Dogs and Pinch Collars – Good idea?

I was never a fan of pinch collars for dogs other than those massive Bull Mastiffs and some of the larger breeds. It was always my opinion that if the dog was more powerful than the owner than I could see them being warranted. It just seemed to me that otherwise it was unnecessary, maybe a little cruel and, well, they just look mean. Maybe I’m a bit of a softy. All that changed, however, when we got our Border Collie. A little 25 pound Border Collie!

Our dog, Ned, was very excitable as a young dog. All that energy in the breed just boiled over making him near impossible to walk on a lease. We worked with him, walked him, trained the heel command…everything we could think of and read about. He would stay nicely in heel like a good little dog until something caught his attention like another dog, a squirrel, a bug, a leaf blowing by or pretty much anything under the sun. We had been taking him to Puppy Training class (which I’m no longer ashamed to admit) and after the 5th or 6th week the trainer, a great lady by the way, asked the question, “Have you considered using a pinch collar?”

Walking our Border Collie on a leash was like flying a kite in high winds. He was all over the place! The trainer explained that it does not “hurt” the dog and the pinch collar was not used as a “punishment” but more as a corrective and training device. As young puppies dogs are often corrected by their mothers and other dogs with a quick nip to the neck. The pinch collar mimicked this behavior letting the dog know that they were acting out of sorts. My wife and I were, at that point, beyond frustrated and agree to a trial run with the pinch collar.

The trainer slipped the collar over his head sort of telling us about how it worked. As our dog sat their another dog walked close by in the training area. Ned, true to form, bolted off after this dog and, upon coming to the end of his leash, let out the most ear splitting YELP I’d ever heard! My wife and I instantly both felt like the worst dog owners on the planet. Luckily our trainer was right there and quickly explained that, first of all, the dog was more surprised than hurt and secondly that he was fine. A quick check of Ned confirmed this. She went on to explain that with a Border Collie, due to how quickly they learn new things, he probably would not repeat that mistake twice.

Boy was she right. From that instant on Ned never again would run around like a maniac on the leash. He very quickly learned where the end of the leash was and settled down into heel very smoothly. We have never “yanked” the leash to make the pinch collar work as, as soon as Ned feels a little pressure from the collar, he slows up a little bit. We only had to use the pinch collar for training purposes for about 2 months. After that we went to a normal collar and he has been great ever since.

As you can tell I an now a huge fan of these collars for training a puppy, especially a Border Collie puppy. We quickly learned that the metal ones can rust easily (especially when exposed to salt water at the beach) and we’ve had a few occasions where the pinch collar comes apart when Ned shakes out his fur (even after bending the prongs a bit with pliers). After doing some searching we found a Plastic Training Collar that worked great! Good luck!

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi,

    In line with your post I’ll take the opportunity to mention something that I just took knowledge about on TV; this only proves that we should see less TV….
    Someone was talking about a colar that gives a shock when the dog barks. This way the dog will learn that he shouldn’t bark because will get a shock.
    What do people want dogs to do ? To talk ?
    Maybe they saw that movie from George Orwell where animals could talk, but then again some people who can talk think like “animals”.

    Take care,

    José

  2. Bill Kelly says

    Jose,

    Thanks for stopping by and for the comment! We’ve been pretty fortunate on the barking side with our dog..he’s never really had a barking problem to speak of. I did get a chance to “play” with one of those bark collars a few months back. I held it against my hand and had the owner activate it on the medium setting he used for his dog. It was a decent shock; not painful but it got defiantly my attention. I’m not sure how it would scale with my body mass vs a dogs size but, in my non-expert opinion, it did not seem bad.

    Anyone else have an opinion on bark collars? I don’t have any real experience with them…

  3. says

    Hi Bill,

    I hope that you don’t mind using this space to answer back.
    It’s not just a matter of being painful or not, it’s about not being natural.
    Dogs are supposed to bark and creating a “condition” this way doesn’t seem right to me.
    It reminds me of parents who are against giving a tap (when adequate) on a child but use psycological “threats” to condition them.
    I prefer to be down to earth and believe that sometimes technology is not always the best option.

    Kind regards

    José

  4. Bill says

    Jose,

    Ahh! Now I understand the point of your first post…sorry…I looked at it from a different angle. I totally see what you are saying now.

    And no, I’m glad you’re using the space to reply! When I started this site I never expected anyone to see it at all let alone actually take the time to comment- I’m thrilled actually.

    I’ve had a far bigger response to the site than I’d imagined and look forward to more discussions!

    Thanks again and I like your blog as well!

    Bill

  5. Dina says

    I have a Border Collie who will be 2 in February, his name is Bishop. We have had him since he was 8 weeks old. I did research on Border Collies before getting him from a working sheep farm in Washington. I chose him because his breed is intelligent, learns quickly, and are very sensitive. I am physically disabled, and I have seizures.

    I have been working on training him with verbal commands as well as snapping my fingers combined with hand gestures/signals. He responds very well to this, but I am the only one which he consistently listens to. I don’t have to repeat myself with him, but when someone else tries to give him a command, Bishop will not listen, or makes them repeat themselves.

    I do not use violence or aggression with Bishop, with the one exception of when Bishop first was in his defiant phase comparable to the terrible twos, or teenage years. He had attempted to have a dominance challenge with me, and so I reacted as a real dog would…I got on the floor with him, on all fours, advanced with my head higher than his, rolled him onto his back, and nipped his throat. Ever since then, he has been very submissive and obedient with me, and I do not have to resort to mean or cruel measures.

    The only thing which Bishop does not obey with is while we are on walks, he constantly lunges, pulls at the leash, or digs in with hind feet while choking himself on the collar/harness. When he does this, I stop, tell him to “Sit” then “Wait”, and when he calms down, I continue on. However, this causes me a lot of pain, as I am physically disabled and Bishop is my service animal.

    I have been looking for harnesses, collars, or any type of training device which will help me in this area. I have looked into the gentle lead, and tried one on him but he pawed the nose-strap off while becoming frantic. I have also looked into choke-chains, but I don’t want to damage his trachea or spine. I refuse to use a shock-collar as I don’t want him afraid of pain or me, but to listen because he knows to.

    I have been looking into pinch collars now, because they don’t pull and choke, and are a gentle reminder if used correctly. Much like when I had to show him I was dominant as a dog would, I like the idea of a pinch collar which will not damage him, but will remind him much like another dog would.

    He has chewed through his cloth leashes, and so I have invested in a cable leash with a detachable cloth handle. I use the full-length cable leash for relaxed “off-work” walks, and the handle with his harness for when he is “working”.

    Thank you for helping me to make my decision on the pinch-collar, from someone who knows and loves Border Collies as I do.

    I know this is a rather long comment, but I looked for a way to contact you and couldn’t find one, so I wrote it here, especially considering it has to do with the collars, and responses.

  6. Tisha says

    Hi, I just came across your site – excellent, btw. :) I am wondering what brand of plastic training collar you used. I clicked the link to Amazon, but it came up with a 404 error. Is it the StarMark one? Thanks!

    Tisha

  7. says

    My husband wants to use a pron collar on our 1 year old adopted bc cross. He is impossible on a leash, runs at busses, cars, people,dogs, bikes. We have tired other collars. He has shown some improvement but is far from obedient when he sees something interesting -squirrel and so on. Dog Training for Dummies recommends this collar. Loks brutal. I wonder if it is worth a try?? Seems so cruel.

  8. says

    Val,

    I hear you. We used a pinch collar to help with some of that and it worked well. We got lucky as he only had to “use” the pinch once and he got it. I personally don’t think they are cruel if used properly. It can’t be used as a punishment…only as a light correction. The attention span at that age, at least for Ned, was a real problem for us as well. The best thing we did was run him like crazy and keep him tired. The more tired he was the better he behaved and he eventually grew out of that crazy phase. You can check out this post and video on pulling on the leash. Also you might want to check with a trainer…we found one that helped us a ton. As an adopted dog a trainer might be able to determine and fix some existing behavior issues. Also, if he’s not fixed it can add to the problem. Don’t know if that helps but I wish you luck. Let us know how you do.

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