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Ever been crucified in public for your usage or prong/e-collars? Here's what to do next time.

· Training,Podcast,Behavior

This is an excerpt from Heroly's weekly Canine Club podcast, where our behavior modification specialist, Jonas Black, speaks on how to have a calm and collected Prong Collar conversation.

This is a special edition of Heroly’s Canine Club Podcast, inspired by a Facebook post I just saw that really got on my fucking nerves.

We had a retweet on the Heroly Facebook by two of the amazing people who run a Great Pyrenees rescue. One of them retweeted the prong collar tile quote that basically says: prong collars don't have spikes. Don’t say that they do, when they don’t, because it may deter people from using the tool they need to use in order to save their dog."

Some people immediately hopped on it and said: “I would never do that to my baby.” 

So, I hopped on it and said: “What are we doing to your baby? Explain to me the usage of this tool. Explain to me what we’re doing.” 

They just responded with: “I didn’t want to get into a public debate. I just wanted to share my feelings.” 

My response was: “How can you have feelings on something if you don’t know the usage of it?”


The answer to that question is propaganda.

The answer to that question is marketing. 

The answer to that question is people trying to take your money. 

That’s why you believe this shit.

How do I handle the prong collar conversation?

When somebody asks you about the prong collar, you shouldn’t be defensive. 


I’m going to tell this to everyone using a prong collar, my clients included, but, in particular to balanced trainers out there. 


If you are a balanced trainer. I need you to listen to this closely


Don’t shut off immediately when somebody says (redneck accent) “the pinch collar with the barb wire spikes, I could never do that to my baby.”

What we need to do as a community is open up the conversation. 

We don’t need to close ourselves off. 

We don’t need to run away defensively. 

We don’t need to be little bitches about it. 

What we need to do is stay calm, and calmly say: “Okay, I see you have an opinion, now please explain to me how this collar is used, how the collar causes pain, and have you spoken to your veterinarian about the collar?"

They'll usually say: “Well the collar, the dog runs into it, and then from there you yank on it, and you cause the dog pain. You cause the dog pain so that the dog doesn’t do what the dog did before.”

So, at that point in the conversation you can very simply say: “Well, that’s not how we train. That’s actually not how we train. That’s not how we train with the collar at all.”

Then their eyes open up, their ears start to perk, and you know what happens? If you’ve been nice about it, they'll start to listen... Especially, if you haven’t been an elitist prick, like a lot of balanced trainers tend to be, and a lot of positive trainers need to be... 

Honestly, a lot of dog trainers are elitist pricks who think they know everything better than the person they’re talking to… and yes, you may know better, especially if you’re a balanced trainer, but that doesn’t give you the right to be a pretentious asshole. 

I’m sure that we’ve all dealt with a dog trainer that was a pretentious asshole. Those are broken people. A really good dog trainer is a people person before they are a dog person. Because you are able to communicate and teach the people. That’s the real key here.

Anyway, next order of business, we say: “That’s not how to train the collar. In fact, we actually take proper measures to ensure that the collar is acclimated properly first.”

And they go: “Oh. What does that mean?”

And we say: “Well, we teach the dog how to turn the pressure off. We don’t teach the dog to comply in response to pain. We teach the dog to turn the pressure off.”

They'll ask: “Can’t you just us a martingale for that?”

And you'll educate them by saying: “No, you actually can’t. It’s far more unsafe to use a martingale collar, because the frontal load of that collar is delivered straight to the frontal part of the trachea, and it doesn’t disperse the pressure evenly over the dog's neck.

Now that’s the point where people go: “What the fuck did this guy just say?”

And then, if you really want to blow their mind, you can tell them: "Michigan State University did a study on the prong collar and that it doesn’t affect the trachea nearly as much as a flat buckle or even a harness does. The studies have been done on the tools individually. Michigan State University did a study on the Prong Collar in particular and showed that there was no damage to be done."

Leaving a cell phone out could do damage to your dog. Is that an extreme statement, absolutely, but so is “Prong collars cause damage”. Prong collars do no such thing. - Jonas Black

You can also encourage them to speak with their vet and say: Next time you go to your Veterinarian’s office, I want you to ask if they’ve seen any damage caused by proper prong collar usage. Proper. Not misuse of the collar. 


Because there may be damage caused by leaving the prong collar on all day, leaving a dog tied up unattended, leaving the collar on while the dog is growing and the collar embeds. Damage can happen with anything. In fact, if you leave a bag of food out, and that dog eats the whole bag, be it 20lbs, the dog can get bloat, and die. Food used and managed properly isn't dangerous. 

So, if we’re going to talk about the potential of pain, the potential of damage, well then we’re talking about every single stimulus in the universe because everything has the potential to do damage. 

Leaving a cell phone out could do damage to your dog. Is that an extreme statement, absolutely, but so is “Prong collars cause damage”. Prong collars do no such thing.

You need to explain this tool and the methods: "What we do is teach the dog to turn the pressure off with a gentle pressure release system, with regards to really good leash work and good timing on the letting the pressure off the collar. Basically, it’s a slight pressure." 


"So, before you think that we’re tugging on the dog, which we’re not, a good balanced trainer won’t do that, It’s a gentle application of pressure. Then the dog moves towards the pressure, and the pressure releases. The dog learns within a matter of minutes, 10 to 20 normally, how to do that." 


"From there, you walk towards the door. Then, from there, you control the space between the door and the dog. You tell the dog 'okay we can go for a walk.' From there, every time the dog steps in front of your big toe, you give a little bit of a correction, a flick of a wrist, nothing much." 


"Most dogs will respond instantaneously, in this training. You know why? Because it’s instinctual. Because it’s holistic. Because it is not inhumane. We use a simple pressure system. That’s it."


This is how you start that conversation and defend your tools without being an asshole. Just get the conversation stoked so that you can educate these propaganda saturated minds.


We are going to do a shot of crown royal together on this night. This is for all the listeners, all the prong collars defenders, the staunch e-collar users, and people who believe in a real approach to training, called the balanced approach. I just wanted to give my salute, my cheers, and we are making a difference. Cheers to you!

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