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Dog Training: Yes, I use shock and prong collars

If you work around dogs long enough you’ll get the question.

Do you use shock and prong collars? (Or choke collars or slip collars.)

You’ll get this question if you’re a trainer. You’ll get it if you’re a dog walker. You’ll get it if you’re a pet sitter or a rescue volunteer.

My answer to this question is yes.

Yes, I use prong and shock collars

I have used or at least recommended almost every single training collar available – prong collars, shock collars, Gentle Leaders, anti-pull harnesses. They all work well for the right dog/owner pairs at some point or another.

And every time I mention the use of any tool, someone gets upset. One woman said she could no longer read my blog because she noticed a comment where I’d recommended a prong collar for a dog that was pulling. Yes, if you are offended by that I agree this is not the blog for you.

I am not here to tell anyone else what to do. I just write about what works for me. I try not to give specific training advice unless asked.

I met a trainer recently who says she only uses positive reinforcement training techniques. Good for her. I’ve seen her working with dogs and she is an excellent, patient trainer.

Shock collars for golden retriever and springer spaniel

Of course, she asked me the question, and was bothered by the fact that I have used shock collars. She didn’t think we would ever be able to work together.

I told her that being open to all training options allows me to help more dogs. It allows me to meet the owners where they’re at and go from there. This is very important to me.

I also have more flexibility because I do not make my living training dogs. Wouldn’t want to. I have taught obedience classes, but I make my living writing about dogs and walking them.

It’s too bad that trainers feel they have to define themselves as “all positive” or not. Maybe they feel they have no choice. Dog walkers don’t seem to have that problem.

[quote_center]Being open to all training options allows me to help more dogs.[/quote_center]

I try very hard to avoid these labels for myself and others. Of course, no trainer is really “all positive,” not if she has any clients or any dogs of her own. It’s not possible. At least, I’ve never seen it.

And what if you’re not “all positive?” What are you then? I don’t want to know.

I guess in the training world, there will always be people ready to ask the question. If you work with dogs, you better have an answer.

Are you ‘all positive?’ Do you use choke or prong collars?

My blogging friend Mahogany wrote a thoughtful post on why she used a prong collar. Check it out.

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Mark Thompson

Monday 26th of December 2022

They are for people who have accepted they are not capable


Thursday 25th of August 2022

Are they safe to use together? I have paid over 200 bucks for a positive reinforcement trainer and well I wasted my money and I'm mad the guy wont give it back because he made my dog worse at listening. K shouldn't have to show my dog food to get her to listen every time and that's the only way to get her to listen except when she sees people she won't stop barking she wants to go meet everyone and thats fine but she's big and her bark is scary to kids and some of the other dogs in our area so I got a training shock collar because that's where I am at now. I love your blog and all you stand for. My true only question is is it safe for her to have her pinch collar on well she has her shock collar on?

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 25th of August 2022

Yes that would be safe to do. You could always use treats at the same time. Correct, if needed. Then give treats for focusing on you.

Stan Rawlinson

Monday 17th of July 2017

I have never used Prong collars and very rarely use E-collars. They are not required in day to day training. I can train any dog within 3 to 5 minutes walk to heel with a normal collar and lead and techniques I pioneered in 2001.

I am not a positive only trainer, in fact, I think they are a waste of space. Teach a stock chasing dog that a clicker and a treat are more important than the chase and I will hang up my leads and retire.

Having said that I will never use a prong collar as they are never required. And in 45 years as one of the UK's leading dog behaviourists, I can honestly say that I have used E-Collars on less than 10 dogs. Yet I have a client bank of over 20,000 individual dogs and clients from Royalty to Pop Stars and Billionaires to Road Sweepers.

I am also Disneys Behaviourist in the UK and an Expert witness in criminal cases where dogs have fallen foul of some very draconian laws. I am also the Chairman of PAACT. The Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers. Use your brain, not tools that work on pain. However, if all else fails i will use every tool at my disposal.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 17th of July 2017

That's great if you don't need prong or e-collars for most dogs. The prong collar definitely works best for my new dog, a weim. Hopefully he won't need it for years but for now it is the tool that keeps him the safest. I'll have to write another post about it but the Gentle Leader is not good for him because he pulls so hard he can't pant and he could overheat. The no-pull harness, we've had some close calls where he leaps up and then flips himself and lands on his back. Very lucky he hasn't been hurt by either tool or harmed someone else. Hoping to transition to a choke or martingale collar but for now the prong puts the least amount of pressure on his neck/throat. I've learned to ignore what others think because they don't know my dog and I need to be responsible and keep him, myself and others safe.

Ethan neathery

Saturday 18th of March 2017

We have a German shepherd puppy Aprox 75 lbs she has a metal pinch collar but she pretty much ignores it no matter how much we try or say no when she excessively barks or pulls on the leash. We just bought a shock collar for adjustment, not a bark collar, can we use them in conjunction or is that a bad idea since the metal with electric? We are concerned for the dogs safety but need to correct her constant barking at people.

Lindsay Stordahl

Saturday 18th of March 2017

You can use them together but have a plan in mind on how you're going to control/correct her. You don't want her to be so overwhelmed she doesn't understand where all these corrections are coming from. So I would suggest walking in "boring" areas for awhile or quiet times. You could also consider using a Gentle Leader or Halti (fits over her muzzle) instead of a prong collar as another option.


Thursday 14th of July 2016

All studies show prong collars raise anxiety and aggression. Sad that they are still used.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 14th of July 2016

I'm thankful I have options for my dogs.