Wrong use of a dog prong collar

Miadog writes to me:

I can’t believe I have been using the prong collar with the prongs under my dogs neck, not behind her head!. I have been using it the wrong way for 8 mos. The associate at Petco never even asked if I knew how to use it. I just assumed the prongs went in front. I watched the video on how to walk your dog on a leash and finally saw the right use of the collar. I feel awful. Could I have caused any permanent damage to my dog’s trachea?

Adam replies:
Hi Mia…that’s a cute picture of your dog! Is she a Lab-poodle or a Golden-poodle? She’s got that poodle-y mix look about her!It’s hard to say if there’s any damage, but be reassured that if there is any, it might just be a little bit of soreness depending on how you had it fit, and it will go away quickly. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “prongs under her neck,” because when fit right, the prongs can sit anywhere around the dog’s neck…it’s just up to you if you like the chain portion on either side, behind the head or under the neck. Unless it’s fit wrong and/or used in a very harsh manner, the design of the collar actually prevents tracheal damage because it is a limited-slip design and puts pressure around the entire neck instead of just one small area. The associates at PetCo will never hear this in their training as associates (didn’t work there, but worked at a similar, locally-based, pet retail store and had to write the associate-training information on pinch/slip/electronic collar myself), but the pinch collar is actually a lot safer than the slip/”choke” collar and even the famous “Gentle” Leaders…when used correctly for training purposes.

If you find yourself with more questions regarding training technique or proper use of the collar, feel free to ask. That’s what we’re here for!

Mia responds:

Thanks. She is a labradoodle.


Adam replies:

Hi, Mia:

No, you haven’t caused any damage. That’s actually one of the benefits of the prong collar: It doesn’t put pressure on the dog’s trachea. Supposedly, the slip/chain/choke collar can… but even with that collar, I’ve never seen evidence of it doing damage or injury to a dog, if used properly.

Also: Please note that– as long as you fit the collar the way I show in the video, it doesn’t matter if the prongs are underneath the neck or on top. You can spin it around, depending on what exercise you’re working on… so that it’s easier for you to give the correction.

Example: If I’m teaching the sit/sit-stay, I’ll move it around so that the ring I attach the leash to is at the back of the dogs neck (and the prongs will be underneath– the side where the chest and chin are). This is because the tug on the leash for the sit command is straight up.

It’s the opposite if I’m working on the down, as the correction is in a downward and forward direction.

If you haven’t yet, please read through the Secrets book, as it will be an excellent supplement to the videos.

– Adam.

Mia responds:

Thanks Adam. I got the impression the collar was only used one direction after seeing your video. I am glad to hear what you said. I worked my dog for about 3, 20 min periods today, and she is pulling less on the leash. I can’t wait to get a 30 ft leash and try the off leash exercises.



kafox adds:
Great info! But wouldn’t it be cumbersome to constantly turn the pinch collar every time you want to enforce a command, or is that only for the first steps of training? Can a tab face downward or to the side and you can ‘pop’ it upwards or downwards for a ‘down’ or ‘sit’?

Adam replies:

Hi, Kafox:

Yes, it’s only an issue if, for example: I’m working on the down. I’ll turn it around, so that it’s easier for me, but it will slide around on it’s own– eventually, even if I didn’t.

– Adam.


Training your dog not to chase cars

Melissa writes to me:

Hi there! I am almost half way done with “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer” so pleased with it so far! I have 2 Border Collies. A 2yr old male, Jack and a 9 mo old female, Jill. We are from USA, rescued Jack and Jill in England and now live in Amman Jordan. Huge transition for them from the fields in England to the streets of Amman!!! Jack is transitioning well, Jill is having a bit of a harder time. We rescued her at 8 wks old. She was taken from her mom at 3 wks old but was with her littermates up until we rescued her. Since we have had her she has wanted to chase cars. We have come a long way with her, but on our walks I somehow feel if I had more of her attention I could probably get through to her. She is obsessed with cars when we are out and now cats as well there are millions here, everywhere! I am sure I will find more answers as I continue my reading, but just couldn’t wait to ask…any thoughts? Thanks! Mel

Adam replies:

Hi, Melissa:

Amman, Jordan… that’s pretty cool! Do you work for the State Department? What an exciting life!

Keep reading through the Secrets book. I can guarantee you’ll get a better understanding of how to get through to your dog’s mind, by doing so.

As for your specific issues, I have some video techniques that will apply, pretty closely:

Watch this one, first– for the attention issue. Attention is the FOUNDATION of all training. If you’re not paying complete attention to me, I can’t even begin to teach you, right?


Next, watch this video– which teaches the “Come on Command”.
I would use the cars as a really good way to “proof” her, once you’re in the proofing phase.


Next, watch the boundary training video. This gives you a visual guide as to how to issue the correction. Correct her for going after a cat, firmly. (You can also use the “Loose-Leash/Attention Getter” exercise:


Remember: With my system, we look to distractions as an OPPORTUNITY to work the dog around, because if you have found things that consistently trigger your dog’s behavior, then you can use that to build the dog’s reliability.

Keep us posted.
– Adam.


Melissa responds:

Hi, Adam!

It is really nice to be in direct contact with you. Let me say first of all that I have really enjoyed reading your book. I have gained such valuable information. I am using new training methods on my dogs and results are amazing. Jill is still a handful on our walks, as you say, I think my corrections are not motivational enough…I think with many first time prong collar users, there is that hesitation, of “I may hurt the dog”. I know I am wrong to think this way, and am quickly getting over it! I find after each time I use the collar, I am deleting yet another link. I think I finally have the right fit and size. Jill is about 16 kg and I am using a med on her, Jack is 26 kg and is using a large. Jack does not need much motivation by the way. It’s my Jilly girl that wants to be the protector out there in the jungle…I should mention that she will be spayed in a couple of weeks. We waited as rules in England have them wait til after their first season wich she is just coming out of. Also, I think I need to spend more time alone with her. By the way, my husband is in the hotel industry…this is why we get round…Thanks Adam! Will keep you posted.


Dog counter surfing and jumping up on the backs of people legs

Phyllis writes to me:

Hi Adam, I have read your book on dog obedience training twice and searched the forums but haven’t found a good answer to my questions. I have a 4 1/2 month old German Shorthair/Lab mix named BooBoo. She is an assertive but not really aggressive dog. She has already become dominant mostly to our 5 year old Shepherd mix. My questions are: 1) how do we keep her from counter surfing. We have tried the mousetraps on the counter but she wised up to those after just one snap. She simply ignored any “set up” food we place behind a mousetrap (even when we hid it in a folded paper towel) or if she can, she gets around the trap to get to the food. She has even moved the trap to get to the food before. She is not frightened by loud noises so I can’t use the loud pans trick. I have also tried putting a tab leash on her but she just chews on the end of it whenever she can. And it is hard to grab her tab when I am several feet away from her while she gets her paws up on the counter. By the time I get to her, she is already down. Should I be correcting her even after she has gotten down? One more thing, I have gotten her to stop jumping on me in front, but she’ll come up from behind and bounce off my the back of my legs and be gone before I can turn and correct her. Other than these problems, she is adorable, I must say! Thanks for any help. Phyllis

Adam replies:

Hi, Phyllis:

What you’re going to need to do with this dog is: Use the crate when you cannot supervise her, until she is 100%. When you set her up, correct her with the pinch collar and tab/leash. If she’s chewing the tab, this tells me that you’re not keeping a close enough eye on her. (Hint: To make it easier on your pocket book, use a harness snap and a piece short piece of rope you can buy from a hardware store, both for under $1).

Just to make sure you’re understanding correctly: Take the collar and tab off, when you put her in the crate.

In regard to correcting her after she’s gotten down: That’s where the bridging technique comes in. As soon as she does the behavior — even if you’re on the other side of the room– you need to yell, “No, no, no” as you run to her and administer the behavior. By saying “No,” right at the moment she does it, you’re creating a virtual snap shot in her mind, and by continuing to say “no, no, no” as you run to her, you’re forcing her to remember what she’s being corrected for. Studies I’ve read suggest you have at least 7 to 9 seconds after the behavior, as long as you’re using that bridging technique. So, yes; You should be correcting her after she’s jumped back down off the counter, as long as you’ve said, “No!”

In regard to the jumping while behind you: Same deal. Say, “No!” and then grab that tab or leash and administer your correction. If you’re using the pinch collar and leash correctly (loose-tight-loose) this behavior should be eliminated, very quickly. If not, then your correction isn’t firm enough.

Keep me posted,
– Adam.

Submissive urination – 2 year old cocker spaniel

oliver031009 writes to me:

I’m about to adopt a beautiful American Cocker Spaniel. The owner says she
always urinates when she gets excited around her, as well as meeting new
people. The dog is not a puppy,(2 years old)
Anything I can do to reverse this. I’ve met the dog and It does do this.

Adam replies:

Hi, Oliver:

This is usually a behavior that a young dog will grow out of. But at this age, it’s hard to say whether she will or not. (More than likely, she will). The trick is to teach the dog a lot of obedience exercises, and get out and socialize, socialize, socialize: For example, have her sit immediately upon greeting people, and hold a strong sit-stay. You can work her around people to get her used to people (have them ignore her) and the obedience exercises will build up her confidence– which frequently will fix the submissive urination issue. Have strangers approach her in a sit-stay and then give her a cookie– without a lot of drama.

Just know that there’s no 100% guarantee that this will stop, completely. If you do adopt this dog, you need to be mentally prepared in case it never completely goes away. (Not so much for you, but when she meets other people). In most cases, it goes away once you start with the obedience exercises, the way I suggest in the book.

Keep me posted.

Dealing With Dog Biting and Aggression

Vellsworth writes to me about dog biting and aggression:

There is no consistent ‘mitigating pattern’ to his dog aggression – first time he jumped up and drew a drop of blood from a man’s inner thigh, a man with a leg prosthesis (other dogs also went for this ‘wounded animal’ – Skippy was immediately leashed and made to walk around the park with the man for about 20 minutes – never another problem). 2 other times, men were walking away from him (trying to get their attention seems a bit out of the question as Skippy was busy playing with dogs) he just jumped up and snapped – but he did bruise one man – the other, nothing. Again, I caught up to him – no – he came on command and I gave him a time out – once we left the park and another time I knew the guy and we stayed – I distracted Skippy with one of his playmates and kept close watch on him. Since he is extremely bonded with me, I’d like to say he is just being overly protective – HA! He is nowhere near me when this happens – which is why I have (finally) gotten my e-collar.I also bought a mesh muzzle today – which I promised in order to go back to the park.

re: e-collar. is he supposed to think that the shock is coming from me or the man? I assume I watch closely for him going Toward a man – command him ‘no!’ then shock if he doesn’t obey. Correct?

BTW – he used to nip at dogs’ heels and we thought he had some sheep herder in him – one day with the shock collar eliminated that. Hope the same with men.

Adam replies:

Hi, Virginia:

RE: The stim from the collar: He needs to know this is coming from you. You use it the same way you would use the leash and collar: By saying, “No!” and then giving the correction. The e-collar just allows you to more accurately match the motivation level of the correction with your dog’s temperament and the situation.

I think using the muzzle is smart. It sounds like you’re on the right track. Regardless of why he’s nipping (peg leg, a guy with a hat, herding instinct) you’ll correct it, just the same.

As a side note: At this stage in his rehabilitation (I hate that word!) … you shouldn’t let him get more than 10 feet away from you, because we want him to know 100% that the correction is coming from you.

I’m assuming you’ve read the book already and understand the “three keys”?



Training Your Puppy To Stop Biting His Leash

Cokersmoses writes to me about puppy training to teach your puppy to stop biting the leash:

Hi Adam,

On a past post you gave the following puppy training advice with a older puppy biting their leash:

The easiest way is to use a leather leash, and then just pull the leash fast, across (and out of) his tongue, as he tries to bite it. It will give him a slight burning sensation. He won’t like it, and when he realizes this happens every time he tries to bite the leash, he’ll stop. You should also just say, “No!” when you do this

My question is does this advice go for a 9 wk old Rott puppy since he still has his baby teeth? I’ve been afraid to yank the leash out of his mouth b/c i’m afraid of breaking his baby teeth. I also need to get a leather leash b/c I only have the nylon kind.
Thank you


Adam replies:

Hi, Coker:

No, for 9 weeks, you can just say, “No!” with a low, firm voice and then cup your hand around the top of his muzzle and open his mouth and take the leash out… and then stuff something else in his mouth (a toy) or distract him with a “chewey”.

If you have trouble getting the leash out of his mouth, you can gently bend his lips around his teeth and he’ll open his mouth so you can take it out.

Keep me posted. There’s nothing in the world more adorable than a Rottweiler puppy. Someday in the next couple of years, we’ll likely get another one.

Coker Responds:

Thank you so much for getting back to me, Adam. I am in the middle of reading your book and on the posts. There is so much good info. However, do you have some page numbers for me to get fast info on what to do with my Rott puppy? I mainly need info on walking him and stopping him eating grass and anything else he will instantly pickup while out on our walks (and in his potty area in the yard). Also, biting is a bad habit i’m trying to deal with. It is hard to tell what advice you are giving for what age in your book. I know that you have said you can start to train after adult teeth comes in. Does that mean any advice in the book is for above the age of 5 months? I brought my boy home and I want so much to have him be everything he can be that I started out expecting too much and getting very frustrated (both of us). Sorry this is getting long…I’m planning on finishing your book but just need something to get me through this next couple months. What do I need to be doing (besides potty training,which is going pretty well) when it comes to my beautiful puppy? Thanks again for your help and your book.

Adam replies:

Hi, Lisa:

You’ve got the “Baby Einstein” syndrome. You’re expecting too much, too soon. Just like you wouldn’t put a 5 year-old in college, you can’t push a puppy through the process, too quickly. The pup isn’t mature enough.

What you want to focus on right now (before the adult teeth start to come in) is just:

– Housebreaking
– Crate training
– Using food to create associations with words (sit/down/come) — but ONLY AS A GAME, right now.
– Socialization to as many different sights, sounds and experiences. (No other dogs). Your vet will tell you to keep the dog indoors until you have the full series of shots. In my experience, it’s best to expose to as much as you can, but keeping the dog away from high traffic areas where other dogs are.
– Mild leash corrections for biting, if distraction or a scruff on the back of the neck is ineffective.

That’s all! No leash walking. No obedience exercises where the pup gets corrected for breaking a sit-stay, etc…

Make everything a game. Make everything fun. If you kick the side of a metal trash can and he recoils, then produce a toy and play with him IN AND ON TOP OF the metal trash can. Walk over a grate and it makes noise? YIPPIE! It’s play time!!!

Make sense?

Check out the “Puppy Primer” in our download library in addition to reading the rest of the Secrets book.

Keep me posted.
– Adam

Dealing with your dog’s prey obsession problems

Andersenm writes to me:

Hi Adam – Just joined and started on the book – I adopted from a rescue orginization a Border collie/Golden retriever mix of 15 months of age. he definitly needs work but has learned some commands while indoors – problem is his prey obsession, I have had to cover some windows and door windows because he has become totally obsessed with the squirrels outside. Since this is entering week four of our relationship I still use a leash on him in my 1.5 acre fenced yard. I realize I cannot rid him of this as it is natural but do have to temper it some. Anything that would help while I digest your book cover to cover would help. I did raise and train a border collie that we had for 15 years before he passed and do not remember having this much trouble with him.
Mike Andersen


Adam replies:

Hi, Mike:

Most likely, with this breed mix, he’s got a pretty soft temperament– which is a good thing– so it shouldn’t be too hard to correct this.

First: Make sure his exercise requirements are met. (This means: A lot of cardio).

Second: You’re correct in keeping the leash (or a long line, outside) on him… until he’s 100%. I would start with correcting the behavior in the house, using the tab (as described in the book). This is mostly an issue of making your corrections motivational, and then keeping him in the dog crate (in the house) or kennel (outside) when you’re not home. This allows us to make sure the dog is getting corrected CONSISTENTLY until he drops the behavior.

You’re actually quite lucky, because you can channel that prey drive into a ball or a toy, and use it as a motivator to get him to respond to commands extra-fast and with a positive attitude.

Read through the book. I think it’ll make a lot of things clear for you. If you still have questions, please post again and I’ll try to extrapolate on any issue that might not be clear.


Is a Pinch Collar Right For Your Dog?

jvolk0122 writes to me, asking about the pinch collar:

Hi I adopted a lhasa apso terrior mix which is about 20 pounds and have started to train her. I have a pinch collar and have it fitted correctly. The problem is that I think it may be to aggressive for her. When I give a pop she yelps the first couple of times and listens well. After the first couple of times she starts to get really submissive by rolling on her back, peeing, and laying down not making eye contact. When this happens I am not able to get her to listen any more. Giving a correction at this point only makes her more submissive. Is there another collar that I could try or do you have any suggestions how to handle this?

Adam replies:

Hi, Jvolk:

I need more detail:

Just because a car can go 100 mph, doesn’t mean you have to drive it 100 mph, everywhere you go, right? In fact, you may never drive it 100 mph. You can moderate how hard you press the gas pedal. Just like you can moderate your correction intensity with the pinch collar.

But I’m sure you’re smart enough to have figured that out, already — so, maybe you can explain in more detail what’s happening? Is it related to a specific exercise you’re teaching? The “attention-getter” exercise?

jvolk0122 responds:

I’m just starting to work on the basic dog training commands, of come, sit-stay, and down-stay. For the sit-stay. I’ll tell her sit, then push her butt down. When she tried to stand I corrected her with a pop and tell her to sit again. I’ll say free and let her get up with praise. With the correction she usually yelps and looks really startled the first couple of times. Say by the fourth or fifth time I correct her she starts to get really submissive from what I can tell. I’ll correct her and she’ll go immediatly down on her back, she has peed before, or she will lay down and not look at me in the eye’s and wine. If I try to coax her up she’ll usually not make eye contact with me and get up but then go right back down. I’ve tried doing a lesser correction because she is not that big of a dog and it shouldn’t take that much to get the point across to her, but it still usually gets the same result. I’ve thought of getting those rubber coatings for the prongs to make it less of a correction that way? Is this the info you’re looking for?

DPTrainer4 adds:

If you’re just starting out, you might be working her a bit hard. The concept of learning is to make it easy for the dog to connect the action with the command, resulting in a reward. When I first teach a dog to sit, as soon as the rear touches the ground, I’m happy. Then I work up from there, asking that the dog hold that sit longer and longer, and that’s when I start incorporating corrections as a means to teach the dog that Sit means “Your bum stays there until I tell it to move.”

She just might need to learn the command better. It sounds, from your description, more like she’s learning a military drill and shutting down, with the rolling on her back and especially the urination. It’s the equivalent of throwing a new worker in with the seasoned ones and then promptly docking the new worker’s pay because the immediate results aren’t up to par. You can make training fun without going over-the-top clicker-trainer sunshine-and-butterflies peppy, and there’s no problem with using some food treats or a favorite toy as a reward when first learning new concepts.

You can keep using the collar, but I’d recommend backing off corrections until she knows what she’s supposed to do and you’re beginning to proof her commands.

Adam replies:

That was my thought, too. That’s she’s not 100% clear about what the command means. And remember: You need to “reteach” the command in 3-4 different environments before the dog will start to do it, anywhere.

What Age Are Pinch Collars Appropriate?

JoyceAnn writes to me:

We have two Havanese puppies. The oldest is five months. She, Bonnie, is a wonderful puppy, but I am having difficulty getting her to walk on a loose leash. Is she too young to use a pinch collar? Our male, Clyde, is 3 weeks younger. He is more relaxed and will often just lay down when he doesn’t want to walk. What age is okay to use the pinch collar?

Adam replies:

Hi, Joyce:

Typically, around 4 months of age. When you see the adult teeth start to come in. I think you’ll be fine, starting now.

– Adam.

DPTrainer 4 adds:

With smaller breeds, a light chain slip collar is enough, or if you want to go with the pinch, there is a micropinch out there for small dogs. It is not sold in stores, which is a bit of a disappointment, but here is where I get mine.

Try to use a lot of encouragement and maybe a favorite toy as a reward (not a bribe) for walking with you, and since they’re puppies too, they’re not going to have the attention span we normally expect dogs to have.

Dog Seperation Anxiety on the Leash

Whiteshepherd wrote to me about dog separation anxiety:

I had a really embarrassing moment this afternoon. I and my 8 months old GSD live with my cousin. My cousin usually takes him out potty in the morning and feed him when I’m not home. My dog is house trained and stays in his crate during the day. he doesn’t bark when we’re not home.

This afternoon we took him out for a walk since it’s the first sunny afternoon after 2 raining days. I started teaching my cousin some basic concepts and handling skills I’d learned from Adam’s secret book. Things went pretty well with loose leash heeling, sit and down commands since my dog had previous exercises with these commands. Then here came the embarrassing moment. we soon found out that I could not walk away from my cousin and the dog. I could take my dog from him and went for a walk with no problem, but when my cousin took over the leash, and I walked a way, then the dog started barking and whining. I had prong collar on him and asked my cousin to correct him and to make him stop this unwanted behavior. the dog gave vocal response to the corrections, but didn’t stop whining. I asked my cousin to put him to a down position, the dog did follow the command but kept whining loudly. People in the park were looking at us and few guys came up and check if we were abusing the dog. and few people made those typical comments on how we should never use the prong collar on a dog, and blah blah… we decided not to draw too much attention and took the dog home.

So here I am, looking for the solutions. I saw my cousin giving him couple of pretty good correction and heard the vocal response from the dog as well. should we give him even harder correction or not? Really need to solve this problem ASAP.

whiteshepard adds:

I really need a solution for this. and this happened again. today my friends and their dog came over, and my dog went nutz cos I tried to take him away from my friends and their dog. no matter how hard I correct, he just kept barking, whining and pulling on leash (with a prong collar on). he sounded like i was trying to kill him.

Adam replies:

Hi, WhiteShepherd:

For this type of behavior (and especially for this breed) — I think you’re really going to get the best results by using the e-collar. I recommend this one:

(The 280 NCP)

What you’re going to want to do is: Work the dog with the e-collar, but without distractions, the first few times. Re-teach basic commands (I.E. acclimate to the e-collar) by synchronizing your leash correction with the e-stim). Demand perfect attention.

I’m not exactly sure why the e-collar works so well, for this type of behavior– but it does. Just make sure your commands are clear and the dog understands what you want.

Don’t just say, “No!” for the whining — make the dog (with the e-collar) hold a down-stay or a sit-stay. And focus on you.

When you start working around other dogs, start with the “attention getter” with the e-collar. Then progress to commands. Give a tap on the e-collar, every time the dog’s attention is not on you, and walk the opposite direction.

This will work, pretty much guaranteed. Just make sure the e-collar is fitted properly and the contact points are making contact.

You’re welcome to post a video on Youtube, once you get the collar, if you need more instruction, and I’ll watch it and critique. But I think you’ll be amazed at how well the e-collar works, as long as you’re 100% certain the dog understands what the e-stim is for.

Until you get the collar, don’t let her around other dogs, as you currently don’t have a way to give a meaningful correction.

– Adam.

Adam adds:

I should add: Once you’ve got the dog understanding the exercises with the e-collar, then transition to your cousin. He’ll initially have to work the dog at a slightly higher stim level, to get the dog’s attention, but after the first initial 5-10 minutes, he’ll be able to adjust it down.

– Adam.