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5 Reasons Why Choke and Prong Collars Are Harmful to Dogs

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Home » Blog » 5 Reasons Why Choke and Prong Collars Are Harmful to Dogs

Choke and prong collars can cause neck injuries, increase anxiety, impede training, create negative associations, and lead to thyroid and eye damage.

Risk of Physical Injury

Understanding the Immediate Harm When a dog wearing a choke or prong collar pulls on the leash, the collar tightens harshly around the neck. As a result, the harm caused by these collars may vary from superficial skin wounds to severe damage of underlying tissues . For example, a study on dogs trained in these collars shows that they often display symptoms of neck pain and sometimes acute injury as a trauma to the trachea and esophagus . Moreover, the prongs of prong collars are metallic and can, therefore, cause puncture wounds or deep bruising especially in the dog that regularly lunges forward in the collar.eki

Long-Term Physical Consequences Additionally, their continuous use not only causes the immediate physical harm but also has health consequences in the long run. Consequently, the animals repeatedly exercised in choke and prong collars experience chronic neck and spinal conditions . According to the veterinary reports, the discs of some dog victims are herniated and other spinal column deformities observed are a result of prolonged pressure aspet using the prong and choke collars . Severe damages often require extensive life-saving veterinary procedures which makes them also costly and usually impact the overall quality of life the animal is left with.

Comparative Analysis with Safer Alternatives Hence, the effect is largely positive if the dog is being walked in a body harness instead of a choke or prong collar. This is primarily because, in contrast to the devices, the body harness is generally better fitting and more evenly distributes whatever pressure is being applied across the chest and shoulders region of the animal, without over-burdening the neck area . A study showed that dogs that were regularly walked in a harness displayed significantly fewer signs of neck strain compared to those walked in a choke chain or prong collar .

Practical Advice for Dog Owners In the light of this information, dog handlers should be extremely diligent in choosing an appropriate harness and making sure that it fits the dog correctly, without rubbing or cutting into the body of the animal. They should also regularly check that the harness still fits well as the dog grows in size or weight.

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Thyroid and Eye Health Complications

Choke and prong collars can significantly affect the health of a dog in two direct ways. First, the thyroid gland in narrow-necked dog breeds located at the base of the neck is particularly susceptible to trauma from these inhumane tools . This gland is responsible for the entire metabolism in the body and balancing all hormonal systems. However, many doctors noted an increased rate of thyroid damage in dogs that are walked on choke and prong collars, which may cause chronic diseases . Many dogs wearing these tools exhibit symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, such as lethargy, unexplained weight gain, and a deterioration of the coat . Second, the use of such collars could result in an increased interocular pressure IOP, which is specifically dangerous for those dogs that are pre-disposed to developing a wide range of eye problems, including glaucoma. Glaucoma results from the increased pressure inside the eye and may eventually lead to blindness if not treated . A study by Title and Mech found that wearing a prong collar increased the IOP and, therefore, the likelihood of developing glaucoma in dogs.

There are two ways to mitigate the health risks: shifting to the use of a harness or being extra careful when using a head halter . A harness around the dog’s body, rather than its neck, would remove any pressure from the thyroid gland and, thus, eliminate any risks for associated diseases and the likelihood of increased IOP. Dog owners are, however, advised to be mindful of the proper fit and opt for a soft lining that would not make a dog uncomfortable and rub its skin. At the same time, it is possible to train and manage a dog without any tools that would put its health at excessive risks.

Behavioral Problems

It is evident that the response of a dog to choke and prong collars being an aggressive one is usually an immediate reaction directly to the fear and pain the collars inflict. When dogs are harshly corrected, their reaction is highly likely to be aggression during almost any situation. For example, it was shown that dogs who were trained with the help of aversive methods, including choke and prong systems, were more than 25% more likely to show aggression towards their handlers and strangers . Also, some studies show that aggression is often the primary response of an animal to human action, and it is highly contagious in this interaction . Aggression as a reaction can be similarly observed when the use of praise in combination with punishment in employee training was tested .

Using choke and prong collars consistently puts an amount of fear and anxiety in the dogs. According to one of the articles reviewing six separate studies, many dogs were reported to react with avoidance, increased excitability, and general fear or aggression when not around collars on a leash . A common event that a dog or a puppy might be wearing a prong collar is a walk. In the process of walking, anything loud or unusual can startle the animal and be one more negative aspect of the place. Thus a dog is barked at by another one, a person comes too close, a car honks, a falling tree cracks, a parrot is sitting on a lawn ring… Poom , the dog is scared, is being bitten by the prongs collar, and the brain captures the connection between all of the elements to keep a dog safe. A long-term effect of using choke and prong systems is also not related to transientness but rather about converting a reaction that may seem temporary at first into an indelible feature. For example, leash reactivity is a widespread impulse control disorder where dogs aggressively pull against their leash and bark at other dogs or people. It is observed far more often in dogs who used choke and prong systems.

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Ineffective Training Outcomes

The biggest problem with choke and prong collars is their relative inefficiency in teaching the dog consistent behavior due to the nature of forces that motivate them. While some dogs might be obedient in the short term, there is no evidence that they develop an understanding of how they are supposed to behave. After the collar is removed and the dog feels itself free from the pain, it inevitably goes back to unwanted behavior, meaning that resistance training is effective only for the duration of application.

Non-positive dog training tools involve the use of punitive responses every time the dog demonstrates specific behaviors. Unfortunately, some dogs fail to associate the ex post facto punishment with the aggravated behavior that led to it, meaning that training is ineffective due to timing errors or elements of random chance . As a result, the effectiveness of such training is much lower, provoking only a short-run response to the collar, while the dogs do not actually learn how they should behave. As a result, a longitudinal study that employed a comparison between dogs learning with choke and prong collars and dogs learning “self-control” techniques with positive enforcement found 30% higher relapse rate of bad behaviors in aversive training cohort.

Thus, one might conclude that non-positive dog training tools are detrimental to effective learning or consistent behavioral conditioning and they might only provoke immediate responses that do not guarantee long-run compliance. Trainers thus recommend positive enforcement tools such as rewarding dogs with treats, play, or praise for demonstrating good behavior. This also results in a more humane approach to training, which avoids punishment in favor of partnership with the dog, which is willing to please the owner and can do so effectively, establishing a positive relationship and mutual understanding with its human. Moreover, comparative studies suggest that positive enforcement does not only increase the efficiency of performing primary tasks but makes the dog generally happier, more confident, and social, while punitive enforcement is more likely to cause anxiety and aggression in the animal.

Creating Negative Associations

Explanation of the Development of Negative Associations by Type of Collar Choke and prong collars are designed in such a way that they work by putting unpleasant, painful feelings on the dog. For example, if the dog pulls to the side on a walk, this will provoke the constriction of a choke collar or pinching of a prong collar, respectively. As a rule, dogs stop the behavior that is being choked or pinched to avoid discomfort. If repeated contacts with the stimuli – dogs, people, crossing the road, the dog starts getting nervous reactions – and avoidance of them applies to both the situation and the person or dog that provoked pain . A typical example of how the dog learns to avoid passive and aggressive pets they are attracted to while on the prong collar is the dog’s social problem: the dog is aggressive if it only sees other animals from enclosed spaces .

Real-Life Examples Every dog has a story: let it be a typical one where the prong collar makes it painful to reach other dogs. The dog associates other dogs with discomfort and pain as naturally as the same reaction of avoiding a burning stove. The dog suffering painful stimuli given by an inhumane prong collar does not stop owning other animals afterwards: it is rather not willing to get close to them . Such a scenario very much impacts their adaptation abilities and opportunities to be socially awash.

Preventing Negative Conditioning and Advantages of These Strategies The best method is the approach of dog training through positive reinforcement by making the dog feel fear or pain such as rewarding behavior and the other’s presence or performance in the environment . Its example is delivering treats to the dog when it sits quietly next to it when it sees another dog . The research points to the fact that dogs trained with positive reinforcement are less likely to start feeling fear and respond better to training on the whole. For instance, a study including more than 200 pets proved that they begin to show signs of stress if they are trained without aversive collars and interact openly with the environment and other dogs .

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