Collar choices for pets are endless. They are the perfect place to hang identification and, with a variety of colors and designs available, to make a statement. However, the aesthetics of collars is not what plagues most pets. It is how they work. If your collar works by shocking, choking, pinching, inducing pain, fear and intimidation, then you've picked the wrong collar. Through recent credible research we've learned that many of the assumptions previously made about shock, choke & prong collars are completely wrong and all three have critical flaws. All three are capable of seriously damaging your pet physically and psychologically and can even cause death.

Please read the "Back Problems." study below to understand the cumulative effect that yanking and pulling has on your dog.

To us, as pet owners, our dogs are not businesses or profit centers, they are beloved family members. Caring owners go to great lengths to keep their pets happy and healthy. Yet too many others exploit our pets for profit. Their primary objective is financial, not the wellbeing of our companions. We need to be wary of promotions and claims by these entities that not only mislead us but downright lie about the safety of their products and services.

Picture - This puppy was fitted with a shock collar & choke chain at a training school. Does he look like a hard case to you?

Choke, prong and shock collars are as common as free advice yet many pet owners never question their barbaric appearance and purpose. It is quite remarkable that the effects of these collars are not widely understood or recognized. Few people know how physically and psychologically devastating they can be to an animal. It can hardly be considered a latent defect when shock, prong and choke collars are designed to hurt in order to work. Just the appearance of a prong collar tells you the poor soul who is forced to wear this draconian contraption is not going to feel like they’re being treated with respect or dignity. As damaging as these collars are they are still sold in pet shops everywhere to anyone for any reason. Pet store employees are not paid to tell people the potential pitfalls of such devices. Why would they? It's not profitable. Pet store staff are rarely a reliable source for knowledge based information regarding the health and welfare of your pet, regardless of how they present themselves. A pet store run by a trustworthy, well intentioned proprietor would refuse to stock a good portion of pet related inventory if they truly cared about the wellbeing of pets. Young minimum wage employees who have never owned a pet are not a brain trust you want to rely on, no matter how earnest they appear. Instead when looking for advice you would be better off consulting a vet or credentialed animal behaviourist. Vets and behaviourists routinely see physical & psychological damage caused by choke, prong & shock collars.

Empathically challenged owners and trainers will use multiple collars of the same or varying types on one dog, leaving the dog prone to numerous perils. Thank goodness the number of pet owners using these collars in relation to the inexhaustible number of dogs is low. That still leaves thousands at risk of pain and suffering. Documented scientific evidence has been piling up for decades proving that animals suffer harm and even death from these collars but still they are manufactured and promoted as a safe and humane way to control and train your pet. 'Safe' is a word often used in the product or model name to misrepresent decidedly unsafe products, planting a false impression in a buyer's mind. When all is said and done compassionate and knowledgeable owners use a flat collar for decoration and to hang ID and a harness to train and leash walk. Under NO circumstances should you ever use a choke, prong or shock collar.

Collars and harnesses should not be kept on all the time as any collar is potentially dangerous if buckles, tags and rings get caught on other dogs or furniture. Such occurrences have resulted in accidental strangulations. Dogs playing with other dogs should have their collars and harnesses removed.

With all the potential hazards a dog can experience from any collar why would an owner use collars intended to hurt their pets?



CHOKE CHAIN - A chain with looped ends designed to tighten around a dog's neck when it is pulled in order to cut off air supply and choke the animal. This collar has caused severe tracheal injury, nerve damage, whiplash, unconsciousness and even death. Can you imagine repeatedly being choked just for behaving normally?


PRONG COLLAR - A prong collar has a double row of steel teeth that dig into a dog's neck. As the chain tightens the teeth pinch the skin hence the slang name 'pinch collar'. When pulled on roughly the prongs can penetrate the skin causing infection, sores, pain and suffering. Included with the physical pain is its constant companion, emotional pain. Manufacturers now make an outside cover to disguise the prongs below.


SHOCK COLLAR - A shock collar sends an electrical current of varying intensities and duration through two pointed contacts into an animal's neck often causing pain, anxiety and fear. Despite the denials of manufacturers, we now know these collars can cause burns, sores and serious infections. Malfunctioning collars can deliver a stronger and longer current than intended, or in the case of anti-bark collars, be set off by ambient noise. Only the wearer will know this is happening. Until the burns and sores are visible the owner will likely be unaware of the dog's suffering. In addition to the potential physical damage, scientific studies conclude the impact on an animal’s emotional state can be even more harmful and longer lasting.

For deaf dogs click here.

There are vibrate only collars available but difficult to find. Do not confuse a vibration only collar with a combination vibration / shock collar. Avoid any trainer that tries to tell you a shock collar on a lower intensity shock is the same as a vibration. It is not. In addition, these products are not regulated and have no minimum operating standards in place. The different manufacturers produce shock collars of varying qualities that have been known to emit spasmodic intensities, unintended continuous shocks or not function at all. A shock collar is not an intelligent choice. Note the vibration only collar can also cause a dog stress if the dog is sensitive or the vibration too intense. Nor does a vibration collar train your dog, it merely gets his/her attention. A deaf dog can be trained like any other dog with positive methods including praise, treats and sign language. close
Regular flat collar

REGULAR FLAT COLLAR – a handy all purpose collar designed to attach tags & leashes. A flat collar and leash can help to keep your dog under control and safe when needed. Although the collar is generally comfortable if fitted properly, it can also harm an animal when it is too tight or yanked on severely. Only attach a leash to a flat collar once a dog has been properly leash trained using a harness.


HARNESS – an arrangement of straps that when attached to a leash is designed to restrain and control a dog comfortably without causing any undue discomfort, pain or damage. A proper fitting is critical to ensure the straps don't accidently rub and irritate. Numerous styles and types are available with rings to attach a leash to the front of the chest, on the back or both.


Leash Walking - Equipment Tips

why a harness PerfectFit harness


By Anders Hallgren, psychologist, author & researcher

A study that showed that it is as usual that dogs have problems related to the spinal, as we humans. In a normal population of 400 dogs there were 63% that had some sort of defect as defined by the chiropractors that were cooperating to do this piece of research. In many cases there were problematic behavior correlated to the back defect. One of the most alarming findings were that as many as 91% of the dogs that had been pulled hard on the leash, or themselves pulled hard, had defects in the neck!

Pulling and jerking on leash as well as tethering dogs may increase the risk of a spinal injury. A dog can easily forget the boundaries of the chain or rope, accelerate, and suddenly come to a halt, with all the stopping power concentrated around the dog's neck.

The results of this study have been spread worldwide and have made dog clubs change training methods and not use hard pulls on the leash any longer. Many dog owners now shift to use a harness instead of a collar (especially choke chain) to avoid hurting the neck of their dogs.


Pauli AM, Bentley E, Diehl KA, Miller PE.

Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The effect on intraocular pressure (IOP) from dogs pulling against a collar or a harness was evaluated in 51 eyes of 26 dogs. The force each dog generated while pulling against a collar or a harness was measured. Intraocular pressure measurements were obtained during application of corresponding pressures via collars or harnesses. Intraocular pressure increased significantly from baseline when pressure was applied via a collar but not via a harness. Based on the results of the study, dogs with weak or thin corneas, glaucoma, or conditions for which an increase in IOP could be harmful should wear a harness instead of a collar, especially during exercise or activity.

Can Shock-collars Burn?

By Jan Casey, MS, Dip CBST

First published in Barks from The Guild, the official publication of The Pet Professional Guild

Excerpt….Would I be willing to bet $10,000 that a shock collar is incapable of causing a burn? Not a chance. The greater question for me is why would anyone care whether the extensive damage on a dog's throat is a burn or pressure necrosis or edema or contact dermatitis? The fact remains that, had the dog not been wearing a shock collar, the painful injury would not be there…. Full Article Here


Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

Chock chain

Before you start reading the following lines, I invite you to do a little test. Open your hands with your thumbs touching each other. Place the thumbs at the base of the throat and with the fingers pointing back and surrounding the neck.

Now, take a deep breath, squeeze and pull back with all your force keeping your thumbs connected.

This is how many dogs feel when they are on the leash and they are pulling.

If you are still keen to continue with this experiment, put a choke chain around your neck, attach it to a leash and ask a friend to pull and jerk on it periodically. Welcome to the dog world!

Read further how your dog's health is impacted HERE.



Karen L. Overall is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB) and is certified by the Animal Behavior Society (ABS) as an Applied Animal Behaviorist.

World renowned animal expert Karen Overall has spoken out over many years of the ineffectiveness and ill that results when electric shock is used as a training tool on dogs.

"As a specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine I have been advocating for banning the use of shock collars of any kind for years. There are now ample published data in the peer-reviewed literature that show that shock harms dogs and adversely affects their behavior and welfare. Many people who resort to shock are afraid that without it their pet will die because of their behaviors. The companies who sell shock collars prey on these fears. Most people do not realize that the use of shock interferes with and suppresses normal canine behaviors, in general, not just behaviors that people find problematic. In fact, shock may render the behaviors of concern worse. In my patient population, dogs whom clients have shocked are over-represented in those euthanized because of the adverse effects shock has had on their behaviors. Dogs can recover from shock with appropriate care, and anyone considering shock should first seek the help of a qualified specialist in veterinary behavioral medicine. Specialists should be the source for competent, data-based information for any behavioral issues about which clients are concerned. I have studied the information provided by the companies manufacturing and selling most of the world's shock collars and it is my opinion that, without doubt, the information provided about behavior is incorrect and/or inadequate to address the behavioral concerns of dogs and may lead to abuse. The time to advocate for safe, effective, humane behavioral care for all animals has come, and shock has no role in such care".

Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist


RSPCA, APBC, Blue Cross, Dog Trust, Wood Green Animal Charity, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, ABTC, The Mayhew Animal Home, The Kennel Club

"We, the organisations above, are opposed to the use of electronic training devices (ETDs) and pinch collars (also known as prong collars) believing they are unacceptable and unnecessary as a means of training and controlling dogs. We are calling for the sale and use of these devices to be prohibited…." Full statement here


CVMA Mission Statement - "The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is the national voice for the veterinary profession dedicated to serving and representing the veterinarians of Canada."


"The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) supports the use of humane training methods that are built on current scientific knowledge of learning theory. Methods using positive reinforcement are highly favoured. Methods causing fear, distress, pain or anxiety are unacceptable"….

CVMA website

For more information on collars and leash walking please visit the following links:

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Always investigate thoroughly any product or service you employ for your pets.

Make sure your pets are lovingly trained and cared for.
After all, your pets will be the best friends you'll ever have.

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