring your dog’s neck. But if you like, you can purchase soft vinyl tips to further ensure your dog’s safety.

Prong collars are more popular than choke collars for preventing pulling, since a dog will naturally experience pain when pulling on a prong collar, correcting the behavior without any conscious effort by the owner.

Prong collars are also popular for issuing corrections to a lunging, barking dog on walks (although a primarily correction-based training method is definitely not suitable for reactivity training).

How Do I Put a Choke Chain on My Dog?

Despite the simplicity of the device, many people are stumped when they receive a length of chain with two rings on the end. It’s supposed to be a loop, right? Neither of the terminal rings will pass through the other, so how do you make this into a loop?

While this initially seems like some sort of mind-trick puzzle, it’s actually quite simple:

  1. Pinch a length of the chain
  2. Pull the doubled portion all the way through the ring
  3. Push this pinched portion through either of the rings
  4. Place the resulting loop around your dog’s head, with the free end (the one you’ll attach to the leash) on top of your dog’s neck

You’ll need to decide the side on which your dog will walk before placing the loop around his head. The free end of the collar should lie across the top portion of your dog’s neck and point towards you. This ensures that when you release tension on the leash, the restrictive ring will slide back down the chain, re-opening the collar.

If you want to put a prong collar on your dog, there’s a slightly different procedure. You’ll need to disconnect two of the links (it’s often easiest to disconnect the two directly opposite the leash ring), then wrap it around your dog’s neck and reattach the links.

As with any new training tool, you’ll want to work a lot on desensitization before taking your dog out on a walk with this tool. Your dog needs to have a positive association with the collar, so you should be dispensing treats repeatedly to your dog when he is wearing the collar.

You’ll also want to start with short practice sessions by putting the collar on, giving treats, and immediately taking it off after 5-10 seconds.

Basic Use of a Choke Chain or Pinch Collar

Improper use of a choke or pinch collar can lead to a host of medical problems. It’s a good idea to seek the help of a trainer who is experienced using these tools to ensure you are using them safely, but the basic procedure is as follows:

  1. Place the collar on your dog in the correct orientation.
  2. Praise your precious puppy and reward him for wearing this odd contraption.
  3. Take your dog on a walk. Once your dog has been desensitized to the tool indoors and does not display any fearful body language wearing the device indoors, you can begin going out on walks with it!
  4. If dog reacts to trigger, pop the leash quickly — Many like to issue a verbal correction at the same time.
  5. Refocus the dog’s attention to you. Once the dog has refocused on you, engage with praise and treats to encourage attention on you while ignoring the trigger.
There Are Better Options

This is technically how you would use a choke or prong collar to correct a dog’s reactive behavior. However, this is not the strategy we recommend at K9 of Mine, and there is a lot more an owner must do when training with a reactive dog.

Do Choke and Prong Collars Hurt?


Trainers love to debate semantics and say that prong collars don’t really hurt, they just emit mild discomfort. But the long and short of it is yes, these tools do hurt. They use pain to suppress unwanted behavior. If they were not painful, they would not work!

Don’t forget that even mild pain, repeated over and over again, can greatly increase an individual’s stress. As a good human comparison, you might think of someone flicking your ear. It certainly isn’t pleasant, but it isn’t agonizing pain.

But, if someone flicked your ear over and over again, it would start to really upset you and stress you out. You probably wouldn’t have such fond feelings about the person flicking your ear. You might become more scared and anxious, wondering when the next ear flicking will occur.

This is why research studies have shown elevated stress levels in dogs who are trained with aversive tools vs those who are not.

The Dos and Don’ts of Choke Chains and Other Pinch Collars

When using a pinch or chain collar, be sure to do the following things:

 Be sure that you put the chain collar on your dog in the appropriate orientation. If you walk with the dog on your right, leash-end of the chain should hang from the left side of your dog’s neck, and it should look like a lower-case “q” when you put it on your dog’s neck. Reverse these directions if your dog walks on your left, and be sure the chain looks like a lower-case “p” when you put it on.

Try to keep chain and pinch collars high on your dog’s neck, just below the jaw. This can take a little practice to get right, but it is important for avoiding injuries. Some corrective collars feature leather tabs or similar devices that make it easier to keep the collar from slipping down your dog’s neck.

Ensure that you are using a chain collar of the appropriate length. Most trainers and vets recommend measuring the circumference of your dog’s neck carefully, with a flexible ruler or measuring tape. Then, add about 4 or 5 inches to arrive at the proper length for a chain collar.

Conversely, be sure that you don’t do any of the following:

Don’t use a chain collar or similar device as a form of punishment when you’re frustrated with your dog – doing so is not only cruel, it is incredibly counterproductive to your efforts. Chain collars are designed for giving corrections and keeping your dog in the proper position — nothing more.

 It is probably wise to avoid using chain or pinch collars with dogs under 6 months of age. In fact, it is probably even wiser to wait until after 1 year of age before using them.

Never use chain collars or other corrective collars with short-nosed or thin-necked breeds. These dogs are simply to fragile to use this training tool, and could easily end up injured. Opt for a good dog harness instead.

Don’t allow your dog to pull against the chain. This can cause serious injuries, including tracheal damage, pulled muscles or even cervical damage. Some dogs can actually exert enough pressure to cause their eyes to bulge. If your dog is constantly pulling on the leash, don’t use a chain or prong collar! Work on your loose leash walking skills and try an anti-pulling harness instead.

Never leave your dog unattended while wearing any type of chain collar. This includes not only prong collars and choke chains, but slip collars and martingales as well.

Martingales and Slip Collars: Alternative Options

Choke chains and pinch collars are not the only game in town, and there are a number of other corrective collars on the market.

Two in particularly wide use include the martingale and the slip collar. Both work in relatively similar ways to chain and prong collars, although there are a few key differences.


martingale collar

Martingale collars are conceptually similar to prong collars, except that they are primarily made from nylon webbing, rather than metal links, and they have no prongs.

Martingales are often considered the safest type of correction collar to use on a day-in-day-out basis, but there are still risks entailed with such use.

Other owners opt for martingales simply because they prevent a dog from backing out of a collar and getting loose, making them a great choice for Houdini escape artists.

Slip Collars

Slip collars are very similar to chain collar – just replace the chain links with a length of rope and you’ve got a slip collar.

They work in the same way that chain collars do. Many slip collars come with a stopper to keep the collar from opening wider than you’d like.

Best Chain Dog Collars, Prong Collars, and Similar Tools

We’ve compiled a list of the most established brands for chain and prong collars on the market below. Be sure to review the various pros and cons of each, and select the best model for you, your pup, and your training philosophy.

1. Coastal Pet 20-Inch Titan Heavy Chain Collar

Coastal Pet Titan Chain Training Dog Collar - Rust-Resistant Metal Dog Collar - Training Collar for Dogs - High-Quality Chrome Dog Chain Collar - 3 mm x 20'.

About: The Coastal Pet Chain Collar is a straight-forward chain collar, designed to work well without costing a fortune. The combination of heavy-duty, 3-milimeter links and argon-welded seams ensure the chain is durable and built to last.


  • Great-looking chain is chrome-plated, so it will not rust or tarnish over time like some others
  • 20-inch-long chain (including end rings)
  • Recommended and used by certain trainers


If you are looking for a no-frills chain collar at a very affordable price, this is a great choice.


There weren’t many complaints about the Coastal Pet Chain Collar. However, a few dog owners experienced sizing problems, so always be sure to measure your dog’s neck carefully before ordering.

2. Herm Sprenger Fur Saver Heavy Dog Training Collar

Herm Sprenger Fur Saver Heavy Dog Training Collar, 19-Inch and 3.0 Millimeter

About: The Herm Sprenger Fur Saver features a slightly different design than traditional chain collars. Instead of using a large number of short chain links, which often catch the fur of long-haired breeds, the Fur Saver uses a small number of very large links to provide a collar that works well, without tangling Fido’s hair.


  • Made in Germany, this premium chain comes with a quality guarantee
  • 19-inch-long chain (including end rings)
  • Chrome finish is eye-catching
  • Won’t catch, break or pull the hair on your dog’s neck


Most owners love Fur Saver chain collars, and long-haired dogs certainly prefer the coat-saving design. They are very well made, work smoothly and are built to last. It’s an easy choice if you don’t mind coughing up a few more bucks than you would spend for a typical chain collar.


Displeased owners who tried the Herm Sprenger Fur Saver were few, as were complaints about the product. It is about twice the price of a typical chain collar, but its quality easily justifies this difference in price.

3. Coastal Pet Prong Collar

Coastal Pet Titan Dog Prong Training Collar - Pet Training Collar for Dogs - Rust-Resistant Metal Dog Collar for Dog Training - Prong Dog Chain Collar - Quality Dog Supplies - 3.3 mm x 20'

About: The Coastal Pet Prong Collar is a straight-forward prong collar that can help accelerate the training process and provide another tool in your training arsenal. Built from the same chrome-plated links and argon-welded seams that their chain collars are, Coastal Pet Prong Collars will not rust, tarnish or break.


  • 20-inch-long chain (total length, end-to-end)
  • Includes 11 dual-pronged links
  • Prongs can be removed easily to alter the size


Most customers were quite pleased with the durability and quality of the collar. The fact that you can alter the size is also quite nice.


Despite being marketed as rust-proof, a very small number of customers living in coastal areas did report some rusting after prolonged use.

4. Herm Sprenger Extra Large Black Stainless Steel Pinch Training Collar

JANNIK Herm Sprenger 4.00 mm x 20' X-Large Black Stainless Steel Pinch Training Collar, One Size

About: The Herm Sprenger Pinch Collar is a premium collar designed to help you train your four-legged bestie. Simply put, this is a beautifully crafted product, made from high-quality materials.


  • 20-inch-long chain (total length, end-to-end)
  • Includes 10 premium, dual-pronged links
  • Black Anodized finish to ensure the collar will last and look great for years to come
  • Made in Germany


Because the Herm Sprenger Pinch Collar is black rather than chrome, it provides a slightly subtler aesthetic, which appealed to many owners, including police and military K9 handlers, who prefer the black finish for tactical reasons.


You’ll don’t get this kind of quality without paying for it. But, there were very few complaints about the Herm Sprenger Pinch Collar, and most customers found it to be well-worth the additional cost.

5. Mendota Command Slip Collar

Mendota Pet Command Slip Collar - Dog Training Collar - Made in The USA - Red - 20 in

About: The Mendota Command Slip Collar is a soft, flexible alternative to the traditional chain collar. Made from color-fast multifilament, double-stitched polypropylene, it won’t catch your pet’s fur or stain your pet’s skin. The Mendota Slip Collar comes in 10 different great-looking color and pattern options to match your pet’s personality.


  • Available in six different lengths, ranging from 16 to 26 inches
  • Trimmed with English bridle oil-tanned leather accents
  • Made with non-corrosive, brass-toned rings that look great and last for years


The vast majority of owners using this collar praised it highly. Many owners (and presumably their dogs) appreciated the ability to use a soft training tool, while still achieving better behavior during leash walks.


There weren’t many complaints about the Mendota Slip Collar, although a very small number of owners reported that the collar was not as effective for their dog as a chain collar. Nevertheless, most owners found it to work quite well.

6. PetSafe Martingale Collar

PetSafe Martingale Collar 1' Medium, Deep Purple

About: The PetSafe Martingale Collar is an alternative training tool designed to help improve your dog’s behavior during leash walks. Because Martingale-style collars only close a predetermined amount, they are safer than chain and slip collars.


  • Made from high-quality nylon webbing for a comfortable fit
  • Available in five different length and width options
  • Comes in five different eye-catching colors to ensure your dog looks great
  • Can be operated by hand if need be


Many noted that their dog seemed to prefer wearing these collars to prong or pinch collars. Additionally, many owners who had dogs that would escape from most other collars could not do so with these.


There weren’t many complaints from those who used the collars as training tools, but many were unaware that Martingales are not designed to be used outside of training sessions. Also, this specific model is for petite dogs, but there are other similar models for larger dogs as well.


Do you use correction collars to help train your dog? How effective have they been for you? Have you tried other methods before resorting to these tools? Share your experience in the comments!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!


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After reading this I had to comment. First of all, prong collars are a fur saver collar to be used on dogs with thick coats such as rough Collies. They are not intended to be used on short coated dogs although many do.

I started training dogs through 4H. We were required to have a 6 ft leather leash and a chain training collar. You only used that collar during training. Training was done through positive and negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement was both verbal and active in that a dog told to sit and stay was taken back and started over in the same spot. Leash corrections were done not with jerks, but with short snaps that were only seconds long.

As for the relationship with my dog, Brownie loved training time. I only had to pick up her leash and collar and she would run over and stick her head in the collar. She loved it. After our 2nd year when we learned off leash training, I could take her anywhere off leash. As to our relationship. If I spent the night away from home, she would run away and come find me. It soon became known if you invited me to spend the night you were inviting the dog too.

There is a right way and a wrong way to every dog training method. That is why there are dog trainers and training classes so that you CAN learn how to do it right. If you are not comfortable using a chain collar, then don’t use one. And there are times when a little hurt can prevent a big hurt. As an illustration—a child wants to put their hand on the stove while you are cooking. Would you rather slap the back of their hand and tell them No or let that child get 3rd degree burns? To my mind that slap is a very small price to pay to prevent 3rd degree burns. Prevention or correction is not always painless.


Thanks for sharing your different perspective. Just to clarify, negative reinforcement is removing a reinforcer to increase a behavior. What you refer to as “negative reinforcement” is actually called positive punishment – adding an unpleasant stimulus to reduce a behavior.

Michael C Mirecki

I really don’t know how to respond to this, or the people who have responded.

Look up southend dog training on youtube. He and one of his trainers put prong collars on, and pull with the full weight of their bodies. They don’t even flinch! Yes, prong collars are an aversive tool. They are no more “dangerous” than a flat collar. If anything, they are less so. Go and do some real research, and investigate who invented the prong collar. It wasn’t an abuser.

Aversive training is used by EVERYONE. Even your beloved “positive only” trainers. It always does my head in when people talk about positive only training. You can’t ever punish a dog apparently. Everything has to be rainbows and butterflies… except the real world isn’t like that. So, no matter how well you think you’re doing, something will go wrong eventually. What do you do then? When your frilly collar of lace and love breaks, and your dog runs off into the bushes? It’s not going to come back for that bit of kibble your proferring, it’s too busy shredding a dead bird it found, or rolling in something gross…

My dog, if it did manage to get away from me. He returns, because it’s expected. I don’t beat him, I don’t abuse him. I love him damned near unconditionally! I spoil him rotten. But, when I tell him to do something, we keep working on it until he does it. Sometimes we we walked past the same tree 10 or more times, until he approached it on a loose leash. You can’t do that if you’re a positive only trainer. Because it’s negative punishment. How does the dog learn if you there are never any consequences to their bad actions?

Same goes with kids. Yes, you talk through things with your kids, which you can’t do with dogs. But, if a 4 year old just keeps smashing things, after a certain amount of time, they need to learn that there are consequences. Then once they’ve settled out, you can figure out whats causing the issue and resolve it.


When mother dogs start correcting their puppies with positive reinforcement only and stop nipping at them to correct undesirable behavior we can start training dogs without the use of aversives. I agree that these are tools that should only be used with a great understanding of their purpose but their purpose is communication, not punishment. We do not fully understand dogs and likewise they do not fully understand to us, any means to better communicate our intentions and desires can be beneficial. And for those of you that think putting one of these devices around your own neck is indicative of what the dog feels, you have to understand that canine anatomy is fundamentally different from human anatomy. Dogs think it is fun to bite one and other on the neck, humans don’t do this very often outside of Transylvania…

Meg Marrs

Slapping a child on the wrist with a ruler could be labeled as communication too, but let’s be real, it’s a punishment. And while I agree I don’t think putting a prong collar on your own neck is going to indicate a ton, there’s no denying prong collars cause discomfort and pain, because otherwise, they wouldn’t work. Maybe we need to find more vampires and get their opinion on the matter! 😉


While I appreciate that you don’t completely call these training tools abusive, I do think some of the information is inaccurate. Any tool you use can suppress behavior, including treats. Tools should be used as an aid in training, but the core of your training should rely on the relationship between you and your dog. A training collar is used to directly communicate when something is unwanted or to help guide them. The reason why training collars are used is because dogs don’t inherently understand human languages. You pair a cue with a behavior and you only give a correction if you’ve taught the dog the cue in a low stimulated environment and with positive reinforcement. For example, my dog understands leave it if I tell him leave it when a car passes by and he doesn’t that’s when a correction happens. My dog was unae to truly understand not to chase cars with force free methods, because I needed a treat for him to listen and if I didn’t have treats I was out of luck (even after months of practice). That is also an example of how treats can suppress a behavior. I’m fine with people walking their dogs in harnesses and using force free methods as long as they responsibly train their dogs, but I think it’s important for everyone to understand the benefits of training collars and to understand that using a training collar is not abusive if used correctly. It takes a lot of practice, but it has definitely enhanced bind between my dog and I and reduced his anxiety.

Meg Marrs

I would never call training collars inherently abusive as I think that’s too extreme a word, but they are a form of punishment I don’t support. And while some trainers can use them ethically, after all the media I’ve seen with 90% of folks misusing these tools, I can’t in good faith recommend them to most people. You don’t need punishment to teach a dog, and positive reinforcement is a method that teaches while also building a great relationship with your dog.

You say that you needed a treat to have your dog listen for ignoring a car. But if you need to issue a correction to get your dog to listen, it sounds like you need a training collar also, in order to get your dog to listen to you. You need a tool regardless, so why not opt for a positive incentive instead of a punishment? Dogs need motivation, and it’s up to you if you want to use pain or a reward, but the reward is certainly what I’d choose for myself.

I’m not really sure we have the same understanding of what behavior suppression is. Treats don’t suppress behavior, they are used to reward your dog for completing a non-compatible alternative behavior. Treats are used to teach an alternate behavior, whereas punishment just tells a dog what not to do, while not showing them what to do instead. That’s why aversives suppress behavior – they punish a dog for communicating discomfort or frustration, suppressing rather than modifying the unwanted behavior.

I don’t use punishment training my dog, but it sounds like the way you incorporate corrections is better and more responsible than most folks, so good on you.



Ben Team

If there’s one thing that guarantees your thoughts will be taken seriously, it’s screaming in all caps.
You clearly didn’t read the article, Leila, so there’s not much else to say.

Jilly Ruby Jane

Hi, I’m thinking about buying for my dog a prong dog so your article is very helpful to me. Thanks for your advice and suggestions !!

Patricia Craver

Hi. I just finished reading your column about the different type of leashes available. I found the information extremely informative, but I do have a couple of questions. First of all, we have a 10 month old pit bull, mixed with another smaller breed (we don’t know what it is). But at 10 months and 27 lbs., I have to believe she’s not going to grow much more. She is a great puppy and can be very playful. She jumps on people when she gets excited; I don’t thing she means any harm, she just loves people. Also she is terrible on the leash. As a typical puppy, she pulls and pulls through the entire walk.

Since she is so small, shorthaired, smart and strong I’m wondering what the best collar for her is. Can you advise me on what product we should get or should I have my vet determine that? Those are really the only 2
issues we have with her. Otherwise she is very loving and affectionate. Thank you for your help. Maybe I’m not at the right site at should be leaving a comment after we’ve purchased a product, but I don’t know where to start.

Thank you very much.

Pat Craver

Ben Team

Hey, Patricia.
It’s always a great idea to get your vet’s input on anything health or safety related (which a collar is in many ways). So, definitely bring it up and ask for his or her advice.

If you’d like a training collar (such as those discussed in this article), the PetSafe Martingale Collar is a great option. The Martingale style is a pretty safe and effective design, so it’d probably work well for you and your pooch. There are many other options discussed in this article too.

Best of luck! Let us know which one you choose!


Agree with the other poster, way too much use of the term “choke collar”. It’s fine to make a point of saying it’s an incorrect term, but you should be using “slip collar” in every other place you use “choke collar” or “choke chain”. You’re basically promoting using that term by using it so much in the article, giving it credibility if you will.


Step 1 Always make sure your dog wears a collar with the prong. Step 2 get a carabiner. Step 3 Attach the carabiner to the “dead ring” of the prong. That is the circle not the D shaped one( the d shaped one is the one you connect to the leash). Step 4 Connect the carabiner to the collar. Tada you have a fool-proof if the prong links break. I would go to leerburg dot com’s website and search prong. Everything I learned from them has been very useful. Also I spent the extra buck to make sure I got the Herm springer prong. Never had it break-free. But I still never take the chance. Always use a carabiner.

Susan Williams

I appreciate your through explanations of these correction collars. I’m open to consider, but, still not convinced the choke type collars are the way to train your dog.
I do like the Martingale collar.
I like verbal & hand commands, &
treat/ praise rewards during training

Vicki Jeske

I have an 82 pound dog that manages to break free of his collar with the prongs…. they pull apart when he lunges forward and of course this leads into an hour or two of chasing him around the neighborhood. Several people have looked at the collar and say there is nothing wrong with it. what do you suggest I do?


I am wondering if the brand Titan … 20” is as good a brand as the Sprenger ? Also, does it matter what side you have the dog on to walk with any of the brands out there ?

Jenny H

I am very very disappointed to read you promoting these devices.

Number 1 — never call a slip collar a ‘choke chain’. It is more correctly called a check chain.
2. They do not reduce pulling — in fact with my German Shepherds I found they increased pulling– Keep it tight and you avid those irritating jerks!
3. They are directional — they only ‘work’ as intended IF the dog is walking at the a handler’s left side (or right side if put on ‘the other way’) They do not stop forging or lagging, and they certainly do NOT stop or prevent dogs lunging aggressively at something they don’t like.
If you MUSYT have a slip collar, at least use one that in non-directional – like a martingale or ‘limited slip collar.
As for Prong collars – heaven preserve me! They are designed to hurt. They can cause serious injury. And they are NO substitute for training.
Apart from that, they are illegal here (NSW Australia) and I believe in many other countries.
As my husband often says, the only sure-fire cure for bad behaviour is a lead bullet!

I would advise you to remove this post IF you want to keep your followers

Meg Marrs

Hi Jenny,

I really appreciate you commenting on this contentious topic – you always have provided great input, so thank you! I want to address a few of your concerns.

First, we try to use whatever language readers will find familiar or be searching for, which is why we use the terms “choke chain,” “chain collar” and other terms interchangeably.

We did our best to explain that choke chains are only to be used as quick corrections, not with pressure constantly applied that would prevent lunging. I’ll be looking through the article and trying to update the language in case this is unclear. Martingale collars are certainly great options that are preferable for many owners, which is why we do touch on them a bit (but we are planning a larger guide about Martingale collars in the future, which is why they aren’t discussed in depth here).

As for Prong collars – I feel very similar to you Jenny. I certainly wouldn’t use them on my dogs, and don’t personally find them appropriate. Here’s the thing though – I’m not a professional dog trainer, and the guides and information we produce are a result of deep research into what real, trusted trainers and authorities report on any given topic. According to our research – with certain types of dogs, in certain situations, when used carefully and correctly, these collars can be useful.

This article isn’t intended to convince anyone to use choke or prong collars. But for owners who already insist on using one, we want to make sure they are used responsibly and correctly, which is why we wrote this article.

I hope this helps you understand why we wrote this piece and our intentions. I would certainly hate to lose you as a reader, as your contributions are always much appreciated!

If you have certain concerns about the language in this article that you find misleading or unclear, I’d gladly welcome your input – just reach out at info (at) k9ofmine (dot) com. Thanks for your concern Jenny – I know it’s all done for the love of dogs!

Ben Team

Hey, Jenny. Thanks for your comments.

Like I said at the outset, these types of collars are certainly controversial, and I understand your aversion to them. Personally, I have used chain collars, although I’ve switched to slip collars as they work better for my circumstances. Also note that I don’t use them for most walks — I use them when taking my pooch for a late night pee break when I don’t feel like putting her harness on or when she needs a “refresher” training session, or I’m teaching her a new command.

I didn’t intend to give the impression that chain collars automatically correct pulling behavior. I was trying to explain that when used as part of a proper training program, chain collars (etc.) can help to eliminate pulling behavior. Perhaps I should have explained that a little better.

I don’t like the term “choke collar.” As I mentioned above, my preferred term is “chain collar,” and I think that if this was the term most commonly applied to these devices, there wouldn’t be as much resistance to them. However, if you want to talk to the public about these things, you have to use the language with which most people are familiar.

Thanks for reading and contributing your comments here — I know you are one of the regular readers of K9ofMine. We appear to fall on opposite sides of this issue, but I’m sure we both want the best for our dogs, as well as all of the other ones out there.




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