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Head halter collar

A good rule to follow when training with a head halter type collar is to never make a snappy correction. Instead use a smooth constant pull.
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Call for more information about training with a head halter 714-827-4058. My service area includes the Los Angles metro area, Long Beach, Orange County, and San Gabriel Valley Call.
I offer single lessons and complete training packages

Head halter collar

Using a head halter collar for dog training has become popular in the last few years. The two head halter collars I’m most familiar with are the Halti and the Gentle Leader. The Gentle Leader is easier to fit than a Halti. Another advantage of the Gentle Leader is that it fastens around the dog’s neck, so if the dog slips its muzzle out of the Leader, it’s wearing an emergency collar. A Halti’s advantage lies in its ability to better control the dog. Control is particularly valued when working with aggressive dogs.

Head halter collar advantages

Training with a head halter type of collar has some advantages over a traditional training collar. Head halters are usually more intuitive to use than a traditional training collar. The Gentle Leader type of head collar can make it easy to keep your dog from pulling you around. Head collars are great for turning the puller into the pullee. This makes them a good tool for those who lack the timing or the strength to control a dog with a regular slip style training collar.

Head halter collars can be effectively used to control dogs in difficult situations or were training the dog would require too much effort. This could be situations were you know you will have a hard time controlling the dog, and it can include times when the dog will have a difficult time with self-control. It’s better to physically restrain the dog with a head collar than have the dog learn to be out of control. I often use a head collar to get dogs use to working in areas with high level distractions. It’s not unusual to see me training a dog with a head collar on Main Street in Huntington Beach or on 2nd Street in Long Beach.

A good time to use the head collar is when you're on an outing where you know there will be high level distractions and you’re also aware that you will be paying more attention to having fun rather than training your dog.

Training a dog with the head collar is most effective when done in combination with positive reinforcement training. I mainly used food reinforcement for this; although I have a feeling there are other types of reinforcement that can also be effective.

head halter collar training a golden retriever
Gentle Leader Head halter collar on a Golden Retriever

Head halter collar disadvantages

There are some drawbacks to using a head collar. I think the head collar makes most dogs more equipment dependant than some other types of training collars. The effects of this can often be counterbalanced by using different kind’s of equipment when training and using some type of positive reinforcement.

When introduced to the head collar some dogs really dislike wearing it. They paw at it, try to rub it off, and buck and pull like a wild horse. If your dog tries to take the collar off keep its head up. Sometimes the best thing to do is to keep the dog moving. A few dogs will try to hold their muzzle as they move. Not a terribly efficient form of walking, most dogs figure this out and begin to use their feet to stay with the handler. An alternative to moving is to have the dog sit by pulling the dog’s head up with the collar.

If your dog is the bucking and pulling type, try to hold your ground, while gently pulling and releasing the leash as you encourage the dog to come to you. Here I would suggest using a lot of body positioning, such as squatting down and turning to the side as you coax the dog to you. Use food if your dog will work for it under these conditions.

When out in public some people will think your dog is wearing a muzzle. This is not a terrible problem in itself, but, some owners find it uncomfortable.

Common sense would indicate that a major disadvantage to using a head collar is that they can put a great deal of stress on the spine as well as on the neck muscles. I have heard one veterinarian say there is no chance that a head collar will injure a dog, and I’ve heard of others that say they suspect head collars contribute to neck injuries. Who to believe? I suggest using some common sense. What happens when you forcefully pull the dog back with a head collar? How does the force twist or turn the dog’s head?

A general rule I use when training with a head collar is to never make a snappy correction with the head collar. Instead use a smooth constant pull. I feel a forceful pull is probably okay, just watch yourself and don’t make the leash snap.

The head collar can be effective, and it’s another training tool to be use when and where appropriate.

Call for more information about our training programs using a head collar 714-827-4058.. My service area includes the Los Angles metro area, Long Beach, Orange County, and San Gabriel Valley.

the book
DOG TRAINING WITH A HEAD HALTER is no longer available. However we are working on our own head collar training video. the video I’m producing will not be a how to video. It will be more of a this is what you can expect when using a Gentle Leader - video.

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