How Tight Should A Prong Collar Be?

How Tight Should A Prong Collar Be?

A prong collar is a dog collar that’s made up of a series of chain links, with the open ends of the chain links facing the dog’s neck. It’s most commonly used for beginner obedience and when teaching dogs to walk on a leash.

The prong collar is a somewhat controversial type of collar, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘pinch collar’. This term is a little misleading, though; the prong collar doesn’t actually pinch the dog, at least not in the way one might think. 

Still, like with any kind of collar, it can cause dogs discomfort if it’s too tight. So how tight should a prong collar be? The following will break down all you need to know about this kind of collar. 

How Tight Should A Prong Collar Be?

Prong collars should be two inches (or five centimeters) bigger than your dog’s neck. It shouldn’t be sitting tight on the neck, because this tension will lead to discomfort and pain, both physically and mentally.

The dog should only be feeling a ‘pinch’ when you need the dog’s obedience or as a response to a command. You should be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s neck and the prong collar. 

If your prong collar is too tight, you can easily adjust it by adding links, and vice versa if the collar is too loose. Bear in mind that the connection parts of the links will contribute to extra length. 

How To Put On A Prong Collar

You should not be putting the prong collar on your dog by slipping it over their neck. Every time you put on the collar or take it off, you should be hooking or unhooking the links.

Prong collars should be just under the jawline of the dog. If the collar is too loose, it may slip down further on the dog’s neck, which is not the right way. 

Putting the prong collar on is as simple as putting one side of the prong of a link into one side of the link you’ll be connecting it with, and squeezing the first link with your thumb until the other side slots into place.

The collar will snap into place once both of the prongs are lined up. Taking off the prong collar is as simple as pinching a link until it comes undone from the connecting link. 

Once you’ve put the prong collar on your dog correctly, the rings that connect the collar may be below the dog’s chin.

This is not where they should be while the dog is wearing the collar- rotate the collar until these connecting rings are on the right side of the dog’s neck. 

How Long Should You Be Using A Prong Collar?

If you’ve decided to use this type of collar, you should be slowly introducing it to your dog so it can get used to it. Multiple times throughout the day you should be putting it on and taking it off.

If after a few days your dog is still anxious about wearing the prong collar, try to associate it with positive reinforcement, like praise and treats. 

When the dog realizes that the correction of the prong collar is actually coming from you and not the collar itself, it may forget that there’s anything on its neck at all.

Using a prong collar is as simple as giving it a quick snap in order to tell the dog what you want it to do. 

Are Prong Collars Cruel?


There are some who cringe at the mere mention of prong collars, but much of the controversy surrounding them is misfounded.

When properly fitted, prong collars are actually one of the most humane ways to train your dog without harming them.

It’s designed to put universal pressure around your dog’s neck, in much the same way that a mother dog would pinch the necks of her puppies.

Unlike certain other kinds of collars, it does not damage the trachea, because it’s so close to the jawline. 

The only downsides of the prong collar come from people misusing them. You may have heard horror stories about dogs getting seriously injured by these collars, but this would only ever be the result of an irresponsible owner.

You should never tug the collar excessively, have the collar sitting low on the neck, nor tie a dog outside while they’re wearing a prong collar. 

Alternatives To The Prong Collar

While the prong collar is a humane way to train your dog, you might be looking for something different, especially if your dog is a hard puller. There are a number of alternatives to the prong collar.

One of these is the head halter, which is ideal for loose leash walking because it’s a way to redirect your dog’s attention back to you.

Another good collar for loose leash training is the front clip harness. This collar won’t require your dogs to acclimate, and can be used with all breeds of dogs.

It’s used to redirect the dog’s attention back to the owner by moving the dog’s body rather than applying pressure to their neck.

The back-clip harness is an ideal option too, particularly for dogs that have airway related medical issues. 

Some collars ideal for general use, rather than collars for training, include the flat or rolled collar and the Martingale-type collar.

The flat or rolled collar can be used to attach identification or rabies tags, while the Martingale-type collar is ideal for dogs with narrow heads who slip out of regular collars. The Martingale is also fully adjustable so there’s no risk of the dog feeling discomfort or pain. 

Conclusion: How Tight Should A Prong Collar Be?


A prong collar should not sit tight on your dog’s neck; there should be space for two fingers between the neck and the collar.

If the prong collar is too tight, it could cause serious discomfort or pain for your dog. Adjusting a prong collar that’s too tight or too loose is as simple as adding or removing links. 

It’s vital that you’re both putting the prong collar on correctly, and using it correctly, otherwise it could cause your dog discomfort or pain.

You should only be using the prong collar to train your dog for short periods of time; it should never be a permanent collar. 

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