If you’ve been in a Petco or Petsmart recently, you’ve probably seen Starmark Products. Starmark Animal Behavior Center (founded in Tucson as Triple Crown) is quickly becoming a household name and a world leader in pet education and training.
Best known for their wide line of durable, challenging interactive toys, Starmark has also pioneered a handful of excellent dog training tools. This week, we’ll be looking at a unique Starmark product – a lightweight, plastic prong collar.
An improvement on the original design, the latest Starmark collar has a quick-release feature. The earlier version had to be taken apart at the links, which eventually led to loose links and a shorter life. With the quick release function, all you need to do is initially fit the collar for your dog’s neck size, then use the handy mental clasp to quickly put on or take off the collar.
Plastic prong collars have their advantages and disadvantages. For a long-haired dog, the triangular links may be too blunt to deliver an effective correction, and may be difficult to fit properly. For short-haired dogs, however, the nylon strapping allows for a snappy, humane correction without the startling zip and jingle of a traditional chain prong collar, making it perfect for a jumpy dog. The considerably gentler correction is also more conducive to older dogs whose neck muscles may not be as solid as they used to be. They also come with a safety-collar, a thin nylon slip that is worn with the Starmark as a fail-safe in case the prongs pop open.
One thing I really love about this collar is how much more confidence my clients have when using one. Traditional prong collars still look a little scary to some people, but the Starmark collar’s soft edges can help you get comfortable with the idea. Clients who are uneasy about trying a Herm Sprenger collar are more open to them after learning the basics with a Starmark. For some dogs, this is the only collar they’ll ever need, and for others, their owners can become experts on the real thing by practicing with a less intense version based on the same principles.
My only real gripe is the stitching on the nylon strapping. Rather than stitching up both sides, there’s a single stitch up the center. It hasn’t failed me yet, but just doesn’t look as strong as I’d like it to. Don’t let that talk you out of one though. Because the rest of the collar is so sturdy, I like to simply reinforce the original stitching with a dozen or so additional stitches with some dental floss (takes less than a minute!) for added confidence.
Overall, I give this collar a 3.8 out of 5, and a solid 4 after a little modifying to the stitching. This won’t work for as wide a variety of dogs as a Herm Sprenger, but is nonetheless a wonderful tool and a great addition to any trainer’s toolbox, especially for $9 on Amazon.
Cerberus K9 – Tucson’s Dog Trainers