Pinches, chokers, and prongs? Oh my!

6 Jan

I judge dogs and their people…Yes, I do…I admit it – I make decisions about them based on their dog walking tools…

LOVE people with Easy Walks! Gentle Leader, love you more! Flat collars are fine…unless the dog pulls, then I judge and question in my head – why not a harness?  It’s so much easier!

Have a pinch or choke collar? Yes, I judge.  WHY?

I have worked hard over the last year not judge people on their choice of collar – many of these owners, whether they are young kids with “tough looking” dogs or granola crunchy hippies, love their dog. They walk  all the way to the dog park to socialize them and care about its well being.   I never preach anymore, but if someone asks me, I let it rip…The truth is, prongs can be used effectively, if done right.  I remember when I first became familiar with BADRAP, one of our favorite advocates for the pitties, I was stunned when I saw all the shiny prong collars.  I now see past the shine and look at the good they are doing to help secure the future of the American Pit Bull Terrier as a cherished family companion though education, awareness and adoption! Just as I do when I check out dogs and their owners on the street.

Lately, I see more and more easy walks and the like thanks to our local pet stores who fully stock front clasping harnesses.  They are stocking less chokes and prongs now. Slowly, but surely, we are becoming a less aversive doggy world.  Baby steps!

Just as I advise when it comes to dogs, don’t judge a book/dog/dog owner by it’s appearance or walking equipment!

P.S – Need help choosing walking tools?  APDT and ASPCA have some great lists and info!  Petexpertise is a great resource for dog harnesses, collars and more!


24 Responses to “Pinches, chokers, and prongs? Oh my!”

  1. barbara Kennedy January 6, 2012 at 10:10 AM #


  2. Skinny Fat Kid January 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM #

    I can agree to a certain extent. When our fosters first arrive, they’re typically never leash trained and will rip my arm off if I take them out on a flat collar. We slip them into an Easy Walk Harness and all is good in the world! My one complaint is that we feel like we don’t have control. With a collar or head collar, you have more control of where the dog is going and their head. However, I’ve seen dogs slip out of the head collar so won’t be using that again!

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 6, 2012 at 4:14 PM #

      As a backup, you can hook leash clasp to both GL and the flat collar or use a Halti that does have an attachment for the collar.


  3. pittiefullove January 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM #

    I agree to a certain extent too…if it works for your dog, than it would be my first option as well. However I am of the belief that one tool, training method, collar/harness etc, does not fit every dog. Our dog started out with positive training-only, and he just wasn’t doing well. WE were prong trained (to use it as a TOOL — stressing the importance and not just to reduce pulling) and it was instantaneous. For us, we needed to be able to correct him (and as I said, he wasn’t taking to an all positive training approach).

    Now don’t throw tomatoes! I am just sharing what worked for us. PLUS we’ve had several fosters that the easy walk has worked wonderfully with! (reinforcing with treats as rewards and a strong ‘no’ as a correction when we are out an about). I think it honestly depends on the dog, being flexible, and getting some feedback from the dog.

    ***disclaimer: we went to a prong-based training class so we were taught the proper way to introduce, use and more important, how NOT to use the prong. ***

    Now we are finally working on flat collar – walking with our boy, and he’s doing GREAT. It just took him about a year to get there.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 6, 2012 at 4:15 PM #

      There will be no tomato throwing, here, folks! @piitieful: we actually whole-heartedly agree with you – that’s what this post is all about!

      If you’re going to use these tools, you have to use them as such – TOOLS. You need to know how to use them, when to use them, and what NOT TO DO with them. And then, once the tool has done its job, you move on from it to the next tool – it’s called progress!

  4. Tanaya Burnham-Delorey January 6, 2012 at 3:12 PM #

    Gentle Leader saved us. I won’t leash train a dog, any breed of dog, without one. When we got our huge pittie 3 years ago, at the age of 5, she didn’t know what a leash was and nearly dragged us all over the neighborhood. Once I found the Gentle Leader it was night and day. The poor thing didn’t like it rubbing her nose, so in just a few months with a little training she transitioned to just a flat collar and now she behaves like the wonderful girl that she is while out in public.

    There is no excuse for bad leash behavior, just laziness and lack of information.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM #

      Try using moleskin from Dr. Scholl’s available at any drug store and line the the part that goes over the snout or purchase the deluxe head GL with a felt –

      I have all my dogs (all under thirty pounds) on GL’s and love them!

      • TwoKittiesOnePittie January 6, 2012 at 4:31 PM #

        Thanks so much, Jennifer! I will go out and buy some now. I’ll let you know how we do. 🙂 If it doesn’t help, I’ll try the GL deluxe. (I hadn’t heard of it before; I’d only seen the regular one!).

  5. TwoKittiesOnePittie January 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM #

    Very interesting. We have tried everything with Zoe: the Easy Walk harness, the Gentle Leader, a harness, a prong collar, another harness that hooks on the front and the back, and none of them are ideal. The Easy Walk gave her horrible sores under her arm pits (I had her fitted for it twice, but it didn’t seem to help) and the prong collar made no difference. Zoe is a very big puller, and the Halti (which looks like the Gentle Leader but has more padding and is a little sturdier) has worked the best. The one problem is that it leaves a kind of “line” across her nose and also makes some people think she has a muzzle. I’m always open to new options, though!

  6. Erica Santiago January 6, 2012 at 5:32 PM #

    I just bought a Halti harness for my little Cofi and my god what a difference! I have been using it for the past 3 days and it feels like i am walking a totally different dog. As soon as she felt the pull on her chest she stopped in her tracks. I had tried a martingale collar with her and had some success in the beginning, but she just eventually started to pull even though she felt it choking her, I’m hoping that we have long term success with the Halti.

    • That Touch of Pit ... January 7, 2012 at 2:09 PM #

      Erica, that is so good! Glad it is helping the walks! Coffee Bark tomorrow at the run 10-12. Hope to see you there!


  7. Mimi & Cabana January 6, 2012 at 10:07 PM #

    Great post! Cabana was such a puller, even with dedicated daily training using treats. The Gentle Leader helped but she still managed to pull somewhat–and I got tired of the muzzle comments. So I hired a professional trainer to show me how to use a prong collar. We used it for about 3-4 months, then I slowly transitioned her to a flat collar. The prong collar was a great temporary training tool. Now, when we are going into situations when I know Cabana will be too excited for a flat collar, we use a front-clip harness, which helps keep her in control. So I think there is a place and time for all different types of collars. No tool is right for everyone all the time.

    I have heard people with chihuahuas or other little breeds talk about how horrible prong and pinch collars are. Like a lot of others have mentioned, try walking a big dog for a few days, see how your arm feels, and then make your judgement. I know we can’t help but have opinions about other dog owners, but as you said, we need to see that most people are doing the best they know to do. We can educate without being judgmental–which is why I think your post is so great.

  8. That Touch of Pit ... January 7, 2012 at 1:53 PM #

    And, here is a link to fleece straps for Easy Walk harnesses:


    • TwoKittiesOnePittie January 7, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

      @Jennifer, thanks so much! I got some moleskin and put it on the Halti for the time being, and also ordered the Gentle Leader Deluxe. I’ll let you guys know what I think! I am also going to order the fleece so I can try to switch it up to give Zoe’s face a break! Thank you so much for the advice! You guys are the best.

  9. amy January 7, 2012 at 2:16 PM #

    the gentle leader made a world of difference in walking georgia. she’d be a furious squirrel chaser if not on a leash and was pulling like nobody’s business with a harness. our very first walk with the GL was enough to convince me that it was the way to go with her.

    i’m also glad to hear that she’s not the only pooch who’s getting a ridge where the GL sits on her nose. i fretted about fit and am convinced that it’s fine now, but that made me worry that it was rubbing – even though she’s not pawing to get it off or anything. i’m going to look into the deluxe model.

    and we’ll definitely see you at coffee bark tomorrow! thanks for the update.

    PS LOVE that picture – it’s one of the things that compelled me to pursue adopting her. i’ll never get tired of seeing her tongue peek out of her mouth. she’s a trip.

  10. Two Grads January 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM #

    What a GREAT post! Obviously stirred everyone up quite a bit! We wrote about our walking gear once:

    I judge too…hm…

    Thanks for getting the conversation going.

  11. delicio8 January 7, 2012 at 3:54 PM #

    I don’t like prong collars either but with my Lola it makes a world of difference. Her whole attitude changes when we put it on and she pays attention. She is dog aggressive and has gotten much better at looking at me and not responding to dogs that we walk past. BUT if there’s a dog behind a fence she will pull my arm off and lunge no matter what she has on, even the prong collar. We use a flat collar, the front harness as well. She’s only a year and a half so we still have lots of work to do. She was attacked by a jack russell who came under a fence unexpectedly so I think that has a lot to do with it. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  12. Sam January 7, 2012 at 8:42 PM #

    It’s the same with horse bits – in the wrong hands they are cruel, but in the right hands, they can solve all sorts of problems. With Sam (my Golden) he pulled so hard growing up he actually ripped skin off of the palms of my hands. We tried a no-pull harness, but he ended up slicing his chest open. We switched to a prong collar with very little success. He pulled so hard we couldn’t use it correctly. We finally saw some success with a halti head collar, and just recently switched to a harness in your picture. It’s taken 9 years to successfully walk my dog! LOL!


  13. Between Trains January 7, 2012 at 10:26 PM #

    What I found that I haven’t liked about the Easy Walk harnesses is that they tend to rub the dogs skin raw. We have 2 basset mixes so their chests and legs are built a little funny and sometimes the chest strap slides down. We found out about the Freedom Harness and we fell in love with it! The dogs are more comfortable in them as well. Highly recommend them, especially for reactive dogs.

  14. buttface January 7, 2012 at 11:12 PM #

    Hi! I’m Jess, the owner of I agree and appreciate the mention from Jennifer! Those who would like to try out an even nicer no-pull harness might like the Freedom Harness. I love it because it has velvet padding around the chest and is multi-functional so you can use it as a regular harness as well.

    BTW, at Pet Expertise we do not sell pinches, chokes or shock collars!

    • Jess Rollins January 7, 2012 at 11:14 PM #

      Oh geez, that’s embarassing! How did my name come up as buttface! HA! ~Jess

      • TwoKittiesOnePittie January 8, 2012 at 12:48 AM #

        That’s hilarious. Jess, I just ordered a fleece padding for the Easy Walk harness! Looking forward to trying it. 🙂

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  1. Gentle Leaders ‘R Us! (and Easy Walks, too!) « That Touch of Pit… - April 10, 2012

    […] As someone who adopted the use of gentle leaders early in my dog parenthood, I was always so shocked when dog owners shut down the idea immediately. Throughout the years, I have used Gentle Leaders* for many reasons – for pulling, working with reactive dogs, etc. From my miniature pinschers to larger shelter dogs, I have always used them…and LOVED them! And, yes, when I see  a dog wearing one, I immediately like the owner (yikes! profiling!) […]

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