Are Choke Collars Bad For Dogs? (The Prong Collar Debate)

Sometimes, it can feel a little disheartening when you have a dog that you’re just struggling to train. You may feel like you’ve tried everything but nothing is quite working for you. One of the hardest parts of training a dog is making them walk nicely on a leash. 

Dogs are excitable creatures, and often pull and lunge forwards on the leash to get to where they want to go. Whilst this is so much fun for them, it is not fun for you as you get launched around the place instead of having a leisurely and pleasurable walk. 

Because of this, there are so many options when it comes to leashes, harnesses, collars and more. What you may have heard of is the choke collar or a prong collar.

These collars are designed to prevent your dog from pulling by tightening around the neck. So, what exactly is a choke collar and why do people use them for their dogs? 

Are Choke Collars Bad For Dogs (The Prong Collar Debate)

What Is A Choke Collar?

A choke collar is a device for dogs that looks like a chain looped around the neck, which will tighten when pulled. As the name suggests, a choke collar is made of metal links that are designed to tighten and choke your dog in an effort to control them.

This method of choking your dog is not recommended, as it is an inhumane and painful training tool for your dog. In some cases, dogs can even be strangled and choked to death by these types of collars. 

Are Choke Collars And Prong Collars The Same?

No, choke collars and prong collars are not the same, but they have similar uses, and both are barbaric and cruel ways to train a dog. For instance, the choke collar is designed like a chain that loops around the neck, and will tighten when the owner or dog pulls at it.

This chain gets tighter and tighter until it essentially ‘chokes’ your dog to get them to stop pulling or to get them to heel and walk calmly on a leash. 

On the other hand, a  prong collar is slightly different, as it is designed as a collar with spikes that tighten and pinch, digging into the neck.

These collars are designed to feel like a mother dog’s bite, which is used to correct her pups, but the use of this type of collar is also considered a negative training method, and one that we do not advise due to the cruel nature of its design. 

Whilst choke collars and prong collars are slightly different, they are both training methods that inflict pain, discomfort and abuse upon your dog. 

Why Do People Use Choke Collars For Dogs?

Choke collars and prong collars are used for the same purpose. The idea behind these types of collars is that they will prevent your dog from slipping out of the leash on a walk, and can banish bad behaviors such as pulling or chewing on the leash.

They are also meant to help your dog heel and behave in a nicer manner on a leash. 

Are Choke Collars Bad For Dogs?

Yes, choke collars and prong collars are bad for dogs. These collars are considered inhumane, dangerous and pose a great risk for your dog’s physical and mental health. 

Improper use of a choke collar can also lead to a crushed or bruised trachea, along with a fractured neck or dislocation of the neck bones. This can be very traumatic and dangerous for your dog, and should be avoided at all costs.

Choke collars have been ‘associated with whiplash, fainting, spinal cord injuries and can even lead to paralysis’.

They can damage the larynx, skin and tissues around the neck, and can even cause prolapsed eyes and brain damage due to the sharp increase of pressure in the head caused by the choking mechanism. 

The other thing is that even with all of that danger posed by a choke collar, the risk is much greater than the reward, as they are often not effective.

For example, dogs can develop scar tissue where the neck has been choked and pinched by these collars, which means that they would then have no feeling and would have built up a tolerance to the painful pinching.

Therefore, they will continue to pull and lunge forwards on walks. 

In addition, they may also interpret the tightening of the choking collar as a stranglehold, and will struggle to break free, or may become anxious and fearful which could result in aggressive behavior. 

It is far safer, more humane and beneficial to use a front leash or harness instead, and train your dog to walk nicely through positive reinforcement along with treats, praise and love.

All you have to do is be patient, consistent and reward good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior, and you will be able to have pleasurable walks and a stronger bond with your dog without abuse. 

Risks Of Choke Collars For Dogs

The main risks of using a choke collar or prong collar on your dog is that it can cause pain, injury and damage to your dog.

Choke collars are not safe or beneficial for your dog, and can pose a range of health risks such as injuries to the trachea and esophagus, nerve damage, neck sprains, injuries to the blood vessels in the eyes, fainting, transient paralysis and sometimes even death.

As we all know, choking puts anyone at risk of death, so why implement a choking device in your dog’s training program? 

Choke collars and prong collars are designed to punish dogs for bad behavior by inflicting pain upon them and discomfort.

The repercussions of this is that they can cause serious physical and emotional damage to your dog, which is why you should never ever use them to train your dog

You should also never leave a dog unsupervised whilst tied up with a choke collar as they may struggle, get caught, and the collar can tighten around the neck, causing the dog to choke, strangle itself or die.

This is why these collars are considered inhumane, dangerous, and your dog should be trained professionally and in a positive manner. 


To summarize, positive reinforcement is far more beneficial and effective in training a dog than using negative measures such as choke collars or prong collars. These types of tools are not corrective, and can result in pain, anxiety, fear and even aggression in your dog.

We strongly advise that you do not use such collars, and that you seek assistance from a veterinarian and a trained dog handler to help you teach your dog how to walk nicely, without the pain, discomfort and abusive nature of a choke collar.
Daniel Johnson